Daily Devotional for Thursday October 26, 2006
Taking your Faith to the World without Letting the World Take your Faith
(1 Timothy 4:1, 6:3; 2 Timothy 4:3)
For over 7 years now, I have constantly challenged you to rise up and follow God's command, not suggestion, to take your faith to the lost and hurting He puts in your life each day. There is a danger in sharing our faith with the world that I have never really touched on, but need to warn you about since even some of the most seasoned and high-profile men and women of God fall into this trap. It is how to take your faith to the world without letting the world take your faith.
The most common way I see this unfold is in new Believers. Someone gets saved and God gives them a burden to reach out to their lost friends. Their lost friends are still running around in the bars, the nightclubs, the strip joints. Their lost friends are still drinking and doing drugs. Their lost friends are still involved in illicit sexual relationships. These are all the things the new Believer used to be doing with their friends until he/she got saved. Now in a desire to see their friends saved, they go back into these Godless environments to stay connected to their friends in order to try and reach them for Christ. In the vast majority of cases, it is not the lost friend who gets saved, but the new Believer who ends up back in their old sinful lifestyle.
Does that mean we abandon our old friends once we accept the Lord in our life? No, absolutely not. However, we also don't put ourselves in situations where we can be tempted to sin. When your friends head off to the clubs on the weekend, tell them that you don't have a desire to go to those types of places any longer but will be praying for them. When you are with your friends and they are drinking, doing drugs, have a soft drink or water and decline the joint or pill they offer you and make sure they understand that you have given those things up. When you are out and everyone is pairing off at the end of the evening, take that cue to head home, alone, and let your friends know that you have chosen to save yourself for the one you marry and commit the rest of your life to.
Remember what I tell you often, that how you live your life, especially in front of those who knew you before you accepted the Lord is your loudest and most effective witness. Those who knew you BC (before Christ) will notice when you aren't living the way you used to. That will give you plenty of opportunities to tell them why you have chosen to make the changes you have, what the Lord means to you, and give you the perfect opportunity to tell them that the same Jesus who loves you and has changed you, loves them and can change them too.
Another trap I see every day of people letting the world take their faith is in relationships. You are involved in a relationship with a nonChristian. First, this is exactly why God warned us in 2 Corinthians 6:14 to NOT be unequally yoked with a nonChristian. You think YOU are the one God has sent to lead them to Jesus. You may be, but in the vast majority of the lives I deal with each day, it is not the Believer who influences the nonBeliever for Christ, but the nonBeliever who influences the Believer to compromise their faith and commitment to the Lord. This usually happens when it comes to sex. Rather than taking your stand for Christ, you give in to your flesh and instead of using your faith to influence the nonChristian you are in this relationship with, they are the one who influences you to compromise your faith.
Lest you think this is only an issue for "baby Christians," or those new to the faith, you are wrong. This is something ALL Believers in Christ need to be aware of and on guard against. Even those who God has used in mighty ways can end up taking their faith to the world and see the world take their faith. Three current classic examples are Joel Osteen, John Hagee, and Paula White.
Osteen who pastors the nation's largest church in Houston, inherited the church and a worldwide TV ministry from his father who was a mighty Gospel preacher who took a hard stand for God's Truth and never wavered that Jesus was the ONLY way to be saved. His son, however, has fallen into this false prosperity gospel and to reach the masses has refused to tell people they will go to hell without Christ or deal with sin of any kind. The only difference between Osteen and the secular motivational speakers of the day is that he uses Bible verses, though not to convict but to simply help tell his "stories." In order to sell books and fill arenas full of people who want to "feel good." Osteen has taken his faith to the world but allowed the world to water down the message of his faith.
Hagee has for many years been a powerful, no nonsense, tell-it-like-it-is entertaining preacher out of San Antonio, Texas. In the past 3-4 years he has discovered there is lots of money to be made in Bible prophecy. He has pretty much exclusively focused his ministry on Bible prophecy and end-time events. As his ministry has evolved in this direction over the past several years, he has become a huge supporter and proponent of Israel, something every Believer in Christ should be. However, Hagee has taken his pro-Israel stand to a dangerous place since he is now preaching a dual covenant theology. The dual covenant position in essence states that people are saved by their faith in Jesus Christ, but also, any person who is born Jewish is also saved by virtue of his birth and God's promises to the Jewish people.
First of all, God's promises to the Jewish people involved land and involved their place as a people group. It never meant that everyone who was born a Jew would be in Heaven. Even in the Old Testament under the Law before Christ, a Jewish person still had to commit their life by faith to the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and follow the Law. A Jew who rejected the God of Israel and turned to the false gods of the world was lost for all eternity. So even a Jewish person in the Old Testament had to accept the God of Israel to be saved. Once Christ came, we were no longer saved by following the Law and worshipping the God of Israel, but now salvation is by faith in Jesus Christ. There is no other plan of salvation and it is the same plan for a Jew or Gentile.
So why would a solid Bible preacher like Hagee preach such error? Simple, business. His entire ministry now revolves around Bible prophecy, his stand for Israel, his relationships with key political leads in Israel, as well as many powerful Rabbis. How is he supposed to have these close personal relationships with Jews who reject Jesus as the Messiah and still preach the truth that a Jewish person who rejects Christ is going to the same hell any non-Jew who rejects the Lord is going to? There is only ONE way to be saved and that is by faith in Jesus Christ, period. Sadly, Hagee has taken his faith to the world and allowed the world to lead him to preach a lie.
Lastly is Paula White. For the record, Paula and her husband Randy are both personal friends and a bit of trivia, I was the producer of and my ministry actually helped them launch their first TV program over 10 years ago. There really is no other explanation for White other than she has sold out the Gospel seeking the fame and fortune of this temporary world. A few weeks ago, she was on the Tyra Banks' program, not as "Pastor Paula," but as a "life coach," whatever that is. In fact, she never even mentioned she pastored a church or was on Christian TV. She shared her life story and left out the most import person in her testimony, Jesus. She "counseled" several women with problems, but never once talked about prayer, the Lord, or God's Word, instead using worldly pop-psych phrases.
Some may argue that the producers of Banks' program would never have let her on if she had talked about Jesus, told these women that the Lord was their answer and hope, and that she was a preacher of the Gospel. If that is true, what is the purpose of being on? If we don't tell people about Jesus, we have NOTHING to really say. Who cares what WE have to say, let's hear what GOD has to say! What is the purpose of going on secular television unless it is to share the Truth of God's Word and tell people about Jesus??? Listen, you aren't going to trick people into getting saved. You have to share the Gospel with them and give them the invitation to ask Christ into their heart. What they do at that point is between them and God.
Her latest "coup" is to have Donald Trump on her program along with best-selling financial author Robert Kiyosaki. Trump and Kiyosaki were not on to give their testimonies on how they accepted Jesus, they were on to promote the new book they wrote on how to be a millionaire. A book by the way VOID of any Biblical principles. So what was the purpose of having these men on and selling a worldly book of false hope? An even greater question, what was the purpose of having these men on and never talkng about Jesus, or God, or what God's Word says about finances?
Where does God say we are to strive to be millionaires? The Bible teaches that our goals are to be heavenly, not earthly, that our desires should be for the things of God, not the things of this world. If you need a great book, the best book ever written about finances is called the BIBLE! I deal with very successful and wealthy people every day. The true peace and joy and abundance of this life is not found in your bank account, or your stock portfolio, or your real estate holdings, or in the material things of this temporal world. The true peace and joy and abundance of this life is found in your relationship with Christ. That is why many who have nothing by the world's standards have greater riches than men like Trump and Kiyosaki will ever have unless they come to know Jesus as their Savior. Rather than them telling White about how to be a billionaire, she should be telling them about how to have the riches of Heaven!
Trump has no "secrets" of wealth. His "secret" was a daddy in real estate who left him millions to start with, a guy who wisely used the political machine of New York City in a gamble with those millions that paid off, a man who has made millions of dollars destroying lives through his casino businesses, and a man who has ultimately made his fortune not off being a great businessman but a great self promoter. Trump makes his money promoting Donald Trump to the naive masses and playing on their greed and selling them false hope that by buying his books and going to his seminars, they can be rich like him. Sadly, White has gone from preaching the Gospel to being a shill for the famous to promote their garbage to the gullible masses. She has taken her faith to the world and allowed the fleeting fame and fortune of this world to cause her to cash in her faith.
I love you and care about you so much. Sharing our faith with the unbelieving world is something God has called ALL of His children to do. Let this word today be a warning that you need to be prayed up and on guard at all times that you don't let the world compromise, even take away your faith. Our message to this lost and dying world is that God loves each one, Christ died for each one, and by putting your hope and faith in Jesus you can not only have the assurance of everlasting life but know the peace, joy, and abundance of this life while fulfilling your God-given purpose. We can never waver from that message.
Nobody knows better than I do how unpopular God's Truth and faith in Christ alone can be when it is preached to the lost masses. I could make the hateful emails stop tomorrow, I could easily solve all of the financial problems of Liveprayer tomorrow, I could take all of the daily pressure off of my life immediately, and I could pretty much have whatever this world offers materially. All I have to do is to compromise the Truth and give people what they want. "What does it profit a man to gain the whole world and lose his soul?" The hateful emails are not really directed at me but at God. God provides the finances not this world. My pressure is nothing compared to the pressure Jesus faced. This world has NOTHING I really want. I have taken my stand, refuse to bow my knee to Baal, and will unto my last breath tell people that Jesus is the way the truth and the life and that NOBODY comes to the Father except thru Him!
Please pray for Joel Osteen, John Hagee, Paula White. God has given them a great gift and they have a platform to touch millions of lives for Christ if they will humble themselves, get back to the roots of their faith, and simply preach Christ and Him crucified. I will be praying for you today. Praying that you will take a bold stand for Christ with those people in your life who are not saved, who are lost and without the hope of Jesus. My word and warning for you today is to take your faith to this world, but don't let the world take your faith.