Sunday, May 29, 2011

Recovery Devotional 358 Outrageous Expectations

JMD Devotional 358 Acts 26:18-29 Outrageous Expectations

To open their eyes that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may thus receive forgiveness and release from their sins and a place and portion among those who are consecrated and purified by faith in Me. Wherefore, O King Agrippa, I was not disobedient unto the heavenly vision, but made known openly first of all to those at Damascus, then at Jerusalem and throughout the whole land of Judea, and also among the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, and do works and live lives consistent with and worthy of their repentance. Because of these things the Jews seized me in the temple [enclosure] and tried to do away with me. [But] to this day I have had the help which comes from God [as my ally], and so I stand here testifying to small and great alike, asserting nothing beyond what the prophets and Moses declared would come to pass-- that the Christ (the Anointed One) must suffer and that He, by being the first to rise from the dead, would declare and show light both to the [Jewish] people and to the Gentiles.

And as he thus proceeded with his defense, Festus called out loudly, Paul, you are mad! Your great learning is driving you insane! But Paul replied, I am not mad, most noble Festus, but I am uttering the straight, sound truth. For the king understands about these things well enough, and [therefore] to him I speak with bold frankness and confidence. I am convinced that not one of these things has escaped his notice, for all this did not take place in a corner [in secret].
King Agrippa, do you believe the prophets? [Do you give credence to God's messengers and their words?] I perceive and know that you do believe. Then Agrippa said to Paul, You think it a small task to make a Christian of me [just offhand to induce me with little ado and persuasion, at very short notice]. And Paul replied, Whether short or long, I would to God that not only you, but also all who are listening to me today, might become such as I am, except for these chains.

In one sense, it seems outrageous to expect people to make a decision altering the course of their life based on a brief presentation of the Gospel. A reasonable response is to demand evidence, and to critically review the messenger and the message, to give the proposal a full examination. However, many people have already inoculated themselves against the Gospel as something that would interfere with their ‘lifestyle’. They profess that the Truth is unknowable (thanks to godless ‘scholars’, unbelieving ‘theologians’ and other wolves in sheep’s clothing promoting doubt). They claim it is a credibility issue; but it is really a moral issue: they won’t acknowledge a God who would interfere with their choices. The irony is that this same population makes foolish choices and life altering decisions every day based on 30 second commercials they know are designed to separate them from their money through mostly unsupported ‘truths’. If they will invest their life’s savings in worm farming based upon what a stranger in an advertisement says, we might as well be doing some advertising ourselves, and be ready to back up our claims. Cast many seeds, water and weed the minority that sprout, tend the very few that reach maturity.

Dear God,
Help us to faithfully witness to a world that does not want to hear our Message. Our relationship to You and our knowledge of the consequences demand that we be witnesses. Silence is deadly.

All (but*) quotes are from The Amplified Bible, published by
the Lockman Foundation. (AMP)
Copyright © 1954, 1958, 1962, 1964, 1965, 1987 by The Lockman Foundation
*New International Version (NIV)
Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society
**Scripture taken from The Message. Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group. (Eugene Peterson's easy-to-read, contemporary Scripture translation)

I originally produced these blogs between 2006 and 2007, which were then published in my book, JMD Recovery Devotionals. In 2010, I am sending these out to a few people as I review them and see if my point of view has changed.

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