Saturday, September 3, 2011

Day Eighteen: Speaking of Grace

Before You Begin:  Read Acts 13:13-41
            In Pisidian Antioch
From Papos, Paul and is companions sailed to Perga in Pamphylia, where John left them to return to Jerusalem. From Perga they went on to Pisidian Antioch. On the Sabbath they entered the synagogue and sat down. After the reading from the Law and the Prophets, the leaders of the synagogue sent word to them, saying, “Brothers, if you have a word of exhortation for the people, please speak.”
Standing up, Paul motioned with his hand and said: “Fellow Israelites and you Gentiles who worship God, listen to me! The God of the people of Israel chose our ancestors; he made the people prosper during their stay in Egypt; with mighty power he led them out of that country; for about forty years he endured their conduct in the wilderness; and he overthrew seven nations n Canaan, giving their land to his people as their inheritance. All this took about 450 years.
“After this, God gave them judges until the time of Samuel the prophet. Then the people asked for a king, and he gave them Saul son of Kish, of the tribe of Benjamin, who ruled forty years. After removing Saul, he made David their king. God testified concerning him: “I have found David son of Jesse, a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do.”
“From this man’s descendants God has brought to Israel the Savior Jesus, as he promised. Before the coming of Jesus, John preached repentance and baptism to all the people of Israel. As John was completing his work, he said: “Who do you suppose I am? I am not the one you are looking for. But there is one coming after me whose sandals I am not worthy to untie.”
“Fellow children of Abraham and you God-fearing Gentiles, it is to us that this message of salvation has been sent. The people of Jerusalem and their rulers did not recognize Jesus, yet in condemning him they fulfilled the words of the prophets that are read every Sabbath. Thought they found no proper ground for a death sentence, they asked Pilate to have him executed. When they had carried out all that was written about him, they took him down form the cross and laid him in a tomb. But God raised him from the dead, and for many days he was seen by those who had traveled with him from Galilee to Jerusalem. They are now his witnesses to our people.
“We tell you the good news: What God promised our ancestors he has fulfilled for us, their children, by raising up Jesus. As it is written in the second Psalm:
            “You are my son; today I have become your father.”
“God raised him from the dead so that he will never be subject to decay. As God has said, “I will give you the holy and sure blessings promised to David.”
So it is also stated elsewhere:
                        “You will not let your holy one see decay.”
“Now when David had served God’s purpose in his own generation, he fell asleep; he was buried with his ancestors and his body decayed. But the one whom God raised from the dead did not see decay.
“Therefore, my friends, I want you to know that through Jesus the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you. Through him everyone who believes is set free from every sin, a justification you were not able to obtain under the law of Moses. Take care that what the prophets have said does not happen to you:
“Look, you scoffers, wonder and perish, for I am going to do something in your days that you would never believe, even if someone told you.”
Stop and Consider: “Therefore, my friends, I want you to know that through Jesus the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you. Through him everyone who believes is set free from every sin, a justification you were not able to obtain under the law of Moses.
Questions Asked of Me: Rather than guilt and compulsion, what should be our real motivation for having a word of Christian testimony ready for any occasion or opportunity?
For me, it was never about guilt or compulsion for the overwhelming urge to help others know they are not alone. I want everyone to know just how bad things were for me when Jesus found me because if He can help me in my situations; He can certainly help you where you’re at. My motivation now is to be the spokesperson He created me to be and be happy cheering about it no matter the content…but focusing on the outcome. The zeal I have for sharing my testimony is not for my benefit or to any credit of my own but to give Him all the glory and help others to see that in the process.
Evangelism is certainly bigger than any one method or model. What are some of the ways God has uniquely gifted you to be able to share your confidence in His saving grace?
Share my confidence? Hmmmm….. He gave me the personality that He gave me; the same personality that led people to do things as far from Jesus as possible is now the personality that I hope to lead others to doing what He has planned for them. I am transparent in Him. I am open to the point of scary but it is the outcome being what it is that allows me to share what Jesus brought me from. Don’t get me wrong; He somehow gave me confidence while I was going through these trials but being on the other side it is easy to share that confidence of His saving grace. I love the opportunity to show others that things like that don’t just happen in the bible; they happen now and they happen to people like me.
Detour: One of the first things I participated in at my church back home was something called “Discover Your Style”. It is an all-day class that is organized to help you discover your spiritual gifts; creative communication, prison ministry, hospitality, building, serving, and evangelism to name a few. There were a series of questions and there was one set in particular that I was slow to respond to. We were to list four great things that happened in our lives; things we were proud to share. Then we were to list four not-so-great things on the next page; things that we would rather not have happened and would be happy if no one really knew about them.
We weren’t asked to say them out loud; it was strictly for our benefit. But the next page was the one that shocked me most. Of the eight things we previously listed, we were now asked to list the four areas in which Jesus was working in us; the times in our life that we knew Jesus was going to use for His glory. My list was the same as my “not-so-great” list. I realized then that Jesus wasn’t looking to use me in the areas of my college degrees or the birth of my children but He was already using me to talk about brokenness, “Prodigal Son” moment, breast cancer, and DUIs.
Another segment of the class was determining our most prominent spiritual gift; my best friend high on the list of hospitality and prayer warrior. When a show of hands determined who was what, I quickly realized that I was the only one that had the spiritual gift of Evangelism. I freaked out. I immediately thought it meant that my answers to loads of questions had somehow determined that I wanted to go “door to door” talking about Jesus. Um… nope.
The instructor was quick to tell me that it didn’t mean that at all but simply meant that I was a “Cheerleader for Jesus.” Whew…. Yes, THAT IS ME. And the rest as they say… is history. <wink>
Praying God’s Word Today: Lord Jesus, I pray that I will no longer be held captive to fear but will rather set You apart as Lord in my heart, always being ready to give a defense to anyone who asks for a reason for the hope that is in me. But may I do this with gentleness and respect, keeping my conscience clear, so that when I am accused, those who denounce my Christian life will be put to shame (1Peter 3:14-16). May Your grace cover all!
1Peter 3:14-16
But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. “Do not fear their threats; do not be frightened.” But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.

Wow….my scripture that I felt you handpicked for me. Wow.

Dear Jesus:
I am grateful for every gift You have given me; even the ones I questioned initially. I am grateful for all that has happened to me in the “not-so-great” column because I know that You can do great things through those stories. Thank You for allowing me to see the good through the yucky. Thank You for showing me just how captive I was when I thought I was so free. Please continue to allow me to see just how awesome You are even when I am going through some things where most wouldn’t see it that way.
I am excited to see all of the echoes and confirmations that You give to me; even in this entry. Beth Moore pulling out 1Peter is the scripture that I KNOW You handpicked for me. This scripture is the tagline for this blog which is also a gift from You and a gift I hope others benefit from as much I do.
I know my motivation for sharing my testimony because it is YOUR testimony through me. Thank You for this great opportunity to be proof for someone that grace is given every day; to those not looking for it, not deserving of it, and not earning it…. because we don’t have to, it isn’t possible, and we can’t.



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