What are the goals of self-evaluation? Why would individuals and churches both need to conduct self-evaluations?
What are the possible consequences of a church failing to self-evaluate and make changes as needed?
What did you find most helpful from our study on James?
This evangelism challenge is only for wives whose husbands have no interest in the truth. What should a woman do in that situation? Should she demand that her husband come to church? Cram the truth down his throat? Nag him constantly about his lack of support? No.
Peter gives us the answer in 1 Peter 3:1-2: In the same way, you wives, be submissive to your own husbands so that even if any of them are disobedient to the word, they may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives, as they observe your chaste and respectful behavior.
The way wives are to influence their husbands is through submission and through chaste, respectful behavior. Words are not effective at convincing someone who doesn’t want to be convinced. Peter says pointedly that husbands “may be won without a word.” What’s effective is a godly example.
So, ladies, if you are married to a man who refuses to serve God or support your efforts to do so, challenge yourself to bite your tongue and simply show him by your actions that you are genuinely committed to God. This is your best chance at winning your husband over to the gospel.
BY BRIAN MESSERLI
Florida College performed weekly “room checks” in the dorms. If there was a mess, it was a 5 dollar fine; a fortune at Taco Bell! I noticed every mess started with a single blade of grass on the floor. The secret to a clean room was to never ignore that blade. Tending to the small things kept the big things from ever becoming a problem.
“It came about when the sons of Israel became strong, they put the Canaanites to forced labor, but they did not drive them out completely”(Joshua 17:13). To the Israelites, the Canaanites were just a blade of grass and they ignored it. Yet God warned them, “they will be a snare and a trap to you, and a whip on your sides and thorns in your eyes, until you perish from off this good land…” (23:13). God knows when we keep the “small” sins around, they create huge problems. Instead, He urges us to “drive them out and destroy them quickly…” (Deut. 9:3). All sin is a disaster waiting to happen, so let’s get rid of it now before it comes back to bite us for our eternal room check! It could cost us our soul!
BY ADAM WILLINGHAM
I’m ecstatic that my oldest son Ty, age 12, chose to put on the Lord in baptism earlier this month. In subsequent conversations I’ve had with him, he said there were two main reasons he didn’t get baptized earlier.
First, he was terrified to stand up in front of everyone. Second, he felt he had to be perfect in order to be a Christian. All of us can relate to these concerns.
These two reasons were barriers between Ty and his salvation — walls, if you will. Until God caused those walls to fall down flat, victory was impossible for Ty. He had to push through the fear and trust in God to destroy those walls.
And so do we.
If you have never put on Christ in baptism, there’s a reason. Probably several. There are walls that stand between you and your salvation. They could be walls of doubt, walls of fear, walls of misunderstanding, walls of worldliness, or walls of complacency.
Let me suggest three steps you can take to destroy these walls and conquer the Evil One.
1. Identify your walls.
In other words, examine yourself and determine exactly why you haven’t yet become a Christian. Is it because of doubt? Fear? Misunderstanding? Worldliness? Complacency? A combination of the above? Be honest with yourself. Be specific.
2. Identify what you must do.
Clarify exactly what steps you would need to take to let God destroy each of those walls. If doubt is the problem, you will probably need to ask a knowledgeable Christian to study with you about those doubts. You will definitely need to pray fervently that God will give you faith. The answers are out there if you want to find them. If fear is the barrier, you may simply need to ask God for courage, and do it afraid. The fear almost certainly will not go away.
Continue thinking through each barrier until you know precisely what you must do, using the resources God has given you — the Bible, your brethren, prayer — to figure it out.
3. Take action!
Stop sitting on the sidelines, get on your feet and march around those walls. Face your fears and trust in God to make you adequate to do His will (2 Cor. 3:5). Don’t let anything stand between you and your salvation. God has promised victory if you will but trust in Him and obey His holy word.
Your new evangelism challenge is simple. Do what Jesus said in Matthew 5:16: “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” That’s evangelism! Just show others your commitment to God by living for Him.
When you do this, people will notice that you’re different, and they’ll be curious why. Or they will automatically know why — because you’re a Christian. This is perhaps the single best evangelistic method there is.
Maybe you haven’t been standing up for what’s right among your co-workers. Maybe you haven’t been setting a good example with your relatives. Maybe you shy away from talking about what you did over the weekend because it stands in stark contrast to what your friends did over the weekend.
Whatever the case, make an effort this week to let your light shine before men just a little brighter than before. If people don’t “see your good works,” then they won’t “glorify your Father who is in Heaven.” So let them see your good works — not in a showy way, obviously. Do it with humility. But do it. If you do, doors will open evangelistically that you never knew existed.
BY BRIAN MESSERLI
Rahab’s faith is shocking! Pagan “gods” were territorial, yet this pagan prostitute said, “I don’t have faith in the gods of my territory at all. I trust the one true God of Israel!” Unless you were moving, it was unheard of to switch to a god of someone else’s territory! She had no way to be sure Yahweh was more powerful than her gods because they never went head to head. Yet after hearing about the Red Sea and Sihon and Og (Josh. 2:10), she abandoned her false gods, switched to Yahweh, and was saved! (Josh. 6:17, 23)
The Israelites’s lack of faith is even more shocking! They saw Yahweh’s deliverance firsthand. Their fathers were at the Red Sea, at the battles against Sihon and Og, and to see Canaan given into their hands. Yet within one generation, “they forsook the LORD, the God of their fathers, who had brought them out of the land of Egypt, and followed other gods from among the gods of the peoples who were around them…” (Judges 2:12). The Israelites switched gods too. A pagan prostitute switched to Yahweh and Yahweh’s own people switched to the “gods” of pagan prostitutes. It’s a shocking truth, but all humans have the ability to switch gods. On one hand, it’s comforting to know there are more Rahab’s out there willing to switch to Yahweh for salvation. On the other, it’s a warning for us to be on guard lest we abandon Yahweh like the Israelites. Both switches are shocking, but only one switch saves!
“For the LORD your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God.” (Deut. 4:24). The dictionary defines “jealousy” as “resentment against someone because of their success or advantages,” or “characterized by suspicions or fears of losing love.” More importantly, Galatians 5:20 says jealousy is a work of the flesh! How can God be jealous? Is He jealous of our success? Is He like a paranoid husband stalking His wife for fear of losing her love? Is He sinning? Of course not.
The dictionary also gives a less familiar definition for “jealous”: “vigilant in maintaining or guarding something.” For example, “The American people are jealous of their freedom.” We’re protective of what rightfully belongs to us, and this is the key to understanding God’s jealousy. Sinful jealousy yearns for what belongs to someone else. Righteous, Godly jealousy yearns for what belongs to oneself. Sinful jealousy is jealous of. Righteous jealousy is jealous for. Husbands are jealous for their wives (Numbers 5:29-31). Parents are jealous for their children (2 Sam. 17:8). We must be jealous for one another in the fight against sin (Numbers 25:11-13)! We belong to God! He created us, sent Jesus to save us, and He’s passionate about keeping us for Himself! How comforting to know God will vigilantly protect us from Satan’s forces — and if we’re lured away by sin, He’ll come find us, bring us back, and rain down judgment on our enemies! (Deut. 4:29-31; 32:36-43)
BY BRIAN MESSERLI
“Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them; otherwise you have no reward with your Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 6:1).
In the movie “The Prestige,” Robert Angier performed the greatest magic trick the world had ever seen — but it drove him mad. It was called “The Transported Man.” On the stage were two doors facing each other thirty feet apart. Angier opened the door on the right, threw his hat across the stage to the other door, the door slammed shut and he disappeared! In an instant, he appeared on the other side of the stage, opened the other door and caught the hat he had thrown! The audience roared with applause! They just saw a man travel 30 feet in the blink of an eye! It was a standing ovation — but it drove Angier mad. You see, in order to perform the trick he used another man as a “double,” or look-alike. When he opened the first door, Angier fell down under the stage through a trap door, making it look like he disappeared. As he fell, his look-alike was lifted up to the other door to catch the hat, making it look like Angier reappeared on the other side of the stage. The audience was giving a standing ovation to someone else! Angier’s double was in the spotlight getting all the attention and credit while he, the main performer, was all alone under the stage.
In Matthew 6:1, Jesus calls us to live under the stage and to let God get all the attention and glory. The Pharisees wanted the spotlight and longed for the applause of men. Like Angier, it would have driven them mad to live under the stage. Jesus told them, “When you give to the poor, do not sound a trumpet as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be honored by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full.” (Matt. 6:2). He said the same thing about prayer (6:5) and fasting too (6:15). Jesus’ solution? “But when you give to the poor, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving will be in secret, and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.” (6:3-4). He tells them to give, pray, and fast “in secret.” In other words, live under the stage! Let’s impress the world with amazing kindness, generosity, love, grace, and good deeds, but then let’s open the trap door, disappear, and lift God up to get the applause! “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” (5:16)