Wednesday, November 30, 2011
Tuesday, November 29, 2011
Monday, November 28, 2011
Sunday, November 27, 2011
Saturday, November 26, 2011
Friday, November 25, 2011
Thursday, November 24, 2011
Wednesday, November 23, 2011
Tuesday, November 22, 2011
Monday, November 21, 2011
Sunday, November 20, 2011
Saturday, November 19, 2011
Friday, November 18, 2011
Thursday, November 17, 2011
Wednesday, November 16, 2011
We should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God. (Acts 15:19)
Legalism comes from believing that Christ's death on the cross was insufficient to guarantee our salvation. Whatever it might be there is always something, in addition to Christ's shed blood, necessary to pay for our guilt.
In the early church as the church shifted to include the Gentile population, many believing Jews thought Gentiles should be circumcised and obey Jewish law in order to be saved. In other words, they were expected to convert to Judaism first, and only then could they be received as Christians. On one occasion Peter almost bowed to the Judaizers' pressure, but then Paul took him to task and the matter was favorably resolved.
Today we have our own forms of legalism. Legalism may influence our choices of food or beverages; it may dictate that Sunday and only Sunday (or Saturday and only Saturday) is set aside for worship. It may require women to wear long hair and long dresses and men to wear short hair and short dresses... nah! Just seeing if you were paying attention. The point is we put our hope in following a set of rules.
Whatever the recipe of our particular brand of legalism, the security that it brings is false. When we get right down to it, legalism says all that really matters is following the rules better than the next guy.
Your hope is built on nothing less than Jesus plus what?
Tuesday, November 15, 2011
God does not show favoritism but accepts men from every nation who fear him and do what is right. (Acts 10:34,35)
Here we see the progression from Christianity for Jews only to Gentiles tolerated to Gentiles actively engaged. Before Peter's dream of clean and unclean animals, he would never have considered that non-Jews could be included in the gospel message. Without the dream, he would have rejected those sent by Cornelius, and without Cornelius he would not have understood the dream.
Word of Cornelius's conversion got back to Jerusalem before Peter did, so when he got home he had some 'splainin' to do. After he told the full story, the Jerusalem Christians, who had not appreciated Peter's Gentile connection, were appeased.
Following Stephen's execution but prior to Peter's Caesarea experience, many Christians (Christianity started out largely as a sect of Judaism) had been persecuted by non-Christian Jews and run out of Jerusalem. Naturally, when they arrived in a new city, they would share the message of Christ with their new Jewish friends and as a result many believed in his name.
Only after Peter returned from Caesarea did Christians actively seek ways to deliver the gospel to Gentiles. We read in 11:20 that Christians from Cyprus (in the Mediterranean) and Cyrene (modern day Libya) brought the message of Christ to Antioch (modern day Turkey, just north of the Syrian border) targeting the Gentile population.
Someone brought the gospel to you. To whom will you take it next?
Monday, November 14, 2011
This man is my chosen instrument. (Acts 9:15)
If there was an unlikely candidate to spread the name of Christ throughout the first-century world, it was Paul. Raised a devout Jew, educated in one of the most prestigious rabbinical schools in the world, and recognized as an up-and-comer with the reputation of being a no-nonsense Pharisee, his passion was to destroy the church before it got off the ground.
Yet this was the man God chose to take the message of Christianity to the world.
After earning his degrees (journalism from the University of Missouri and law from Yale), Lee Strobel served as the award-winning legal editor of The Chicago Tribune. His research into the resurrection convinced this avowed atheist to receive Jesus as his forgiver and leader. He is now a NY Times best-selling author of nearly twenty books, espousing the cause of Christ.
From 1985 to 1992, Kirk Cameron starred in ABC's family sitcom Growing Pains. Another atheist, Kirk became a believer in Christ and has since co-founded The Way of the Master (an evangelism training program) and The Firefly Foundation, which among other things provides terminally ill children and their families a free summer camp experience.
Former marine turned lawyer, and the first to be imprisoned for his role in the Nixon administration Watergate break-in, Charles Colson accepted Christ and has devoted his life to his organization Prison Fellowship, which ministers to inmates and their families.
Now, why is it God would never call you into ministry?
Sunday, November 13, 2011
Saturday, November 12, 2011
In the first century, Rome was the dominant kingdom. The empire wielded power like a centurion’s sword. Anyone who dared cross it was cut to pieces. The Sadducees appeased their Roman masters, cooperating in order to maintain the status quo. The Pharisees preached that legalistic obedience to the law would persuade God to expel the dominant kingdom from Jerusalem. Zealots brandished their own swords in guerilla style attacks aimed at overthrowing their Roman oppressors. Essenes withdrew into cloistered communities, where they could practice their religion away from the dominant kingdom and prying Roman eyes.
Jesus taught another way, which he called the kingdom of God.
How will your life reflect kingdom principles this week?