Friday, July 22, 2011

Seeking Him

. . . know the God of your father, and serve Him with a whole heart and a willing mind; for the Lord searches all hearts, and understands every intent of the thoughts. If you seek Him, He will let you find Him, but if you forsake Him, He will reject you forever. I Chr. 28:9

This passage comes with a command and a promise. If the command is received, the promise brings comfort. If it is rejected you are on your own.

The Lord wants us to know Him. We are to hold Him in awe. We are to respect His power. It is also important to recognize His goodness and His love.

He asks us to serve Him with our whole heart. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, strength and mind. We are to put everything within us to serving the Lord. We are to willingly offer ourselves as a sacrifice, holy and pleasing to the Lord. Like Isaiah after his cleansing, we must be wiling to say “Here I am send me.” You do not have to be a pastor or a missionary. You can be a teacher, a firefighter or even a lawyer. Wherever you are, submit yourself to the Lord with your entire heart and willing mind.

If you go after Him, if you willingly submit yourself to Him, he promises that you will find Him. It is his desire to have a relationship with you. Ignore Him and you are on your own. Many of us make that choice, but that is a dangerous place to be. Seek the Lord and He will order your steps. Seek the Lord and He promises to guide your paths. These promises are not difficult or burdensome. They are for our good. He tells us that his yoke is easy and his burden is light.

Prayer: Father, help us to willingly serve you with our whole hearts. May we present ourselves as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to you. Allow us to willingly serve you. Thank you for your promise to reveal yourself to us. Thank you for your words of comfort and the assurance that you will never leave us or forsake us.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Stirring Up a Riot

“they rounded up some bad characters from the marketplace, formed a mob and started a riot in the city.” Acts 17:5

The first few verses of Acts 17 focus on Paul’s missionary work in Thessalonica. In earlier chapters, we see Paul is confronted with opposition. In Thessalonica, the opposition that he faces is more intense. The antagonists did not simply contradict Paul’s preaching. They took things a step further by rounding up some bad characters who incited a riot. (See Acts 19:23-41 about Paul in Ephesus).

I have never been anywhere near a riot before. Nor do I care to be anywhere near one. I have seen them on TV and that is enough for me. People in biblical times are no different than people today. Occasionally, you will see a group in a foreign country rioting for religious reasons. Perhaps a cartoonist will draw an image of a certain religious figure sending people into turmoil. Also, in foreign countries you might see riots driven by political or economic reasons. Here in the United States, as well as our brothers in Canada, you might see riots because your sports team lost or won a championship. (See “The Sports Riot: First We Lose (or Win) Then We Set This Sucker on Fire”). The problem with riots is a large number of people will always get hurt. There are also occasions where some may die.

Returning to Acts 17, we see the intensity of the opposition that is instigated by these unsavory characters. This all takes place because Paul is preaching the Gospel. The scripture is not clear, but it seems that the other believers kept Paul and Silas hidden so no harm would come to them. It was not until the middle of the night that the other believers helped Paul and Silas escape to a town called Berea.

Today, we should not be surprised if we encounter opposition when we go public with our faith. If we imitate Paul by holding that we are not ashamed of the Gospel, we will encounter opposition. See Rom. 1:16. Our society is comfortable with the EC Christians (i.e., Easter Christmas) and the secret agent Christians. The Great Commission Christians, however always attract criticism from the atheists, agnostics, people of other faiths, and even those Christians who deliberately ignore Matt. 28:18-20. Jesus warned his disciples about this. In John 16:33, he said “in this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world!” If Peter and Paul experienced trouble, we should not be surprised if wee too experience challenges because of our faith. At the same time we should remember the promise that he will never leave us nor forsake us. Heb. 13:5.

Prayer: Father, I give you thanks for trusting us with your Great Commission. Whether the times or difficult or easy, that you promised you will never leave us nor forsake us. We ask that you help us to walk in a manner worthy of our calling. Fill us to the fullest measure, enabling us to share your good news with great boldness. All of these things I pray to you in Jesus name.