★ Thought for the Day – When in Rome ★

Today is August 18, 2018 and I have this weird thing about numbers which is why I waited until 8:18 pm to hit post because I love the symmetry of this timestamp…Anyhow that has no bearing on this post, just a random tangent…hahaha!  In a recent post called ★ Thought for the Day – Are You a Plug or a Conduit? ★, we unpacked how as Christ Followers, we are doing one of two things when it comes to our faith…we are either a “plug” or a “conduit” for God’s grace, love and forgiveness to flow, or not flow out to those around us.  We looked at this through the lens of Acts 20:24 (NIV) which if you recall the Apostle Paul said:

“However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.”

I was reading the context of Act 20:24 and its interesting how this power verse is book-ended in Acts 20:22-23 (NIV)…

“And now, compelled by the Spirit, I am going to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there. I only know that in every city the Holy Spirit warns me that prison and hardships are facing me.”

And in than verse 25…

“Now I know that none of you among whom I have gone about preaching the kingdom will ever see me again.”

Paul was obeying the Holy Spirit’s leading even though he knew it would lead to pain and suffering; and even prophesied that the people would not see him again!  Now that is a convicting example!  It’s a funny thing about adversity, it has one of two effects on people…it either causes people to run from God or towards Him.  Christians around the world are persecuted, imprisoned and martyred for their faith, and yet in America the statistics show something very troubling.  Here is a great article from the Barna Research Group called State of the Bible 2017: Top Findings:

When you review these statistics, it begs the question, why is Bible engagement so low?  I pray that this post will change your viewpoint if you find yourself either hostile, skeptical or neutral towards the Bible.  The Apostle Paul wrote more books of the New Testament in the Bible and is one of the chief evangelist for Christianity.  I have always looked up to Paul and his audacious faith, how he was ready to lay down his life for the Kingdom of God!  Any yet I too have failed to be consistent in reading my Bible from time to time whether because I was too tired or rather wanted to Netflix a show instead.  How about you?  If you honestly evaluated your reading trends, where do you fall?

Another startling statistic that the Barna Group discovered was that:

“Nearly one-third of adults say they never read, listen to or pray with the Bible (32%).”

That is a sad, sad state of affairs.  And that saddest part is that they are easy pickens for the enemy to pick them off without the covering of God’s Word to reveal the His plan for our lives and to understand the war we are in.  I love this quote from the ‘The Devotional to End All Devotionals‘ by Angela Sanders:

“We read the Bible to expose ourselves to truth and get familiar with it.  We study the Bible to take truth in, absorb it, and draw strength from it.

The Bible says that God’s Word is food to Christians.  A person without nourishment grows weak, confused, vulnerable, and prone to wander; a Christian who doesn’t study God’s Word does the same.”

That is the whole point of why I have this blog!  To open a conversation and invite you to chew on God’s word and let it penetrate our heart and minds!  There are so many malnourished people in this world because they won’t just open the book!!  I love how The Message translates Matthew 5:6 which says:

“You’re blessed when you’ve worked up a good appetite for God.  He’s food and drink in the best meal you’ll ever eat.”

Reading the Bible is the best meal we will ever have and the best use of our time!!  If you call yourself a Christian I want to encourage you to follow in the footsteps of the Apostle Paul who, after meeting Jesus on the road to Damascus (See Acts 22:6-11) spent his life to spread the Gospel of Jesus.  Paul fully embraced what Jesus commanded His disciples that must happen if they wanted to follow Him.  Matthew 16:24-25 says:

“If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.  For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.”

We must take up our cross, whatever that may be and be willing to bear the weight of whatever may result in our profession of faith in Jesus Christ!  It may not be that you are called to be martyred for your faith as the disciples were, but perhaps you will lose friends, or influence or even clients because your integrity will prevent you from being a part of something unethical or immoral.  But whatever that may be, will you will to adapt yourself like Paul?  In 1 Corinthians 9:19-23 (NLT) Paul gave made a bold statement!

“Even though I am a free man with no master, I have become a slave to all people to bring many to Christ.  When I was with the Jews, I lived like a Jew to bring the Jews to Christ. 

When I was with those who follow the Jewish law, I too lived under that law.  Even though I am not subject to the law, I did this so I could bring to Christ those who are under the law. 

When I am with the Gentiles who do not follow the Jewish law, I too live apart from that law so I can bring them to Christ.  But I do not ignore the law of God; I obey the law of Christ. 

When I am with those who are weak, I share their weakness, for I want to bring the weak to Christ. 

Yes, I try to find common ground with everyone, doing everything I can to save some.  I do everything to spread the Good News and share in its blessings.”

Wow!  That is incredible!  You have heard the expression “When in Rome, do as the Romans do” right?  According to Dictionary.com it’s a…

“phrase used when one is agreeing to do what is customary or typical in a particular place or setting.”

Does that not sound like what Paul?  Regardless of who Paul ministered to, he would adjust his approach to be as effective as possible.  We would do well to follow his example and apply it to our lives today.  It’s not easy though is it?  To find common ground with everyone, doing everything you can to reach those around you.  Paul certainly did just that, there are numerous references in scripture from 1 Thessalonians 2:9 to Acts 20:33-35 and finally in 2 Timothy 4:6-8 but I wanted to highlight two verses in particular…In Acts 18:1-3 we learn that Paul was a tentmaker, and so he had means to earn money on his own and in 2 Thessalonians 3:7-9 (NLT) Paul told the church of Thessalonica:

“For you know that you ought to imitate us.  We were not idle when we were with you.  We never accepted food from anyone without paying for it.  We worked hard day and night so we would not be a burden to any of you.  We certainly had the right to ask you to feed us, but we wanted to give you an example to follow.” 

We see that Paul and his companions did indeed do everything to spread the Good News to the point that he did not even take any food or pay for their ministry work.  Paul sacrificed everything and did everything possible adapt to those around him to make a difference!

I love what Joyce Meyer once said,

“The trademark of a true Christian is the ability to adapt to others.  Will you unselfishly adapt to someone else today?”  

That is indeed is the true Trademark of a Christian!  I will close with a final thought from Paul in Colossians 4:5-6 (NLT)

“Live wisely among those who are not believers, and make the most of every opportunity.  Let your conversation be gracious and attractive so that you will have the right response for everyone.”

My prayer for everyone reading this post is for you to understand what your gifts are, and then see how you can put those gifts to practice.  Let’s be mission minded like Paul, be willing to adapt ourselves to reach the lost people in our lives and look for opportunities to be the hands and feet of Jesus!  So will you unselfishly adapt to someone else today?  Remember when in Rome do as the Romans do.

 

If you want to dig deeper, check out:

★ Thought for the Day – Honest Self-Evaluation ★

★ Thought for the Day – Leaving It All On The Field ★

I also want to recommend this “Spiritual Gifts Test” to help you discover what your gifts are.

It’s a quick test…PROMISE!  Perhaps you are already tuned in to what you have been gifted with, or maybe not so much…this simple little questionnaire will give you some insight to help understand how you can better connect with those around you.

 

 

Continue reading

Advertisements

★ Back to the Basics – Just Believe! ★

I have been having conversations with a friend of mine who has been haunted by the sins of the past and the mistakes that seem to be preventing him from moving forward in his walk with God.  He in Jesus and is actively pursuing a relationship with Him through prayer and reading the Bible but yet there’s something holding him back.  Maybe you can relate to this today?  Do you find yourself wanting to grow in the truth of God’s Word and to feel clean from your former way of living BUT yet you just can’t seem to overcome the guilt and shame of what you did?  Well I have some good news…

First of all, you are not alone, everyone at one point or another have felt this way, that is the Devil’s way of derailing you from your faith growing.  It’s much easier to destroy something its infancy stage BEFORE it has a chance to mature and get strong.

Secondly and most importantly, God has already taken care of the guilt and shame over 2,000 years ago when He sent His Son Jesus to die on the cross for our sins (see John 3:16).  Here is the antidote to the poison that the Devil has been injecting into our minds which is found in Romans 3:23-26 (NLT)!

“For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.” 

 

That’s you.  That’s me.  Everyone who has ever lived, is living or will live has sinned and fallen woefully short of what God requires of us.  But the miraculous thing is, He did not leave us in this fallen state.  He sent Jesus in the flesh to face all the temptations and struggles that we do, to live a perfect sinless life and than die in our place!  Wow!  In verse 24-25 it says:

“Yet God, in his grace, freely makes us right in his sight. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins. For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood. 

Forgive me for interrupting verse 25, but go back and read that last sentence…seriously go back and read it. God sacrificed Jesus for our sin and we are made right with God by “all the work we do?”. Nope.  “By cleaning up our life and becoming perfect through white knuckle will power to not repeat the same mistakes?”  Nope.  We are made right with when we “believe!”  That’s it.  Just believe and you are made right with God!  Okay let’s get back to verse 25…

“This sacrifice shows that God was being fair when He held back and did not punish those who sinned in times past, for He was looking ahead and including them in what He would do in this present time. God did this to demonstrate His righteousness, for He Himself is fair and just, and He makes sinners right in His sight when they believe in Jesus.

Jesus was the PERFECT sacrifice who died ONCE as the PAYMENT for ALL of mankind to cover EVERY sin that has been committed, is being committed or will ever be committed.  Talk about Amazing Grace!! Before I close this Thought for the Day, I want to offer to you a choice.  If you have not received the gift of grace from God through belief in Jesus as your Lord and Savior or if you are not sure if you did today if you would go to heaven, then here is a simple prayer that I posted years ago in the ★ Thought for the Day – I Hate Religion and I’m a Christian… ★ that you can pray to make that decision today…Make this your prayer today:

God take this broken, sinful person and change my life.  I confess I have made mistakes and acknowledge that I am in need of a Savior.  I want a relationship with you.  Please forgive me.  I believe that Jesus came to die for my sins and that He is the bridge that brings me to eternal life with you forever.  Today I accept the free gift of eternal life and know that I can never do enough good deeds to earn that salvation.  In Jesus Name I pray!  Amen!

If you truly prayed that prayer, then welcome to the family of God!  Here is the truth for everyone who had believed in Jesus from Romans 1:16-17 says:

“For I am not ashamed of this Good News about Christ. It is the power of God at work, saving everyone who believes—the Jew first and also the Gentile. This Good News tells us how God makes us right in His sight. This is accomplished from start to finish by faith. As the Scriptures say, “It is through faith that a righteous person has life.””

Regardless of the poisonous guilt and shame that you have been attacked with, once you have believed in Jesus you are made righteous (which just means in right standing with God,) and have the same power in you (the Holy Spirit) which raised Christ from the dead!  No go out in faith and just believe!

Want to dig deeper?

To help you in your next steps check out this 4-part series of posts that I wrote to help you connect God through these (3) Pursuits…Prayer – Word – Worship.

★ “Back to the Basics” – Never-Ending Pursuit ★ 

★ “Back to the Basics” – Pursuit #1 – Opening the Pipeline ★

★ “Back to the Basics” – Pursuit #2 – What Are You Feeding On? ★

★ “Back to the Basics” – Pursuit #3 – Adoration That Matters ★

 

And here is a powerful sermon series called “Grace Like a Flood” from Michael Todd, Transformation Church.

Understanding the mystery of God’s Grace!

‭‭

 

Continue reading