Don’t be the Closet Christian
“The king is familiar with these things, and I can speak freely to him. I am convinced that none of this has escaped his notice, because it was not done in a corner.” – Acts 26:26
Paul, being arrested for proclaiming the Lord, has taken a stand with King Agrippa on the matter of Christianity. Here he proclaims that all of his actions have been done in full view of everyone. That nothing he has believed or taught has been in secret; what he believes is nothing secret, even though it can make him seem insane.
Christianity is not popular, just as it wasn’t in Paul’s day. The difference is no one really knew what Christianity was all about, at the time of the first century Church, today they do. This being true, we must not relent and risk becoming closet Christians. Do not go along with the crowd in public for fear of reprisal, all the while worshiping God in private.
Let the world know where you stand, do not let it be a secret. We do not do this out of pride or arrogance, but out of faith to the Lord and out of kindness for those that hear. For by telling the Gospel and how it has changed us, many will come to know the Lord. We cannot miss an opportunity to give glory to God and the story of Salvation to the world.
Being Christmas time, there is no better time to proclaim the Lord than now. It is important that we tell the story of the birth of Jesus. Sure, we don’t know that December was the actual date, but this is the date agreed upon long ago and so we honor God by honoring the birth of the Savior. Let’s make this Christmas season one about Jesus and His saving grace.
“I preached that they should repent and turn to God and demonstrate their repentance by their deeds.” – Acts 26:20b
It is amazing what Paul is telling us here. There is a two-fold message to his purpose, first is to repent and turn to God. The second, is to demonstrate that repentance through deeds. Faith is always accompanied by deeds. James tells us that without works our faith is dead. A friend of mine told me one time something to the same effect and that is faith is belief in action. Every time we see faith or repentance we see action, just like in Acts 2:38.
So, repentance comes first. What is repentance? To repent means to turn away from, at least this is what I was told since I was a child, but upon doing some further research what it really means is the changing of one’s entire way of life. The Greek word for repent is μετανοέω, or translated to English, metanoeō. The definition is: to change any or all the elements composing one’s life: attitude, thoughts and behaviors concerning the demands of God for right living. You mean to repent I have to change my attitude, my lifestyle to confirm to what God wants me to? Yes. Because of this, the Scriptures will stand in direct contrast to the World, which will tell you to be whatever you want and to do whatever feels good. God says, to live the good life you have to follow my ways.
Second, now that we are repenting, people should see that in our actions. If we are changing our lifestyle and our attitude people should be witness to the change. This means that we might change the way we dress, being more modest. Or might see our attitude change to become more positive in nature. Or perhaps they notice that we don’t run around with filth spewing from our mouths anymore or that we don’t know what’s the latest with Game of Thrones. But that we have had a change of our entire selves to reflect Jesus image and not our own.
If we claim to be Christian, then we must repent and become more like Jesus each day. We should never be the same. The Word of God is too powerful to be letting us stay in the dead condition in which we were found. No, we are transformed each and every day by the renewing of our minds and our faith in Jesus Christ.
“When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife.” – Matt 1:24
We all have choices in life to make. Even with several options, they can all be correct or “right” choices. Sometimes we are faced with what job to take or what meal to eat, nothing sinful about any of the choices we make, but they all have effects or consequences. Just because we have all “right” choices to make does not make them all equally good.
For Joseph he could have chosen to divorce Mary or even have her stoned. Either of these choices would have been correct in the letter of the Law. However, there was a third choice, the choice to listen to God’s word, which came to him in a dream. He chose to follow God and His will instead of his own. I think this is a big reason why God chose him to be Jesus’ father.
Our lives are no different. We are faced with choices everyday and many times we don’t know what to do. We want to do the right thing, but is it God’s will. I think back to taking this new job in Sublette. I know that Andrea and I both hit our knees and begged God to show us if this is the right choice. God moved and showed us the way, glory to Him. Since then we have been grateful of the choice we made because we followed His will and not our own.
So today, as you think of the choices you have to make in life, I urge you to take time to pray and read on what you are facing. Let God know you thought and desires, but then listen to what His will is. He will never let you down and will never steer you wrong. He is always with us and want to make sure we succeed in life.
“And Mary Said: ‘My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant.’” – Luke 1:46-48
What a great attitude Mary has after learning she will be the mother of the Savior. She does not become prideful or arrogant, but instead becomes humbled that God chose her, a lowly girl, to do His will. Mary is grateful that God has given her this opportunity and she does not want to mess it up.
Two things with Mary here, first she is grateful and humbled. This is so good for me to learn. Remaining humble in the station that God has called me to can be very difficult. As a pastor, it is not always easy to remain humble because God has given me a great task to accomplish and the authority to accomplish this task. This can lead to a big head and an attitude of power. But from time to time God lets the wind out of my sails to remind me to be humble in the calling He has given, just as Mary remained humble in her calling.
Second, Mary answered the call. A very frightening call, to become an unwed mother of a child which would be called the Son of God. So being unmarried and pregnant was bad enough, she would be shunned and disowned. Nobody would want her. More than that, she was going to be telling people He was the Son of God. So not only is she a sinner, but she is crazy. Yet, she answers the call anyway.
Do we answer the call of God when it comes? Or does the call seem just too far out there and what will people think? God is going to call us to the impossible sometimes. He told the disciples to leave all they own and follow Him. He also called Mary to be an unwed mother of God Himself. And she answers with confidence, the confidence that only the Spirit can bring.
Let us today be swayed by the Spirit’s call. Let us answer confidently to the mission that God has set before us. Let us remain humble in heart to the calling as well. In all of this, He will lift us up. He did so with Mary and the promise is the same today as it was back then, God loves us and wants us to succeed in His plan in our lives.
God Bless and Peace be With You,
“Provide horses for Paul so that he may be taken safely to Governor Felix.” – Acts 23:24
In this passage, Paul is being held prisoner and the Jews had stirred themselves up to kill him. They had proclaimed they would not eat or drink until he had been killed. And yet we see this Roman soldier take to Paul’s defense. He delivers him safely to the Governor and away from trouble. Now the soldier did this because He was afraid that Paul, a Roman Citizen, would be killed on his watch. But in the end, it did not matter, God worked to protect Paul, even without Paul having to lift a finger.
In our lives God works the same way. We do not always see it and we don’t always know it until it is already happening but God protects us and delivers us from unseen trials and dangers in our lives. God will use whatever means necessary to accomplish His task. We see this in Paul and we also see this in Pharaoh in the Old Testament. God often uses the unbelieving to accomplish the tasks in the Kingdom, that is just how power and awesome a God we serve.
So, when you feel the pressures and battles of life closing in, remember God is working to deliver the faithful. Also remember that He is fighting battles unseen and protecting you from many of the pitfalls that life can offer up.
Be thankful today for those unseen dangers that He has delivered you from. Be thankful that we serve a God that is far greater than we can possibly imagine or comprehend. There is just something reassuring about being friends with a God that is that powerful.
“When they came to the place called the Skull, they crucified him there, along with the criminals – one on his right, the other on his left. Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided up his clothes by casting lots.” – Luke 23:22-34
Do we love the crowd? I know I post a lot about not following the crowd and not listening to the crowd and that the crowd will hate you for loving Christ. However, I am asking a different question today because it is a question I have to ask myself each and every day of my life, Do I Love the Crowd? For I once was in the crowd and God saved me from it, so therefore how can I hold a grudge against the world?
Love is so strong when it comes from God. It is easy to love those that love you back, as Jesus tells us, even the sinners do that. However, to love those that hate you, those that persecute you and those that look to murder you. Wow, what a God we serve. He says forgive them Father, as they put Him on a cross to be murdered; not just killed or by accident, but on purpose and with a purpose. However, He looks on them with love and compassion and asks for their forgiveness.
For us, this is impossible. There is no way we can forgive some wrongs in our lives, we just can’t do it. But for God, this is possible. For the Spirit that lives within, this is possible. He is the one that allows us to forgive because we realize He forgives us and all our sins.
I remember Paul in Acts while he is in Jerusalem, they turn him over to the authorities and they beat him severely before the Romans take him away. As they are taking him away, He proclaims the Gospel to them. Again, they are looking to murder him and yet he loves them enough to proclaim life and forgiveness to them.
Only through God is it possible for me to love those who are still in the World. My flesh cries out for blood and vengeance. “I want them to get what they deserve”, my flesh cries. But, then the Spirit stills me and replies, “Did you get what you deserve?” No, I have been forgiven; forgiven of sins that I shouldn’t be forgiven of, but Jesus says, “Forgive him father, He doesn’t know what He has done.” He reaches out for you as well, He looks to forgive you so that you can start to forgive. He wants you to forgive all, even yourself, which sometimes is the hardest to do.
There is a Savior waiting for you today. Have you taken on His forgiveness? It is ready and available to all who want it and are looking. If you have accepted His forgiveness, are you forgiving others, are you loving the Crowd today?
With Blessing and Forgiveness,
“I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock. Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them. So be on your guard!” – Acts 20:29-31
Be on your guard! I love this statement that Paul makes to the elders of Ephesus. He is telling them that even a single laxity can cause the greatest destruction. That even within their own ranks we will see some looking to take the beloved away.
Christians, today it is no different than in Paul’s day. We must be on our guard. Be on guard against a society that is ready to sell you evil as good. Be on guard for there are prosperity preachers out there telling you if your faith was just a little stronger you would be rich. Be on your guard for those who look only to tickly the ears, while stealing from the pockets.
So, how are we to be on our guard? “Now I commit you to God and to the Word of His Grace, which can build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified.” – Acts 20:32
The Word of God is our defense against the blasphemy of this world. In His Word we find salvation and truth. In His Word we find love that lasts forever and flowing waters of life. It is no accident that the Bible has been the most sold book in the entire world. The Word is from God and provides comfort and salvation for any who would seek Him. This salvation is not just for the rich or the poor; for one race or another. No, it is for any who would call Jesus Lord; any who would believe what He has done for them.
Christians there is no excuse for us in America, we have the Word so ready and available to us; we should never struggle with the Truth. Our problem is the false sense of security we have gained from our overall wealth and good times. Now, in these good times it is time for us to ready ourselves against evil. People, take advantage of the blessing found in freedom that God has given us. Ready yourselves so you will be On Your Guard!
Chaos or Jesus?
“The assembly was in confusion: some were shouting one thing, some another. Most of the people did not even know why they were there.” – Acts 19:32
“What the uproar had ended, Paul sent for the disciples and, after encouraging them, said goodbye and set out for Macedonia.” Acts 20:1
The two verses above are the contrast between chaos, which is in evil, and Jesus, which brings peace. So many times, we are shouted at from all sides of what to do and how to believe. The media, our favorite music, television and movies. It is no wonder children are so confused growing up these days. What one person says is moral, another says is evil. Everyone is shouting trying to be right and trying to be heard.
I am so glad that I can find comfort from the Chaos by simply opening the Word of God. The Bible brings stability of thought and morality in my life. There are no gray lines, no misunderstanding, only God and what He says on just about everything. The Word, bring peace of heart and mind to a weary sinner like me. He carries my thoughts to a place of rest and love.
So, as you go about your day today, and the voices continue to shout and grow louder, remember there is a place of rest for you along the way. Simply stop, pray, and open the Word of God. For He is wise beyond understanding and brings peace beyond belief. An ever-lasting peace that gives great comfort, promising of a time to come when there is no more suffering or shedding of tears; a time when right and wrong will be a moot point.
His arms are open and ready for you to come in and find your rest today, please don’t deny Him, don’t turn to chaos and unbelief, that only brings disappointment and heart ache. Jesus brings joy, which takes us through the tough times and peace through the storm. Won’t you call on Him today. “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” – Matt 11:29
With Blessings and Peace,
Careful the Company You Keep
“14While Gallio was proconsul of Achaia, the Jews of Corinth made a united attack on Paul and brought him to the place of judgment. ‘This man,’ they charged, ‘is persuading the people to worship God in ways contrary to the law’… 15b‘I will not judge of such things.’ 16So he drove them off. 17Then the crowd there turned on Sosthenes the synagogue leader and beat him in front of the proconsul; and Gallio showed no concern whatsoever.” – Acts 19:14, 15b-17
The crowd is a fickle fellow. At once it will both love and hate you. I have found myself seeking the approval of the crowd before. We don’t want to stand out, at least not for anything different. And yet we have this savior that stood in the face of the status quo and judged their actions calling them snakes and evil doers. He was not one to agree with the crowd or to follow the majority. No, Jesus stood for what was right, always, no matter what it costed him.
However, Christ had compassion upon the crowds and the masses. Just because we are not supposed to stand with the crowd doesn’t mean we are different or have less compassion upon the crowd. We can pray for them, share Jesus with them and love them. But we are not supposed to become a part of them.
The problem with the crowd is never knowing when you will become the scapegoat. Here it was Sosthenes, as he riled the crowd up. The problem was when things did not go their way, they devoured him and destroyed him. You see, the crowd has no love for what is right, only for what is popular. It has no concern for you only for itself.
Christ, will never turn from you when you accept Him. He is not fickle like the crowd but loves unconditionally. When things are not going the way He wants, he does not turn and devour you. No, He gently turns you upon the paths of righteousness. He will never lead you into harm but only into eternal life. Choose today, Jesus or the Crowd, Life or Death.
Peace Be With You,
“Choose my instruction instead of silver, knowledge rather than choice gold, for wisdom is more precious than rubies, and nothing you desire can compare with her.” (Psalm 8:10-11)
“But wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy.” (James 3:17)
Wisdom is calling to each and everyone one of us. God WANTS to impart His wisdom. Just let that soak in for a minute…God WANTS to give wisdom. This means that wisdom is up for grabs for anyone who would seek it out. It doesn’t take a special
person or gift to receive wisdom. Wisdom is for everyone who is willing to ask for it.
David and James really spell wisdom out in the two verses above. Wisdom is precious and it looks like Jesus. That means anytime we find something in the Scripture that catches us and imparts wisdom it must filter through the lens of grace, mercy, love, peace and gentility. I find the last sometimes comes the hardest for me, as I want to impart wisdom with a firm hand.
Gaining understanding and wielding wisdom are two excises that we must learn as Christians. Too often do we wield the sword without cause and without practice. Hacking and slashing away at people, without first knowing them. We must wield the Sword for sure, but with the restraint of wisdom as our guide. This ensures that God does the cutting and that we are purely the instrument of His will. This and only this Wisdom can bring the lost to Christ.