Friday, May 31, 2013

Full-Time Christians


"Fear not, daughter of Zion; Behold, your King is coming, Sitting on a donkey's colt." (John 12:15)

  • Public opinion changes very quickly.
     
  • When Jesus entered Jerusalem for the Passover feast, He was welcomed by crowds cheering to have Him made king.
     
  • But by the end of the week, the crowds were demanding that He be crucified.
     
  • Some of us are like those fickle crowds.
     
  • We love to cheer for a team that is winning.
     
  • But our interest wanes when they start losing.
     
  • We love to be part of a movement that is new and exciting,
     
  • But when the energy moves to other things, we are ready to move on.
     
  • We love to follow Jesus when He is doing the impossible.
     
  • But we slink away when He expects us to do something difficult.
     
  • It is exciting to follow Jesus when we can do it as part of the crowd.
     
  • It is easy to trust Him when He outsmarts the smart people and outmaneuvers the people in power.
     
  • But when He begins to talk about suffering and sacrifice and death, we hesitate.
     
  • We like to think that we can follow Jesus all the way to the cross.
     
  • But we have our doubts.
     
  • If we cannot speak up for Him in places where it is safe, what makes us think that we can do so in a crowd of His opponents?
     
  • How thankful we are to know that Jesus died for fickle followers like us.
     
  • Now we can become His devoted followers.
     
  • May our devotion to Jesus continue to grow every day.
     
  • Our Lord Jesus Christ deserves full-time followers.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Trusting God through the Storm


For He commands and raises the stormy wind, Which lifts up the waves of the sea. (Psalm 107:25) Then they cry out to the LORD in their trouble, And He brings them out of their distresses. (Psalm 107:28)

  • The ancient people discovered that the stormy winds of the monsoon season could be harnessed by sail for speedy navigation.
     
  • Rather than dreading the high winds and rains, they learned how to navigate their way through the storm.
     
  • Psalm 107 provides a wonderful word picture of how God allows storms to come our way, and then provides help for us to navigate through them.
     
  • Trusting God for guidance in troubled times is a biblical theme.
     
  • Hebrews 11 lists many who used their problems as an opportunity to exercise faith and to experience God’s grace, provision, and deliverance: “Who through faith subdued kingdoms, worked righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, became valiant in battle, turned to flight the armies of the aliens.”
     
  • Stormy circumstances are inevitable.
     
  • Although our first reaction may be to run from the problem, we can instead ask God to teach us how to trust Him to navigate us through the storm.
     
  • When life feels like a storm-tossed sea, With crashing waves of pain and grief, Turn to the Lord and trust in Him, He will give you peace and bring relief.
     
  • Better to go through the storm with Christ than to have smooth sailing without Him.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

The Gospel Continues


But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth." (Acts 1:8)

  • The Acts of the Apostles records the beginnings of the Christian church under the leadership of the people Jesus had appointed.
     
  • This book can also be called the Acts of the Holy Spirit, because the Spirit’s power supplied courage for the apostles in the face of every hardship.
     
  • Just before Jesus was taken up into heaven, He told the ones He had chosen: “You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8).
     
  • With those words, one chapter in the story of God’s work on earth ended.
     
  • But a new one began. We are a part of that ongoing story.
     
  • The book of Acts describes the faithful witness of Peter, John, Barnabas, Paul and many others during the early days of the church.
     
  • These ordinary people depended on God to give them strength as they spread His Word and demonstrated His love.
     
  • That story continues through us.
     
  • As we trust God and obey His direction to make Jesus known, He writes through us new pages in His story of redemption.
     
  • People can know true faith stories only when they see them.
     
  • And we are the living testimonies of Jesus Christ.
     
  • For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing. To the one we are the aroma of death leading to death, and to the other the aroma of life leading to life. (2 Corinthians 2:15-16).

Monday, May 13, 2013

Finding True and Lasting Joy


That you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts. (Ephesians 4:22)

  • Family’s rules provide a home with stability, guidance, and love.
     
  • These rules included behavioral standards and household chores that teach accountability to children.
     
  • Those standards allowed for an orderly household where both parents and children can find life enjoyable and peaceful.
     
  • Similarly, the standards God set forth in the Bible are necessary for us to enjoy life.
     
  • The boundaries God places protect us from our worst inclinations and foster healthy responses to Him.
     
  • In Ephesians 4, Paul provides some guidance how we are to live.
     
  • As we live by these and other loving instructions from God, we find protection and the opportunity for true and lasting joy.
     
  • Let us thank God our Father for the boundaries of life that protect us from sin and from ourselves.
     
  • Let us pray for the wisdom and grace of God to respond gratefully to His Word in areas of danger and temptation.
     
  • God’s Word is the compass that keeps us on course.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

God's Faithfulness In The Past


That all the peoples of the earth may know the hand of the LORD, that it is mighty, that you may fear the LORD your God forever. (Joshua 4:24)

  • Our photos and mementos represent the past.
  • But those reminders of people, places, and events may serve some purpose beyond nostalgia.
  • We need to discover the value of those items for today and tomorrow.
  • When God’s people crossed the Jordan River into the Promised Land, He told their leader Joshua to choose 12 men, have each one take a stone from the middle of the river, and carry it to their campsite that night (Josh. 4:1-5).
  • Joshua set up the stones as a memorial so that when future generations asked, “What do these stones mean to you?”, they could tell them about God’s faithfulness in holding back the water while they crossed (Josh. 4:6-7).
  • As followers of Christ, it’s good for us to have tangible evidence of God’s help in the past.
  • Those mementos remind us that His faithfulness continues today, and we can follow Him confidently into the future.
  • Our “stones” may also help others know that God’s hand is mighty, as they encourage us to fear the Lord our God forever (Josh. 4:24).
  • The memories of what God has done for us can become building blocks for today and tomorrow.
  • Precious memories of yesterday can strengthen our faith today and tomorrow.