ACTS | When Meaning Blurs

When Meaning Blurs

Read:

". . . I composed, . . ." Acts 1:1

Reflect:

When change happens rapidly, all meaning begins to blur. With the rise of digital connectivity comes an increased need for the human touch. Real genuine relationships, ones which add value to our life, keep us balanced. We all need significant relationships with a few significant people at a level we've never experienced before. Ones where truth is established and supported. 

If you were to make a list if all the pressure temptations and trials you, your kids and grandkids will face, no doubt it would be a long list. Once the list was made, the insight it would provide would be overwhelming. All the struggles, stress and strains on the list would include things we never thought we'd face in our lifetime.

Many of the threats our children and grandchildren face are portrayed, modeled, even encouraged and lived out, on the screens of their phones before they reach high school. Imagine growing up in a world without anyone being committed to them, to be there to steer them through the mine fields of growing up, no one to help them navigate the twists and turns of life. No one to provide the wisdom to move from one life stage to the next.

Everyone needs a mentor. Someone who will bridge, connect, strengthen, and stabilize our journey into a complex and threatening world. 

Luke was an educated Greek. He was a trained physician, with a sharp mind accustomed to examining evidence and highly-skilled ability to diagnose cause and effects. And he was the author of the book of Acts. Luke could have lived out his years as a successful doctor. And he might have, had it not been for a single, formative relationship. It was his mentor who directed him towards his destiny. 

The strategic relationship for Luke was his meeting Paul. Before meeting Paul, Luke knew nothing about Jesus. Having Paul as a mentor shaped Luke’s character and the course of his life. Luke journeyed with Paul, they spoke together. Luke heard Paul preach, he listened to his apologetics of Christ, he watched Paul defend himself against his critics. Luke learned Christianity by living it with a mentor.

Respond:

Get involved in Church Project one-on-one discipleship today.

ACTS | The Creative Call of Jesus

The Creative Call of Jesus

Read:

"The first account I composed, . . ." Acts 1:1

Reflect:

Love always leaves its mark. Those who know what it means to be loved by another, know love changes people. Having been loved well compels us to love others in a manner beyond our natural ability. One surrendered to the love of God, lives in ever-increasing faithfulness, is set aglow with peace, joy, and the ability to love extravagantly. 

To be a Christ-follower is to be held by the grip of God’s love. Many believers understand this truth intellectually, yet so few have experienced it. Our faith tends to be controlled by our natural affections rather than the unconditional, unrestrained love of God. It's possible to be sincere about our relationship with the Lord and not experience His power. Whenever a person’s life is overtaken by the love of God, it's unmistakable and undeniable. 

The book of Acts pulses with life as the love of God is poured out on the early church. In its pages we see the spirit of God using the most unlikely people overcoming the most formidable obstacles through some of the most unconventional methods and achieving remarkable results, because the love of God lives through the people of God. May we never forget the necessity of God to do the work of God.

The greatest competition of our love for Jesus is the ministry we do. Many times it's easier to serve than it is to love. We should be on guard of anything that replaces our love of Jesus, especially the noble and good things we do. The goal of our life is not to "do" things on our own, but to rely on the love of God as the basis of all we do.

The active, creative call of Jesus is not a call to keep right on doing what we've been doing, but a summons to eliminate from our lives everything that’s opposed to the work and the will of God for us. We must rediscover that the whole center of our service is found in Jesus Christ.

Respond:

Are you more devoted to the sincerity of your work than you are to Jesus Himself? 

ACTS | The Spiritual Horizon

The Spiritual Horizon

Read:

The Acts of the Apostles

Reflect:

The New Year brings with it the resolve to start again to do life better, to make more of the time given us, to live another year. How fitting we as a church begin our year with reading and studying the first book of the history of the church. The book of Acts or, as some have called it, the Acts of the Apostles.

Each page, each chapter, and each verse leads us into the way God acts through his people. It takes us along the broad highway to the end which has been kept in view from the beginning. Acts records the birth of an unstoppable movement which continues to spread out across the globe today.  

On the day Jesus ascended, the church began. Acts sets out the progress of Christianity through those Jesus had first given the great commission. They set out to bring the good news, to be witnesses to Jerusalem, Judah, Samaria and all the parts of the earth.  

Acts shows us how the spirit of Jesus, working in and through the lives of the first believers, built the church by proclaiming the life, death, and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. Their steadfast belief in and commitment to Jesus widened the scope of His message, increased the borders of belief, and broadens the spiritual horizon of the Christian community. Through dogged tenacity, they carried out their Master’s great commission until His name was heard and praise was sung in the great capital city of that time – the city of Rome.

The dream of God’s living community on the earth didn't stop there. The fullness, freedom, and fellowship the early church experienced continues to this very day. Our church history matters. It's important to remember the church didn't start with us, but it is extended through us. Every generation has to rediscover the power the church possesses for transforming any arena of crisis into great growth.  

So this year we read, study, and contemplate the book of Acts. We seek to demonstrate what it means for us to become the church God intended us to be.  To be His people and His passion.

Respond:

Spend some time today thanking God for His love for the church.

Colossians 1:27 | Grasp It!

The most significant problem believers face, from those who are new to faith to the seasoned follower, is keeping faith relevant in the midst of rapid change. We must resist the urge to let our faith remain attached to a single, stagnant moment in the past. Faith always moves forward and so must we. To regain our passion we have re-engage with the presence of Jesus each day.

In this week’s devos, we are concentrating the content on holding fast to Christ as we know Him, and making Him the foundation of our lives. As you read each day, ask Him to stir your spirit afresh. In Jesus, we are freed from the seduction of the past and the tyranny of the moment. We are freed to know Him in all His fullness.

 

Grasp It!

Read:

To whom God was pleased to make known how great for the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ within and among you, the hope of realizing glory. Colossians 1:27

Reflect:

The Christian message isn’t merely knowledge about Jesus, but also the experience of the living Christ in all who believe. This personal union with Christ brings the believer into a saving relationship with God in the present and is a guarantee of eternal relationship with God. He alone is our hope of glory.

The glory of God is God’s presence being made real. As the children of God, we have an inheritance and Christ has qualified us to be partakers in this inheritance and clearly that is a reason to give thanks. 

God desires that all would experience His saving power. Maturing belief leads to assurance of our salvation in Him, then it follows that God has always been like that. One cannot know Christ by reason alone. Only faith can grasp it, live by it, and realize the benefits of knowing Him.

However, the enemy furiously fights to deceive us. He wants us to believe we are incapable, unworthy and disqualified from God’s best. That is why many look at themselves and feel defeated.

But remember that because of Christ in you, you can experience the glory of God, the manifested excellence of God. You’ll live full of hope. You’ll press on toward better things each day of your life. Look past what you can do and focus on what God can do through you.

Two thousand years ago, however, Jesus secured our inheritance. Then, when we named Him our Lord, He placed His Holy Spirit within us. And the Spirit strengthens us, fills us with knowledge, and blesses us with wisdom and understanding. And that rich inheritance will never fade.

Respond:

Are you ready to believe for an outpouring of God’s goodness and excellence in your life? God is looking for someone to be good to, so let it be you. God’s best for you is on its way.

Colossians 1:17-18 | The Architect

The most significant problem believers face, from those who are new to faith to the seasoned follower, is keeping faith relevant in the midst of rapid change. We must resist the urge to let our faith remain attached to a single, stagnant moment in the past. Faith always moves forward and so must we. To regain our passion we have re-engage with the presence of Jesus each day.

In this week’s devos, we are concentrating the content on holding fast to Christ as we know Him, and making Him the foundation of our lives. As you read each day, ask Him to stir your spirit afresh. In Jesus, we are freed from the seduction of the past and the tyranny of the moment. We are freed to know Him in all His fullness.

 

The Architect

Read:

“He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the first-born from the dead, so that He Himself might come to have first place in everything.” Colossians 1:17-18

Reflect:

Jesus is the architect of the church. It’s His idea. Jesus is the guiding Spirit. Without Him the church cannot think, act, or be directed.

The first born of all creation comes into history to redeem Himself and to launch into the stream of human history – the church, the communities of redeemed people. Amazingly, Christ lives in the brokenness and weakness of His people in deep and full self-giving love that outlives all that sin and death can do.

Jesus is not only the first in time to live out this new spiritual relationship of God to man, but makes this new relationship possible for the multitudes who will follow Him. And all who follow become His body on earth – the church.

The church in its ultimate sense is not a group of self-organized people to perpetuate the teaching and practice of Jesus, but a living organism of which He is the life and spirit. The church is not a body of Christians, but the body of Christ.

He is supreme over creation, but supreme in the church. Distinct from creation, but identified with the church, whose life is fed by participation in the body of Christ. Christ as the head, is the conscious experience of every believer. Jesus, the head, prompts, guides and directs each member of the body.

He has the wisdom the church needs. He has a custom-crafted destiny for every faith community. He is the source and the object of all identity, mission, and fellowship that marks each local church. So what does that mean for you? Resist self-centered forces that seek to usurp the place of Christ in the church. Affirm gifted and humble leaders who let Jesus do His job. And set a personal example of God’s design in your life.

Respond:

God, thank You that we are not wandering around on our own trying to do church. You are the director of my life and my community.

Colossians 1:16 | Putting Things Into Focus

The most significant problem believers face, from those who are new to faith to the seasoned follower, is keeping faith relevant in the midst of rapid change. We must resist the urge to let our faith remain attached to a single, stagnant moment in the past. Faith always moves forward and so must we. To regain our passion we have re-engage with the presence of Jesus each day.

In this week’s devos, we are concentrating the content on holding fast to Christ as we know Him, and making Him the foundation of our lives. As you read each day, ask Him to stir your spirit afresh. In Jesus, we are freed from the seduction of the past and the tyranny of the moment. We are freed to know Him in all His fullness.

 

Putting Things Into Focus

Read:

“For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him.” Colossians 1:16

Reflect:

We know God when we believe in Christ. And when we know Christ, we are in union with God Himself. Whenever we think on the centrality of Christ, we begin to see all things in relation to Him. This is not just an act of logic, but of devotion.

When things don’t go your way, do you react or respond? Think carefully about how you answer. Every day of our lives, we are confronted with circumstances that squeeze one of those actions out of us, and the behavior that manifests itself is telling.

When we react, it is usually not good. Reaction is often guided by the flesh. We want what we want, when we want it. We want our plans to come to fruition. We want our way, and when we don’t get it, we react. Sometimes our reaction is manifest in anger, frustration, pouting or a bad attitude. When we react, we are putting our selfishness on full display.

However, when our response is guided by the Spirit, we choose to think biblically. Paul said that God created all things and that all things were created through Him and for Him. 

Where do you see your way in this verse? God created all things, including us, for Himself. So, when we don’t get our way, it may be painful, and it may not be the road of our choice, but He is right there with us. He is giving us the opportunity to trust Him with our circumstances and to display our faith in Him.

Jesus has the unique function of putting things into focus. He both reveals and redeems. When our life gets interrupted, when we get irritated and, in the times we don’t get our way, we need to remind ourselves daily, that it’s not about us, it’s all about Him.  

Respond:

Father, thank You that You are ever-present, regardless what the circumstances of my life suggest, and that You are always working out Your good plan for me.  Amen