A Matter of the Heart

Sep 05 2014

Verse for the Day: Matthew 28:18-20 18-20 Jesus, undeterred, went right ahead and gave his charge: “God authorized and commanded me to commission you: Go out and train everyone you meet, far and near, in this way of life, marking them by baptism in the threefold name: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Then instruct them in the practice of all I have commanded you. I’ll be with you as you do this, day after day after day, right up to the end of the age.” (The Message)

If someone were to come up and ask you to name the four Gospels found in the Bible, would you know the answer to the question?  I think that most Christians if asked this question would have no problem answering Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. But what would you think or how would you answer if someone asked you to name the 5th Gospel or said they believe there are 5 Gospels. 

In a book written by Bobby Conway entitled “The Fifth Gospel” his answer might surprise a lot of Christians.  He states” “In a world of growing hostility toward the church and evangelism, it may be wishful thinking that this generation’s eyes ever fall on the words of Matthew Mark, Luke, or John.” But, Conway continues, “The Fifth Gospel is an appeal for a watching world to witness the reality of Christ through the lives of His followers.” 

Bobby Conway is not the first or only person who has considered a fifth Gospel.  As a matter of fact listen to these remarks made by Rodney Smith nineteenth-century British evangelist, when he jested: “There are five Gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, and the Christian, but most people never read the first four.”  Wow! That’s a pretty sobering thought and one that should motivate and encourage us to live a life that reflects the image of Christ. Because while most non-Christians today will never read the four gospels, they will read a fifth gospel: which is the lives of those of those of us who claim to be followers of Christ.

That reminds me of one of Oswald Chamber’s thoughts that he used in several devotions when he stated some like this: As a disciple of Christ it’s the Lord’s honor at stake in our lives not our own honor when we don’t live in a Christ honored way. When we call ourselves Christian I believe the world is now watching us even closure than ever before-they watch, react and respond to everything we do and say. That is why people like Bobby Conway, Rodney Smith and others have made the claim that there is a 5th Gospel and that Gospel is YOU! While most people will never open a Bible to read it, they will read you in light of how you live your life.

Whether you believe it or not and whether you want others to watch or read your life like a book it’s going to happen, especially for those of us who call ourselves Christians. And there are no more watchful eyes than those we are called to raise as parents and grandparents-- our kids. Kids, youth and young adults are like sponges, even when we don’t think they are listening or watching they are sucking up and soaking in the things we do and say whether they are good or bad. And for those of us in a leadership position of any kind just be aware that you are being watched by those around you. Believers and non-believers are watching the way you respond and react and handle different situations in life and in business. 

How many of you have a fish or cross on the back of your vehicle to indicate you are a Christian but drive like the devil? Do you wear a cross or Christian symbol and yet cuss like a sailor or tell jokes that would embarrass your mom if you told it to her? When the offering plate comes around at church, do people see you putting something in and more importantly is the Lord pleased with what you are giving? Do you go out of your way to help someone in need or turn and go the other direction to avoid having to get involved?

While most Christians will never consider themselves to be like one of the great apostles that walked side by side with Jesus, we must also understand that a lost and hurting world is watching and reading us. You may be the only Gospel someone will ever read-you may be the only one who has an opportunity to share the Good News of what Christ did for them upon the cross. 

Have you ever considered that a watching world might be reading you like a book? What are you doing that brings honor to Christ? Is the way you’re living your life, a life that represents a loving Christ? If someone was to read your current life style in book form what section of a book store would they find it in: Business, Sports, Entertainment, Hobby, the Adult book section, Christian, other or would it even appear at all?  If someone were to read you as the 5th Gospel would it be worth reading and pleasing to the Lord?

Sep 04 2014

Verse for the Day: 2 Corinthians 5:14-20 14 For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. 15 And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again. 16 So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! 18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19 that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. 20 We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. (NIV)

As I think about today’s word for the day “Keep the Change” several thoughts come to mind. The first being, if you are in the food service business working as a waiter one of the perks you get, at least most of the time, are the tips you receive from whoever you are serving. Normally, the better service you provide someone the more willing they are to leave you a tip. For some waiters there are no sweeter words to hear than someone to say “Keep the Change”. While we have all seen, heard, or done this before there is another example that most of us have never experienced before that I thought would be a something really cool to try as a way to model Christ’s love for us.

Have you ever had someone buy your meal without you knowing it or maybe you bought someone else’s meal without them knowing about it? It wasn’t until they or you got ready to pay the bill that the waiter tells you that your bill has been paid in full by someone else. Many of us have experienced something like this during our life time, but let me share this crazy thought with you as I think about today’s word “keep the change”. 

What do you think would happen if you paid for someone’s meal and whatever change was left over you asked the waiter to leave the change with the other person or family with a note attached that said “Your debt has been paid in full, Keep the Change-Jesus loves you”? 

Isn’t that exactly what Christ did for us on the Cross? Jesus paid it all--our total debt paid in full upon the Cross and He allowed us to “Keep the Change”. By paying for someone’s meal and leaving them a note that says “your debt is paid in full-keep the change, Jesus Love You” who knows what kind of impact we might have on someone’s life. 

There are a lot of families and so many people that need to hear the Good News of what Christ did upon the Cross just for them and He wants them to “Keep the Change”. Or maybe you need to accept Christ’s offer to “Keep the Change” today. Where ever you find yourself today, I would encourage you to call upon on the Lord; don’t wait till tomorrow as tomorrow might be too late to except the “Change” that the Lord is asking you to keep . 

Do you know someone at work, home, in your community or a friend that needs to accept the changes that the Lord is offering them? Who has the Lord put on your heart to speak with about the Changes Jesus has made in your life? If you have never accepted Christ as Lord and Savior over your life and need help getting started down a new road in life, call the church office at (505) 334-6524 and let us help you “Keep the Change” that Jesus is offering you today.

1 Corinthians 15 : 50-58 50 I declare to you, brothers and sisters, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. 51 Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed— 52 in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed…. then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.” 55 “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” 56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.