The Heart of Our Evangelism Problem

“For the mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart.” (Matthew 12:34)

Jesus spoke these words to the Pharisees, who accused Him in :24 of casting out demons by the power of Beelzebub. He turned the focus back on them, saying that their hearts were not right with God, which is why they spoke against Jesus, and blasphemed the Holy Spirit.  They spoke out of that which filled their hearts.  And of course the same thing is true for people today. We don’t accidentally “slip” and say bad things. “The mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart.” Our words reveal what is inside us.

But this principle can also be true in a more positive way. Continue reading

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Will You Pay The Price For Unity?

“Jesus said to them, any kingdom that is divided against itself is laid waste; and any city or house divided against itself will not stand.” (Matthew 12:25)

Many churches, organizations — and even our nation — need to give heed to this word from Jesus today. “Any” kingdom that is divided against itself will not stand. The word “any” here is literally “every.” No group of any kind that cannot unify around their common cause will succeed.  This is a principle that applies in many ways: Continue reading

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Are You Neglecting Your Mission To The Nations?

“And in His name the Gentiles will hope.” (Matthew 12:21)

The present verse is actually a quote from Isaiah 42 about the coming Messiah, and how the Gentiles (the non-Israelite nations of the world) would put their trust in Him. It is striking how many times the OLD Testament refers to the mission to the Gentiles. In fact, from the very inception of Abram’s call in Genesis 12, God declared how He would use him and his offspring to reach the nations: “And in you ALL the families of the earth will be blessed.” Following that initial prophecy, numerous other verses declare how God’s blessings would reach the nations through His chosen people: Continue reading

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An Outrageous Claim

“But I say to you that something greater than the Temple is here.” (Matthew 12:6)

From time to time we hear the assertion that Jesus never claimed to be God. Anyone saying such things demonstrates gross Biblical illiteracy. Passages such as this one demonstrate clearly Jesus’ claim to deity: Continue reading

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Compassion, Not Criticism

“But when the Pharisees saw this, they said to Him, ‘Look, Your disciples do what is not lawful to do on a Sabbath.'”  (Matthew 12:2)

“When (they) saw … they said …”.  Seeing, and then being critical, was a mark of the Pharisee.  They SAW what Jesus’ disciples were doing — and then proceeded to SPEAK against it, and criticize it.  And this was not the only occasion on which they practiced this.  Seeing and then criticizing was their “modus operandi.”

The characteristics these Pharisees exhibited should make some of us today very uncomfortable — Continue reading

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Book Review: The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert, by Rosaria Butterfield

I’ll just say it up front: The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert is one of the most imagecompelling books I have ever read. The title leads one to think that it will give the reader a peek into the thought processes of a lost person, and it does indeed fulfill that promise. The primary subject matter of the first and largest segment of the book is Rosaria Butterfield’s personal conversion story, from lesbian activist/English professor researching the “religious right”, to questioning Bible reader, to reluctant church attender, and finally, committed Christian convert — and pastor’s wife! Its insights into the mindset of one with strong ties to the LGBT community could be invaluable to one struggling with gender identity, or to one who has friends and loved ones who do. (In case you are concerned, although the author jokes occasionally about having an “R-rated testimony”, and she is open about her previous lifestyle, there is nothing “explicit” in this book.)

But perhaps surprisingly, the volume is very beneficial on a number of other fronts besides merely sexuality: Continue reading

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“Pressing On To Know the Lord” (Hosea 6:3 sermon)

Not long ago I read of a well-known actress who said that when she wasn’t acting, she really had no purpose in life. She said she just about went crazy because she nothing to do, and she said, “Thank God for … the New York Times crossword puzzle and American Idol.” You know, I feel sorry for someone who doesn’t have more than the daily crossword puzzle and television to live for every day. What real meaning is there in a life like that? But even if we shake our heads at that, if the truth be known, many of us here are not living for much more than that — living for a paycheck, or to play video games, or for some hobby or activity that won’t make a difference in eternity. The good news is, God DID make you for something more than that — something that will both challenge you, and satisfy you, forever without end. And we see a glimpse of that here in our verse for this morning:

“So let us know, let us press on to know the LORD. His going forth is as the dawn; and He will come to us like the rain, like the spring rain watering the earth.”

Continue reading

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