Regular People

Read: 

“. . . strengthened in the faith, and were increasing in number daily.” Acts 16:5


Reflect:

The normal Christian life is an extraordinary life. We look at the people in scripture who God used and assume they must have been more spiritual and had a greater grasp of the supernatural, that they possessed divine insiders’ knowledge. Crediting them as “special” and more “spiritual” only blinds us from seeing our own usability and capacity for spiritual growth.  


The first Christians, like you, had to grow in the ways of Jesus. The inspiration that guided their speech, inspired their sermons and caused them to do great things was the presence of the Spirit bestowed on them. Yielding to the work of the Spirit will always give our service depth and cause it to affect a wider scope than what we intended.


The presence of the Spirit did not make them sinless, it did not destroy their weakness and natural inclinations. It didn’t take away Paul’s hot temper. It didn’t eliminate Paul’s prejudice, nor did it alter his intellect.


The point is, the people in the early church were regular people like you and me. Facing everyday struggles, aware of their own weaknesses and shortcomings. The presence of the Spirit resting on them made up for their deficiencies.


Through the Spirit, hatred is replaced by love, anger with patience, anxiety with peace and pretense with humility. Shockingly, you are no better or worse than the frail, fractured, first followers of Jesus. Stop elevating your shortcomings and submit yourself to the Spirit. When the Spirit comes, He makes the weak courageous, He makes the feeble strong, and He makes the slow sharp.


The apostles were a living witness to a not-uncommon phenomenon of the Christian life. The Spirit leads us into a discovery of Jesus Christ, resulting in fire merged with friendship, which causes us to do extraordinary things.


Respond:

How is the Spirit working through your weaknesses? Today intentionally focus on the life of God being demonstrated in and through your weaknesses. 


The Dream of God

Read:

“So the churches were being strengthened . . .” Acts 16:5


Reflect:

Throughout the book of Acts 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. The church of the risen Lord Jesus Christ.


On the day Jesus ascended, the church began. Acts sets out the progress of Christianity through those to whom 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.  


As His church, each week and in every day 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:

How are you strengthening the church? 


Heirloom of Faith

Read:

“. . . while they were passing through the cities, . . .” Acts 16:4


Reflect:

Successful Christians aren’t an accident, they are the result of someone’s intentional investment. Timothy was Paul’s dearest friend. He was a son in the faith and appears to be adopted in the faith as an heir to Paul. Timothy was Paul’s understudy, prepared and discipled to be trained, taught, and entrusted with the gospel. Paul’s whole focus was centered on Timothy to be an heirloom of faith. 


There is a truth and lesson here for Christians today. Every disciple you meet is the result of someone’s influence. Someone walked along side of them, showed them the ways of Jesus, and challenged them to live to a higher standard. A discipler’s influence is like a pebble striking the surface of water, it started a rippling effect that radiated long after the initial impact was gone. Every disciple is the fruit of someone who quietly, patiently put in the work to build the next generation. 


One of the great questions in discipling another is “How do you know when they are ready?” There are four marks of every disciple who’s capable of making disciples themselves.


Maturity

As spiritual maturity takes place there will be a growing dependence on God, a drive to know Christ more intimately, a deepening understanding of God’s word, along with a humble confidence to operate in the ways of Jesus.


Modeling

They are able to effectively relate their own story of knowing Christ to others. The decisions of their life are influenced by their relationship with Jesus.


Motivation

Their faith goes beyond needing immediate emotional pay-off to follow Jesus. They remain faithful when their faith is tested. In the face of doubts, discouragement and despair they continue to believe God is good.


Mettle

This is the unseen ingredient of grit, valor, and determination to demonstrate they can withstand trials and continue to do the daunting work of discipleship.


Respond:

Develop your discipleship. Go to the CP app and sign up for our one-on-one mentoring.


Radical Obedience

Read:

“Now while they were passing through the cities, . . .” Acts 16:4


Reflect:

Every day every one of us are faced with circumstances which constantly contradict the truth of who God says we are and our assignment as co-laborers in making disciples. Most importantly is knowing that in the face of contradictions and conflict, God has positioned us to succeed.


Thankfully we are no longer playing defense in life. No longer are we to protect our little corner of ministry, rather, we are now positioned to be on the offense. We are disciples who are aggressively advancing Jesus into the world.  


Jesus is our superior strategy and strength, however, He will not force or coerce us into fulfilling His commission. It’s the responsibility of each believer to see themselves as shareholders in the cause, to use their gifts and abilities to the fullest redemptive extent, knowing only then can we share in the success of the mission.  


Paul had successfully discipled Timothy by consistently pouring into him wisdom, insight, direction, and encouragement. Paul had prepared Timothy to serve and ultimately to lead others to do the same. There is a principle of discipleship here for each of us – our success in the mission is determined by what we do before the mission begins. A life under submission to the Savior supersedes success in the mission. 


Radical obedience is the requirement for successful discipleship.  It is what brings us into freedom, it replaces un-renewed patterns of thinking with freeing beliefs of His kingdom. It establishes our perspective and lifestyle to believe that everything Jesus asks of us is actually possible for us to do. It enables us to live fully abandoned to the will of Jesus, to live passionately and sacrificially. Until we are willing to live in radical obedience, we will be overcome by the contradictions and will not make the necessary efforts to win the battle.  


Respond:

Feeling the weight of the responsibility of radical obedience should impress on us the importance of being a disciple and discipling others. Who are you discipling?


Maturity is Expensive

Read:

“. . . he took him and circumcised him because of the Jews who were in those parts, . . .” Acts 16:3


Reflect:

Maturity is expensive. It’s the bedrock of our ongoing kingdom experiences with others. The focus of true maturity is to anchor our affection for Him in the present reality of His rule. Our effectiveness to minster to others remains undeveloped until formed through the process of maturity. 


Circumcision is the marking of the flesh. It’s not what you might expect to read about for a morning devotional. Yet, there is in this verse an important lesson. 


It was Timothy’s mixed parentage that made Paul decide to circumcise Timothy before taking him along as a junior colleague. Timothy was a new Christian. Because he was the son of a Jewish mother, being uncircumcised made him an apostate Jew. If Paul wished to maintain his link with the synagogue, he could not be seen as part of any apostasy.


Paul was against the circumcision of Gentiles, especially since it was considered a condition for acceptance with God. Timothy’s situation was different, it was for the practical purpose of greater usefulness in the ministry of the gospel. Let us not miss the point. 


This act of marking the flesh was bringing all the activities of life and thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, and suborning every other interest to the interest of the gospel. 


In our brokenness we have been identified with His death. We’ve been surrounded and battered by troubles, we’ve been spiritually terrorized, we’ve been thrown down in trial and torture, murder, and mockery. Our lives are a constant risk for Jesus’ sake, which makes Jesus all the more evident.  


Our heart cries out, “It’s no longer I who live, and the life I live in the flesh, I live by the Son of God.”  We always bear the death of Jesus, that His life might spread to more and more people. While going through the worst, He gets the best of us, and others are reached for Christ. 


Respond:

Have you been crucified with Christ? 

One Cause

Read:

“Paul wanted to take this man to go with him; . . .” Acts 16:3


Reflect:

If Jesus were to have one cause for all He did, it wouldn’t be His success as a rabbi, or notoriety of His preaching, nor His own personal popularity. Jesus’ one cause, the one thing that motivated Him, was discipleship. So central was this cause to Jesus that it was His final call to us “to go and make disciples.” So vital was this cause that He passed it on as the central task of the church. 


The responsibility of the great commission given to the church is grounded on the authority of the risen Jesus, the supplier and sender of all who seek to implement the desires of Jesus and demonstrate His life to others.  


The full saving life of Christ is put on display through our confidence and obedience to all He calls us to do. We must refuse to redefine what He originally told us to do in order to fit within our paradigm of safety and human reasoning. We are not free to cherry pick our preference of the great commission. 


It’s easy for us to read the command to teach others to obey Jesus while overlooking the supernatural methods of healing the sick, raising the dead, cleansing and casting out every kind of evil. We have to address the areas of our life which do not yet express God through deep prayer and stepping out in simple acts of trust, so that others everywhere will recognize King Jesus as the universal risen Lord and Savior. 


Paul had a plan to take Timothy with him, Timothy would learn the ways of Jesus in a real time, up close, one-on-one relationship with Paul. It’s the assignment of believers to disciple another. We should not expect people to know these things automatically. Becoming a disciple does not come naturally. It requires a new loyalty to a new ruler. It demands we acquire new habits. Discipleship is bringing another into the steady acclimation to the reign of God in their life. There’s only one question left to answer:


Respond:

Who are you discipling?