“Instead, you must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if someone asks about your Christian hope, always be ready to explain it.” – 1 Peter 3:15
I like my coffee. I have tried many different kinds, flavors, and means of preparation. As a result there are some coffees that are just poor quality to me. Forget instant, can’t even be in the mix. Many regular store brands I can drink but not fully enjoy. And, there are specialty brands for which I do not care for the taste. I have developed this sense of taste for coffee by experience. And sharing our faith is also about experience.
Many focus on our need to be ready to explain our faith. And we should be ready to clearly and simply explain why we believe to others. But it is not that hard. It is not rocket science. What captures my imagination is the phrase “And if someone asks.” Why does someone ask? What happened that caused someone to ask? When was the last time I/you had someone ASK us about our Christian hope? I can only come up with one answer. The person who asks about a Christians hope can only come to that point by experiencing a Christian living a life of hope; living a life of worshipping Christ as Lord of their lives. The person who asks is experiencing the Spirit of God creating interest in them by experiencing a believer living out his/her faith in the real world.
Which brings me to another question. Why am I/we not being asked this question more? There is more than one answer to this question, and more than I will outline here. People will ask questions, when we as Christians are sharing more than cursory time with them. People will ask questions, when we as believers are pleading to God for the Spirit to awaken spiritual sensitivity in people we encounter every day. People will ask questions, when we actually live distinctly from the world. In fact, we may even need to live distinctly different from typical Christian or church culture. People will ask questions when we live and talk like Jesus is the most important thing in our lives. People will ask questions when they know we love them and will be there for them whether they ever come to Christ or not. No one asks questions if they are feeling like a project!
Father, make my life a question generator to all who cross my path each day.
Readings: 1 Timothy 5, 1 Peter 3, Genesis 1, Ecclesiastes 4
“So we keep on praying for you, asking our God to enable you to live a life worthy of his call. May he give you the power to accomplish all the good things your faith prompts you to do.” -2 Thessalonians 1:11
Prayer, as Christians we profess to believe in it, and practice it… well sort of. I sometimes wonder if our prayers only touch the margins of what God has in mind. We pray for the sick, as we should. We pray for safe travels, again ok to pray about. But if this is the major thrust of our praying we may very well be missing out on some marvelous answers to prayer. Anemic praying can only lead to anemic believers, churches, and communities.
Look at what Paul prays in this verse. He prays for God to enable them to live a worthy life. Living worthy was not on them, or us. Living worthy is a work of God in us. He does it. Even more astounding is the next part of his prayer. He asks God to give them the power to accomplish all (not most or some) of the good things that faith prompts them to do. He prays for God to accomplish through them all that faith inspires. Imagine what the church would be like if all who came were accomplishing all the good their faith prompted them to do! Imagine, what God might do through you/me by asking him to give us the power to do all the good things our faith inspires. Imagine what would change in our churches if we were asking God to give everyone (by name, not just an all inclusive prayer) in our church the power to accomplish the good things their faith prompted. Imagine how the very accomplishing of those things would lead to a greater faith for bigger things the next time around!
Father, grow my praying for others that I would ask for you to give them the power to accomplish all their faith prompts them to do. Do so in me, and grow our faith for even greater things.
Readings: 1 Corinthians 9, 1 Thessalonians 2, Revelation 19, 2 Thessalonians 1
“For no one can lay any foundation other than the one we already have – Jesus Christ. Anyone who builds on that foundation may use a variety of materials – gold, silver, jewels, wood, hay, or straw. But on the judgment day, fire will reveal what kind of work each builder has done. The fire will show if a person’s work has any value. If the work survives, that builder will receive a reward.” -1 Corinthians 3:11-14
Jesus is the foundation everyone needs for life, and eternal life. But each of us builds on this foundation in ourselves and in others. What we build on top of our commitment to Christ matters. These verses list six kinds of materials. Three will survive a fire, and three will not. Three demonstrate value, three do not. We can build our own lives with eternal value – Gold, silver jewels. Or we can not build what God values in our lives, but build what we want which leads to wood, hay, straw. Our influence and relationships with others can build value into others, or it builds only temporary things. We can build into others gold, silver or jewels. We can also build a good time, but nothing of any depth spiritually – wood, hay, or straw.
For me, when I read this passage one question came to mind. How I/you answer this question may motivate changes. Will my work survive the fire (14)? Will yours?
Father lead me in making any and every change necessary to build eternal value in my life and in others.
Readings: Hebrews 12, 1 Corinthians 3, Psalm 58, 1 Peter 5
“So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless.” -1 Corinthians 15:58
Work is at times a great joy and pleasure. At other times it is just work – grinding out, persevering, enduring work. And at times, even work for the Lord can feel the same. And, therein is the problem – feelings defining how we work. Working enthusiastically can also fall into this trap. Enthusiasm is often treated as a feeling, something that can be ginned up, manufactured, created. So, if we create the right environment, we can work enthusiastically for the Lord. However, this verse paints a different picture. Enthusiasm is not an emotion, or feeling, or created by environment. Enthusiasm is a choice, a faith filled choice. I choose to work enthusiastically because God works through what I do and it always accomplishes what He plans. I work enthusiastically in serving the Lord because there is eternal reward in serving the Lord. I work enthusiastically because God Himself approaches each day, each moment enthusiastically. I choose enthusiasm by faith.
Father, keep before me that enthusiasm in serving you is a faith choice in what you are doing.
Readings: Titus 2, 1 Corinthians 15, Hebrews 9, Joel 3
“We faithfully preach the truth. God’s power is working in us. We use the weapons of righteousness in the right hand for attack and the left hand for defense.” -2 Corinthians 6:7
Weapons. When I think of weapons guns of varying sizes comes to mind; or military armaments, even swords. When it comes to Spiritual weapons I may think of the Scriptures, prayer, praise, fasting, singing. But righteousness? Righteousness is a gift. Righteousness is what Christ provides me because of my faith in Him. Righteousness continues with following the gift of righteousness with seeking to live a righteousness life in the power of the Spirit. But righteousness – the gift of righteousness is a weapon for both attacking and defense. Recognizing the gift of righteousness rather than relying on my living a righteous life is a weapon! When I count on what Christ gives me rather than my performance it is a weapon I can use to attack doubts, fears, temptation, and spiritual warfare. It is a weapon that relies solely on the cross of Christ. Righteousness is also my means of defense. Any attacks on me to cause me to doubt, or give up are pushed aside because my trust is in the righteousness Jesus provides, not my sinlessness.
Father, let your righteousness be my fortress and victory.
Readings: Nehemiah 8, Isaiah 61, Luke 10, 2 Corinthians 6
Day 78 – Nehemiah 8, Isaiah 61, Luke 10, 2 Corinthians 6
Promises About Eternal Life
Day 79 – 1 Peter 1, 2 Corinthians 5, Revelation 21, Revelation 22
Day 80 – Hebrews 4, Job 19, 1 Thessalonians 4, Acts 1
Day 81 – Titus 2, 1 Corinthians 15, Hebrews 9, Joel 3
Day 82 – Philippians 3, Matthew 24, Matthew 25, Mark 13
Day 83 – Isaiah 21, 1 Thessalonians 5, 2 Peter 3, Hosea 13
Day 84 – Ezekiel 37, 2 Timothy 1, Psalm 17, John 5
“Praise the Lord! How joyful are those who fear the Lord and delight in obeying his commands. Their children will be successful everywhere; an entire generation of godly people will be blessed.” – Psalm 112:1-2
What does it mean to “fear the Lord”? It has the meaning of respect, reverence. But these words also imply the person believes in God, and therefore, follows and loves Him. There are two promises for those who both fear and obey the Lord. First, their life is joyful. There is a joy that comes from following and loving the Lord. The more I love Him; the closer I am to him, the greater will be my joy. As I obey Him, I find joy. Obedience isn’t a task master seeking to restrict my life. It is a conduit to joy. It is joy because God’s commands are for our good – what is best for us. The second promise is the blessing and success of the next generation. The next generation is affected by my/our love for the Lord, our following the Lord, our obeying the Lord.
Watching the news this morning, I could not help thinking we are experiencing the truth of these words. The lack of civility, respect, basic kindness is a direct consequence of people who have not believed in or obeyed the Lord. The result is a generation (not all) now that is not blessed or successful (in their own eyes, and certainly in the eyes of God). I can also say that there are those in this generation that are experiencing success and blessing because of people in their lives who love and seek to obey the Lord. Their influence has blessed them. My/our spiritual lives can bless the next generation. God’s call on my life is to be that path of blessing to others.
Father, may my life this day lead to the blessing and success of others as I follow You.
Readings: Proverbs 15, 1 Kings 10, Micah 7, Psalm 112