Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus

"Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth." Colossians 3:2
Kari Beougher

It can be so difficult to train our thoughts toward godly and eternal things. In the midst of day to day life, it is easy to get caught up in the details and fail to let our minds dwell on heavenly things instead of earthly things. Jobs, relationships, finances, education- even seemingly good endeavors can fill our mind and distract us from keeping a proper perspective on who God is and what He has called us to do.

Romans 8:5-6 says, "For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace." 
When we focus solely on the realities of this life, it is overwhelming, discouraging, and ultimately, completely futile and displeasing to God. However, when we have a proper focus on who God is and live in the assurance of the hope of heaven, life is far less overwhelming.

When reading this verse, I think of Matthew 14 and Peter walking on the water to Jesus. When Peter had his focus on the Lord, he was able to trust the Lord and walk with confidence; the moment he focused on his circumstances, he was overwhelmed and unable to do what the Lord had asked of him. In the midst of the heartaches, confusion and disappointments of this life, we can have perfect peace when we have our minds set on the Spirit.

Today, may we purpose to set our minds on things above, not focusing on earthly things. May we "fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith" and "take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ." (Hebrews 12:2, 1 Corinthians 10:5).

Monday, July 29, 2013

A true NT church plant

"But there were some of them...who came to Antioch and began...preaching the Lord Jesus. And the hand of the Lord was with them, and a large number who believed turned to the Lord. The news about them reached the ears of the church at Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas off to Antioch. Then when he arrived and witnessed the grace of God, he rejoiced and began to encourage them all with resolute heart to remain true to the Lord; for he was a good man, and full of the Holy Spirit and of faith. And considerable numbers were brought to the Lord. And he left for Tarsus to look for Saul; and when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. And for an entire year they met with the church and taught considerable numbers; and the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch." Acts 11:20-26, NASB.

A true, New Testament church plant is full of Spirit-filled believers who share the Word of God. When they do, people come to know the Lord Jesus. There, I said it. It should not be a shocker but unfortunately, we herald many church plants who may be creative but that don't have the blessing of Christ. If you are planting a church, Acts is the place to spend some study time. Church planting is not easy. It never was and it never will be. But the only way to do a church plant is with the Lord and His blessing. We see that the early believers at Antioch began by preaching the Lord Jesus. They reached, sent, witnessed, rejoiced, encouraged, remained true, brought, met, taught and were known by who they taught; they were known as Christians.

You may not be planting a church but wherever you are and whatever you are doing, I pray you are with a church and being a part of the work of the church. I pray the Holy Spirit is helping you to rid yourself of anything keeping you from doing the main, hard work of preaching, teaching and encouraging people to the Lord Jesus Christ. May we be strong believers and strong reproducers. May He help us to build strong church plants and strong churches that honor Him and Him alone!

Friday, July 26, 2013

Evangelism to a Post Modern World: Are You Burdened?

"Now while Paul was waiting for them at Athens, his spirit was being provoked within him as he was observing the city full of idols.  So he was reasoning in the synagogue with the Jews and the God-fearing Gentiles, and in the market place every day with those who happened to be present" (Acts 17:16-17).

Paul is burdened because the true and living God is not being worshipped.  This Scripture says that "Paul's' spirit was being provoked within him."  The One worthy of ALL glory and praise is not receiving it.  The city was full of all sorts of idols, perhaps as many as 20,000. 

Paul is also burdened for the lost people around Him.  That is why he was reasoning with the Jews, the Gentiles, those in the market place and anyone who happened to be present.  Sharing Jesus Christ with them was of supreme importance to Paul.  He shares the depth of his burdened heart with us as well in Romans 9:2-3:  "... that I have great sorrow and unceasing grief in my heart.  For I could wish that I myself were accursed, separated from Christ for the sake of my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh..."
Sharon Beougher

This really challenges me!  How burdened am I truly about the lost people around me?  Does my compassion for them take priority over everything else?  Do I weep for them?  Do I pray constantly for them?  Do I beg God for opportunities to open the door for me to share the sweet message of the gospel?

Lord, let me be burdened because You are the true and living God and You are not being worshipped by the whole earth as You deserve.  Also, burden me with the condition of the lost that are around me everyday and find me faithful to pray for opportunities and boldness to take those opportunities.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Evangelism in a Post-Modern Culture: Acts 17

While in Malaysia recently, I was able to sit in on a lecture my husband was giving to a class.  I learned many things that I would like to share over the new few weeks.  First of all, grasping the religious background or knowledge that the audience to whom you are trying to witness is very important. 

In examining Peter's sermon in Acts 2 and then Paul's sermon in Acts 17, we see the starting point for each sermon was entirely different.  In Acts 2, Peter begins by quoting the prophet, Joel, and says that "everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved" (Acts 2:21).  He then moves right into telling them about Jesus, whom they knew.

In Acts 17, Paul had to adapt the start of his sermon because he was speaking to a group of people who were worshipping many different gods.  In fact, it is estimated that there may have been about 20,000 different gods.  There was one altar that had the inscription "TO AN UNKNOWN GOD" (Acts 17:23) and that is where he starts--God, the Creator, the Lord of heaven and earth.

Sharon Beougher
We must adapt our evangelism to the prior knowledge that the people to whom we are trying to witness have.  They may have grown up in church or they may have never stepped into a church.  I used to assume that talking about Billy Graham would be a good point of identification and possible bridge to the gospel, but we are living in a culture where many do not even know his name as one of the greatest evangelists ever. 

Lord, give us wisdom to know where people are spiritually in our sphere of influence and give us the wisdom to know how to share the gospel with them.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Side by Side for the Faith of the Gospel

"Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel" (Philippians 1:27, ESV).

Last week, groups from my church went out to other churches to help them with their Vacation Bible Schools. It was neat see the kids learn more about God, but also to get to see the community of Christ coming together to share the gospel.

After that time at VBS, these words that Paul had written to the church in Philippi made me think. He hoped they would be:
  • "standing firm in one spirit, with one mind" - a common bond. Picture soldiers who are resolute in their mission, standing their ground even as they face their enemies. As believers, we all face struggles. Yet, we have the same, unmatched Savior King.
  • "striving side by side" - a common walk. Can you see a football team in position, ready to play until the buzzer sounds? They function best as a team. Just like the cornerback is not alone on the field, we are not alone in this pilgrim's progress to live out what we believe.
  • Kelli Martin
  • "for the faith of the gospel" - a common goal.  As people, God created us in His image and loves us. As believers, we have been changed because of His blood and mercy. He is the reason we are united.
What could God do through believers who are united?

Recommended music video and song: Kari Jobe at Passion 2013 singing "Revelation Song".

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Do Not Despise the Discipline of the Almighty

"For they disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but He disciplines us for our good, so that we may share His holiness. All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness." Hebrews 12:10-11

No child I have ever met enjoys being disciplined. I certainly did not. I remember as a young child my parents explaining to me that they had to punish me because they loved me. This seemed completely contradictory to my finite mind...how could discipline be loving? At 24 years old, I am extremely grateful for the times my parents disciplined me and showed me right from wrong. It truly did train and teach me how to live righteously.

After my senior year of college, I went through an extremely difficult season where the Lord graciously upset all of my plans and taught me dependence on Him. At the time, it did not feel joyful, but very sorrowful. And yet, at the end of that year, I remember reading in Psalm 119 and being able to fully agree with the psalmist, "Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I keep Your word. You are good and do good...It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I may learn Your statutes." Psalm 119:67-68; 71.

It was through the affliction and discipline of the Lord that I came to truly know Him. It was through a season of sorrow that produced in me the "peaceful fruit of righteousness." What a beautiful truth to know that God disciplines us for our good, to share in His holiness, and to produce in us the peaceful fruit of righteousness. Today, may we allow ourselves to be trained by the Lord and trust that His ways are loving and for our good. 

"Behold, how happy is the man whom God reproves, so do not despise the discipline of the Almighty.For He inflicts pain, and gives relief; He wounds, and His hands also heal." Job 5:17-18.

Sunday, July 14, 2013


"So will My word be which goes forth from My mouth; it will not return to Me empty, without accomplishing what I desire, and without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it." Isaiah 55:11, NASB.

I wonder how many of my words have fallen on deaf ears. Maybe I really don't want to know the answer! I'm afraid that the reverse has been true also: I have not listened when someone was talking to me. Rarely was it on purpose, but often because my mind was racing in another direction.

Isaiah 55:11 reminds me that God's Word never returns void. I know there have been times I did not listen to the Lord. I am sure there have been days that I read the Word and did not take time to comprehend the message. Yet, God tells us that He always speaks through His Word, and that His Word will accomplish what He desires. God speaks through the Bible and He doesn't waste His Words.

When I share the Word with others, I can know that God is at work. Some may choose to try to close their ears, but God knows how to speak to the heart. The promise here is that when we share His Word (the Bible), He speaks through the Scriptures. In order to be the most effective, I need to just stay in the Word.

If you are wondering where to start, read the book of 1 John. This small book toward the end of the New Testament will help you know one of the most important things about listening: the assurance that you have listened to His call to your heart, to believe on Jesus and give Him your life.

Lord, give us ears to listen to You as we read Your Word. Give us your words to say as we share Your truth with others.

Friday, July 12, 2013

A Malaysian Opportunity

"Conduct yourselves with wisdom toward outsiders, making the most of  the opportunity" (Colossians 4:5)

The past two weeks my husband and I have been in Malaysia so that he could teach some classes.  In the area where we were, it is illegal to witness to Muslims.  If a native Malaysian witnessed to a Muslim, he or she would go to jail for three years.  If a visitor was founding witnessing to a Muslim, he or she would be kicked out of the country.  I passionately prayed that I would conduct myself with wisdom, but that I would also make the most of any opportunity.

We had four nights of relaxation before we went to the school.  I was reading by the pool (yes, it was wonderful!) and a lady from England plopped down next to me and said, "I just want to be friendly because this is our last day here."  I ended up talking to her for an hour and then moving over to where her husband and two teenage boys were sitting, where we talked for two more hours. It was natural to talk about the different religions in Malaysia by observing the many different kinds of dress and customs.  The conversation opened up easily to be able to share the gospel in depth and to show evidence of the truth of the Bible, who Jesus is and of His resurrection.

Sharon Beougher
They had not heard any of the things I told them.  No decision were made, but seeds were planted.  The wife came to her own conclusion that it would be better to believe than to sit on the fence just hoping she was doing the right thing.  As they left the hotel, the wife left me with her email address and asked me to stay in touch.  I left them with a HeartCall tract and another little booklet I had with me.  God answered my prayer!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

A beam of light - Light up the night

"Now this is the message we have heard from Him and declare to you: God is light, and there is absolutely no darkness in Him" (1 John 1:5, HCSB). 

A couple weekends ago, I got to go camping with a group of friends in the Texas Hill Country. It was beautiful and a fun trip. One night, some of us walked away from our campsite to find an open space to look at stars. Sure enough, we found a great space where we found so many shining brightly. When we left to go back to our campsite, I was relieved that a few of us had bright flashlights to help us find our way. The stars had light of their own, but the flashlights were closer to us and beamed to guide us through the trees and back to our tents.

Kelli Martin
Do you remember a time you were lost in darkness? Maybe you can recall a time you were outside late one night, or maybe spiritually you remember being lost when God was not your guide.

God, our Creator wishes to draw us close to Him and to help us navigate through life. That's why Jesus, the light of the world, came to earth, to die in our place so we wouldn't have to live and remain in darkness. Sin separates us from God, but God is faithful to forgive our sins against Him out of His lovingkindness. He offers a beam of light, because He is light.

I pray we look to Him as our guide today. Let's share this light that brings hope with others, this light that can shine in the darkest of places.

Photo by Murfy Kristiadi. You can find it here: http://yourshot.nationalgeographic.com/photos/1198727/

A few songs to YouTube music video links:
Light of the World / Here I Am to Worship - Tim Hughes .
Fuego - Lecrae feat. KB and Suzy Rock

More verses:
1 John 1:5-10, Psalm 119:105, Proverbs 20:27John 8:12, John 12:46, 2 Corinthians 4:5-6

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Evangelism to a Post Modern Culture: Study People and Know God is at Work

 "Men of Athens, I observe that you are very religious in all respects.  For while I was passing through and examining the objects of your worship, I also found an altar with this inscription, 'TO AN UNKNOWN GOD'" (Acts 17:22-23).

Paul was a pioneer in Athens as they said among themselves that Paul was bringing "some strange things to our ears" (Acts 17:20).  Paul had observed and examined the culture around him.  He did not assume that they knew anything and he zeroed in on their spiritual hunger.  He said he noticed they had an altar to an unknown God.  Then he proceeds to tell them who that unknown God is.  As Paul zeroed in on their spiritual hunger, he spoke plain and simply to them.  Richard Baxter, a noted Puritan theologian, said:  "I have found it impossible to speak too plainly to people." 

Sharon Beougher
Though this was a pioneer area for the gospel, Paul took advantage of his opportunity.  God is at work in the world, so it should not surprise us that even in an area where the gospel has not preached, God has been at work.  God is drawing people to Himself.  That means He is at work right now and my job is to go and join Him in what He is already doing.  Paul Little, author of How to Give Away Your Faith said, "Every person I have known who has been used of God in personal evangelism has had an attitude of expectancy to discover interested people."

Do you expect that God is drawing people around You to Himself?  Do you trust that He is working in your family or your circle of influence?  Do you think He is powerful enough to make Himself known even without your help or my help?

Lord, help me be a better "observer" of people.  Help me be alert to the deep needs of those around me.  Give me the boldness to approach people and know that You are working in people's lives.  Help me to recognize Your work, trust You that You are softening hearts, and join in the work that You are doing.  Thank You for the privilege of letting me share Your precious message of salvation.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Throne of Grace

"Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need." Hebrews 4:16

One of the great privileges of being a believer is the ability to take concerns, fears, joys, and sorrows before the Lord and trust Him to provide what is needed. One biblical passage that greatly encourages me in this is 1 Samuel 1, where Hannah, who is barren, goes to the temple to pray for a child. As she is praying, Eli the priest comes to her assuming she is drunk due to the intensity of her prayer. I love what Scripture describes following: 

But Hannah replied, “No, my lord, I am a woman oppressed in spirit; I  have drunk neither wine nor strong drink, but I have poured out my soul before the Lord.... So the woman went her way and ate, and her face was no longer sad. (1 Samuel 1:15;18).

What Scripture doesn't say is "the Lord immediately granted her request so her face was no longer sad." Instead, it says after she had poured out her soul before the Lord and taken her requests to Him, she was no longer sad. The presence of the Lord was enough to satisfy Hannah and give her peace. As believers, we have the freedom to pour out our heart before the Lord and also can rest assured that He "causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose" (Romans 8:28).

Today, may we be thankful for the incredible gift it is to approach the throne of grace with CONFIDENCE. May we praise the Lord for the mercy and grace He gives in our time of need, and trust that He will provide for us. May we find our greatest comfort, peace and satisfaction in His presence.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Lord find me faithful

19 “Now after a long time the master of those slaves *came and *settled accounts with them. 20 The one who had received the five talents came up and brought five more talents, saying, ‘Master, you entrusted five talents to me. See, I have gained five more talents.’ 21 His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful slave. You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’ Matthew 25:19-21 (see whole parable in 25:14-30).

This week's blog comes in the form of a prayer request. This weekend, I was reminded again of the parable of the talents found in Matthew 25 and Luke 19. Many of you know that one of the keys to effective leadership is found in verse 21 of Matthew 25, be faithful in a few things and God will put you in charge of more. Throughout my life, I have found that when I am faithful in the few things that God gives me, he blesses and broadens my responsibility. It is amazing that even when doing the smallest tasks, God sees the faithfulness and He blesses it. As I have taken on the job of starting a full-blown ministry of my own, it has been the most blessed and yet the hardest thing I have ever done. People have invested in God's work and more than ever before, I desire to multiply what has been given - physically, financially and spiritually. I desire to once again be found faithful. Please pray that I am.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Happy 4th! A Call to Freedom

"For you were called to be free, brothers; only do not use this freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but serve one another through love" (Galatians 5:13, HCSB). 

What makes you feel free? In America, today is a day many take to reflect on the sacrifice our forefathers made years ago. Today, there are military and other people who work to protect our country and to help unite it. Our independence day brings hope and gratefulness to this country we are blessed to be a part of.

As believers in Christ, we have been given freedom in this life in Him, as we know that we are forever a part of God's family because of His free grace. We were once caught up in sin and suffered being apart from our Maker. Christ came to die for us, though, to set us free from living life apart from Him in darkness. His selfless love shines and caused Him to die on the cross in our place. He has the power to forgive us. He offers freedom, hope and renewal in this new life in a reconciled relationship with Him.
Kelli Martin

Let's "serve one another in love" out of awe of who God is. He has shown us how to love. Instead of getting caught up in a web of selfish desires, let's look for ways we can love others today and this weekend. We may get to share where we find light and where we have learned love.

Let's pray:

  • Thanks - for God's grace
  • For help - to practice selfless love 
  • For open eyes - to see times to share how we find freedom because of Christ's sacrifice

"No one has greater love than this, that someone would lay down his life for his friends" (John 15:13, HCSB).

"We love because He first loved us" (1 John 4:19).

Happy fourth!

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

According to His Mercy

"So then as through one transgression there resulted condemnation to all men, even so through one act of righteousness there resulted justification of life to all men. For as through the one man's disobedience the many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the One the many will be made righteous." Romans 6:18-19

Kari Beougher
My Dad is a pastor and professor and loves to use stories about his children as illustrations. Unfortunately, over the years I have frequently been used as his illustration for sin. When I was 15 months old, I was playing outside and walking toward the road. Concerned, my parents said, "Kari Michelle, don't you dare put one foot in that street." So I walked over to the road, bent down and put my two hands in the street. Though I obviously don't remember this, I have heard the story enough times to feel as though I do. My Dad's point is that they did not have to teach me how to sin or choose disobedience. Integral to our human nature is the propensity toward sin and the inability to choose righteousness. Left to ourselves, we are absolutely unable to live in a way that is pleasing to God.

The good news of the Gospel is "although you were formerly ALIENATED and HOSTILE in mind, ENGAGED in EVIL deeds, yet He has now RECONCILED you in His fleshly body through death, in order to present you before Him HOLY and BLAMELESS and BEYOND REPROACH- if indeed you CONTINUE in the faith firmly ESTABLISHED and STEADFAST, and not moved away from the hope of the gospel..." (Colossians 1:21-23).

While we were still ENGAGED in evil deeds, God sent His Son Jesus Christ to die on the cross for our sins and thus reconcile us to God. Now, we who were formerly unable to choose obedience are made righteous through a relationship with Jesus Christ. Titus 3:5 says, "He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but ACCORDING TO HIS MERCY."

Today, may we thank God for His incredible mercy and grace toward us. May we continue in our faith, not shifting from the hope of the Gospel.