How to find the courage to share your faith
But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect.
1 Peter 3:15
I will never forget the time I was in 8th grade and someone challenged me to be a better witness for Christ in my school. So I decided I was going to share Jesus with a boy named Greg. I really tried to avoid seeing him all day, knowing the conversation I had to have.
I was successful in avoiding him for most of the morning but ran into him in the lunch line. So I asked him, “G-G-Greg, you wouldn’t wanna be a Christian, would you?” Greg looked at me for a second and said, “Naw… I’m an atheist!”
There was an awkward pause, and I told him, “Oh, excuse me. I’m sorry.” And I just kind of slithered away. But I learned something that day that’s stuck with me the rest of my life: Starting a spiritual conversation was much more uncomfortable for me than it was for him.
Many times, we scare ourselves when it comes to sharing our faith because we’re worried what others will think. But more often than not, we’re harder on ourselves than the person with whom we’re speaking. So instead of making yourself nervous, remember it’s just a conversation. When you think that way, you can have the courage to share your faith with anyone!
How you can be encouraged in the face of persecution
Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name.
1 Peter 4:16
It seems like many churchgoers today love to cry “persecution” at the first sign of resistance to their faith. But the truth is that throughout this history of the church, believers have actually taken pride in being persecuted for what they believe.
Take the very first church outside Jerusalem in the city of Antioch. The unbelievers around them mockingly called them Christians, which means “little Christs.” Now, you didn’t have Christian activists argue against such a title. No, the church embraced the title and considered it an honor to bear such a name.
Real persecution can be harsh and cruel. Yet it really is an honor to suffer for the sake of Christ. And while most of us will never have our lives threatened for our faith, you can be sure millions around the world today who worship not knowing if this is the last day they’ll live understand the honor of persecution.
So pray for our brothers and sisters around the world today who face serious persecution for their faith. And when persecution comes you way, consider it an honor to suffer for Christ’s sake because He first suffered for you. There’s no greater encouragement in times of persecution than to know your suffering is for the greatest cause on earth!
What will make heaven great
Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father's house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?
Years ago, I heard the testimony of an older man who was terminally ill and had only months left to live. I was struck as he said, “You know, when I was a little boy, I was afraid of heaven. To me, it was a million miles away.”
He went on, “Then, I had a little brother die. So heaven became a place where I knew somebody. And through the years as family and friends have passed on, heaven became less scary and seemed to be more of a home than even this world. My loved ones, my friends, and my Savior are waiting for me there.”
Many people I know have such an abstract view of heaven: spires, gold streets, and pearly gates. But the wonderful reality of heaven is that God’s people are there and most importantly, Jesus is there. How much better could it be?!
As you look forward to your eternal home, remember what makes heaven heaven: Jesus. He is your eternal hope and destiny if you’re in Him. Look forward to the day you’ll meet Him face to face and live your life today to lead others to that moment!
The beauty God gives to you
And if you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one's deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile, knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.
1 Peter 1:17-19
A very vain woman went to get some photos taken one day. She spent hours with the photographer, getting just the right angles with the perfect lighting. By the end of the day, the photographer was exhausted and the woman was irritated because she didn’t think the pictures were going to turn out well.
When she received the proofs, her fears were confirmed. She hated every single one of them. So she called up the photographer and let him have it. “These pictures,” she shouted, “none of them do me justice.” At his wit’s end, the photographer said, “Lady, you don’t need justice; you need mercy!”
We can’t physically see the filthiness and ugliness of sin on our souls. And while many people might think they’d look just fine if they sent their spiritual photo to God, the truth is that no amount of makeup or Photoshop could ever do us “justice” in His eyes. We need mercy!
But the good news is that God’s mercy is available to us. Through Christ, we can have God’s goodness and His pardon from all our sins. Because of that, God sees us as having the righteousness and beauty of Christ, which covers all sin. This season of thanks, spend time thanking God for the remarkable gift of mercy He’s given you!
What you have to do to go to heaven
For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.
I was talking to a man and sharing with him about the grace of God. So I asked him, “If you were to stand before God and He said to you, ‘Why should I let you into heaven?’ what would you say?” He sat there for a good minute in deep thought.
Finally, he broke the silence and said, “Well, I suppose I’d say if anybody deserves to be here, I do.” Just then, the man’s face turned as white as a ghost as he was able to process what had just left his mouth. So we started talking about sin, and he eventually retracted his statement.
None of us go to heaven because we deserve to go. It’s all a work of the grace of God. I wouldn’t trust the best five minutes of my life to get me to heaven because it simply wouldn’t be good enough. That’s a huge problem for anyone trusting in good works to get to heaven.
Fully trusting God’s grace for salvation can be difficult because we’re so wired with a ‘get-what-we-deserve’ mentality. But in Christ, you don’t get what you deserve… praise God! Live in the rest and acceptance that God has given you in Christ. Trust that the work is done and you’re His forever!
Can you really trust God’s promises
For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory.
2 Corinthians 1:20
A young seminary student was preaching a sermon and talking about the phrase in Deuteronomy 31:6 that says, “(God) will not leave you or forsake you.” This young man had been taking a Hebrew class, and learned about the Hebrew intensive here that amplifies the effect of this sentence.
He explained, “When it says God will never leave you or forsake you, it means He will never, never, ever, ever leave you or forsake you.” So he finished up his sermon and was very proud of himself. But after the service, a woman came up to him and said, “Sir, I don’t know how many times God has to say it for you, but once is enough for me!”
Very often, people have a hard time taking God at His word. Now, I’m not saying this young student was wrong, but it’s true that once is enough. If God says it, that settles it, and there’s absolutely no reason to doubt it.
You can always take God at His word. Even when it seems like things aren’t going the way they should be, He’ll come through because He said He would. Never doubt; always trust; and let God’s promises give you hope!