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Archive for the tag “followers of Jesus”

Paul’s Walk

When I was first started studying the Word, I had a difficult time understanding Paul’s writings; Romans in particular. It was just deep stuff! This past week I listened to a sermon concerning Paul’s (or Saul at the time) conversion. He was a religious man, zealous for God’s law. He thought he was doing God a favor by killing or persecuting those who walked in the Way (aka the followers of Jesus). Paul was a brilliant man; very passionate about religious law. He had been taught by one of the masters of the Law. He knew the Law; memorized the Law. However, his focus was wrong. He didn’t understand the truth of the Law. He didn’t understand Jesus was the one who would fulfill the Law. He had the book knowledge, but did not have the heart knowledge. His heart was hardened to the truth.

His conversion is known as the Damascus Road conversion. It was pretty drastic. Paul (Saul) had a letter from the ones in charge to go about the countryside clearing the land of those who proclaimed the name of Jesus. He was willing to travel miles upon miles to stamp out this rebellion. Along the way, Paul was confronted by Jesus in a supernatural way. When Christ’s church is hurt, He is also hurt. If the church didn’t survive, the message of Good News would not reach the ends of the earth as it was intended. We wouldn’t know it today. The church would not have survived if Paul had continued his quest. But Jesus stopped Paul in his path, and changed Paul’s focus. Paul was blinded physically so that his spiritual eyes could be opened. When his eyes were opened to the truth, his whole focus changed. However, his determination didn’t. He was still zealous, but zealous for Jesus and His message. He was still willing to walk mile upon mile to reach the ends of the earth for a new purpose; not to kill the message, but to give a life-giving message.

As I have grown in my spiritual maturity, I have developed a deeper understanding of Paul’s writings. The Holy Spirit did a major work in Paul and used his brilliant mind to bring us wisdom in the written word. Sitting under Paul’s teaching now is still difficult if I didn’t have the Holy Spirit guiding me to the truth. But learning from Paul is part of my process of growing to maturity. I don’t want to stop learning. Like I wrote last week, I want my hunger and thirst to be even greater. However, what I am most concerned about today is my willingness to go mile upon mile for a cause greater than me.

The preacher asked his audience “what are you willing to walk 20 miles for?” That was usually the amount of miles walked by Paul on any given day. Ever since I heard that, I wondered. What am I passionate about? Passion is about suffering for a cause. Can I actually say I am suffering for anything right now? Tough questions; with little answers. God is looking for those who are willing to go the extra mile. He is searching for those who want what He wants. I want to want it. Paul had a message to share. His testimony is powerful; but so is each and every one of us who know Jesus’ salvation. We all have a decision to make. Will we use what God has given us for His glory or will we try to kill the message by our disobedience? Each decision made for God’s glory will bring us closer to a passion that cannot be extinguished. Paul had it; I want it too, don’t you?

For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works. Titus 2:11-14 (ESV)

Warnings Pt 2

I finished reading the book “The Harbinger” and wanted to follow-up with last week’s post. The first part of the book – the harbingers – were concentrating on the 9/11 attacks and the aftermath. The second part of the book was on the second warning issued through the financial meltdown in 2008 and beyond. I learned some history of America’s foundation through this book. I was deeply moved as I read through it feeling a bit overwhelmed at how much of the events could not have happened by chance. I could see God’s hand moving through the circumstances as only He could do it. There were too many coincidences that could just be explained away by mere human actions.

So if we are under the warnings before the judgment, what are we to do about it? If this were all true, is judgment inevitable? Many times we see in Scripture that warnings through the prophets were either heeded or ignored. When the warnings were heeded like in Nineveh, the king and the people repented of their sins (for a short period of time). For Sodom, for other nations, even Israel at times the warnings were ignored and destruction was complete. For Sodom, God looked for the righteous people to save the nation but none were found.

At the end of “The Harbinger,” I felt a great conviction come over me. The author (Jonathon Cahn) pointed to the Scripture 2 Chronicles 7:14 (NLT): Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land. The author pointed to the statement, “if my people.” That’s me, I am His people. The ones who don’t call upon God or Jesus, they are not under the same authority that we as followers of Jesus are. We are to be imitators of Christ. We are called to be lights in our communities. We are to draw others to Jesus. If we lived like we should, would we be in the same boat we’re in today? Would we be living under a warning to repent or reap the judgment? Food for thought for sure!

In the early church, the followers of Jesus made such a difference in their communities people noticed. They were called “little Christs” (Christians). They were set apart from the normal crowd because they were different in their ways (it was actually called “The Way”). The Way drew people to Jesus. When people were confronted with the truth, they repented and turned back to God (by the thousands). Oh, but that was in the ancient days. That can’t possibly happen today, right? Who knows? For the most part, we don’t live any differently than our neighbors. We want to fit in with the rest of society. We’ll do our good works through our own efforts. What we lack is the power of the Holy Spirit living in us to draw others to Jesus. I don’t know if the events of 9/11 were a warning to us. I do know this, if I am living as I am called to do, then change would be happening around me.

Warnings – the Bible is full of warnings. John the Baptist was sent before Jesus to prepare the way for Him. John warned those who would listen, it’s time to repent. Jesus warned the church of Laodicea to be hot or cold. Jesus said (in Rev 3:16): “So, because you are lukewarm I am about to spit you out of my mouth.” He goes on to say (in Rev 3:19), “Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent.” I believe we’re getting closer to seeing Jesus come back. If God is sending us a warning, we need to heed it. If we are sent warnings, it’s because of His love for us. Warnings are always sent to His people before action is taken against them. We are given an opportunity to repent for our land to be healed. I am convicted, are you?

“I baptize you with water for repentance, but he who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor and gather his wheat into the barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.” Matthew 3:11-12 (ESV)

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