Christianity 201

July 22, 2020

A Word About Caution

Filed under: Christianity - Devotions — paulthinkingoutloud @ 5:34 pm
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A year ago this month, we discovered that Air1, the Christian radio network with stations across the U.S., had a devotional blog. Today we’re back again for another visit. If you listen to Air1, check out their devotional. And if you enjoy the devotional, check out the music play through a broadcast station near you or streaming the station live. Click the header below to read this at source.

Safety or Surrender?

by Scott Savage

Jesus isn’t primarily concerned with your safety.

I know this might seem surprising or maybe even offensive to some. Many of us were raised in environments where we heard the cliché “the safest place in the whole world is the center of God’s will.” We were raised with prayers about hedges of protection, traveling mercies, and “God, please keep them safe.”

Once I picked up on this theme, I started listening to other people’s prayers more intentionally and my own prayers more reflectively, because our prayers are windows into our values and our mindsets.

Safety isn’t a bad thing to pray for occasionally, but it’s a sad thing to live for perpetually. When I stand before Jesus on judgment day, “I was really safe” is not the phrase I want to share with my Creator. Safety makes for a good wish, but a terrible life goal.

We get confused into thinking that our primary concern, safety, is God’s primary concern when it’s not. Jesus isn’t primarily concerned with yours or my safety; He’s concerned with our surrender and the advancement of His Kingdom.

The men and women whose stories are showcased in the Bible embraced risks and accepted dangers in their pursuit of God’s will in their lives.

One of the best examples of this is the Apostle Paul. Paul pulled no punches in 2 Corinthians 11:23-28 when he described what following God’s calling led him into throughout his ministry. He tells the church at Corinth,

“I have worked harder, been put in prison more often, been whipped times without number, and faced death again and again. Five different times the Jewish leaders gave me thirty-nine lashes. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked. Once I spent a whole night and a day adrift at sea. I have traveled on many long journeys. 

I have faced danger from rivers and from robbers. I have faced danger from my own people, the Jews, as well as from the Gentiles. I have faced danger in the cities, in the deserts, and on the seas. And I have faced danger from men who claim to be believers but are not. I have worked hard and long, enduring many sleepless nights. I have been hungry and thirsty and have often gone without food. I have shivered in the cold, without enough clothing to keep me warm. Then, besides all this, I have the daily burden of my concern for all the churches.” 

Paul treated his adversity as a badge of honor and a sign that he was a genuine apostle, while those who were “false apostles” had not endured what he had.

Another incredible account of this kind of boldness comes in 1 Samuel 14. Jonathan and his armor-bearer were scouting out an outpost of their enemies, the Philistines. In verse 9, we read that Jonathan set up a way of discerning God’s will that positioned the more dangerous path as the one God ordained. Jonathan tells his armor-bearer, “If they say to us, ‘Stay where you are or we’ll kill you,’ then we will stop and not go up to them. But if they say, ‘Come on up and fight,’ then we will go up. That will be the Lord’s sign that he will help us defeat them.”

When the moment came, the Philistines challenged Jonathan and his armor-bearer to come up to them. So they did! They killed 20 Philistines and instilled a great panic in the rest of the Philistine army…

…Wait! There’s more! Click here to read the ending of Safety or Surrender?

 

April 10, 2013

Knowing The Reality of Christ

A year ago at this time we introduced you to the blog, I Want to Believe in God by Justin Powell.  We return now where this post appeared recently under the title The Reality of Christ in Me.

I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. –Philippians 4:12

I’m learning some truth to this verse in this season of life.  I’m going through things that in past seasons would have exhausted me and brought me down, but God has strengthened my spirit through past trials so that I am able to stand in the reality of Christ in me.  Through this reality I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. (Phil 4:13)

This world is beautiful but at times it can seem that everywhere we go we run into darkness.  When this happens I turn inward—to Christ in me—and ask the Spirit not only to give me comfort but to release His light to those around me and change the atmosphere.

And so, I do my best to do all things without complaining and disputing, that I may become blameless and harmless, a child of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom I shine as a light in the world. (see Phil 2:14-15)

I choose not to slander, I choose not to gossip or join in the complaining.  I keep quiet amongst those who partake.  I ask the Lord for strength to be swift to hear and slow to speak.  And I ask for wisdom that I may only speak life instead of childish, defensive words rooted in insecurities.  Christ is my security.  I do not need the affirmation of those around me.  They look for affirmation of other unbelievers to affirm their own insecurities rooted in their guilt of choosing unbelief in a God that they are mad at.  We must be careful not to get mad at God because of misunderstandings.  We were not made to understand everything.  We were made to live and to love.

I’ve caught myself daydreaming here and there about being old and close to the end of my earthly life.  To some this may appear morbid but I’ve just lost my fear of death and I long for that day that I can go and be face to face with God.  But I know that it’s a long journey from where I’m at and that day. 

For I am hard-pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better. Nevertheless to remain in the flesh is more needful for you. (see Phil 1:23-24)

So I seek to know Him more in this world.  I seek to have His will done on earth as it is in heaven.  I seek to be conformed to the image of His Son. (see Rom 8:17) I seek to not only live for Him but to live with Him—to walk with Him.  I seek to live His will for my life.  To change the lives of youth and speak life into the lost and the seekers of meaning.

You all are partakers with me of grace. So be confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ. (see Phil 1:6-7)

Live in the reality of His love.