NEW TESTAMENT CHRISTIANITY (2)

The disciples were first called Christians in Antioch. Acts 11 :26 NAS

The New Testament Christians dedicated themselves to one thing only-making Jesus Lord of their lives and establishing His rule wherever they went. Listen: “All the believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and to fellowship and to sharing meals (including the Lord’s Supper), and to prayer. A deep sense of awe came over them all, and the

apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders. And all the believers met together in one place and shared

everything they had. They sold their property and possessions and shared the money with those in need. They worshipped together at the temple each day, met in homes for the Lord’s Supper, and shared their meals with great joy and generosity- all the while praising God and enjoying the good will of all the people. And each day the Lord added to their fellowship those who were being saved” (See Ac 2:42-47).

Did it cost them? Yes: “The high priest and his officials … were filled with jealousy. They arrested the apostles and put

them in public jail … then they brought the apostles before the high council, where the high priest confronted them … but Peter and the apostles replied, ‘We must obey God rather than any human authority’ … They [the high council] called in the apostles and had them flogged. Then they ordered them never again to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. The apostles left the high council rejoicing that God had counted them worthy top suffer disgrace for the name of Jesus”

(See Ac 5:17-18: 21, 29,40-42). That’s what it means to be a New Testament Christian.



NEW TESTAMENT CHRISTIANITY (1)

The disciples were first called Christians in Antioch. Acts 11 :26 NAS

The disciples were first called “Christians” at Antioch-because they walked and talked like Jesus! Is something getting in the way of your living like Jesus? Figure it out and eliminate it. Is your life so complicated that it’s difficult for you to juggle everything, yet still remain Christ-like?

Simplify your life. Are you unable to find words that describe how you believe God has called you to know, love and serve Him? Develop a new language. Is society dragging you in the opposite direction from where Jesus calls you? Acknowledge that your life is part of a spiritual war between God and Satan, declare your side and get on with it. Admit that you are better off “fighting the good tight” and suffering on earth for the cause of Christ, than winning the world but losing your soul for the balance of etemity. Get used to the fact that your life is lived in the context of spiritual warfare. Every breath you take is an act of war, To survive and thrive in the midst of this spiritual battle you must seek to be more Christ-like. Your mission demands single-minded commitment and a disregard for the criticisms of those who lack the same dedication to Christ. You answer to only one Commander-in-Chief, and you alone will give an explanation for your choices. Do whatever you have to, to prove that you honor God, you love Him, you serve Him-yes, and that you live only for Him, That’s New Testament Christianity.

Not just going to church-but being the church! That’s what it means to be called a “Christian.”



GOD’S STRANGE CHOICE

 

God chose the weak things of the world to shame the wise.  1 Corinthians 1 :27 NIV

 

Has someone told you you’re not qualified? If so, read on: “Dear Paul the Apostle: We received your application for

service under our missions board. Frankly we’re amazed you’ve been able to pass as a missionary. Here’s why:  

(l)We’re told that you’re afflicted with eye trouble. We require 20/20 vision.

(2) We hear that you have to make tents on the side to support yourself. How come?

(3) Is it true that you have a prison record? Think how this would reflect on our organization.

(4) It’s reported from Ephesus that you made so much trouble for the local business community there, that they refer to you as the man who “turned the world upside down.” We deplore sensationalism in ministry.

(5) You refer to yourself as “Paul the aged.” Our new pension policies don’t anticipate a surplus of elderly recipients.

(6) Doctor Luke, the physician, reports that you are a frail little man, frequently sick, and always so agitated over your churches that you sleep very poorly. He indicates that you pad around the house praying half the night.

Our ideal applicant has a clear mind and a robust body. We believe that a good night’s sleep will give you zest and zip so that you will wake up full of zing. So, we regret to inform you, Brother Paul, that in all our experience we’ve never met a candidate so opposite to the requirements of our board. If we should accept you we would be breaking every principle o  

current missionary practice. Signed, Most surely,

  1. Flavius Fluffyhead, Secretary, Foreign Missions Board.”


LORD … AND SHEPHERD

The Lord is my shepherd. Psalm 23:1

When Lloyd Douglas, author of The Robe, attended college, he lived in a boarding house. A retired wheelchair-

bound music professor resided on the first floor. Each morning Douglas would stick his head in the professor’s door and ask, “What’s the good news?” The old man would tap his tuning fork on his wheelchair and say, “That’s middle C! It was

middle C yesterday, it’ll be middle C tomorrow, and it’ll be middle C a thousand years from now. The tenor upstairs sings

flat. The piano across the hall’s out of tune, but, my friend, that’s middle C.” And don’t we all need a middle C? Haven’t

we had enough changes? Relationship changes. Job changes. Health changes. Weather changes-but the One Who ruled the earth last night is the same One Who rules it today. He never changes! David writes, “From everlasting to everlasting you are God” (Ps 90:2 NIV). Counselors may comfort us in the storm, but we need a God Who can still the storm. Friends may hold our hand at our deathbed, but ultimately we need the One Who defeated the grave. Remember the Wizard of Oz? Dorothy followed the Yellow Brick Road only to discover that the Wizard was a wimp! All smoke and mirrors. Is that the kind of God we need? No. We need One Who can place a hundred billion stars in our galaxy, and a hundred billion galaxies in our universe; a God Who, while so mind numbingly mighty, can come and touch us with the gentleness of a mother’s hand. We need both Lord and Shepherd. Both strength and tenderness- and that’s what we’ve got!

 



DOING WHATEVER IT TAKES

I have finished my course. 2 Timothy 4:7-8

 Bob Ireland crossed the finish line on Thursday, November 6,1986, as the New York City Marathon’s 19,413th and final finisher-the first person to run a marathon with his arms instead of his legs! Bob, who was 40 years old, had his legs blown off in Vietnam. He recorded the slowest time in the marathon’s history: 4 days, 2 hours, 48 minutes, 17 seconds.

When asked why he ran, he gave 3 reasons: (1) to show that being a Christian gives you a plus in life; (2) to test his conditioning; (3) to promote physical fitness and courage in others. “Success is not based on where you start,” he said, “it’s where you finish-and I finished.” Wow! With 2 good legs and all our faculties, most of us won’t even get out of bed an hour earlier to discover and pursue our God-given destiny.

Success always comes at a price. Cicero practiced speaking before friends every day for 30 years to perfect his eloquence. Milton rose at 4 o’clock every morning to have enough hours for writing his Paradise Lost. Gibbon spent 26 years on his Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. Noah Webster labored 36 years writing his dictionary, crossing the Atlantic twice to gather material. Byron rewrote one of his poetic masterpieces 99 times before publication, and it became a classic. Before Paul wrote: “I have finished my course,” he wrote: “I have worked harder, been put in jail oftener, been whipped times without number, and faced death again and again and again” (2Co 11:23 TLB). Go ahead, measure yourself by that standard! Then seize this new year and say, “I’m going to do whatever il takes,”

 



INVEST WHAT GOD’S GIVEN YOU

To one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one. Matthew 25: 15 NKJV

In Jesus’ story, the first 2 servants “went and traded ,” They pondered their options, crunched the numbers, took the plunge, and dared to fail. And their Master said “Well done good and faithful servant” (v.21). Here Jesus points us to the day when the “earth and all its works [will be] exposed to the scrutiny of judgment” (2Pe 3:10 TM). What’s the point? Dare to take great risks for God! Not foolish risks, but prayed-over, well-considered risks in response to faith. The only mistake-is not to risk making a mistake. And how about the third servant? “I was afraid, and went and hid your talent in the ground” (v.25). The first two invested theirs; he buried his. The first two went out on a limb; he hugged the trunk. He made the most tragic and common mistake of giftedness. He failed to benefit the Master with his talent. Some invest their talents and give God credit. Others misuse them and give God grief. Some honor Him with fruit. Others insult Him with excuses. How did the Master feel about it? “Get rid of this ‘play-it-safe’ who won’t go out on a limb” (Mt 25:29-30 TM). Fear is the opposite of faith. And, “without faith it is impossible to please [God]” (Heb 11:6). This year, step out in faith; He won’t let you down. Take a risk; He won’t let you fail. Even if you fail several times on your way to success, God invites you to dream of the day when you’ll feel His hand on your shoulder saying, “Well done, good and faithful servant!”



ATTENTION WORRYWARTS!

Give … your worries … to God. 1 Peter 5:7 NLT

A lady whose friend was a chronic worrier said to her one day, “Do you realize that 80 of the things you worry about never happen?” “See,” her friend replied, “it works!” Seriously, Jesus said, “Don’t get worked up about what may happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever comes up” (Mt 6:34 TM). Worry doesn’t rid tomorrow of its sorrows, it just robs today of its joy. Plus when you make a mountain out of a molehill you end up having to climb it. A salesman who usually drove an old car and wore outdated clothes turned up at his office one day in a designer suit, driving a BMW. “What happened?” his buddy asked. “Remember how I used to worry about everything?” he said, “Well, I hired a team of professional worriers; now I tell them my problems and they do all my worrying while I go out and sell.” “How much do they charge?” his friend asked. “$5,000 a week,” he replied. “How can you afford that?” his buddy asked. Smiling he replied, “That’s their worry, not mine!”

Wouldn’t you like to have somebody to handle all your worries? This year? You do; His name is Jesus, and He said, “If you are tired from carrying heavy burdens … Come to me .. .I will give you rest” (Mt 11 :28 CEV). God promised, “As your day is, so shall your strength … be” (Dt 33:25 AMP). That’s because He only gives us today’s strength for today’s needs. Remember, it’s impossible to wring your hands and roll up your sleeves at the same time. So instead of wasting today worrying about tomorrow, “Give … your worries … to God” (IPe 5:7 NLT), and get busy living the life He gave you to enjoy!



BURY THE PAST

Who will rescue me from this body of death?  Romans 7:24 NIV

50 New Testament times capital punishment was sometimes carried out by tying a murder victim’s body directly onto the perpetrator’s back. That way wherever he went he was literally weighed down by his crime, with no way to escape the stench of decomposing flesh. Eventually the bacteria-filled corpse infected him too and he died an agonizing death. Some days Paul felt the weight of his old nature pressing in, reminding him of things from his past that he wouldn’t change or eradicate. And recognizing how past events can color the present, Paul describes himself as “a wretched man,” and asks, “Who will rescue me from this body of death?” “Thanks be to God-through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Ro 7:25 NIV). The fact is, you can’t move ahead with “the old man” still clinging to you; you must bury him. Even death doesn’t have the finality that burial does; part of coming to closure involves disposing of the body. Funerals are for the living; they give people an opportunity to accept that their loved one has gone and that the relationship as they knew it is over. So, as you embark on this New Year, isn’t it time you stopped carrying the past around on your back-and on your mind? Paul says, “Present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead” (Ro 6: 13 NAS). In other words, refuse to let old memories negotiate a deal with you! Bury them, and do it today!



YOUR YEAR OF GRACE AND FAVOR

 

The Lord longs to be gracious to you  Isaiah 30: 18 NIV

 December 31st the clock strikes midnight ushering in another New Year. Three hundred and sixty-five days to fan the flames of your unfilled hopes and dreams. A new beginning. A gift full of promise. But you must accept it, unwrap it and use it. Not everybody does. Maybe you dread what the New Year holds; retirement, the empty nest, chronic illness, unemployment, life without a loved one. Well, God loves to take people at the end of their rope and set them on the road to peace, joy and victory. He’s the expert at drying tears, calming fears, injecting courage into anxious hearts and removing the sting of old memories. He “make[s] all things new” (Rev 21:5). But He never leads you back, just forward.

Listen: “The Lord longs to be gracious to you.” What do you want to see happen this year? Does it include owning your own business? Losing some weight? Reuniting with your family? Only you can complete the question, “What if I could … ?” because you alone know what makes your heart leap. Stephen Covey says, “Begin … with the image of the end of your life as your frame of reference … Each day will then contribute to the vision you have of your life as a whole.” Seek God. Determine your goals. Write them down, then release the outcome to Him who “longs to be gracious to you.” To be gracious means “to show favor.” The desire of God’s heart is that you walk in His grace and favor every day of this year.



THE COST OF BEING BLESSED (3)

You were loyal with small things, I will let you care for ... greater things.

Matthew 25:23 NCV

To succeed at any worthwhile venture you need a thick skin when it omes to handling criticism. That’s what separates those who say they want something from God, from those who are prepared to pay the price to get it. For example, if you’ve been praying for a mate, ask yourself are you really ready for the sacrifice and responsibility that comes with marriage? Are you stable, unselfish and mature enough to provide for a family? Or, if you’re praying for an increase in your business, are you giving outstanding service to your current clients?

Remember, a peacock that rests on its feathers is just another turkey! Sometimes we’re in love with the image of success, but we haven’t counted the actual cost of succeeding. That’s why it’s a good thing God doesn’t automatically give us everything we ask for! Often we want things because they look good in the lives of others, but God in His wisdom knows it would destroy us to receive what we’re not equipped to handle.
God tests you with what you already have in order to develop consistency and strength. He wants to see how you handle the pressures that accompany the blessings He’s already given you. He wants to get you to the place in Him where you’re immune to adversity; where you’ve learned to appreciate the Giver more than the gift. And when you get there you’ll hear Him say, “You are a good … servant. .. Because you loyal with small things, I will let you care for much greater things and that will make it all worthwhile!”



 

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