Totally Committed

acts 19 20

Acts 19

What stands in the way of you living completely for Jesus?  Not enough time, a secret sin, a preoccupation with _______, a friend taking you in the wrong direction? Many in the early church in Acts were living out a completely committed relationship with God and His Son, Jesus. And the results are exciting to watch as we read through the book.  Their faith was living and active and daily – and tested regularly.

 

I wonder if today too many people who carry the label ‘Christian’ use their faith as a once-a-week booster shot, if they can make it to church that week.  But then are quite content to spend the week surrounded by (and sometimes covered in) the germs and sicknesses of worldly living and priorities.

 

Go ahead and read Acts 19 today and search for all the sold-out characteristics and examples; and while you’re at it – spot the imitations as well (those exist today, too).  I particularly like the passage in verses 18-20 where the believers were confessing their practices and bringing their (expensive) magic books to be burned.  They had heard about Jesus and they believed and they were excited and ready to change!  It’s not that they had heard about Jesus and kind of believed and were sort of interested and wanted to add in some Jesus/church/faith to their full lives.  See the huge difference?  They were radically changing their lives because they wanted to follow Jesus well.

 

Do you have anything in your life to add to the bonfire?  Anything that is keeping you from being totally committed to God and His Coming Kingdom?  Anything that doesn’t mix well with Jesus’ message that you need to give up?

 

The believers had burned 50,000 drachmas worth of obstacles to living sold-out lives (a drachma was a silver coin worth about one day’s wages) – that’s a lot of obstacles they eliminated!  The very next thing Paul wrote was: “So the word of the Lord was growing mightily and prevailing.” (Acts 19:20).  Sacrifice and true change brought growth. Are you ready to grow?

 

-Marcia Railton

Advertisements

How to Change: Pray!

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Conclusion and Recap

We started the week with a memory verse: 2 Corinthians 5:17. I’ve been trying to show why this verse, to me, is so closely tied with prayer. So let’s go over everything from earlier this week and try to tie it all together.

2 Corinthians 5-17

We started by talking about why we need to pray. The main reason I pointed out is that Jesus explicitly commands it. According to our verse in 2 Corinthians, if we are doing what Jesus said to do, then we will become a new creation, leaving our old selves behind.

 

Then we moved on to talking about what we should do with our bodies when we pray. This was a little different because the Bible doesn’t tell us how we should or shouldn’t pray, although it does give us some examples. Jesus would pray alone, some people prayed in front of others, some prayed in their hearts and some others prayed kneeling. Find the way that you can have the most productive prayer time and follow through with it.

 

On a similar note, we talked about what things we should pray for and what our words should sound like. Our prayers should consist of praises (things we love about God), petitions (things we want and need from God) and Repentance (asking for forgiveness and pledging to turn from our error filled ways). It’s important to hit all three categories and not exclude one because this is how Jesus himself taught us how to pray. We also need to be sure to pray, not to be heard (like the hypocrites who babble) because God already knows all of your prayers, but rather to make these prayers known to yourself.

 

Making the prayers known to yourself is what I claimed the entire purpose of prayer is. When we prayer, it’s not like God thinks “Oh, so that’s what Nathaniel needs from me!” No. He already knows what I need. We pray to remind ourselves of the greatness of God, to change ourselves and also to be able to turn from our sin. This is how the change comes about; it is how we become a new creation.

 

And finally, I tried to tackle a very big, very difficult question: Why do some prayers go unanswered? My thoughts on this are that the way God set up the world to work many years ago was to be able to function without his direct influence. He created humans with the capacity to learn and to love and he created a universe that makes sense and follows logical rules. I believe that he very rarely chooses to intervene and grant miracles to those who pray for them. Instead, he gave us, his servants, the tools to carry out his will. Sometimes we succeed and sometimes we fail.

 

All of this together wraps up my thoughts on prayers. Maybe you have additional thoughts or even different opinions. That’s great! Just keep studying and looking to Jesus, because when we are in him, we are a new creation.

-Nathaniel Johnson

 

(Editor’s Note: We apologize for the picture that was included on Sunday.  It gave an incorrect reference for the verse.  Today’s is accurate.  Thank you for reading!)

Return of the Watchman

Ezekiel 32-33

Ezekiel 32-33 amber

Wednesday, March 29

Ezekiel never fails to leave us with descriptive imagery and analogies.  Today is no exception, Ezekiel has left us a list of vivid images that reveal the plans for numerous groups of people.  The people of Assyrica, Elam, Meshek, Tubal, Edom, Princes of the North, Sidonians, Judah, and Egypt all fall to the sword of Babylon.  In the visual above, I have charted what this decline tends to look like.  NOTE: The Bible does not explicitly say that each of these groups fell in the same exact way; we do not know the details. However, we can say that each group of people did not follow God with their hearts and minds, which led to their fall from the sword of Babylon.

 

Ezekiel’s second calling as a watchman is also a significant event.   Thanks to Jeff Fletcher, we have a great recount of his first calling.  Once again, God uses repetition to stress the importance of the event. However, we can fall into an easy misconception that we as people are responsible for changing people and making them believe in the one true God and the hope we have in the eternal kingdom.  We cannot change people.  Only God through the work of the Holy Spirit can change our hearts and minds.  As shown through the example of Ezekiel as a watchman, we are responsible for planting seeds and illuminating the light of God.  We are called to holy lives, set aside from the world.  The Holy Spirit works in wondrous ways, bandaging wounds and changing hearts that we as humans cannot do.  It is our responsibility to share our faith and hope, but not our responsibility to change someone.  It can be frustrating not seeing the immediate results of our witnessing, but rest easy knowing God IS working!

 

I often find solace and motivation to keep on from Matthew 5:16:

“In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven”

May God bless you and your peers today as you share the Good News and hope we have in the return of our Savior!!

-Amber McClain