Thursday, December 27, 2018

Ready for the Worst

Today's Reading:
Joshua 22:21-23:16
Acts 21:1-17
Psalm 68:7-14
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Focus Verses: Acts 21:10-14
10 After we had been there a number of days, a prophet named Agabus came down from Judea. 11 Coming over to us, he took Paul’s belt, tied his own hands and feet with it and said, “The Holy Spirit says, ‘In this way the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem will bind the owner of this belt and will hand him over to the Gentiles.’” 12 When we heard this, we and the people there pleaded with Paul not to go up to Jerusalem. 13 Then Paul answered, “Why are you weeping and breaking my heart? I am ready not only to be bound, but also to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.” 14 When he would not be dissuaded, we gave up and said, “The Lord’s will be done.”

Acts chapter seven is where we find the first mention of Paul (Saul) in the New Testament. There, he was so opposed to the Jesus followers that he approved of killing them. By Acts 21, the Apostle Paul had himself become such a committed follower of the Lord Jesus that he was ready to face imprisonment or even death for him. As a committed follower of Jesus, Paul's primary concern was not his own freedom or safety, but rather God's will. If doing the things he believed God wanted him to do resulted in hardship, he was willing to do them. Jesus had suffered and died in order to accomplish God's will, and Paul was willing to follow that same path if necessary.

Response and Action:
Am I willing to follow Jesus into hardship? If following Jesus means loss, am I willing to lose? If loving as he loves means suffering, am I willing to suffer? If living out the grace and generosity of Jesus means giving up possessions and living with less, am I willing to let go of things? If forgiving as he forgives requires sacrifice, am I willing to suffer loss? If obedience to God requires the faith to face death, am I willing to die?

I want to love the Lord, my God, with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength. I want to love Jesus and follow in his steps. I will press on to know Christ more and more—to be so committed that I not only believe in his promise to bless, but also find myself able and willing to share in his suffering. I want to embrace the Christ life so fully that I am willing and able to die to myself.

O God, help me to find my life in you. Give me a faith that makes me able to commit all things to you. Give me a heart for your will and your purposes. Shape and strengthen me to follow Jesus wherever he leads. Whether by life or death, may Christ be exalted in me. Help me to press on to take  hold of that for which Christ took hold of me. It's in his name that I pray these things. Amen.

Spiritual Formation Verses: Philippians 1:20-21
20 I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. 21 For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.

The Radical Disciple: Some Neglected Aspects of Our Calling
by John Stott

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