Thursday, July 29, 2021

Called by God...

“Then he said: ‘The God of our fathers has chosen you to know his will and to see the Righteous One and to hear words from his mouth. You will be his witness to all men of what you have seen and heard." - Acts 22:14-15
Who are you? Many people would answer that question by stating their profession. Their career is their identity. There are bankers, lawyers, physicians, contractors, hairdressers and then there are ministers. But, should the minister be listed in the same way as other careers? The minister is a calling, and it runs deeper and wider than any career. When careers have come and gone, those who have been chosen to "witness to all men of what they have seen and heard" continue to be ministers... called by God.

Paul was chosen to know God's will, see the Lord and hear his words. He was set apart to bear witness of these things for a lifetime. His calling was quite simple; listen, learn, live and light the way for others as a minister of Christ. Paul might have said that his profession, career or identity was being a tent-maker. But, when Paul put aside the tools of his daily trade, he continued to be a minister... called by God.

Who are you? Are you a policeman, fireman, soldier, designer or software programmer? After you have answered that question, who are you in light of God's calling and giftedness? "But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses..." (Acts 1:8) Every believer is chosen of God to listen, learn, live and light the way for others. To a certain degree every believer is a minister... called by God.

Think about this:"He who disregards his calling will never keep the straight path in the duties of his work."
                                   - John Calvin

Wednesday, July 28, 2021

A Glad Reception...

"When we had come to Jerusalem, the brothers received us gladly." - Acts 21:17
I like dogs. I own a dog. I don't own a cat. All this to emphasize the major difference between the two and why I choose one over the other. When I am away from the house more than ten minutes and return, my dog JoJo, unlike any cat, jumps around with such excitement it's insane. There's just something special about coming back home and having a glad reception.

Christian fellowship runs far deeper and is of greater significance than the companionship of a dog. But, having stated the obvious may I say that when Luke recorded the events before us today he was blessed and grateful for warm Christian fellowship. He considered it just something special to come back home and have a glad reception.

When other believers saunter into your church or Bible study, how are they received? How do the brethren respond to you when you arrive, after being away for vacation? Along with everything that makes up Christian fellowship, the first quality is the special blessing of receiving a glad reception.

Think about this:  "Keep company with the more cheerful sort of the godly; there is no mirth like the mirth of believers."
             - Richard Baxter

Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Without Question...

"Then Paul answered, “Why are you weeping and breaking my heart? I am ready not only to be bound, but also to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.” When he would not be dissuaded, we gave up and said, “The Lord’s will be done.”" - Acts 21:13-14 
We know quite a few young men who spent numerous tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. Every time they left for a new tour we had great concern for their safety. The truth is; no one wanted to see their loved ones go to war. But our young men and women who choose to serve their country go where they are called... without question.

The Christian life to which we are called is warfare. There are some battles that are more demanding than others, but Paul was ready to serve the Lord, anywhere at any cost. He was deeply loved and no one wanted to see him exposed to danger, but when his Commander and Chief called Paul obeyed... without question.

Has the Lord been calling you to new challenges lately? Have there been dear loved ones that are worried for your "welfare"? Have they expressed emotional concern and tried to discourage you? Take a lesson from Paul and obey your Masters call. May "The Lord's will be done."... without question. 

Think about this: "Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me.  Yet not as I will, but as you will.”" 
                                               - Matthew 26:39

Monday, July 26, 2021

On Guard...

"I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock. Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them. So be on your guard! Remember that for three years I never stopped warning each of you night and day with tears." - Acts 20:29-31 
We used to live in a neighborhood full of squirrels. Usually they were cute little creatures who scurried up and down the trees. On one occasion though, we had a rogue squirrel that chased people, jumped onto their backs and would bite them. Someone eventually got hold of the little guy and put an end to the spree of terror. While this little "nut case" was gone and things were back to normal, we never knew what might suddenly jump up, so we were always on our guard.

Paul was far more concerned about "savagery of the soul" than "terror from the trees". He knew that people would come into the church with ulterior motives and lead believers astray. Some would come "into" the assembly and some would jump up from "within". His words of caution directed the Ephesians back to three long years of consistent teaching and warning from God's Word. He called on them to remember and be on their guard.

The church seems to be a quiet neighborhood where we should feel spiritually safe. But, there will always be those who will sneak in without warning and "distort the truth". We need to be well versed in God's Word and always alert to those who "will not spare the flock". Read the Word daily, study faithfully, listen carefully and be on your guard.

Think about this: "The best way to be safe and secure from all Satan's assaults is, with Nehemiah and the Jews, to watch and pray, and pray and watch.  By this means they became too hard for their enemies, and the work of the Lord did prosper sweetly in their hands..."
                                                                                    - Thomas Brooks

Sunday, July 25, 2021

Encourage someone today...

"After the uproar ceased, Paul sent for the disciples, and after encouraging them, he said farewell and departed for Macedonia. When he had gone through those regions and had given them much encouragement, he came to Greece." - Acts 20:1-2
I have a missionary friend who was called to the ministry at an early age and appreciated great blessing. But, as the first few years passed he was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. His physical condition reached the point that he could no long return to the field. Yet, in all his rainy days he has been ever diligent to encourage others in every way possible and continue in the ministry of reaching others for Jesus. He welcomes each day with thoughts on the Lord and spreads great encouragement to others.

Paul set us a living and lasting example of how to deal with hardships and trials of life. In the face of violent opposition and personal danger, his mind was focused on encouraging the disciples. He made this his intention where he was located and his goal where ever he traveled. Paul was true to his exhortation as written in Philippians 2:4 "Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others."

The best way to rise above the clouds in your life is to reach out to others. When you are involved in the welfare of someone else to encourage and bless them, your own struggles will fade into the background. Take time to redirect your efforts today my friend. Encourage someone in whatever way possible and love them like Jesus.

Think about this: "The faintest whisper of support and encouragement uttered by a Christian in the ears of his fellow believer is heard in heaven."
                                      ~  John J. Murray

Saturday, July 24, 2021

Half-hearted?

"Many of those who believed now came and openly confessed their evil deeds. A number who had practiced sorcery brought their scrolls together and burned them publicly. When they calculated the value of the scrolls, the total came to fifty thousand drachmas. In this way the word of the Lord spread widely and grew in power." - Acts 19:18-20 
Unlike the present day when businesses are desperate for new employees, there was a time when employers were very demanding in their hiring choices. They were looking for employees that would be fully committed to the business. They wanted someone who would  leave their personal life at home and come to work completely focused. Anything less than this work ethic would lose someone their job. In that climate, there was no place for half-hearted workers.

In the same way, disciples of Christ are always expected to be fully committed, leaving their past behind. A great number of new disciples in Ephesus were coming to Christ from a background in the occult. They recognized the need to make a complete break from this past if they were to be faithful followers of Christ. The sacrifice and monetary loss was great, but on that day in Ephesus, there were no half-hearted disciples.

When you came to Christ you became "a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!" (2 Corinthians 5:17) As the heart becomes new, so should the lifestyle. Our connection to past sins and gods needs to be broken forever. The Lord looks for disciples who are fully committed and totally focused on Him. Have you taken practical steps to put the past behind you with a whole heart, or are you still a half-hearted disciple?

Think About This: "Let him make our lives narrow; let him make them intense; let him make them absolutely his!"         ~ Oswald Chambers

Friday, July 23, 2021

The Personal Touch...

"He began to speak boldly in the synagogue. When Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they invited him to their home and explained to him the way of God more adequately." Acts 18:26
The days of "Mom & Pop" stores are quickly slipping away. The mega store with all its bells and whistles is the place to go for whatever you may need. The stock is plentiful, the prices are great and tons of people can shop at the same time. There is one thing missing though... the personal touch.

 In the days of Paul, Apollos, Priscilla and Aquila people gathered in large groups for worship and study, but they also spent quality time in the home "explaining the way of God more adequately". From the very early days of Acts 2:46 believers met in the Temple courts and their homes. While group study and fellowship was of great importance, they also studied together in their homes. They saw the value of... the personal touch.

 Some believers are satisfied in meeting together in the mega church setting. This might be 10,000 people or it could be just 100 people. The attraction of the larger church seems to be more like the mega store, providing a vast number of ministries. But in the process, the one-on-one discipling and mentoring has slipped away. You and I can make a difference today, if we will take on the mantle of Priscilla and Aquila. We can open our hearts and our homes to others and share the "way of God" in small individual settings. In a day of mega everything, we can still provide... the personal touch.

Think about this: "Mass communication can aid in personal evangelism and the development of Christians, but it cannot be a substitute for the world seeing the truth lived through us."
                                                       - Erwin W. Lutzer