Clear Conscience

There are very few things greater than the ability to lay your head down on your pillow at night knowing that you gave a hard day’s work for a hard day’s pay. It’s a great accomplishment to lay down knowing that our relationships with people are right and, most importantly, that our relationship with Jesus is right. On the other hand, it is extremely difficult to have peace, or it should be difficult to have peace, if any those are out of whack.

In the book of Acts the Apostle Paul was arrested and standing trial for charges that were not true. The Jews claimed that he was stirring up trouble, profaning the temple, and causing riots among the people. As Paul defends himself, he simply says that none of that is true and in verse 16 of chapter 24 Paul says these words. “So I always take pains to have a clear conscience toward both God and man.”

Paul knew that people were always going to be saying something about him that wasn’t true. He knew that his enemies were always looking for a reason to accuse him. Yet, at the end of the day it really didn’t matter what people thought or said. He knew that his conscience was clear with God first and then with man. Isn’t that the challenge for all of us that are followers of Jesus?  Not to get caught up in what people think or say, but to know in our own hearts, to know what is really true and right. If we can say that our conscience is clear between God and man than we can know at the end of the day our true Judge will vindicate us and make all things right.

So, let me end with this question, is your conscience clear between God and man? If not, it’s never too late to ask God to forgive you and help you to move forward. Peace and a clear conscience are only a prayer away.



Provoked

What is it that gets your blood boiling? There may be many things for some and for others nothing really gets you fired up. There are those who get provoked by things like shopping carts just being left in the parking lot and not put in a corral.  Then there are people who get provoked when they see people being mistreated, social injustice, or political corruption.

I suppose we all have those things that can push our button and send us off to the moon. In my devotions this morning in Acts chapter 17 I was reading about the Apostle Paul. Paul left Silas and Timothy to head to Athens. While he was waiting on his friends to catch up to him, he began to walk the city of Athens and he noticed idols everywhere. Acts 17:16 tells us that his spirit was being provoked within him. Seeing all these false gods people were putting their trust in bothered him greatly.

Now the difference between Paul and most of us is that when we are provoked in the spirit, we just kind of grumble or we post on Facebook, tweet, snapchat, or whatever our mode of venting may be. Rarely are we so provoked in our spirit that we are willing to really do anything about it.

Paul took all he could stands, he could stands no more (hope you get the reference and don’t just think its bad grammar). He went directly to the synagogues and the marketplace and began to reason with the God-fearing Jews and Gentiles about what was going on around them. This began to stir up the rest of the community and it gave Paul a great audience to speak to about the hope that is in Jesus Christ. As we read this text, we see that not very many really took what Paul had to say to heart, but some did.

The point is not the results, but that Paul could not just sit back and see people continue down a path of destruction without trying to do something. Maybe what our community needs more of are provoked Christians that don’t just post from behind a desk but are willing to make the stand and speak truth to people face to face; to get uncomfortable for the things that are godly provocations.

 



Being Ready

Do you remember back when you were in elementary school and all the fire and tornado drills that you had to do? Some of you may even remember the whole duck and cover under the desk during the height of the cold war just in case of a nuclear attack. Although I’m not sure how well the desk would protect from a nuke, I guess it was better than doing nothing.

We practiced these drills periodically so if the need would ever occur, we could escape the danger that was at hand. I was doing my devotions in Acts chapter 10 and looking at Peter getting the opportunity to share the gospel with a guy by the name of Cornelius and his household. He was not really prepared for what the Lord was about to throw at him. Poor Peter was about to find out that the gospel was for everyone including the gentiles.

Then I asked myself this question, “I wonder how many followers of Jesus practice and prepare for surprise encounters with those who need hope in Jesus Christ?” My fear is that most don’t even look for such an opportunity, let alone practice and prepare.  It’s just not even on our radar. We never know when the Lord may send someone in our path, and I know the last thing we want is to be unprepared.  So, the first thing we need to do is desire to share the gospel. Second, prepare by doing our drills, know what Jesus has done for you, and what is needed for salvation to occur in someone’s life.

Because truthfully this is a whole lot more important than a fire or tornado drill.



Keys

Keys are important. They can open things that are locked, and they can lock up things we don’t want anyone to get to. Keys signify authority. If you have keys, you have access to things and responsibility to whatever those keys represent. In Revelation 1:18 Jesus tells us this. Do not be afraid; I am the first and the last, and the living One; and I was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of death and of Hades.” (Rev 1:17-18)

This is the greatest news that man could ever hear. The thing that scares man the most our Lord has the keys to, and Jesus has authority over. Anybody or everybody that reads this has had people that we love leave this world to go on to the next. Yet, because of not just the cross, but because Jesus rose from the grave the victory He has over the grave is our victory as well.

Jesus promised us in John chapter 14 that He was going to prepare a place for us and if He was going to prepare a place for us, He would come again and get us so where He is, we will be also. So, those loved ones that were saved and made Jesus Lord of their lives and have gone on before us, we will all be together again. It’s always about who has the keys. Do you know the One who holds those keys?



Fire

This year Old Town Hill has begun our year long theme about being watchmen. That is to be in the tower or on the wall and cry out warning to impending danger. So, this past Sunday we had to preach upon the impending danger for all who do not have a relationship with Jesus. This danger that Jesus explains to us is called hell. A place of wailing and gnashing of teeth. It’s an eternal flame that burns and brings horrible pain that never ends.

Yet Jesus speaks of another fire. In Luke 12:49, I have come to cast fire upon the earth; and how I wish it were already kindled! Jesus is speaking about judgment and purification and was looking forward to the day that it would all be accomplished.

Yes, Jesus came to save, but in doing so He has brought the only way to salvation and sanctification. Jesus also taught that the way to salvation was narrow and few would find it. That is why the call to be watchmen is the greatest call that can be placed upon a believer. That flame burns in us and it is a wonderful privilege to be a part of spreading this flame of truth, love, and hope.  Allow the zeal of the Lord and Savior to burn and bring change to the world around you.



Armor-Bearer

Sunday evenings we have been in the book of I Samuel and this past Sunday evening we looked at a great text in Chapter 14. We see the prince of Israel, a guy by the name of Jonathan, and his armor bearer sneak out of camp to go to battle. His Dad, the king, was chilling out under a pomegranate tree.

Now it’s easy to focus on the bravery of Jonathan and his willingness to face the enemy. We also see his great faith in God. In verse 6 Jonathan says “Come on, let’s cross over to the garrison of these uncircumcised men. Perhaps the Lord will help us. Nothing can keep the Lord from saving, whether by many or by few.” Jonathan wasn’t alone. We see someone with Jonathon whose name we are never told. We only know him as Jonathan’s armor bearer.

There seems to be more to this armor bearer than just obligation to be with Jonathan. There is a genuine trust and companionship. In the next verse the armor bearer replies, “Do what is in your heart. You choose. I’m right here with you whatever you decide.”

As I thought about this the Lord spoke to me with a great conviction. There are those who are called to be Jonathan’s, to lead, and to be courageous. Then there has to be the armor bearers, those who stick closer than a brother, who are willing to stand beside and take part in the victories that come to the faithful. I don’t always have to be a Jonathan, but there is great honor in being an armor bearer.

I believe what the church needs is more armor bearers. Those that may look at you and think to themselves, “this cat is crazy, but I’m going to stick by their side and see what the Lord will do.”

What we see is that not only do Jonathan and the armor bearer have a victory over 20 of the enemy, but it opens the door of faith and the Lord gives the nation of Israel a great victory as they route the Philistines all because of the faith of a prince and his armor bearer.