Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Devotion...

"And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles." - Acts 2:42-43
I owned an ant farm when I was a kid. It was a great study of true devotion to a cause. These little guys were all about building tunnels and feeding the family. They never gave up, no matter how many times the "farm" fell over and destroyed their good work. The words of Solomon were on point when he wrote in Proverbs 6:6, "Go to the ant, O sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise."
The early believers were "devoted" to spiritual disciplines and God blessed with great power. The word for "devoted" speaks of endurance or steadfast faithfulness. No matter what happened to deter the people of God, they pressed on day by day with tenacious determination, just like the ant. Persecution came in waves, but perseverance brought divine wonders.
Stay the course my friend. With "devotion" to the cause of Christ will come awesome results. Such steadfastness will require an endurance that only God can provide, but He is able  "... to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us." (Ephesians 3:20) When your tunnels cave in, just build new ones and press on with renewed devotion.

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Cut to the heart...

“Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.” When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?”" - Acts 2:36-37 
“Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.” When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?”" - Acts 2:36-37 
I recently cut my finger. Yes, I wasn't being careful and with a slip of the hand a very well sharpened knife sliced right into the little digit. I always make sure that my knives are sharp as razors and when they are properly used they are great tools. But this time, with a misguided flex of muscle, the blade literally "cut to the bone".
When Peter spoke the Word of God in the power and wisdom of the Holy Spirit, people responded. They were moved to conviction and knew a decision was needed. When the Scriptures are used with God empowered precision, they are "... living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword..." (Hebrews 4:12) With a well guided flex of the Spirit, the Word will literally "cut to the heart".
Paul counseled Timothy in 2 Timothy 2:15 to do his best to rightly handle the Word of truth. Are you doing your best in the study of the Bible? Are you skilled in using it to bring truth to bear in your life and in the lives of others? Remember my friend, the Word of God is a sharp tool of spiritual value, intended to "cut to the heart". 

Monday, June 24, 2019

Glorify God...

"both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabians — we hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God." - Acts 2:11
I have a Subaru Outback. It can serve as a luggage carrier, shelter from rain and snow, mini concert hall and small conference center. But at the end of the day, this mighty motor driven vehicle has one foremost purpose in life: transportation. It gets me from point A to point B, and it does this admirably.
God bestowed spiritual gifts in a similar way. While the giftedness of believers may differ in many ways and be used to accomplish many goals, God has given them to expand His kingdom. They may be desired and nurtured for various reasons, but after all is said and done, these supernatural abilities have one foremost purpose: to glorify God by proclaiming his mighty works.
Once again my friend it's not about us, it's all about HIM. The lesson is clear; identify your spiritual giftedness, regularly exercise your gifts and seek the one foremost goal: glorify God by proclaiming his mighty works.
  

Sunday, June 23, 2019

Be "Pray-pared"...

"They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers." - Acts 1:14
The first phrase I learned as a Scout was "Be Prepared". According to the Scout handbook, the idea is: "Be prepared for life - to live happily and without regret, knowing that you have done your best." Big moments in life come without warning and it's too late to prepare. So, the best plan of action is to always "Be Prepared".
One of those big moments was coming for the disciples. They had been through so much over the previous months, but they still needed to get ready. They were instructed to wait for power from on high and they did just that. But, how did they wait? They joined together constantly in prayer. What were they praying for and why did they pray constantly? Above all other considerations, they joined together in prayer to "Be Prepared".
Is your prayer life just a matter of asking for the needs of the moment? Do you just "put out fires" through prayer? Or do you spend time seeking spiritual wisdom and strength "to live happily and without regret, knowing that you have done your best."? The best plan of action is to "Be Pray-pared".

Saturday, June 22, 2019

The necessary element ...

""When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you truly love me more than these?”... Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you truly love me?”.... The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”" - John 21:15, 16, 17
A young man told his sweetheart, "I love you so much that I'd climb the highest mountain for you, I'd swim the largest ocean for you, I'd walk around the world for you... and by the way, I'll be over to see you tonight if it doesn't rain." Songs, cards and letters are written everyday proclaiming an undying love to someone. And in no time at all those same relationships break apart for the lack of true love. True love is the necessary element.
Jesus took Peter aside to restore him to fellowship and service after a most painful denial. Many things could have been said, but Jesus focused on the most important factor, "do you truly love me" The words meant, do you love me selflessly and sacrificially? To rightly serve the Lord, one must love him first, more than anything.
Are you preparing to serve the Lord today? Will you be busy in some ministry this week? Before you begin, ask yourself the BIG question. Do you truly love the Lord today, more than anything? Your love for him is the necessary element.

Friday, June 21, 2019

The Encounter ...

"On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord."  - John 20:19-20
During my teen years our church youth went on a summer retreat in Canada. A family in the church had a cabin right on the water in the Thousand Islands region. The scenery was beautiful, the surroundings were serene and the weather was perfect. It was just the place to spend time with the Lord. We came back home rejoicing from our "mountaintop" experience.
Retreats are great, but are they always necessary for a serious encounter with Jesus? The disciples were gathered together, locked up in a house, afraid for their very lives. There were no gentle breezes blowing, no soothing sounds of a lake and no warm rays of the sun to bask under. The atmosphere was far from being a "mountaintop" setting. But then, Jesus came and stood among them and they were overjoyed.
Jesus will meet us anywhere, anytime in any setting. We just need to take the time to patiently seek his face and the "mountaintop" will come to us. May our joy never be determined by the beauty of the creation, but may it overflow from the beauty of the Creator.  "The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord."

Thursday, June 20, 2019

God never fails ...

"Later, knowing that all was now completed, and so that the Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, “I am thirsty.” A jar of wine vinegar was there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the hyssop plant, and lifted it to Jesus’ lips. When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit." - John 19:28-30
Whenever I drive past an unfinished building that appears to be abandoned I feel sad. Someone had dreams of a new venture that failed. The economy, unexpected events or just poor planning led to an unfinished project. The hopes someone had were gone and all they left behind was a deteriorating signpost that read "failure".
Thankfully, God knows no such concept as "failure". What he begins, he finishes. Jesus went the cross on purpose and only when he "finished" the work of redemption did he give up his spirit. In the words of a builder, the work of Christ was a "turn-key" job. When you trust Christ for your salvation and eternal life, he just hands you the key. The project is complete; all you have to do is take residence.
Just as God started and finished the work of redemption for us, he is working today to make us more like Jesus. May we be encouraged that God never fails at what he starts..."he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion" - Philippians 1:6