What You Have to Offer in Your Journey With Jesus

shutterstock_364952021.jpgActs 18:24-28

24Meanwhile a Jew named Apollos, a native of Alexandria, came to Ephesus. He was a learned man, with a thorough knowledge of the Scriptures. 25He had been instructed in the way of the Lord, and he spoke with great fervor and taught about Jesus accurately, though he knew only the baptism of John. 26He began to speak boldly in the synagogue. When Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they invited him to their home and explained to him the way of God more adequately.

27When Apollos wanted to go to Achaia, the brothers and sisters encouraged him and wrote to the disciples there to welcome him. When he arrived, he was a great help to those who by grace had believed. 28For he vigorously refuted his Jewish opponents in public debate, proving from the Scriptures that Jesus was the Messiah.


I often speak with people who think they don’t have much to offer others in their journey with Jesus. Everybody has something to offer. You have something to offer. Even if you don’t know it.

Where are you at in your journey with Jesus? Are you brand new to following Him or have you been following Him for years? Wherever you are, there is somebody a few steps behind you in their journey with Jesus who could use your help.

Priscilla and Aquila were secretly awesome. They were tentmakers by trade and they used their time and resources to help others on their journey of following Jesus. When the young leader named Apollos came to town, they noticed he was gifted and passionate but there were some things that he had yet to learn.

So they griped and complained to all of their friends about Apollos and the gaps in his theology.

Just kidding. They fueled his fire. They encouraged him and they mentored him. They helped him take his next steps in his journey.

Priscilla and Aquila are spoken of throughout Acts 18 and then mentioned by name in 3 of Paul’s letters (in his final greetings of Romans, 1 Corinthians, and 2 Timothy).

From these verses we learn that not only did they use their personal experiences to help others, but they also used their resources. One of the resources they used regularly to help others was their home. They hosted a missionary (Paul) in their home (Acts 18:3), they hosted a church small group in their home (1 Corinthians 16:19), and here they mentored Apollos in their home (Acts 18:26).

Thought for Today: What in your life can you leverage to help others meet, know, and follow Jesus? Your story? Your experiences? Your trade? Your home?

Today’s Prayer: Jesus, thank you for examples like Priscilla and Aquila. Help me to see how I can be used to help others grow in their relationship with you. Amen.

 

 

Want to be Jesus’ Wingman?

shutterstock_86015053.jpgActs 13:4-12

4So, being sent out by the Holy Spirit, they went down to Seleucia, and from there they sailed to Cyprus. 5When they arrived at Salamis, they proclaimed the word of God in the synagogues of the Jews. And they had John to assist them. 6When they had gone through the whole island as far as Paphos, they came upon a certain magician, a Jewish false prophet named Bar-Jesus. 7He was with the proconsul, Sergius Paulus, a man of intelligence, who summoned Barnabas and Saul and sought to hear the word of God. 8But Elymas the magician (for that is the meaning of his name) opposed them, seeking to turn the proconsul away from the faith. 9But Saul, who was also called Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked intently at him 10and said, “You son of the devil, you enemy of all righteousness, full of all deceit and villainy, will you not stop making crooked the straight paths of the Lord? 11And now, behold, the hand of the Lord is upon you, and you will be blind and unable to see the sun for a time.” Immediately mist and darkness fell upon him, and he went about seeking people to lead him by the hand. 12Then the proconsul believed, when he saw what had occurred, for he was astonished at the teaching of the Lord.


In Acts 13, the Holy Spirit directed Barnabus and Saul to go on their first missionary journey. God was building His church and this was one of those critical moments contributing to Christianity’s world-wide expansion.

Here we see the beginning of Paul’s rise to prominence as Barnabus slips into the background of early church history. Both men would change the world and then be martyred for their faith, but for Barnabus, his impact, though significant, was a lot less public. Yes, Paul was used in mighty and incredible ways to advance the Kingdom of God but Barnabus, through his obedience and humility, made all that possible.

When Saul converted to Christianity becoming Paul, Barnabus welcomed him, encouraged him, vouched for him. He stood aside as Paul became the church’s most zealous missionary and greatest theologian. Barnabus could have opposed him. In pride, he could have held onto his own leadership position. Instead, Pastor Chad says he became the greatest “wingman” of all time and helped Paul become the leader God intended.

In a world where everyone wants to be on top, Jesus says: It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant” (Matthew 20:26). Barnabus must have known this. His leadership, though quiet, speaks loudly about what it means to follow Jesus.

Thought for Today: Who is God calling you to serve?

Today’s Prayer: Father, please give us wisdom and confidence to be the “wingmen” or “wing-women” to those you’re calling us to serve. Helps us to be like you, Jesus and may you be glorified.

 

This Is How Much Power Our Words Have

shutterstock_453811207.jpgActs 12:20-25

20Now Herod was angry with the people of Tyre and Sidon, and they came to him with one accord, and having persuaded Blastus, the king’s chamberlain, they asked for peace, because their country depended on the king’s country for food. 21On an appointed day Herod put on his royal robes, took his seat upon the throne, and delivered an oration to them. 22And the people were shouting, “The voice of a god, and not of a man!” 23Immediately an angel of the Lord struck him down, because he did not give God the glory, and he was eaten by worms and breathed his last.

24But the word of God increased and multiplied.


Have you ever said something that you immediately regretted? The other day I made a joke that hurt my spouse’s feelings. I didn’t make a joke at their expense, because I know better than that. But it still hurt them, and I felt terrible when I later found out. But after we talked things through, and I apologized, my spouse was back to being their cheerful and bright self again. I could see how my words had literally torn, and then repaired my spouse’s heart.

Words are so powerful. A few weeks ago, Pastor Robert gave a sermon that talked about the power of words. Words can:

  • wound
  • heal or
  • create worlds.

The example he gave for creating worlds is that God spoke the world into existence. We can also create negative or positive environments at work, home, and anywhere else we are, with our words.

In this verse, Herod was struck down because his words were arrogant, and conceited. He did not give credit or praise to God. He was eaten by worms and died. Disturbing picture, yes, but it certainly drives the point home. Some words can create worlds, while others can end them.

But the next verse says But the word of God continued to spread and flourish” (v.24). These are the words that heal, that give life, and create new worlds for those who hear the Good News. This is the ultimate example of life giving words. You can almost picture the word of God spreading like a river through dry land, with greenery and flowers sprouting up wherever the water spreads. This is a beautiful image, and one that we should aim for when we think about how our words affect others.

Thought for Today: Are your words like worms that come and eat up dead things, or are your words like beautiful flowers? How do people feel when they talk to you? Do you speak with arrogance or humility? And most importantly, how do your words glorify our Father who is in heaven?

Today’s Prayer: God, please help me to be careful with my words. I want to use my words to heal, not to wound. I want to use my words to build up, and not tear down. I want to bring glory to you through my words, and by spreading your good news, that those who hear it may come to know you and follow you!

Spoiler: JESUS WINS

shutterstock_22883608.jpgActs 12:1-19

1It was about this time that King Herod arrested some who belonged to the church, intending to persecute them. 2He had James, the brother of John, put to death with the sword. 3When he saw that this met with approval among the Jews, he proceeded to seize Peter also. This happened during the Festival of Unleavened Bread. 4After arresting him, he put him in prison, handing him over to be guarded by four squads of four soldiers each. Herod intended to bring him out for public trial after the Passover.

5So Peter was kept in prison, but the church was earnestly praying to God for him.

6The night before Herod was to bring him to trial, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains, and sentries stood guard at the entrance. 7Suddenly an angel of the Lord appeared and a light shone in the cell. He struck Peter on the side and woke him up. “Quick, get up!” he said, and the chains fell off Peter’s wrists.

8Then the angel said to him, “Put on your clothes and sandals.” And Peter did so. “Wrap your cloak around you and follow me,” the angel told him. 9Peter followed him out of the prison, but he had no idea that what the angel was doing was really happening; he thought he was seeing a vision. 10They passed the first and second guards and came to the iron gate leading to the city. It opened for them by itself, and they went through it. When they had walked the length of one street, suddenly the angel left him.

11Then Peter came to himself and said, “Now I know without a doubt that the Lord has sent his angel and rescued me from Herod’s clutches and from everything the Jewish people were hoping would happen.” 


Spoiler alert:  Jesus wins.

Jesus will accomplish His purposes. He will continue to reach people through His church until one day He returns to fight one last battle, defeat Satan, sin, and death for all time, and to usher in a perfect eternity where everything is made new.

You and I can’t stop it. Soldiers, chains, and jail cells can’t stop it. Empires, wars, persecution, and death can’t stop it.

Jesus will win.

Peter got a tiny glimpse of this. Peter knew that one day he would die for his faith in Jesus (Jesus had given him the heads up on this in John 21).  My guess is, he thought this was the end. Herod was incredibly powerful. He had already killed James. The guards would be killed if they let Peter go and if one chain wasn’t enough they went ahead and bound him with two. So what happens to Peter? Nothing. Jesus says, “Not yet.”

Thought for Today: Jesus will fulfill His purposes. Will you join Him? He invites us to be a part of His team and to help people meet, know, and follow Him. And here is the promise: His team is going to win.

Today’s Prayer: Jesus, use me to accomplish your purposes. I want to serve You by serving others. Use me to help people meet, know and follow You. Amen.

 

 

When Your Picture of Church Doesn’t Fit, What Do You Do?

shutterstock_147547745.jpgActs 11:19-26

19Now those who had been scattered by the persecution that broke out when Stephen was killed traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch, spreading the word only among Jews. 20Some of them, however, men from Cyprus and Cyrene, went to Antioch and began to speak to Greeks also, telling them the good news about the Lord Jesus. 21The Lord’s hand was with them, and a great number of people believed and turned to the Lord.

22News of this reached the church in Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas to Antioch. 23When he arrived and saw what the grace of God had done, he was glad and encouraged them all to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts. 24He was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and faith, and a great number of people were brought to the Lord.

25Then Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul, 26and when he found him, he brought him to Antioch. So for a whole year Barnabas and Saul met with the church and taught great numbers of people. The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch.


When word about Jesus spread to the non-Jews (aka “Gentiles”), the Jewish community got a little uncomfortable. How can a bunch of 10-Commandments-breaking, pork-chop-eating, uncircumcised Gentiles be a part of our Jesus club?

Barnabas was so respected by the Jewish community that they sent him to check it out.

Now I imagine that Barnabas had a couple of uncomfortable moments when he walked into “church.” All the cultural things that Barnabas had grown up with were missing. There were no familiar faces, no traditional greetings. The order of service was all wrong, there was no marching of the Torah scrolls—there wasn’t even a synagogue! They weren’t singing any of the hymns that Barnabas loved, the music was too loud, and they even tried offering him a BLT.  But he could not deny that the grace of Jesus was changing their lives.

So what did he do?

He fueled it.

Don’t miss this. The majority of us would look at something that doesn’t fit our preferences and immediately start thinking of ways to squash it. Barnabas did the opposite. He saw the power of Jesus at work and he threw his preferences out the window for the sake of the work that Jesus was doing.

There will come a day for all of us when our preferences won’t match how Jesus is engaging a lost generation and culture. Maybe that day has already come for you.

Thought for Today: What will your response be? Will you fight it or will you fuel it?

Today’s Prayer: Jesus, when that day comes, help me to fuel your work. Help me to see what you see.  Help me to care for the lost above my preferences. Amen.

When Your Past Threatens Your Present

shutterstock_576951733.jpgActs 9:26-31

26When he came to Jerusalem, he tried to join the disciples, but they were all afraid of him, not believing that he really was a disciple. 27But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles. He told them how Saul on his journey had seen the Lord and that the Lord had spoken to him, and how in Damascus he had preached fearlessly in the name of Jesus. 28So Saul stayed with them and moved about freely in Jerusalem, speaking boldly in the name of the Lord. 29He talked and debated with the Hellenistic Jews, but they tried to kill him. 30When the believers learned of this, they took him down to Caesarea and sent him off to Tarsus.

31Then the church throughout Judea, Galilee, and Samaria enjoyed a time of peace and was strengthened. Living in the fear of the Lord and encouraged by the Holy Spirit, it increased in numbers.


Have you ever felt trapped by your past?

Saul’s life was drastically transformed by the power and the grace of Jesus. Saul was new in every way. He thought differently, he acted differently—he WAS different. So what was everyone’s response?

“Yeah right.”

It’s crazy how much our past manages to find a way into our future. It can be really disheartening for those who are trying to start a new chapter in their life.

Maybe this is why Saul would later write to the church in Corinth, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”

He wasn’t just teaching theology in this moment. His story is woven into these words.  This is Saul’s story. Even though people doubted it, the old Saul was gone. This was the new Saul, transformed by Jesus.

Barnabas knew the power of Jesus could transform the hardest heart. And Barnabas stood up for Saul.

Thought for Today: Who do you doubt could ever change?

Do you believe the power of Jesus could change their life?

Today’s Prayer: Take a moment and pray for that person. Pray for the power of Jesus to make them into “a new creation.” And if/when they do, don’t keep them trapped in their past. Choose to be a Barnabas.

 

Who Needs to Hear How Jesus Changed Your Life?

shutterstock_424673179.jpgActs 9:19-25

19Saul spent several days with the disciples in Damascus. 20At once he began to preach in the synagogues that Jesus is the Son of God. 21All those who heard him were astonished and asked, “Isn’t he the man who raised havoc in Jerusalem among those who call on this name? And hasn’t he come here to take them as prisoners to the chief priests?” 22Yet Saul grew more and more powerful and baffled the Jews living in Damascus by proving that Jesus is the Messiah.

23After many days had gone by, there was a conspiracy among the Jews to kill him, 24but Saul learned of their plan. Day and night they kept close watch on the city gates in order to kill him. 25But his followers took him by night and lowered him in a basket through an opening in the wall.


Saul’s immediate actions after his conversion demonstrate the complete transformation of his life.

Just a few days prior, he was traveling to Damascus to arrest anyone who believed the “lie” that Jesus is the Son of God. Now, he’s in Damascus preaching that Jesus truly is the Son of God.

The people didn’t know what to do with Saul. The Christians were afraid he was trying to trick them somehow. And the non-believing Jews were angry because he was leading others to follow Jesus too.

Saul became so persuasive in leading others to follow Jesus that the Jews plotted to kill him, and his new followers had to smuggle him out of the city.

Like Saul, when you say “yes” to following Jesus, your life will change forever. You ought to be so excited about your faith in Christ that you cannot help but tell others about him. Some will follow you, and others might reject you.

Often we are quick to tell their friends about a new restaurant we found, a new way we have lost weight, or a new product we bought. But for some odd reason, we shy away from telling others about the one thing that has changed our life more than anything.

But don’t be afraid. Your story is powerful. If Jesus has truly changed your life for the better, others need to know. People may argue with you, but they won’t be able to deny your story.

Thought for Today: Who needs to hear your story? Write down their names and pray for the opportunity to tell them your story.

Today’s Prayer: Jesus, help me to have the boldness of Saul. Open my eyes to the opportunities to help others find the same hope I have found in you. Help me to share the story of how you have changed my life.