Just Watch

Click here to read Acts 19.

When you walk into a room, what happens? Are you one of those people that others are drawn too? (It is okay if you say yes 🙂 ) I am very confident you have been gifted and blessed with some gift that God has given you because the people around you need it. Maybe it’s the gift of grace, comfort, prayer, teaching, etc. People know when you use your gifts for God’s Kingdom and will be drawn to you.

This is how I picture the Apostle Paul: When he goes into towns, he quickly becomes known. As we have seen from previous chapters in Acts, this is both good and bad (which actually ends up glorifying God anyway, so it is still good in some way).

Paul knows what people are attracted to. They are attracted to the gifts and graces God has given him. They are attracted, drawn, to him because he is living out God’s plan for his life and using what God has given him. People are drawn to power. So, why not present and live in and with the greatest power in the universe?

In the passage today, we see Paul first starts by telling people about the Holy Spirit. The people are intrigued because they really haven’t heard of the Spirit’s presence in their lives. When they come to the realization they can live with the Holy Spirit of the Living God within them, they are excited and the Spirit begins to do incredible work in and through each of them. Everywhere Paul goes, he shows and proclaims to the people about the Living Jesus Christ. The people experience incredible life change.

Paul teaches and preaches in the synagogues and all around the towns about the Risen Christ and his gospel, life-giving message, for all people. The people are eager to listen and to learn of the One God who absolutely cares for them. This brings about change in the people’s hearts and lives. This is what we should proclaim and emulate every where we go.

But, there are always some who are threatened by the work of the Spirit because it challenges their way of life, their income, their livelihood. This is a big deal. Whenever we bring the message of Jesus Christ to the people around us, we also disrupt the work of those who are so entrapped by worldly wealth and power. When we mess with someone’s business (even if they know deep down it is not right), there are consequences. They will do what they can to get you to leave.

At this point, it seems like the same old story: Paul goes into a town, proclaims Jesus, people are changed, leaders are outraged, something happens to Paul, Paul moves on. What a life to live. But think about this: Paul was very content and joyful with his life and his work. He knew he was doing what God called him to do and that’s all that mattered (read the letter to the Philippians).

Our challenge for today is to be who God called you and I to be, to do what God called you to do and really just watch. When we are obedient to the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives, it is incredible to see what change happens and see what God is doing. Yes, some people will get very upset God’s Kingdom is being proclaimed; but we get to bring light into dark places and bring people with us to see what real life is…Jesus Christ.

Just watch and see everything God is doing. It is amazing.

John the Baptist

John the Baptist is one of my favorite biblical characters because he definitely stands out and people take notice of him. He is memorable, not only of his message, but of his clothing and food choices.

Though the Gospel of Luke does not mention him wearing camel’s hair and eating locusts and wild honey, Matthew and Mark do. This is still the image we can have of John as we read his proclamation to “Prepare the way of the Lord!”

Click here to read this week’s scripture passage.

Mark Twain said, “the two greatest days of your life are the day you were born and the day you find out why.” I imagine John felt excitement when his time had come to deliver God’s message to the people the Messiah is coming.

What joy! What exhilaration! He was finally able to go and do what he was born to do! He went out to preach a sermon that no one really wanted to hear; but needed to hear: prepare for the Lord’s Messiah, seek forgiveness and repent. I would imagine the people did not want to hear they have to change their hearts, their lives, their will. I imagine the people only wanted to hear their lives will be better and that God will com in to take care of the “real” problem: the Romans.

What message is it you want to hear at Christmas? The sweet story of a baby being born and the angels and shepherds giving God glory and praise? Or, are we preparing ourselves fully for the complete gift of God through Jesus Christ and realize His life, His death, AND His resurrection are the reason we are reconciled to God.

To fully see the beautiful picture of Christ at Christmas, we have to be different from our culture and see the gruesome death that is coming.

How do you stand out to show the full meaning of Christmas?

O come, O come, Emmanuel.

Mission & Vision

Galatians 2:6-10  6 The influential leaders didn’t add anything to what I was preaching—and whatever they were makes no difference to me, because God doesn’t show favoritism. 7 But on the contrary, they saw that I had been given the responsibility to preach the gospel to the people who aren’t circumcised, just as Peter had been to the circumcised. 8 The one who empowered Peter to become an apostle to the circumcised empowered me also to be one to the Gentiles.9 James, Cephas, and John, who are considered to be key leaders, shook hands with me and Barnabas as equals when they recognized the grace that was given to me. So it was agreed that we would go to the Gentiles, while they continue to go to the people who were circumcised. 10 They asked only that we would remember the poor, which was certainly something I was willing to do.

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Paul is making a case for why and how he is an apostle for Jesus Christ. How would you imagine Paul to be sounding? I still imagine him to be hurt and dumbfounded because the people he worked tirelessly for began to drift away from the faith they found and find new teachings to drift to.

This is one of the reasons I love the book of Galatians. Paul is showing the people of Galatia (and us) that when we truly live for Jesus Christ, we are free! We can live in freedom because we are not tied to the law, but bound to a relationship with the one who created us.

In the passage we’re looking at today, a couple things stand out to me. First the apostles saw in Paul the heart for preaching and reaching to the Gentiles (non-Jewish people). The original apostles could have easily said, “No. You weren’t with Jesus when he walked this earth, so you have no right to be preaching his message to the Gentiles.” But they didn’t. They recognized that God was working in Paul and they gave them their blessing and accepted Paul as their own.

There are people we encounter who are working hard for the name of Jesus Christ. We should pray the same message is being taught about Christ and it is not diminished; and we should also see how God is working within the lives of the people we encounter.

Not everyone learns the same way and not everyone will require the same amount of time. In short, there is no set formula to reach people for Christ except “preaching Christ and him crucified.” So because someone may have different methods and strategies, or even going for a new group of people, does not mean they are wrong. God’s Spirit may very well be directing that person in that mission. Our hearts can be open to see Jesus within the workers and we can offer our prayers, support, blessing, etc.

The second thing that stand out to me is the last verse for today, They asked only that we would remember the poor, which was certainly something I was willing to do.”

The apostles asked Paul to remember the poor. We have so many missions and outreach projects for people in poverty, and we need to continue these because these programs do incredible work for the livelihood of these precious children of God. We also need to remember another kind of poor: being poor in spirit.

This may not seem to make sense to some people, but we need to be in mission and ministry to those who have less than us and those who have more than we do. People in poverty can have an awesome Godly Spirit and demeanor. People who have wealth can have lives and thoughts so far from God.

It is important to remember that all people, in all stations of life, need to hear the message of Jesus Christ. The mission work will look different; but Jesus said to go into all the world. One of my favorite verses in the Bible is mentioned a few times and referenced here in verse 6 “God doesn’t show favoritism.”

The Spirit of God works in many ways and seeks out all people.

#LiveFreeInChrist