Sunday, November 30, 2014

November 30 - My Chosen Instrument

Today's Reading:
Deuteronomy 23:1-25:19
Acts 9:1-25
Psalm 55:12-23
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Focus Verses:
Acts 9:13-15

13 "Lord," Ananias answered, "I have heard many reports about this man and all the harm he has done to your saints in Jerusalem. 14 And he has come here with authority from the chief priests to arrest all who call on your name." 15 But the Lord said to Ananias, "Go! This man is my chosen instrument to carry my name before the Gentiles and their kings and before the people of Israel.

Saul not only rejected Christianity, he vigorously opposed it. He was doing everything within his power to wipe it out. From his perspective the claims of Jesus and his followers were lies and blasphemy. His hostility toward Christianity was rooted in his faith and devotion to God. Only through his encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus did he come to recognize Jesus as the very God he was trying to serve and honor.

After he put his faith in Jesus as his Lord and Savior, the energy and passion Saul/Paul had formerly directed toward persecuting Christians was redirected toward helping others become Christians. The man who was once the most feared opponent of Christianity became the greatest evangelist, ambassador, and teacher of the early church.

Great adversaries have the capacity to become great advocates. Those who are zealous in their opposition to God, may be chosen instruments he intends to use to reach others. When those who thoughtfully and honestly oppose the gospel come to recognize Jesus for who he truly is, they can become the most believable, passionate, and effective witnesses for Christ in the world.

Response and Action: 
When God directed Ananias to go to Saul, he was hesitant and perhaps a little fearful. He had heard about Saul's hostility toward Christian faith and the harm he had inflicted upon followers of Jesus. Ananias saw a threatening enemy, but God saw a passionate servant.

I want to be faithful and obedient to God as I relate to people who reject Jesus and are hostile to Christianity. I want to be a loving and thoughtful witness to those who are struggling with honest questions, those who oppose faith for good reasons, and even those who strenuously oppose Christianity because they think it's a lie.

I need to remember that these opponents have the potential to reach and influence more people than I ever could. Their opposition to Christ might be the very thing that will lead them to one day recognize Jesus as the way, the truth, and the life. They may be God's chosen instruments for helping others come to faith in Christ.

O God, make me ready to minister to others, and obedient to your call. Help me to see the promise and potential people have in Christ. Give me a love and generosity for those who deny and oppose you. Give me the wisdom and understanding to answer the questions of honest skeptics. Remind me that you are at work in the world to help seekers find you. Give me the grace and integrity to live a Jesus-shaped life that bears witness to the truth of the gospel. Through Christ, I pray. Amen.

Spiritual Formation Verses:

2 Corinthians 5:20
20 We are therefore Christ's ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ's behalf: Be reconciled to God.

Courage and Calling: Embracing Your God-Given Potential
by Gordon T. Smith

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