“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
“And remember, the Lord’s patience gives people time to be saved…” – 2 Peter 3:15
Jesus came to this earth with a mission – for people to believe in Him and so be saved. Jesus gave the disciples and us a mission – to “go and make disciples of all nations”, in other words share the message of life only in Jesus. Amazingly, even the second coming of Christ is focused on redemption. So often we/I think of the second coming and associate it with judgment. But this verse tells us the return of Christ is arranged so people will be saved. Now obviously, not all will be saved because not all will believe. However, the Lord delays the return of Christ for more people to be saved. Maybe it is time to associate the second coming of Christ more with his mission than judgment. Certainly judgment will come on that day, but it will be a consequence of those who refuse to believe. In the end, the return of Christ is more about salvation. This hope coupled with the reality of judgment for all who do not receive Jesus as God’s remedy for our sin, should stir a fresh passion to share Christ with others. It should also cause us to plead with God to fulfill His promise through us to “make us fishers of men.”
Jesus, my wonderful savior, keep my focus and passion on sharing you with others in a way Your Spirit will use to lead others to receive and believe in you!
Readings: Isaiah 21, 1 Thessalonians 5, 2 Peter 3, Hosea 13
“Whatever happens, my dear brothers and sisters, rejoice in the Lord. I never get tired of telling you these things, and I do it to safeguard your faith.” -Philippians 3:1
There are a few things that would come to mind that would be a safeguard, a protection to my faith. Time in the Word of God would be a safeguard for my faith. Prayer would be a safeguard for my faith. Listening for the voice and leading of the Spirit would be a safeguard for my faith. The ministry of other believers in my life would safeguard my faith. But Paul bypasses all of these. The safeguard of my faith is rejoicing in the Lord. Rejoicing in God’s love, attention, provision… and so much more is cause for rejoicing. Rejoicing in whatever happens to me protects my faith because rejoicing in “whatever” grows my faith that God is good and will always do what is best. Rejoicing gets my eyes off of me and my circumstances and focuses me on God and His ability. This kind of rejoicing is a choice, a faith choice. This kind of rejoicing changes my attitude and thinking when I am not feeling so joyful. In essence, rejoicing builds joy. Seems crazy, but that is how God has designed it to work! So, I’m going to choose to rejoice…
Father, in the “whatevers” of life strengthen my choice to rejoice in you by faith.
Readings: Philippians 3, Matthew 24, Matthew 25, Mark 13
“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
“But in fact, it is best for you that I go away, because if I don’t, the Advocate won’t come. If I do go away, then I will send him to you.” -John 16:7
We can read the New Testament and think the Disciples had it great. We think they had it better because Jesus was right there with them. But this verse tells us we have it better than the disciples. The Holy Spirit in us is better than Jesus beside us in this life. Now it is a totally different matter when Jesus returns. Being with Him then will be far better. But in this world – this sin stained world we live in – the Spirit inside us is better because Jesus can be with each of us 24/7, 365. Not only do we have Jesus with us all the time through the Spirit, we also have an Advocate. In other words, every moment of every day the Spirit of God is interceding – advocating for me before God the Father. An Advocate does for us what we are not capable of ourselves. There is something comforting and encouraging about Jesus advocating for me by His Spirit. For, when the Spirit prays, he receives everything he asks because He always prays in accord with God’s will.
Father, I praise you, and will choose to live by faith because you are advocating for me!
Readings: John 16, Galatians 5, Isaiah 58, 2 Chronicles 32
“Yes, the Lord has done amazing things for us! What joy! Restore our fortunes, Lord, as streams renew the desert. Those who plant in tears will harvest with shouts of joy.” -Psalm 126:3-5
Hey, wait a minute! Are not these opposing concepts? How can God do amazing things and yet we need God to restore some things? How can God do amazing things and I have to work at things in tears? Doesn’t the idea of restoring run contrary to amazing? How can working at something with great struggle, pain and tears also be God doing amazing things?
Yet this is right where I am. I live in a world that is held together by tension. God is, has done, is doing and will do amazing things in and around my life. At the same time, I can need God to restore fortunes in an area of my life. My life has the tension of amazing and need. I live the tension of a great, amazing, good God and the tension of restoration in another area. I live with the tension of God doing amazing things, while at the same time life being hard and bringing tears to my eyes and soul. The good news is this amazing God promises such tension will lead to a harvest with joy – i.e. God does something amazing again.
Father, You are amazing, and I trust you will come through in amazing ways where I need You to restore my fortunes. I choose to look forward to the harvest.
Readings: Psalm 126, Psalm 92, Psalm 135, 2 Corinthians 12