Witnessing (Making Disciples: part four)

We know that we have found the good news that Christ saves sinners from the wrath of God, but that truth is invisible to the outside world unless we make it known to them. One way we can do this is by living as a witness for Christ. Witnessing, or testifying, is about displaying Jesus to a lost and dying world. When we witness, we attempt to live like Christ before the world in order that they might get a glimpse of His beauty and grace.

The word martyr comes from the Greek word for witnessing. Martyrs, therefore, witnessed about Christ to the world via their deaths. By boldly and joyfully facing their end, they displayed the hope and victory of Jesus to the world. Their actions were a living portrait of Christ.

In the same way, our lives should be a constant testimony of who Jesus is. We see this principle in the word Christian. Likely started as a derogatory term, Christian means little Christ or Christ-like, but it is entirely fitting. We are meant to be small, imperfect versions of Christ before the world. We are the only Jesus they get to see.

This is why Paul gives us commands like the one in 1 Corinthians 10:31, “So, whatever you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” What a blanket statement! Whatever you do, do it all to the glory of God. There is nothing so small or insignificant that it cannot be done worshipfully to God.

Colossians 3:17 speaks the same theme, “And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” We all called to do EVERYTHING in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord.

Throughout high school and college, I worked as a teller in a bank. The bank would provide us with shirts to wear that sported the banks logo above the left breast. Whenever I went to a restaurant or ran an errand during lunch, I would be slightly more conscious of how I behaved because since I wore the bank’s logo, I knew that my behaviors (for good or bad) would be attributed to the bank. Even if it was subconscious, it was inevitable. As long as I sported the bank’s name, I was their representative to the world.

This is true of the Christian life as well. We bear the name of Christ in all that we do. We are His representatives to the world, so we should do everything in such a way as to bring Him glory.

Writing to His disciple, Titus, Paul applied this principle to how bondservants should work for their masters: “Bondservants are to be submissive to their own masters in everything; they are to be well-pleasing, not argumentative, not pilfering, but showing all good faith, so that in everything they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior.” (Titus 2:9-10)

Some have interpreted adorning the doctrine of God to mean that our lives beautify the teachings of Scripture, but that is not what it means to adorn something.

Consider this example. My wife is gorgeous. She is a smoking hot, Colombian supermodel. And she loves scarves and hats. She loves them to the point that I had to declare that our holding capacity is reached, so if she gets a new hat or scarf, she has to give away an old one. Honestly, I think she pulls off scarves and hats beautifully, but like any good accessory, they merely accent and call attention to her beauty. They in no way beautify her.

In the same way, the doctrines of God are beautiful. Far more beautiful, in fact, than we presently understand or realize. Our lives can do nothing to increase the beauty of God; they only call people’s attention to His beauty.

When employers begin to notice that their best employees are all Christians, the doctrine of God is adorned. 

When teachers realize that their kindest and most respectable students come from Christian households, the gospel is adorned. 

When Christian marriages are seen to be healthier and happier than most marriages of the world, the teachings of Scripture are adorned.

The call to witness of Christ is the call for each and every Christian to adorn the gospel by living our lives to the glory of God.

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Judge Not | Matthew 7:1-6

SUGGESTED VERSES FOR MEMORIZATION & MEDITATION

Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye. (Matthew 7:1-5)

Do not give dogs what is holy, and do not throw your pearls before pigs, lest they trample them underfoot and turn to attack you. (Matthew 7:6)

For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? God judges those outside. “Purge the evil person from among you.” (1 Corinthians 5:12-13)

OPENING THOUGHT

We are now two-thirds through our study on Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. Because the Gospel of Matthew is primarily about how Jesus brought the kingdom of heaven to earth, the Sermon on the Mount very easily fits as a citizen’s guide to living in God’s kingdom. The topics covered have also been quite vast and sweeping: the characteristics and purpose of a Christian, how Christians relate to the Old Testament commandments, and how to properly give, pray, and fast.

Chapter six then ended with Jesus encouraging us to make an eternal investment in heavenly treasure that cannot be taken away from us. Once our hearts are eternally secure with the Father, we can then live lives without being anxious for our daily needs. Instead of focusing upon our temporal needs, Jesus urges us to focus first upon God’s kingdom.

As we move into the final chapter of the Sermon on the Mount, the topic shifts again. The predominate theme of this chapter is evaluating whether we truly belong to the kingdom of heaven. This theme kicks off as we study one of Facebook’s most quoted verses of all time: “Judge not, that you be not judged.” As we will see, Jesus is not forbidding all judgment wholesale; instead, He is preventing blanket condemnation and hypocritical criticism.

Read verses 1-5 and discuss the following.

  1. Since this is one of the most widely used verses today, it should be no surprise that it is often used in a manner that Jesus did not intend. What are some ways that the command “judge not” is used incorrectly?2. What did Jesus really mean by saying “judge not”?3. What do other Scriptures say about passing judgment?

Read verse 6 and discuss the following.

  1. To what is Jesus referring when He warns not to give holy things to dogs or throw pearls to pigs?5. How does this verse relate to the five verses before it?

ACTIONS TO CONSIDER

  • Obey. After meditating upon these six verses, consider how passing judgment fits into your life. Do you have a tendency to make hypocritical criticisms of others, or do you tend to refrain from lovingly speaking truth to brothers and sisters in Christ for fear of being seen as judgmental? Repent of either extreme.
  • Pray. Ask the Father for grace to fully realize our personal failings that we would be able to lovingly reach out to others for the kingdom.
Wrestling with God

Jacob Wrestles with God | Genesis 32

SUGGESTED VERSES FOR MEMORIZATION & MEDITATION

Then he said, “Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and with men, and have prevailed.” Then Jacob asked him, “Please tell me your name.” But he said, “Why is it that you ask my name?” And there he blessed him. So Jacob called the name of the place Peniel, saying, “For I have seen God face to face, and yet my life has been delivered.” (Genesis 32:28-30)

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:9-10)

OPENING THOUGHT

Jacob’s entire life was one big wrestling match. First, he wrestled with his brother for the firstborn birthright, and he overcame Esau by deceiving their father into thinking that Jacob was actually Esau. Jacob was then forced to flee from Esau’s murderous anger, so he traveled long way to his mother’s homeland. There he found his wife, Rachel, whom he loved greatly, but he was also tricked by his father-in-law, Laban, into marrying Rachel’s less attractive older sister, Leah. Polygamous family drama ensued, but eventually, Jacob resigned to leave Laban and return to his father’s land. After much conflict with Laban, Jacob was finally free to return home.

But Jacob knew that his homecoming would not be pleasant. Even after twenty years, he still feared his brother’s wrath. As we will read today, Esau coming to meet Jacob with 400 men behind him did nothing to calm Jacob’s anxiety. Jacob prays for God’s deliverance, and then he sends more than 550 animals in five waves as gifts for Esau, hoping to appease his brother’s anger. Finally, after Jacob has sent his livestock, servants, children, and wives across the river, he is left alone for the night to prepare for meeting his brother in the morning. But Jacob gets no sleep because he spends all night wrestling an unknown assailant.

This wrestling match plot twist is the clear highlight of this chapter, especially when Jacob realizes that he wrestled with God. It marks the most dramatic moment of Jacob’s life. With Laban behind him and Esau before him, Jacob was surrounded by enemies. He could no longer simply run away from conflicts. He would need to confront them. And God tops it off by physically fighting Jacob throughout the night. Displaying incredible perseverance, Jacob demands that God bless him, but lest we think that Jacob “beat” God, the LORD with a touch knocks Jacob’s hip out of joint. And after realizing who his opponent was, Jacob concludes that he is alive only by God’s mercy. Having encountered God, Jacob leaves limping and weakened but with a new name and a deeper faith in the One whose power is made perfect in our weakness.

Read verses 1-21 and discuss the following.

  1. After learning that Esau is approaching with 400 men, Jacob’s responds by praying for God’s protection. What might we able to learn from Jacob’s fearful, but God-honoring, prayer in verses 9-12?
  2. In hopes of appeasing his brother, Jacob sends drove after drove of animals (550 in total) as gifts for Esau. Did Jacob do this out of fear or faith? Why is it important that we do everything from faith?

Read verses 22-32 and discuss the following.

  1. God appears and begins wrestling with Jacob only when Jacob is alone. Why are silence and solitude important? What most hinders you from taking time to be alone with God?
  2. Even though Jacob appears to prevail in the fight, the mysterious wrestler is able to dislocate Jacob’s hip with a mere touch. Jacob survived only because of the mercy of God, and he walked away with a limp and a new name. Like Jacob’s limp, why is it important for God to reveal the depth of our weakness? What is the significance of receiving a new name?

ACTIONS TO CONSIDER

  • Obey. Just like God found Jacob when he was alone, schedule out time this week to spend in solitude with God, praying and reading the Scriptures.
  • Pray. Take cues from Jacob’s prayer in verses 9-12. Spend a few minutes acknowledging God and then a few moments confessing sin and weakness. Next, take your anxieties and requests to the Father in prayer, knowing that He is faithful and just to hear us.

My Lord & My God | Day 30

Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” (John 20:28 ESV)

The account of “doubting Thomas” is a Sunday School classic. Though being one of Jesus’ twelve disciples, Thomas wrestled to believe the truth of Jesus’ resurrection from the dead. In fact, he boldly declared that unless he could touch Christ’s wounds with his own hands he would not believe that Jesus was really alive.

Jesus, of course, shows up eight days later to give Thomas the proof that he sought.

Just as the birth of Christ is meaningless without understanding the cross, Jesus’ death is pointless without His resurrection. If on the cross Jesus was bruised, the serpent’s head is crushed during Christ’s resurrection.

By conquering death, Jesus gave us reason to hope in His conquering of death for us as well.

And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins.  // 1 Corinthians 15:17

Thomas immediately realizes implications of Jesus’ resurrection by calling Jesus his Lord and God.

By calling Jesus Lord, Thomas declares that Jesus is his ruler (or master) and that he is Jesus’ servant (or slave).

Thomas then explicitly calls Jesus his God. For a Jew to proclaim divinity to a man was absolutely unthinkable, so for Thomas to risk such blaspheme can only mean that he became thoroughly convinced that Jesus is God.


Take time to reflect upon the words of Thomas. Is Jesus your Lord and God as well? If so, what implications does that thought have upon how we understand 1 Corinthians 6:19-20?