Making Your Case

For we have found this man a pestilent fellow, and a mover of sedition among all the Jews throughout the world, and a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes – Acts 24:5

The apostle Paul was accused of being a troublemaker, instigating riots among the Jews, profaning the temple and his accusers wanted him to be judged by their law.  Paul, of course, denied their charges.

When you share your faith, do some people accuse you of causing trouble?  Are you accused of being intolerant or narrow minded when you share some Bible truths?  Do your friends accuse you of putting a damper on their fun–cramping their style?  Do they avoid you because they don’t want to hear anymore talk about religion?

Years ago, employee at a large company sent out an email asking co-workers no to take the Lord’s name in vain.  She had grown tired of hearing them profane His name and decided to address it in an email.  Of course, some of the co-workers were not at all happy and complained to her boss.  He called her into his office and told her that she could get reported to HR.  It didn’t reach that point but she knew that if she did something like that again, she would be in trouble for sure.  People didn’t like to hear what she had to say.  It touched a lot of nerves.  She went home angry and upset that night because her co-workers had complained about her and nearly got her in trouble. However, the Lord advised her, “Repay no one evil for evil.”  The feelings of anger and resentment went away.  She interacted with her co-workers as she had always done in the past.

Like Paul, she had done nothing wrong.  The men didn’t like what Paul was preaching and they wanted to make trouble for him.  In his defense, Paul said, “In this do I always strive to have a clear conscience toward God and toward men.”  The employee had a clear conscience.  She had done what she believed to be right.

What will you do when someone opposes what you stand for?  Do you keep silent for the sake of peace or speak up?  Paul was falsely accused because he was testifying about Jesus.  Jesus warned believers that, “But watch out for yourselves, for they will deliver you up to councils, and you will be beaten in the synagogues. You will be brought before rulers and kings for My sakefor a testimony to them” (Mark 13:9)  And He also said, “Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake” (Matthew 5:11).

If the Holy Spirit impresses you to speak or to act, do so and leave the consequences to God.

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Be A Conqueror

Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us –
Romans 8:37

 

Are you standing in shallow water where you can feel the ground under your feet?  Could be that you are not going through any trials at the moment.

What happens when you are in the ocean and suddenly find yourself being pulled out
into the deep?  Do you panic?  Do you turn around and swim back?  Do you cry out to God?

How do you handle trials and tribulations?  Do you get depressed, angry or fearful?  Does your faith waver or does it get stronger?  Do you forget the times when God has brought you through the fires or do you cling to His promise that He is right there with you?

Are you a conqueror through Christ who Himself was a Conqueror when He overcame the world?  Do you claim victory even while you are going through trials?  Do you count it joy when you face tribulations?  That’s not easy to do, is it, not in the midst of the trial yet James is telling us that we should and he explains why.  “…knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience” (James 1:2).  We learn how to be patient in suffering and when we allow that patience to work in us, we mature and become complete which is how God wants us to be.

So, don’t let trials and tribulations overwhelm you, pulling you under like the waters of the sea.  Hang on to your faith like a life preserver and the One who promised that He would never leave you nor forsake you.

Swimming senior woman looking up with hope

Shine Your Light

“You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden.  Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house.  Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven – Matthew 5:14-16

If you were a light, what happens when you walk into a room?  Does it become bright, sunny or well lit?  

 

As a Christian, are you a light wherever you are?  Do you tell others about Jesus?  Does the way you live your life and treat people reflect that you are a child of God?  Do you keep silent when you should speak?  Do you withdraw from society when you should be out there witnessing to people?  Is your light hidden behind fear, doubt, lack of faith or excuses?

 

When Jesus said that we are to be the light of the world, He meant that we should be visible not hidden away in our homes, our own private world, afraid to venture out and share the Gospel with others.   We are to put ourselves out there for everyone to see that 

we are not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ, “for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek” (Romans 1:16).

 

Don’t hide your light.  Shine it where people can see it.  Start where you are–at home, your workplace, your school.  And when people see your light which is manifested how you live and the things you do, they will glorify God.  You will be children of light just as Jesus was when He was here.  People could see His light as He obeyed the Father and did the work He was sent to do.  And people glorified the Father.

 

Shine like the Samaritan woman who led her neighbors to Jesus.  There are many people out there who need to know Jesus but they can’t find their way.  Be a light to them.  Let the love of Jesus shine on them through you.

 

 

grandmother and granddaughter with Bible 

What is Your Fragrance?

Then Mary took a pound of very costly oil of spikenard, anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped His feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the oil – John 12:3

The house was filled with the fragrance of the expensive oil Mary poured on Jesus’ feet but it wasn’t the only fragrance.  Mingling with the scent of the oil was the fragrance of one woman’s love for the Lord.  Mary poured all of the oil on Jesus.  She held nothing back.  Her demonstration of affection cost her what a working man earned in one day but that cost was nothing compared to what His act of love would cost her Lord.  The oil was for His burial.  This act of love takes place as the Passover festival approaches and the Lamb of God is to be offered as a Sacrifice for the sins of the world.  Perhaps Mary sensed this and that is why she did what she did.

What is your fragrance?  Is it love for your Savior who gave His life as a ransom for yours?  Is it faith in His power to transform your life and the lives of others?  Is your fragrance acceptable to the Lord as Mary’s was?  Does it matter if your fragrance is not pleasing to others as Mary’s wasn’t to Judas?

Does your fragrance fill the places where you are?  Don’t let the world or even some of those in the church trouble you.  Remember that your aim is to please God rather than men.  And Jesus will protect you as He did Mary.

Source:  Zondervan Handbook to the Bible, p.589

mary-annointing-jesus-02 (1)

 

Don’t Hold Back

But how can they call on him to save them unless they believe in him? And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them? – Romans 10:14, NLT

The world was like a giant soil.  People need to hear the Good News of salvation. What is preventing us from sharing our faith?  Is it fear of rejection?  Do we feel that we are not qualified to do it?  Are we afraid?  Is going out into the community outside of our comfort zone?

The prophet Jeremiah had his own issues when he was met with ridicule, opposition from  those who he was sent to speak to.   He complained to God, whom he felt had misled Him but try as he did, the prophet could not keep the Word of God to himself.  The prophet bewailed, “I will not make mention of Him, Nor speak anymore in His name. But His word was in my heart like a burning fire Shut up in my bones; I was weary of holding it back, And I could not” (Jeremiah 20:9).

Are we like Jonah who didn’t like the people God sent him to prophesy to?  Are there certain people we don’t want to share the Gospel with because of prejudices or the past or a personal/cultural history between us?  Isn’t God’s grace available to everyone?  Who are we to determine who should or should not receive it?  Didn’t we receive that same grace when we were yet sinners in that Jesus died for us?

When Jesus came, He reached out to everyone–the Jews, the Gentiles, the Samaritans.  Shouldn’t we follow His example?  Paul, who persecuted Christians, became a mighty servant of God.  He was on fire, going to various places, preaching the Word he had once tried to suppress.  Are you on fire for God?  Is it hard for you to keep quiet when you see people in your community, workplace or wherever you are going about their business, not knowing that there is a God who loves them and that there is a Savior who died for them? Be like Jeremiah.  Don’t hold back.  Spread the news.  Bring hope, joy and peace to those around you.

 

women praying over open Bible

 

Keep Your Eyes on God

My eyes are ever toward the Lord, For He shall pluck my feet out of the net – Psalm 25:15

Where does our help come from?  It comes from the Lord.  When we keep our eyes on Him He will not permit anyone to pluck us out of His hand or entangle us in the net they have set to trap us.

God will not let your enemies to triumph over you but will deliver you out of their hands.   All you have to do is to trust Him.  It says, “You will keep him in perfect peace,
Whose mind is stayed on You, Because he trusts in You” (Isaiah 26:3). 

Keep your eyes on God who has your back.  Remember, “No weapon formed against you shall prosper” (Isaiah 54:17).

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Just Go

Japanese woman by water

Have you ever been told to go somewhere and when you got there, you wondered, “Why am I here?

An angel told Philip, “Arise and go toward the south along the road which goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.”  This place where he was been sent to was in the desert.   As he stood there, Philip may have been asking himself what he was doing out there in the middle of nowhere.   Then the Holy Spirit told him, “Go near and overtake this chariot.” The chariot was carrying an Ethiopian eunuch who was reading Isaiah 53.

Philip made a concerted dash toward the moving transport.  Once he managed to overtake it, he asked the man if he understood what he was reading.  His response was, “How can I, unless someone guides me?” And he asked Philip to come up and sit with him.  The man wasn’t sure whom Isaiah was talking about—himself or someone else.  Using that scripture, Philip preached Jesus to the man.  And the man believed and accepted Jesus and was baptized.

Has the Holy Spirit called you to go after someone and tell them about Jesus?  Have you gone somewhere and then asked yourself what am I doing here?  It could be that God wants you to reach out to someone in that place.  Like Philip, just go and the Lord will take care of the rest.

 

Source:  Acts 8:26-40