Humble Boldness

This passage in Ephesians is especially encouraging to contemplate after the punch in the teeth of strong conviction that hit me in yesterday’s passage from Job:

Therefore I, a prisoner for serving the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of your calling, for you have been called by God. Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love. Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace. For there is one body and one Spirit, just as you have been called to one glorious hope for the future. There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all, in all, and living through all.

Ephesians 4:1‭-‬6 NLT

The bulletpoints:

  • Be humble and gentle
  • Be patient with others, making allowance for their faults
  • Make all efforts to keep ourselves united in Spirit, bound together by peace

I love how this reminds us that boldness to proclaim the gospel is quite different from pride or self-righteousness. A follower in The Way, The Truth, and The Life can be humble and gentle themselves, yet bold about the gospel. We can bring forth into the light those things that we know that we have done ourselves that need to be confessed and repented personally. Even if what the gospel has to say about sin can be offensive to a world still enslaved by and serving that particular sin (conviction) — we can remain humble and gentle by offering the bent knee of our own repentance and open arms of the grace of the gospel!

We should not expect others to be perfect or consider ourselves better or worse than others, but we should consider ourselves equal at the foot of the cross. When we proclaim the gospel and it convicts our own heart towards repentance, we shouldn’t be surprised that it would convict others towards repentance. We shouldn’t be surprised that others’ rugs have dirt swept under them because we know that ours has the same. So we should be bold in the truth yet generous with forgiveness — both towards ourselves and towards others.

This sword of the Word of God is meant to be sharp and precise — but that is most true when we reveal what the Word has to say about sin and about grace, when we point that sword at ourselves, and when we allow others to hear and see the surgery that it can do upon a heart and a life.

If we are seeking to draw close to God, offense can try to work its way between us to divide us. So when a message hits me square in the teeth like Job hit me yesterday, I need to pay special attention — there is surgery that needs to be done.

Or when a preacher’s message hits that uncomfortable and protected area of my life — my carnal man wants to initially react in a way that protects my ego, that defends the sun, that justifies my continued rebellion, and that gaslights my own brain into shooting the messenger instead of heading the warning — but the Holy Spirit will whisper to me and offer me grace, peace, and life.

I remind myself, “Do not be offensive ourselves, but do not be afraid of speaking the offense of the gospel!”

If I complain and oppose the gospel — a fool would think he is just opposing just the preacher and the religion — while a wise man would see he is actually opposing the Living God, and would repent.

Lord, forgive me for so many times that I have been afraid to speak the offense of the gospel — even while I have been bold and proud in myself and all of my glorifying talk about the things of the world. Lord, you are strong enough to flip this on its head and by the power of your Holy Spirit turn hellbound fools into saints seated in heavenly places. In our weaknesses, we trust in you to do your work and your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Amen.

Let the Thunder Roll

I remember Billy Graham’s preaching. The booming voice, the convicting message, the call to repentance and faith — and this passage in Job immediately reminded me of it:

Are you as strong as God? Can you thunder with a voice like his? All right, put on your glory and splendor, your honor and majesty. Give vent to your anger. Let it overflow against the proud. Humiliate the proud with a glance; walk on the wicked where they stand. Bury them in the dust. Imprison them in the world of the dead. Then even I would praise you, for your own strength would save you.

Job 40:9‭-‬14 NLT

And I don’t give credit to Billy Graham the man for the strength in his preaching, but I would say that the strength that saved him and that powered his preaching was from God — by way of the Holy Spirit in him.

I wonder if we would be bold enough to let our voices boom with the shocking message of the gospel?

I wonder if we would give vent to our anger against sin and hypocrisy and wickedness when we see it consuming the church from within and stealing from the people and blaspheming the name of God in the eyes of unbelievers?

When “church people” mock and ridicule others for their true, genuine, (even peculiar) worship and make it clear that this is not the church for them — will the Holy Spirit within us stir up and humiliate the proud and bury them in the dust?

When “church people” gossip and grumble with everything said about the church but praise and honor everything said about the world — will the Holy Spirit within us stir up and humiliate the proud and bury them in the dust?

I wonder how often we choose instead to be silent rather than offend others?

I wonder how often we would rather let God puke them out of His mouth as lukewarm and not truly His — rather than call for repentance and risk them turning away from us just like they have turned away from God?

I wonder how often we are enticed by our own temptations and let our own feelings, opinions and desires speak to us loudly and justify our wickedness and refusal of God — instead of allowing the Word of God and the Spirit of God to thunder loudly inside of us to deliver us from our own sin?

Do we truly believe what God says in His Word?

Do we have faith in the God of the Bible, or have we traded Him for a “Daddy in the Clouds” that we have made in our own image to our own liking?

One of these perspectives would have God praising us, saying “Well done my good and faithful servant!”

Lord, help us.

A reminder from Billy Graham:

Confidence, boldness, no fear

And because of my imprisonment, most of the believers here have gained confidence and boldly speak God’s message without fear.
Philippians 1:14 NLT

Paul was imprisoned for preaching the gospel. He wasn’t satisfied only telling those who wanted to hear about Jesus this Good News,  he was preaching it boldly and confidently and without fear to the people that hated hearing the truth, to the ones who would rather not have light shined on their sinful lives, to the ones who wanted to stone him,  kill him,  and imprison him.

That’s a powerful and strong testimony if we don’t care about the temporary consequences, if we are not so afraid that water down the truth so that it conforms to the type of message the world’s is comfortable receiving, if we are bold and confident and we have such fear and awe of God that it is more important to share truth, even when it will cause divisiveness and division and a reaction of repulsion from those who are in darkness.

So many of us today are more afraid of offending someone than we are of not warning them so that a seed of Truth might be planted and that they might find their way out of being a slave to their sin. So many will say things like “I’ve been hurt by the church” and “the reason people don’t want to go to church is because those people are judgemental” – when it really isn’t that anyone focused on them and made them feel unwelcome,  it’s that they didn’t like the light being shined on the truth that they are a sinner. The truth is that many of the lost would rather believe for themselves that they are a “pretty good person” and that knowing about Christ is enough to justify them continuing to be conformed to the ways of this world & living in sin.

You see, I’m interested in seeing the church grow. But the church is the body of true believers of Christ who pick up their cross and follow him. It isn’t some church membership list and it isn’t saying we are His with our mouths and proving we aren’t with our lives.

But there are so many false teachers and gathering places of false teachers today who are pandering to itchy ears, who have no interest in repentance,  who will deny the very power that can overcome sin in their lives, and who skillfully sidestep questions and make every bent argument in an attempt to avoid standing firm upon the foundation because they are more concerned about someone turning their backs on them and not accepting them than they are about the truth being shared boldly,  confidently, and without fear.

These are the same ones who will talk all day about Matthew 6:33 and mention a wonderful Kingdom and treasures and rewards and promises,  and they will mention that God is a provider and that He will add blessings to your life – but the very blessings they are interested in chasing and selling to these people they gather to dine upon are the things of this world.

And they sneak away from talking about righteousness,  or they diminish and blaspheme the Holy Spirit of God by acting as if it has no power to overcome sin in people’s lives and that it is simply “a coat that we put on to hide our true nature” and deny the transformation of repentance that is a necessary component of salvation. Doesn’t their very teaching uncover what it is that they are, and what it is that they are doing? Aren’t they wolves who “put on the skin of a sheep to hide their true nature” so that they can gobble up the sheep, living off of them and feeding of of the sheep instead of feeding them? Isn’t everything to them about an outward show, an appearance and a performance, a form of faked and imitated godliness that denies the very power that could make them holy? Aren’t these the very ones that Jude warns us have crept into the gathering places and have twisted the message of a costly, valuable grace, and of a single,  narrow gate, and of a faithful walk along the narrow path, and of trials, tribulations, and sufferings in this world, and of being a new creation not conformed to the world – and for the sake of prideful numbers of false conversions,  for the sake of prideful numbers of sinner’s prayers spoken,  for the sake of prideful numbers of the Baptism of John, for prideful numbers of attendance and membership in their country club gatherings – they have forsaken the Word of God – they have forsaken the baptism of the Holy Spirit – they have become teachers of lasciviousness – they have wormed their way into the church to receive glory and honor from mere men while robbing Christ of His glory.

I say this because some ungodly people have wormed their way into your churches, saying that God’s marvelous grace allows us to live immoral lives. The condemnation of such people was recorded long ago, for they have denied our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ. So I want to remind you, though you already know these things, that Jesus first rescued the nation of Israel from Egypt, but later he destroyed those who did not remain faithful. And I remind you of the angels who did not stay within the limits of authority God gave them but left the place where they belonged. God has kept them securely chained in prisons of darkness, waiting for the great day of judgment. And don’t forget Sodom and Gomorrah and their neighboring towns, which were filled with immorality and every kind of sexual perversion. Those cities were destroyed by fire and serve as a warning of the eternal fire of God’s judgment. In the same way, these people—who claim authority from their dreams—live immoral lives, defy authority, and scoff at supernatural beings.  But even Michael, one of the mightiest of the angels, did not dare accuse the devil of blasphemy, but simply said, “The Lord rebuke you!” (This took place when Michael was arguing with the devil about Moses’ body.) But these people scoff at things they do not understand. Like unthinking animals, they do whatever their instincts tell them, and so they bring about their own destruction. What sorrow awaits them! For they follow in the footsteps of Cain, who killed his brother. Like Balaam, they deceive people for money. And like Korah, they perish in their rebellion. When these people eat with you in your fellowship meals commemorating the Lord’s love, they are like dangerous reefs that can shipwreck you. They are like shameless shepherds who care only for themselves. They are like clouds blowing over the land without giving any rain. They are like trees in autumn that are doubly dead, for they bear no fruit and have been pulled up by the roots. They are like wild waves of the sea, churning up the foam of their shameful deeds. They are like wandering stars, doomed forever to blackest darkness. Enoch, who lived in the seventh generation after Adam, prophesied about these people. He said, “Listen! The Lord is coming with countless thousands of his holy ones to execute judgment on the people of the world. He will convict every person of all the ungodly things they have done and for all the insults that ungodly sinners have spoken against him.” These people are grumblers and complainers, living only to satisfy their desires. They brag loudly about themselves, and they flatter others to get what they want. But you, my dear friends, must remember what the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ predicted. They told you that in the last times there would be scoffers whose purpose in life is to satisfy their ungodly desires. These people are the ones who are creating divisions among you. They follow their natural instincts because they do not have God’s Spirit in them. But you, dear friends, must build each other up in your most holy faith, pray in the power of the Holy Spirit,  and await the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will bring you eternal life. In this way, you will keep yourselves safe in God’s love. And you must show mercy to those whose faith is wavering. Rescue others by snatching them from the flames of judgment. Show mercy to still others, but do so with great caution, hating the sins that contaminate their lives. Now all glory to God, who is able to keep you from falling away and will bring you with great joy into his glorious presence without a single fault.
Jude 1:4-24 NLT

So I say,  let us be bold and confident in sharing this truth. Let your light shine and share the Truth of this Good News with little concern about whether they will hate you or love you, just with the grattitude that you have the opportunity to follow in His footsteps – even if it sets the world at odds against you.

Who do you think you are?

Who are we, that Almighty God would take notice of us?


Who do we think we are, to believe that God himself, creator of all things in heaven and earth would even think about us for a moment?

Psalms 144:3-4 NLT
O  Lord , what are human beings that you should notice them, mere mortals that you should think about them? For they are like a breath of air; their days are like a passing shadow.

Continue reading “Who do you think you are?”