With the destruction from Hurricanes Irma and Harvey fresh in our minds, few would doubt the sheer force of storm driven wind and rain. And we’ve all seen images of earthquakes and other natural disasters.
Man made destruction can be just as powerful: war torn countries, the effects of suicide bombers and terrorism, and our own twin towers. Now another enemy threatens with missile launches and nuclear tests.
But are any of those the most powerful force in the world? And, if not, what is?
Another Monday morning. Jeannie would have to pray. She and Sue were the only two women on a job that was hard enough without Sue’s constant antagonism. It was made worse by the fact that, as far as Jeannie knew, she had never done anything to warrant her hatred.
The cheating began just a few months into their marriage. Mary had cried, yelled, spied on him, and threatened to leave. Each time Joe would tell her he was sorry and promise to break off the affair. But before long, she’d overhear a conversation, someone would call and hang up, or Joe would stay out all night and she’d know.
Karen’s husband worked hard. He came home every night. He paid the bills. But week-ends were a nightmare. Before the sun set on Friday, Bill was well into a bottle of bourbon and the more he drank, the angrier he got. More than once he had pulled out his gun and waved it around, even pointing it at Karen.
Each workday Jeannie determined to be kind to Sue, in spite of her cursing and cheap shots. But there were days when she went home in tears and cried out to God for another job.
Then one day after a particularly angry outburst, Sue stopped and just stared at Jeannie. “What is wrong with you? Everyday you come back and treat me right no matter what I say or do!” What followed were tears, but this time they were Sue’s and not Jeannie’s, as she poured out a story of heartbreak and abuse. Eventually, she accepted an invitation to attend church with Jeannie where she found the grace to let God heal her heart. Continue reading →
In the first century a small army of believers turned the world upside down in a matter of a few years without TV, radio, or mass media. They simply believed in the power of the Gospel to change lives and the Holy Spirit working through them. And they did it in the face of intense opposition. Could we turn the world upside down again if we had the same faith and commitment?
What’s the real problem with the leadership in our nation? Is it party affiliation? A lack of compassion for the poor? Too much politics or too little experience? The answer is really pretty simple.
One of the greatest evils in our nation today is our failure to defend unborn babies. Will God hold us, as a nation, responsible?
Can being unequally yoked in marriage, in business, and in our close friendships affect our walk with God?
And finally, today’s readings contain one of the greatest prayers recorded. It was prayed by a man who fell short like us, but who understood where to turn for help.
In verse 6 the Thessalonians said about the disciples, “These who have turned the world upside down have come here too.”
Beginning with the original Apostles, as they evangelized and discipled others who in turn evangelized and discipled still others, the world was turned upside down in a matter of a few years without TV, radio, or mass media, just the Word of Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit.
I wonder what you and I are doing or could do to turn the world upside down. Are we as committed to share the gospel as those in the first century? Would we still be willing to blog about God and His Word if knew we could be arrested? Would we still attend worship services? Do we invest the time and effort necessary to influence the world around us for Christ?
Paul told Timothy in 2 Timothy 2:
1 You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. 2 And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.
This is discipleship. Discipleship takes time and faithfulness. It’s coming alongside someone. It might mean going through a book on marriage with a young wife or a new believer. It might mean working through a book or Bible study on the character of God, the basics of the faith, or some other subject. It might mean teaching a young couple how to be godly parents or a newlywed how to keep house for the glory of God.
Paul went on:
3 You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. 4 No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier.
Are we so busy with the things of this world that we are too entangled to come alongside someone else?
8 Remember that Jesus Christ, of the seed of David, was raised from the dead according to my gospel, 9 for which I suffer trouble as an evildoer, even to the point of chains; but the word of God is not chained. 10 Therefore I endure all things for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.
The Gospel is not limited to our great persuasive ability, a huge platform, or who is in the White House … just our faithfulness.
For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes (Rom. 1.16).
Yesterday, Jehoshaphat, a relatively good king was hanging out with, of all people, Ahab, one of the most wicked kings of the Northern Kingdom. He and his wife Jezebel took the nation of Israel deeper and deeper into idolatry. Today’s reading begins: Continue reading →
How are you at defending the faith and what you say you believe? Do you ever pretend you’re not a believer because it’s inconvenient or embarrassing? Have you ever said my faith is a “personal thing” when you had an opportunity to “give a reason for the hope that is in you” (1 Pet. 3.15)? Do you ever hold back when it would mean taking a stand or speaking up? I know I have.
Leviticus 3 & 4
In this passage, we find three of the women who followed Jesus there at the cross “looking on from afar.” It’s interesting to note that there is no record of any of the women who had followed Jesus leaving Him or denying Him in those last hours, when most of the men fled in fear.
What about you and me?
Do you ever pretend you’re not a believer because it’s inconvenient or embarrassing? Have you ever said my faith is a “personal thing” when you had an opportunity to defend and talk about what you believe?” Do you ever hold back when it would mean taking a stand or speaking up? I know I have.
Maybe we’re afraid someone won’t like us? Or of jeopardizing something we want? Or we’re afraid of the consequences?
Certainly, we need to be wise in the work place, but, at times, we keep silent more because it’s uncomfortable. Other times, we don’t speak up because we don’t really know how to defend our faith and we’re afraid we’ll sound foolish or mess it up.
Yet look at what the Apostle Peter told a earlier generation of believers–people who lived in almost constant danger of persecution or worse:
13 And who is he who will harm you if you become followers of what is good? 14 But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you are blessed. “And do not be afraid of their threats, nor be troubled.” 15 But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear; 16 having a good conscience, that when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed. 17 For it is better, if it is the will of God, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil (1 Pet. 3.13-17).
What do you need to do to be better prepared to “defend the faith”? Do you need to get involved in a discipleship class or Bible study so you can learn the basics of the Christian faith? Do you need to pray for boldness or freedom from fear? Do you just need to step out in faith?
The primary theme in Leviticus is holiness. God is holy and He has commanded us to be holy just as He is (1 Pet. 1.14-16).
The need for holiness is attested to by the complicated systems of sacrifices and offerings. The animal sacrifices made temporary atonement for the sins of the priests and the people.
And what a “messy” and costly business the sacrificial system really was.
But then, I’m reminded that sin itself is “messy” business! Think of all the messes we make in our lives: our friendships, our marriages, our families, our finances, and every area of life. It’s not always “pretty” and the only remedy is Christ.
When we see our complete failure to be holy and come to understand that He died as the perfect Sacrifice for all who believe, we can exchange our sin for His holiness.