I am sitting in my hotel room in Louisville after a long day in board meetings with the Kentucky Baptist Convention. It was an exciting day of planning and coordinating as we look at what God has been doing and is doing across our state in the life of Kentucky Baptists. There is a growing desire to see a move of God in Eastern Kentucky with upcoming events such as "Hope for the Mountains." That desire grows from leaders within our Kentucky Baptist Convention who have partnered with those who have a heart for proclaiming the Gospel in that region. In fact, the buzz words that I hear frequently in Baptist life today is "Gospel Conversations." As we have discussion about training our church congregations in sharing the Gospel, it occurred to me the challenge we have before us in our churches. Because of our sinful nature, none of us need to attend a seminar on how to have "Gossip Conversations." Because it is our sinful nature, this is where people will naturally drift. In contrast, we must be intentional and offer training on how to have "Gospel Conversations." Unfortunately, many pastors are overwhelmed with putting out fires from "Gossip Conversations" that they will have less time to devote to training, equipping, and actually having "Gospel Conversations." The thought occurred to me... if we spent half of the effort into sharing the Gospel as we put into sharing gossip, we could win a community to Christ!
One of our KBC leaders shared an illustration that we naturally drift away from evangelism. He explained that if a pastor doesn't make a hospital visit that people will complain. He gave several examples of things that church members would complain about if the pastor does not do them (I could have offered a few more examples). However, no one complains if we don't knock on doors to share the Gospel. While there are a few in our church that would rather have Gossip Conversations over Gospel Conversations, I believe there are many more who are eager to covenant together for the sake of the Gospel and make Jesus the central focus of our conversations. Let's speak words of life, not words of destruction.
What were your conversations like today? Let's have Gospel Conversations NOT Gossip Conversations.
Below is a resource for your personal worship...
Sing or listen to the hymn "Wonderful Words of Life." I am praying wonderful words of life over my church family.
Sing them over again to me, wonderful words of life;
Let me more of their beauty see, wonderful words of life.
Words of life and beauty, teach me faith and duty:
Beautiful words, wonderful words, wonderful words of life.
Beautiful words, wonderful words, wonderful words of life.
Christ, the blessed One, gives to all, wonderful words of life;
Sinner, list to the loving call, wonderful words of life.
All so freely given, wooing us to heaven:
Sweetly echo the Gospel call, wonderful words of life;
Offer pardon and peace to all, wonderful words of life.
Jesus, only Savior, sanctify forever:
CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO THE SONG.
God's word begins with "head knowledge." We sometimes dismiss "head knowledge" as unimportant simply because we believe "heart knowledge" seems better. However, "head knowledge" is essential to our faith. You cannot have faith in something that you know nothing about. The problem isn't "head knowledge," but problems do arise when all we have is "head knowledge." Our faith begins with knowledge of God's word.
Where does it go from there? Our "head knowledge" must then be moved to "heart knowledge." Your meditation of Scripture will move God's word from "head knowledge" to "heart knowledge." When we eat, we cannot simply chew our food and then spit it out and expect to gain nourishment. We must consume the food. It must move from our mouth to our stomach. In the same way, when we read God's word, we cannot simply chew on God's word and allow it to remain in our minds. When we meditate upon Scripture, it is the process of moving what we have placed in our minds into our hearts. Biblical meditation is to fill your mind with Scripture and allow it to move to your heart. When we fail to move "head knowledge" to "heart knowledge," then we become prideful. The Bible teaches in 1 Corinthians 8:1 that "knowledge puffs up."
Interestingly, "heart knowledge" is not the final destination either. Once God's word has become the meditation of our heart, it must move to our feet. Pastor Christopher recently shared this quote, "Missions is really nothing but worship that tied its shoes. It is worship that kept going, that continued to its logical conclusion." We "tie our shoes" when we tithe. We "tie our shoes" when we share the Gospel. Here's the problem, many in our church pews have never learned to tie their shoes. They depend on others to tie their shoes for them. Just as "knowledge puffs up" when it fails to move from the head to the heart, our faith is dead when it fails to move from the heart to our feet. James 2:17 declares, "Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead." What type of fruit does a dead tree produce? Exactly! It doesn't produce fruit. We are called to produce lasting fruit for the Kingdom of God. This task will never occur if we don't tie our shoes!
What step can you take to begin learning to tie your own shoes? Here are six Spiritual HABITS that I have identified that can help you "tie your own shoes"...
Hang Time with God: Daily time reading God's word and in prayer.
Accountability in a Small Group: Join a group of like-minded believers who are committed to God's word.
Bible memorization: Meditate on God's word.
Involvement in Ministry & Mission: Every believer has a ministry in the church and a mission in the world.
Tithing: Biblical stewardship begins with giving God the first fruits of all your increase. Have you trusted Him with 10% of the first fruits of your income?
Sermon Application: After each sermon ask, "What does God want me to do in response to hearing the word?"
We have already examined God’s love as expressed through His Person (i.e. intellect, sensibility, and volition) as well as His Nature (i.e. divine, holy, and spirit). This week, we will examine His love expressed through His character. A person’s character is their moral qualities or attributes.
God’s character is good (cf. Psalm 100:5). God has many moral qualities. We are going to examine three of the most prominent character qualities of God. We can begin with the goodness of God. God is good. I used to be confused by the prayer, “God is great. God is good. Let us thank Him for our food.” I was confused because it seemed to me that being “good” was less than being “great.” As if it were a step down in the prayer. However, when I understand that each word is describing different aspects of God, then I understood the prayer more appropriately. For example, “God is great” describes the great power of God’s divine nature. “God is good” describes the moral standard of God’s character. Imagine an all-powerful being (i.e. great) that is not also good. I am thankful that Satan is not all-powerful. God’s goodness means that God is the final standard of good, and all that God is and does is worthy of approval. God expresses His goodness through grace, mercy, and patience. The goodness of God is expressed through grace, which is unmerited favor. I think of it as receiving something you don’t deserve. The goodness of God is also expressed through mercy, which is not receiving something you do deserve. Mercy is often expressed to those in distress or misery. Third, the goodness of God is expressed through patience, which is God’s delay of punishment.
God’s character is righteous (cf. Psalm 119:137). God’s righteousness means that God always acts in accordance with what is right and is Himself the final standard of what is right. In English the terms righteousness and justice are different words, but in both the Hebrew OT and the Greek NT there is only one word group behind these two English terms. Think of God’s righteousness this way… when God takes action, we know that His actions will always be right. Abraham knew that God’s actions in dealing with humanity were always right, “Far be it from You to do such a thing as this, to slay the righteous with the wicked, so that the righteous should be as the wicked; far be it from you! Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?” The answer is a resounding, “Yes!”
God’s character is truthful (cf. Psalm 119:160). God’s truthfulness means that He is the true God, and that all His knowledge and words are both true and the final standard of truth (cf. John 17:3; 1 John 5:20). God’s truthfulness is expressed through His faithfulness. God will always do what He has said and fulfill what He has promised (cf. Numbers 23:19; 2 Samuel 7:28; Psalm 141:6).
When we consider the essence of God’s character is love, we are suggesting that every action of God flows from the love of God. Love is not merely an attribute or virtue of God. Love is the very essence of God that is evidenced through His person, nature, and character.
Dr. Chris Dortch has been in ministry since 1993. His blog is aimed to "equip the saints for the work of ministry."