Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Never give up...

"Then some Jews came from Antioch and Iconium and won the crowd over. They stoned Paul and dragged him outside the city, thinking he was dead. But after the disciples had gathered around him, he got up and went back into the city. The next day he and Barnabas left for Derbe. They preached the good news in that city and won a large number of disciples. Then they returned to Lystra, Iconium and Antioch, strengthening the disciples and encouraging them to remain true to the faith. “We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God,” they said." - Acts 14:19-22
As we follow the Olympic games when scheduled, there are occasional reminders of past years. Stories are brought back about athletes that pressed through great pain to win the gold. They struggled through practice runs, but were determined to compete well on the day of competition. This is what being an Olympic athlete is all about... you never give up.
Paul was an Olympic Christian... he took a beating and kept on ticking! Not only did Paul continue on his mission trip, but he chose to return to the same towns that participated in his stoning. His passion for the gospel message and believers was undaunted by any amount of persecution. He knew that believers "must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God". Therefore... he never gave up.
Are you an Olympic Christian today? What will it take to stop you from fulfilling your mission for Christ? There may be pain and persecution of all kinds, but press on my friend. The leading of souls to Jesus is the greatest reward and the building up of believers is a valuable prize as well. But these rewards only go to Olympic Christians... that never give up.
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A QUOTE FOR THE DAY
  
Have you ever noticed that world-class runners have a "kick?" A kick is a technical runner's term that means when they get to that last one hundred yards or so, the runner can still sprint. No matter how much he's run before, he can sprint that last leg to the finish line and win that race. God wants you to have a kick. No matter what your circumstance, 
God wants you to finish strong.
-- Craig Brian Larson, "Strong to the Finish,"

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Freedom...

"Let it be known to you therefore, brothers, that through this man forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you, and by him everyone who believes is freed from everything from which you could not be freed by the law of Moses." -- Acts 13:38-39
Laws are written because men are sinful. Society would be chaotic without legal guidelines and the nature of man reinforces this everyday as laws are broken. Mankind is bound to laws by chains of sin and true freedom is out of reach. Where can one turn to be free?
The message of Paul alerts us to the great fact of freedom in Christ. As we are forgiven, we are set free from the power of sin to live for God. Our new found freedom is given so we might live as we should, not as we want. There is no law that could ever set us free in this way.
What are you doing with your freedom in Christ my friend? Are you living as you want, or are you living as you should? Do you yearn for God's will and way in your life, or have you returned to bondage of sin? Paul wrote in Galatians 5:1, "For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery." 
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A Quote for the Day

"The important thing about a man is not where he goes when he is compelled to go,
 but where he goes when he is free to go where he will."
~ A. W. Tozer

Monday, July 13, 2020

Make time...

"In the church at Antioch there were prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen (who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch) and Saul. While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off." - Acts 13:1-3
With the advent of cell phones the question "when will it be convenient to call?" has become more significant than ever. When will we be best prepared to receive a call from someone? The real issue is when will we have the time to listen and respond? But for some special people in our lives we are always willing to "make the time'.
The prophets and teachers of Acts 13 had gathered together to worship the Lord. Even in a busy ministry schedule they slowed down and stepped aside to worship and fast. It was in this setting that the Holy Spirit extended a fresh and challenging call to Barnabas and Saul. They heard his call and responded because they had "made the time".
When will it be convenient for you to take a call from the Lord? Is there time in your daily and weekly schedule when you simply stop the busyness to worship? In those quiet moments you are saying to the Lord "Speak, for your servant is listening" (1 Samuel 3:10) God always has a fresh and challenging word for you if you will "make the time". 
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A QUOTE FOR THE DAY

 "To stand by the shadows of a friendly tree with the wind tugging at your coattail and the heavens hailing your heart, to gaze and glory and to give oneself again to God, what more could a man ask?  Oh, the fullness, pleasure, sheer excitement of knowing God on earth.  
I care not if I never raise my voice again for Him, if only I may love Him, please Him."   

   -- Jim Elliot in The Journals of Jim Elliot

Sunday, July 12, 2020

Little faith?

"When this had dawned on him, he went to the house of Mary the mother of John, also called Mark, where many people had gathered and were praying. Peter knocked at the outer entrance, and a servant girl named Rhoda came to answer the door. When she recognized Peter’s voice, she was so overjoyed she ran back without opening it and exclaimed, “Peter is at the door!” “You’re out of your mind,” they told her. When she kept insisting that it was so, they said, “It must be his angel.” But Peter kept on knocking, and when they opened the door and saw him, they were astonished." - Acts 12:12-16
There are some people who hear the weatherman announcing rain, and choose to leave for work without their umbrella. Why are they so quick to reject the news? Why not take the update seriously and prepare for the storm? The answer is simple... they have little faith in the report.
The disciples were gathered together in prayer, but did they believe that God would answer? At first blush I am sure they would claim a great confidence in the Lord. But, when Peter came to knock, they were overwhelmed with shock. They had little faith in the Lord.
When you pray for rain, do you bring your umbrella? When you ask the Lord to intervene and provide for your needs, do you expect great things? Or are you surprised when He suddenly does the impossible? When you pray, are looking for real answers, or do you have little faith?
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QUOTE FOR THE DAY

"Understanding is the reward of faith. Therefore seek not to understand 
that thou mayest believe, but believe that thou mayest understand."
 - Augustine

Saturday, July 11, 2020

Are you?

"...The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch." - Acts 11:26
I attended a college in Tennessee during the seventies and worked full time to pay the freight. When I spent time with fellow workers from the area I was often tagged a "New Yorker". I spoke a little different than they did and I had an urban lifestyle that reflected where I was raised. It was simple; I was called a "New Yorker" because I was!
There are three occasions in the New Testament that believers are called "Christians"; in the above passage, Acts 26:28 and 1 Peter 4:16. The term was originally a derogatory tag. But it was a term that expressed one truth about the believers... they were "Christ Ones". Their speech was different and their lifestyle reflected the One they followed. It was simple; they were called "Christians" because they were!
Today people are called "Christians" for the most unwarranted reasons. To many, it is nothing more than an empty religious tag, but, what about you? If you are called a "Christian" or "Christ One", is it true? Is your speech different and does your lifestyle reflect the One you follow? Are you called a "Christian" because you are?

Have You Been With Jesus? | H.B. Charles Jr.

Friday, July 10, 2020

Savior ... or Judge!

"And he commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one appointed by God to be judge of the living and the dead. To him all the prophets bear witness that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name."" -- Acts 10:42-43
We often read about crimes committed and the long process of trials and imprisonments. The details include the police, lawyers and juries. Along with these officers of the court we are regularly exposed to the court of public opinion. But, at the end of the day the final sentencing is given by one person... the Judge. 
There is only One who has been appointed to be judge of the living and the dead. Jesus Christ was foretold of by the prophets and belief in him alone will bring forgiveness of sins. He is more than a prophet, more than a teacher and more than a great religious leader. He alone is the Judge to whom all mankind is accountable.
This message has been the same since the early church to this very day my friend. The only way to prepare for eternity and your standing before the Lord is to trust Him as your Savior. Otherwise, you will face Him as your Judge with no appeal.


Romans 2:16 | Photo quotes, Christian quotes, Romans 2

Thursday, July 9, 2020

Changed?

"The following day he arrived in Caesarea. Cornelius was expecting them and had called together his relatives and close friends...  Talking with him, Peter went inside and found a large gathering of people... “Can anyone keep these people from being baptized with water? They have received the Holy Spirit just as we have.” So he ordered that they be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ." - Acts 10:24, 27, 47
The summer months, prior to covid-19, used to bring a vast number of opportunities for inviting people to your home. The occasions may have been holidays, celebrations or just plain fun. At the end of the day everyone would leave, well fed and filled with fond memories. But, were they changed?
Cornelius was a man with great social prestige. I'm sure that he had many occasions to entertain family and friends.  Yet, this gathering was different than any other before. People didn't gather to eat, drink and be merry. They came together in the presence of God to listen to everything the Lord had commanded Peter to tell them. (Verse 33) At the end of the night no one wanted to leave, because... they had been changed.
This is the question: will your home be open in the future for others to gather to hear the good news of Jesus? Will you make plans through the coming years to invite family and friends to hear a missionary, see a Gospel movie or have a Bible Study? Cornelius wasn't even converted yet, and he filled his house to evangelize. When was the last time someone left your home having been changed?