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I am curious about the verse in Colossians just before the one highlighted by Mike: "Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity." (Col 4:5 NIV)

So there are "insiders" and "outsiders", "us" and "them" and the advice is "make the most of every opportunity".

I wonder what Paul really had in mind here.

Andrew, there are “insiders” and “outsiders.” The insiders are Christians and the outsiders are nonbelievers. Verses 5 and 6 go together.

Colossians 4: (5) Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. (6) Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.

Christ got Paul’s attention via the burning bush but many times He uses us as His burning bush to get the attention of nonbelievers. Nonbelievers watch what we do and say and how we handle situations. They are curious as to what we have that makes “us” different from “them.” We never know when the opportunity will arise for us to share the Lord with nonbelievers. It may come in a personal quiet time with friends or family members or it may even come when they question us with mockery or ridicule in their voice. It could come when we are among strangers or when we don’t know we are being observed. Nonbelievers are always seeking and looking for something - they are looking for the answer to fulfill their longing. We have that something, THE one and only answer – we have the love of Jesus Christ within us! We need to always be ready to meet and accept the opportunity to witness for Christ. We need to always conduct ourselves as Christians should and be ready to answer their questions and sow the seeds of Christianity. God will send the nonbelievers to us with their questions and He will provide us with the answers. This is the way the Word is spread and souls are reached and revived! Praise the Lord!

God Bless!
Pat

Jeremiah 10:1-11:23

But Jesus said to them, A prophet is not without honor (deference, reverence) except in his [own] country and among [his] relatives and in his [own] house. (Mark 6:4 AMP)

It is Jeremiah’s own people, his family who want him dead for just speaking the Truth; the Words God gave him to speak (11:18-23). How many of us are not speaking out the Words of God because we do not want to disturb the family and our family’s idols? This entire section of Jeremiah is speaking of God’s people, not the other folks, the non-believers, but God’s folks choosing other things besides God. This is the same sin that happened out in the desert when Israel became tired of waiting for Moses to come down from the mountain and crafted an idol, a calf, to be their god.

God long ago gave Israel a choice, two choices, one choice for good and the other for evil. That was the same choice God gave to Adam back in the garden—Innocence or life and death. Of all the trees that Adam had access to, only one was forbidden the Tree of good and evil, he chose death. We have this same choice, good or evil. When we choose evil, and we then try to pretend it is good by erecting our own gods to validate our faulty choice, we gather together as conspirators to kill the one telling us 1) that we have made a bad choice, and 2) telling us to repent, to return to the boundaries (chapter 11) God has set.
We are no different from the people Jeremiah was commissioned to warn before he was formed in his mother’s womb. Despite the prophet’s best efforts to turn God’s focus away from His people and toward the nations (10:23-25), God’s will is God’s will even when our will doesn’t agree with His.

Consider the work of God; for who can straighten out what He has made crooked?
(Ecclesiastes 7:13 HCSB)

Grace and peace,
Ramona

Andrew,

Yesterday you asked,
"..how do you do your evangelism effort, what is the context in which you use the declaration: "I accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Personal Savior."?"

It pretty much goes in line with what Pat posted.

When you pray for the opportunity to meet people with whom you can share the gospel and/or your testimony - I believe that is praying in the Will of God. I believe that is a prayer that God will answer in the affirmative.

Since I believe that it is God drawing people to Him, I always pray that it is the Holy Spirit that guides my words in talking to these people. To help me to say what it is that they need to hear.

I often make that request in my prayers, and usually during the week I run across 1-3 people who are seeking or are having problems in life. Sometimes I know them, most of the time I do not. If I do not and there is no question for me, I usually just ask - "are you all right?"

Sometimes they are seeking help, or may just have a question. The first thing I do is - LISTEN to them.

Since I have been a Christian only a few short years, I still remember my attitudes, addictions and problems before I was saved. So I can IDENTIFY with most of their issues or questions.

When they are spent, fall silent, or ask me what I think - then I can RESPOND. Usually after expressing EMPATHY, I tell them something (short) about a similar problem I had, and that it was solved by God, or was removed and/or easier to deal with when "I accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Personal Savior". (What I say depends on the person.)

Two things usually happen at this point:
-there is either more dialogue and/or questions (Ex. What do you mean?, How did this happen?).
- there is a dismissive roll of the eyes or some form of hostility.

If dialogue, it can go in several directions - Bible, relationship with God, more indepth testimony, some core truths that might help, etc. - really just leave it up to God to direct the conversation. Sometimes I invite them to church, a fellowship function of Christians, but always leave the door open for follow-up conversations (phone #, emails, etc.)

If questions, then I try to answer them, but even better try to respond with questions. (EX. Great question, why is it you think you feel that way?)

If dismissive and/or hostility - I tell them I felt exactly the same way a few years ago, and understand their skepticism. Encouraging them to seek on their own, and offering to help them if they have skeptical questions or seeking clarification.

THIS IS NOT A FORMULA
All this is a general outline, but there are many variations, and quite a few exceptions. (Ex. My family has absolutley no interest in sharing with me their feelings or hearing what I have to say.} But, I am just trying to give you the context of where my statement usually comes up.

Salvation is God's work, and I am just a conduit. The person may cut off the conversation, get abusive, say thanks and walk away,etc. The important thing is you are reaching out in love and compassion. If they have ears to hear, eyes to see - you will know soon enough. You also never know down the line if what you say may direct more questions to other people or their own seeking is intensified.

Evangelism does not have to be a ministry, it is as simple as sharing what you have and know - but I firmly believe it is in God's hands and his direction should always be sought - and the GLORY is always His.


Thanks Pat,

I understand your explanation. I think I was looking for something beyond that.

Verses 5 and 6 interpreted in that way have a rather devious undertone - "we are the ones on the inside with the secret knowledge and we have to use clever behaviour to persuade the ones on the outside".

Now, that does not sound good. Which was why I was wondering what Paul really had in mind, how did he weigh these phrases, was there an undertone for him, how did he perceive the context of these words?

Those who believe and know Jesus as Lord are in a special place in the universe. The question is, how do they carry that. There is a big risk of pride, arrogance and self-righteousness. These can destroy the mission before it starts ...

Just thinking aloud here ...

Blessings,
Andrew

Hi John,

Thanks for taking the trouble to give me such an extensive reply.

I admire your boldness in being so pro-active in evangelism.

Blessings,
Andrew

Andrew,
The context of the passages is: Paul is asking for prayer so that doors may be opened (opportunities). He is asking that when the opportunities arise, that he proclaim the gospel clearly (no ambiguity) and as he should (in the correct "manner" a.k.a. with grace and wisdom.)

Paul is an evangelist and that is his ministry, but in verses 5 and 6 he makes it clear that we (non-evangelists) also have evangelistic opportunities. Paul expresses advice on how to conduct ourselves in those opportunities.

The word for Wisdom in the Greek is "sophia", and in the context of a believer - it is the "Wisdom of God".

It is not "secret knowledge" - in Proverbs it continually says to seek "wisdom". One can find wisdom. It is IN God and His Word, not man's mind.

The KJV actually might be clearer here:
"Walk in wisdom toward them that are without,..."

This is not man's wisdom, hence "clever" is probabably not a good connotation. This is God's wisdom that is found IN Him and through being in His Word. You want to make the most of every opportunity in sharing that wisdom (truth) - if they see you walk differently and ask, or if you can bring it up in in casual conversations.

How do you do it? This is why Pat expressly pointed to verse 6.

"Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone."

Salt has a connotation of speaking with wisdom and grace. When wisdom is shared like verse 6 the problems of arrogance, pride, and self-righteousness should not occur. In God's wisdom you will know how to answer everyone.

I think it important here to point out again, that we do not "persuade" anybody. Salvation is God's work. We are the conduits, and we are to share (in the correct manner). Leaving the rest up to God and the Holy Spirit.


Jer 8-10

Jeremiah continues to preach and warn. He struggles with certainty of disaster and the hope of Judah's repentance.

Jer8:9 "The wise will be put to shame;
they will be dismayed and trapped.
Since they have rejected the word of the LORD,
what kind of wisdom do they have?"

In Paul's writings we have seen constant warnings regarding man's wisdom. It is no different in Jeremiah's time, nor our time.

I wonder of the implications regarding this verse. The warning in Jeremiah is to God's people. Those who publicly proclaim they know and follow the Word of God.

So what of religious demonitaions that put in their litereature: "The cornerstones of our faith are Scripture, tradition and reason." Whose tradition (man's), whose reason (man's)? If you add man's tradition and reason to Scripture - according to all we have read about man's wisdom - is not that rejecting the word of the Lord?????? What kind of wisdom do these organizations really have??????

Jeremiah continues to grieve and asks,
Jer8:22b "..Why then is there no healing
for the wound of my people?"

Why isn't God providing? From the last post (10/7), Jeremiah still does not get it. When the people refuse to turn to the Lord, refuse to repent, don't listen - then judgment is God's final step. It is the only chance his country had to be healed and restored.

Jer9:7 "Therefore this is what the LORD Almighty says:
"See, I will refine and test them,
for what else can I do
because of the sin of my people?" NIV

Judah will be purged and tested, to bring them out of their man-made malaise towards God.

Jer9:23-24 "This is what the LORD says:
"Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom
or the strong man boast of his strength
or the rich man boast of his riches,

but let him who boasts boast about this:
that he understands and knows me,
that I am the LORD, who exercises kindness,
justice and righteousness on earth,
for in these I delight,"
declares the LORD."

Don't boast about temporal things, but if you boast boast about this:

that he understands and knows me,: (In Hebrew: understanding with insight and knowing with discernmant).

not just lovingkindess (alt. translation), but also justice and righteousness on earth. (not an exhaustive list, just a representative list of God's qualities.) All of God's qualities are manifested in His interaction with us - God is not one-dimensional. When you know and understand this - that is something to boast about.

Do not worship other gods and idols (repeated every so often in Jeremiah :)

[note: Jer10:2-3 is useful when thinking about a christmas tree. One should understand that it is an ancient pagan custom, but the REAL danger: is when we worship what is beneath the tree (gifts), instead of realizing that this is the time of year we recognize the birth of Christ.

In essence - all these gods and idols are worthless. But God is All Powerful

Jer10:16 "He who is the Portion of Jacob is not like these,
for he is the Maker of all things,
including Israel, the tribe of his inheritance—
the LORD Almighty is his name."

I can't find anyone else that says this - but I think this is pointing to Christ. Lord Almighty is literally translated: Lord of Hosts.

Jer10:23-24 "I know, O LORD, that a man's life is not his own;
it is not for man to direct his steps.
Correct me, LORD, but only with justice—
not in your anger,
lest you reduce me to nothing." NIV

Jeremiah gets it - that man's life should be intertwined with God. Yet he is young, because I do not think any of us want God to correct us with Justice. If we got what we deserved - Whoah Nellie! - that would not be good.

Jer10:25 Pour out your wrath on the nations
that do not acknowledge you,
on the peoples who do not call on your name.
For they have devoured Jacob;
they have devoured him completely
and destroyed his homeland.

Often a prayer at Passover Seder's. In Jeremiah's context:
"Yes, Lord, I know you have to judge the world. But would you mind letting it be those people over there, and not us?" - Ray Stedman



Andrew,
God is the pro-active one. I am just trying to be aware of the people He puts in my path. I am sure I have missed plenty of them :(

I was dead for so long and now I am alive. I was out there and now I am in HIM.

It's cold out there. It's ugly out there. It's confusing and cruel and there is no protection out there. I don't want anybody out there. I want them safe -- and I am not just talking about Heaven. There is no place to hide from the world but IN HIM!

God's goodness falls on everyone equally, but unless we are born again into (the Kingdom - God's energy system) we don't perceive the laws of love and can't access it and feel safe in His abundance. It makes us ugly, mean, spiteful, full of hurt feelings, etc. Just generally dangerous.

But once we surrender to truth and love we are safe and God's spirit leads us to understand all things. Outside the kingdom (In our Flesh) we peacock and pretend and generally do more damage to other people than we can imagine in our effort to feel significant.

No thanks. I don't want to be subject to all that. I was for too long. And I sure don't want to put it on other people.

I *know* Who I have believed in. And I want it all.

And because He is everything He says He is I am terrified of getting in the way of what God is doing so I pray and pray for everyone I will come in contact with and for me too so I am not preoccupied with what I will get out of interacting with people or how I look or whether they think I am holy or cool or hot enough. Let them not see me at all. Let Him love them through me.

That is what I call making the most of the opportunity, cause All I have to offer is what He is doing in me and if He's not doing it through me it's not worth listening to for real. He's got it all, and I want them to surrender, to be born again into the Kingdom, led by the Spirit so they can begin to live.

Sorry, but I read in your words this sense of people trying to use Christ to make themselves feel better and others worse. People do that, but they are taking the word of God in Vain and making it a curse when they do that. It's their flesh -- they haven't been taught, or they grew up in a lifeless, cruel church and haven't listened to Christ's voice calling them out of that. That's what Paul is gently cautioning about. Over half the Bible is written to folks who won't wash the stink off themselves and confess their sins and live with a clean heart before the Lord -- they don't trust Him to be their righteousness -- they want to trust in their own reason, which is the flesh and the world and everything we were called out of.

The only place we're safe from each other's failings, too, is IN HIM. He puts His love and forgiveness and patience in us so we can see people for what they are and not judge them but love them and forgive them and the power to bring their problems to the Lord and He heals them and then it all works out for His Glory and more people see His power and it just gets better and better. It's FANTASTIC!


PS I used to not believe this was possible. I was wrong. >>Sophie Dances before the Lord in the Joy of knowing He is faithful<<

Sophie - I think this is your first posting up of a comment on the One Year Bible blog? Just wanted to say welcome - and thanks for a wonderful first post! Great stuff.

John, Ramona, Andrew, Pat, Vance and many others - thanks for your continued comments as well! Even though I rarely have time to respond to them, I see them all and appreciate you sharing in the ways you each do.

I am very glad each of you are on the One Year Bible journey with me.

God bless,
Mike

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