Monday, June 8, 2015

Living Boldly for Jesus

I grab my coffee cup and fill it until it's about to overflow. I sip slowly as not to spill any of it's goodness. I clean off the kitchen table of just folded clothes and set my Bible down. I open it to the ribbon marker that has kept my spot in Acts. I have been reading and rereading this book over the last month. Each time I read it I glean something new to chase my heart into motion after a God who created me for more than what this world offers. 

I'm reading about the disciples and the cost of following Christ. For some reason we sit back in our comfy chairs today with our feet kicked up and think they had life easier than we do. Are times really so different? Ponder that before you answer. My first answer was, of course times are different today. We are different, but after reading and pondering the Word, I have a different answer. 

Once Jesus ascended into heaven and the Holy Spirit came upon them they grew as disciples. They were emboldened and strengthened as never before. They faced surmountable obstacles, but nothing ever kept them from believing! Stonings, floggings, and prison. They were willing to give all they had for their Savior. They knew there was more than what this world offered.  They were filled with the Holy Spirit. They knew their mission. They were to spread the gospel and to love those in this world with a love that only comes from a Jesus of grace, love, and redemption. 

Our mission is no different today. If anything it's easier for us today, but for some reason we make it so much more difficult than it really is. Our biggest issue? We don't want to offend people. How offensive will it be when at the end of this age those we never spoke to about Jesus one day stand and ask us, "Why didn't you tell me?" 

We call ourselves Christians. We attend church. We get involved and we do charity work of all kinds. But yet we don't talk to our neighbors. We leave our family alone because we don't want to rock the boat. We don't share with co-workers because we can't take the chance on losing our job. We skip out on sharing with friends because, well, we want to keep them. We definitely don't want strangers thinking we're off our rockers. 

We live in a world of busy. We live in a me world. I think there are times when the world might even question if I'm a Christian. We are so fascinated with moving forward in today's standards of happiness that we forget what this life, our life, is all about. It's not about me. It's not about you. It's about Jesus. Without Him what is there? Without Him at some point our last breath comes and what do we have? A life lived for what? A legacy that states what about us? 

When I read about the lives of the disciples I see men and women who gave all. They lived love. They didn't just go about a motion of daily activities and wait for the weekend to arrive. They shared Jesus in many ways. If the world around them were to look into their lives they would have been found guilty as charged as being a Christian. Would the same be said about us today? What are we willing to give up for Jesus? 

What we don't really want to give up is our comfort. We don't want to be inconvenienced. We don't want to give up our time. Sure, we give some. We do some. But in the end we often wonder, what's in it for me? Where's my spotlight, my pat on the back for all the work I'm doing? Will anyone even notice and if they do will they appreciate all I am doing?

Bottom line. We are to live our lives for the audience of One. It doesn't matter how many thank you's we receive or if anyone even counts us as valuable. Because we are valued to the One who created us for greatness and glory! The work we do does matter when we are doing what He has called us to do and doing it for Him and no other reason. 

The disciples moved about to the voice of God. He spoke and they listened. They were in tune with their Savior. We are too busy to listen to someone else try to direct our lives, when in fact we know exactly what we want to accomplish. If we could only get it through our heads that it isn't about our accomplishments. It's all about Him. 

When we live for Him and not this world things our lives change. We come to realize what's really of importance. We need to love people enough to offend them. I'm not speaking about walking around judging others and telling people how they ought to be living. God is in the saving/changing business. We are to be in the people business. We are to be living in such a way that our lives make an impact on others just by witness. 

To love doesn't mean to be a doormat. The disciples stood up for themselves. They knew when to speak and when to remain silent. We have to remember they too were sinners saved by grace. Love means standing up for those who cannot stand for themselves. Love is making a difference. It's sacrificing our comforts and easy going lives to stand up and be ready to follow the call of Christ. 

As I close my Bible I ponder the disciples and the lives they lived. I want to be that kind of disciple ready to give up my comfort and ease for a life well pleasing to God. I want to walk those dusty roads and meet people face to face with a loving hello and mean it. I want my feet and hands to be calloused of doing God's work. The work that He has called me to do. That doesn't mean I over extend myself. I've done that and it is exhausting.

Sometimes that work is right here at home. Sometimes it's giving my own time to care for my mom. Sometimes it's putting my plans on standby when my children need me. It's getting the toilets cleaned and the wood floors shined. My work isn't always outside my door. I need to remember to pay as much attention to what's right in front of my face as I do the calling outside of my door. Sometimes the work will be fun and exciting and other times it may feel like nothing is moving in the right direction at all. But see, what I'm learning is that being a disciple of Christ is simply listening to His voice and following in obedience. 

Friends, if we have received Christ as Savior we have the Holy Spirit within us. We can live empowered lives through Christ. There's nothing we have to fear. I want to live a bold a life. Not just behind the computer screen, but in my day to day life as I meet others. I want to speak with wisdom and move with grace. This can't happen on my own, but the more I allow Christ of my life, the more I will witness His glory. And right now, nothing seems impossible! 

"Just one thing: Live your life in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ." Philippians 1:27a


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