It’s early, it’s dark, coffee’s on…I love early mornings, it’s my favorite part of the day—before the world is awake.
However, today is different, today is special—today is Christmas.
I hope that the world pauses for a moment at some interval to reflect on the reason why we’ve set aside this day. Today is the day to celebrate Jesus and His dramatic and miraculous entrance into the world.
If you’re like me, then you’ve heard, studied, taught and wrote about the incarnation from just about every angle. And yet, this year a friend showed me a new element about Jesus’ birth that I had NEVER heard before. So I spent a few days looking into it and what I found was overwhelming in that it takes my breath away and brings me into a place where worship comes easily.
About a year ago, I took my first ever spiritual gifts assessment. Has anyone ever taken one? It is kind of fun—The particular one I filled out consisted of around 100 questions and in return you get back a list of your spiritual gifts (Download Assessment to find out your spiritual gifts). Like I said, I had never taken one before—the top two things on the list were not surprising, but the third one completely took me by surprise. It was the spiritual gift of evangelism. It floored me that this was a spiritual gift of mine—I had no idea!
Now, when I say evangelism, what image come to mind?
Let me tell you what images come to my mind…
Need a New Definition of Evangelism?
Check out this Sunday sermon by Juli entitled, See.Serve.Speak. Juli unpacks the account of the women at the well in John 4, while sharing personal illustrations of evangelism that differ from her preconceived notions growing up. This will help you be prepared to share the good news of Christ Jesus in a natural way with those you encounter.
Scripture: John 4:4-42
Summary: The Good News of the Gospel of Jesus is meant to be shared in powerful and natural ways by all of us who follow Jesus. We can do this in ways that fit with how God wired us. There is no formula, but there are patterns from Jesus’ life that we can emulate. That pattern is found in these three practices: presence, service and words. We should be ready to serve and love in these ways, and then allow the Spirit to guide us as we live our lives in the world.
*Juli taught this sermon at Orchard Hill Church on October 26, 2014.
I’ve been struggling lately with disappointment, and discouragement. I hate when I’m in this place. It’s hard, it’s lonely and it is beyond frustrating.
Have you ever been here?
Yesterday, like most lunch hours, I spent my time at a local coffee shop studying. During this time, a friend who I haven’t seen for years, walked in. We chatted and when time came for me to leave, she wanted to pray for me. I hadn’t shared much of anything prior to this.
She started to pray, but not just any prayer, rather hands-on prayer ministry, the kind that’s deep, invasive and brings healing. It has been years since I’ve experienced this type of Holy Spirit saturated prayer ministry and I knew I desperately needed it in that moment.
In my youth I waited tables. One day after work, I found a parking ticket on my car. The guy I was dating (who later became my husband) was a cop. Now, I know what you are thinking…
“This is how he flirts?”
Imagine if you will, that this ‘ticket’ had gotten turned in and sent through the court system and I was called before a judge. There would be two possible outcomes. First, I could be found guilty of the violation and assigned the fine. Or I could be found not guilty and released. There is NO third option of being guilty but released anyway.
For the judicial system to work properly, this option doesn’t work. We cannot have criminals released free and clear by the courts. That would be a gross misuse of authority.
I’m just really thankful for Jesus! I could mention a thousand ways in which I am thankful for Him, but one way hit me last week at a Bible study and I’ve been thinking about it since. We’ve been studying Hebrews and we got to this verse, “You have come to God, the judge of all men, to the spirits of righteous men made perfect, to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word that the blood of Abel” (Hebrews 12:23b-24).
This is how the Amplified Bible clarifies this, “And to Jesus, the Mediator (Go-between, Agent) of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood which speaks [of mercy], a better and nobler and more gracious message than the blood of Abel [which cried out for vengeance]” (Hebrews 12:24 AMP).
Abel was killed by his brother Cain. As his blood spilled on the ground it cried out to God for vengeance—then God responded (Genesis 4:10-15).