Make Me Like This

If grace saves me then grace also equips and empowers me to live.

When I read the stories about the early church I see how the grace of God was not just a ‘get-out-of-jail-free’ card but the power by which they lived every day.

My prayer is that I would become more like this. Someone with a sense of readiness and willingness to become the agent of change that God wants me to be. I love their attitude of ‘whatever it takes’ but not in their own strength, all under the leading and power of the Holy Spirit.

After preaching, imprisonment, a miracle release and then being told to stop talking about Jesus, they gathered together and prayed this incredible prayer…

“…enable your servants to speak your words with great boldness. Stretch out your hand to heal and perform miraculous signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus”. After they had prayed, the pace where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly. [Acts 4:29b-31]

How about we have the same attitude and determination?

I Only Have Jesus

Peter and John went to pray [Acts 3].

As they went they passed a man by the gate who was asking for money. The reply that came was a simple one, ‘I only have Jesus’. That was enough.

Sometimes the simplest truths are the most powerful truths.

Sometimes the simplest truths are the most easily forgotten truths.

Whatever I am going through, whatever situation I am handling, whatever breakthrough I desire to see, I must remember to hold on to the truth that although other things can help, the one thing I need to know above all else is this

‘I have Jesus’. And that is MORE than enough. Don’t forget it.

The Honour of Being Dishonoured

What a curious phrase. After all, dishonour is not something we naturally go looking for.

We like to be liked.

We work hard to save face, to protect the image, to make sure that people only see what we want them to see.

Personally I am more inclined to feel honoured to have been honoured, not dishonoured.

Dishonour doesn’t sound good. No one works towards the goal of dishonour. It feels unpleasant, uncomfortable, humiliating, embarrassing, not something to be overjoyed about. It’s speaks of shame, disgrace and a lack of respect. To see that as an honour just seems utter madness.

Yet….in Acts 5 we read that the apostles were ‘overjoyed because they had been given the honour of being dishonoured on account of the Name.’ [v41]

Just take a moment to reflect on that statement. They are overjoyed to have been dishonoured, shamed and beaten for talking about Jesus, for living for Him and declaring His name. Wow.

It’s not that they went looking for dishonour but they didn’t actively try to avoid it either.

It’s not that they wanted a beating or public humiliation, it was who the beating and public humiliation was for that made the difference. It’s not for any old name that they would stand dishonoured but on account of THE NAME that they were happy to.

They counted it an honour to be dishonoured on account of THE NAME as it associated them with Jesus, the person who counted it an honour to be dishonoured for them.

They counted it an honour to be dishonoured on account of THE NAME, which meant the good news of Jesus continued to be told, giving us the privilege of now being able to stand and honour THE NAME. 

Perhaps in my doing of Christianity I am sometimes in danger of becoming more concerned with doing it the right way, keeping it all very slick and almost professional, rather than just being a Christian and taking what comes as I journey along.

Who in the future will be able to stand and honour the name of Jesus because I counted it an honour to be dishonoured on account of THE NAME?

Nothing wrong with wanting life comfy and easy but it does seem to me that the Apostles were less concerned with that and mostly concerned with making sure their life honoured Jesus. We are not dishonoured very often for Jesus where I live. Maybe in the future we will be. If being dishonoured for Jesus is required then I pray I will be ready to take the hit, maybe even literally. In the meantime, I count it an honour that Jesus was dishonoured for me and I will live my life giving my all to honour Him in every way possible.

Hope that makes sense. How about you?

If Only…

We can often use this as a get out clause. IF ONLY…

If only…all the t’s were crossed and the i’s dotted then I would feel better about saying yes.
If only…all the ducks were in a row, everything sorted, then I would go for it.
If only…angels would visit me then I would know God really wanted me to.
If only…I knew it would be a success.

Just as well those in the early Church didn’t have this philosophy. Think about it for a moment. If they had lived with an ‘if only’ attitude then you & I may never have heard the Gospel.

If only people weren’t hunting us down.
If only persecution wasn’t waiting for me.
If only people just believed and got it straight away.
If only it weren’t so inconvenient.
If only the Spirit would stop telling me that ‘prison and hardships are facing me’ [Pauls words in Acts 20:23]

They were incredible. The commitment to the cause transcended all their personal preferences. They gave everything for what they believed. Let’s be honest – we think we give everything but we rarely do. We give what we can afford, we give what we can, we give in a measured way, we give until it becomes inconvenient, we give thinking of what we might get in return.

When I read the book of Acts I am challenged. In fact I am confronted by a faith that goes beyond my 21st Century, Westernised, comfortable-living style of giving.

THEY GAVE.
EVERYTHING.

‘I consider my life worth NOTHING to me, IF ONLY I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me – the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace’.[Acts 20:24]

My prayer:
Please Lord, let me have the attitude like Paul. One that says ‘whatever it takes, being up for the challenge of telling others of the Good News of Jesus, whatever the cost’. Let me mean it too. Let this not just be another prayer to look good. Lord, put me in places that FORCE me to count the cost. To give. To give everything.

Are we IN?
ALL IN?
I don’t think the Apostle Paul would consider that there was really any other way.

Who Have You Been Hanging Out With?

It is said that you become like the people you hang around with, so I think it’s fair to ask the question – who have you been hanging around with? I have had similar conversations with all 3 of my girls about how if, for instance, they hang around with the gossips, that people will think they are a gossip. It certainly reminds us all that we must take care in respect to the power of our associations.

Obviously, it doesn’t just work against you. The power of the right association can make a huge difference. It’s not always what you know but who you know. In Acts 4, we see that the disciples were noted for having ‘BEEN’ with Jesus, it was a distinguishing mark, something the authorities couldn’t really do anything about. It was less about what they knew, and more about who they knew.

Being with Jesus gave them an advantage that education didn’t. Their boldness and courage did not come from knowledge based in natural sources but from FAITH in a God who had given them all they needed when they received the Holy Spirit. In otherwords…it didn’t matter to them what they had been told to do, when it came to the things of God, their response was that we MUST do those things, whatever the price.

Praying for the same. How about you?