March 31st, 2012
“For two whole years Paul stayed there (Rome) in his own rented house and welcomed all who came to see him. He proclaimed the Kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ – with all boldness and without hindrance!” – Acts 28:30-31 (NIV)
The apostle Paul was taken to Rome under arrest – to be put “on trial” – and he ended up turning Rome upside down by proclaiming the Kingdom of God! The evidence of his influence is the fact that Rome is now the “headquarters” of the church in the Roman Catholic tradition. That’s remarkable! May we have that kind of influence in our community!
One of the unique things about the Book of Acts (The Acts of the Apostles) is the way it abruptly ends with the verses above. There is no grand conclusion – no summary comments – no postscript. Why does it end this way – so inconclusively? Perhaps the Acts of the Apostles didn’t end here! The story of the church isn’t complete!
We are still writing HIStory for the church!
That’s what The LifeChange Project is about – writing HIStory in our time – reaching up, reaching around, and reaching out in the love of Christ – locally, regionally, nationally, globally!
I’m looking forward to what God wants to do through us as we help write HIStory - WRITE ON!
March 30th, 2012
“When a gentle southerly breeze came up, they weighed anchor, thinking it would be smooth sailing. But they were no sooner out to sea than a gale-force wind, the infamous nor’easter, struck. They lost control of the ship.” – Acts 27:13-15 (The Message)
At times things look smoother than they end up being! The storms of life can come and wreck our plans!
As a sailor myself, I’ve learned to be careful about making assumptions about the wind. The Holy Spirit is compared to the wind in scripture – unpredictable but powerful! I’ve learned a good deal about the Spirit of God from the wind! When I’m sailing, all I can do is “adjust my sails” to the conditions of the wind – when I do that, I can more forward in the power of the wind!
Sometimes the storms come – but with God’s Spirit – we can even sail through the storms!
May we, like the apostle Paul, lean on God in times of trouble – and keep sailing on!
March 29th, 2012
King Agrippa interrupted him, “Do you think you can make me a Christian so quickly?” Paul replied, “Whether quickly or not, I pray to God that both you and everyone here in this audience might become the same as I am, except for these chains.” - Acts 26:28-29
As Paul was being “tried” in court, he gave a stirring defense of his faith! He turned the court proceedings into a testimony for God’s power! He was ‘witnessing’ to the judge! Amazing!
Paul was turning these obstacles into opportunities! He was taking lemons and making lemonade!
There are times in our lives when the tables get turned on us, and we wonder what we can do. Perhaps we can be as clever as Paul and turn those obstacles into opportunities for God to show up in our lives!
We are encouraged in scripture to be prepared “in season” and “out of season” to handle the Word of truth (2 Timothy 4:2) and to always be ready to give an account for the reason we have hope! (1 Peter 3:15)
Are you ready to make a case for your faith?
March 28th, 2012
“If, however, I am guilty of doing anything deserving death, I do not refuse to die. But if the charges brought against me by these Jews are not true, no one has the right to hand me over to them. I appeal to Caeser!” – Acts 25:11 (NIV)
The Jewish leaders were trying to find a way to “legally” hinder the spread of the gospel of God’s grace and they made threats and incited riots to try to stop Paul and the other apostles from speaking about Jesus. They asked the Roman authorities to arrest them to avoid the “riots” they had incited themselves and even sought to have the apostles put to death for “violating” their customs & laws.
Ironically, Paul was most likely going to be released by the Roman governor, who could find no legal reason to convict him of any wrongdoing, but Paul made an appeal. Unknown to many, Paul was a Roman citizen by birth, and so he appealed his case to the highest courts in Rome. This appeal allowed Paul to go to Rome, which had been one of his desires, but his appeal made it possible for him to get FREE transportation to Rome and an audience with important leaders once he arrived! This is what allowed Paul to preach the gospel in Rome! In the end, this was an ingenious move to fulfill God’s call on his life! (see Romans 1:10)
Sometimes we need to think “outside of the box” – and allow God to use the unexpected to accomplish the nearly impossible! God can work through people who are ill-equipped by completely surrendered to him – like the stuttering Moses who gave a stirring speech to Pharaoh – or the unwed couple who experienced an unexpected pregnancy and went to Bethlehem to register for a census and had a baby in a manger! God can even work through an oppressive government and an imperfect court system!
What might God want to do through you and me?
Let’s make an appeal for His will to be done!
March 27th, 2012
“It is concerning the resurrection of the dead that I am on trial before you today.”
- Acts 24:21
When we follow Jesus – we may face trials! My prayer is that as we face those trials, we will remain true to our faith and to the God who called us!
The apostle Paul was “tried and true” – he was in and out of prisons and trials – but he was faithful! In fact, his faithfulness led others to faith in Christ and the discovery of God’s amazing grace!
I’ve been reflecting recently on the “trials” of life – accidents, diseases, tragedies – I don’t think God creates any of these, so I’m not sure God uses tragic events to impact our lives – but I do believe God uses faithful people who walk with grace through the trials of life! I don’t know that God “uses” cancer – but I know that God uses people who have cancer! I don’t think God uses “natural disasters” – but God uses people who have experienced natural disasters!
I’ve heard it said this way, “It’s not what happens TO you - it is what happens IN you that really matters!”
LORD, work through us as we walk through trials – that we might be ‘tried & true’ for you!
March 26th, 2012
“May brothers, I have fulfilled my duty to God in all good conscience to this day.”
– Acts 23:1 (NIV)
Are you “fulfilled” in your life?
The Apostle Paul was faithful to God’s call on his life – but it was not easy! He was falsely imprisoned, often threatened, and very fulfilled!! It certainly doesn’t sound like an easy life – but a fulfilled one.
My friend Tom who leads the ministry in Haiti which we partner with has a similar story – here are some of his recent reflections. A faithful life is a fulfilling life!
When we are ‘faithful’ to God’s call – we are more ‘fruitful’ and more ‘fulfilled’ – so instead of seeking to live an ‘easy life’ we would be wise to seek to live a ‘faithful life’ instead!
March 25th, 2012
Check out this video of Bart Arnold as he shares about LifeChange.
March 24th, 2012
When it was clear that we couldn’t persuade him, we gave up and said,
“The Lord’s will be done.” – Acts 21:14 (NLT)
“The Lord’s will be done!” Sometimes that means, “my will be un-done.”
Paul’s story is an inspiring account of a life changed by God’s grace! God changed Paul from being a persecutor of Christians to a proclaimer of the Christian message of grace! It impacted his life so much that he was compelled to share his story, and God’s grace, with everyone he could.
My story is not the same as Paul’s – but God’s grace has been just as great in my life! Amazing grace!
Sometimes I want “my will” to be done. But God’s will is greater than my will – and God’s wisdom is greater than my wisdom. So – I have to decide if I’m willing to surrender to God’s will. In the end, I would rather fulfill God’s plan, and not just my own plans. This is true in regards to my family relationships, finances, every area of life!
God’s plans for Paul were not easy – but they were good! His life was changed – but it cost him! In the end, his life made a significant difference – because he chose to follow God’s plan! In fact, God used Paul to change the world!
You may have plans that are different from God’s plans – which way will you pray?
Jesus taught us to pray, “Thy Will Be Done! Thy Kingdom Come!”
March 23rd, 2012
“But my life is worth nothing to me unless I use it for finishing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus – the work of telling others the Good News about the wonderful grace of God.” – Acts 20:24 (NLT)
I want to finish well!
The apostle Paul’s words are inspiring to me – I too want to finish the work assigned to me by the Lord Jesus – which is part of why I’m excited about The LifeChange Project!
I’ve shared a number of times at Sonrise, that one of my desires at the end of my life is to hear the Lord say to me, “Well done … good and faithful servant!” (see Matthew 25: 23) In the past year my anticipation of that day moved much closer to reality!
One of my prayers as I was recovering from brain surgery and cancer treatments this past year was that I might be able to help lead Sonrise into this next season of ministry – to lead the church that I’ve given 25 years of my life serving to an even greater position for the future - free of any debt and focused on making an eternal difference!
By God’s grace, my prayers have been answered to this point, and Kathy and I are honored to be giving the biggest financial gift of our lives to The LifeChange Project!
At the end of our lives, what will matter most is not the “things” we have acquired, but the “people” we have touched and the “investments” we’ve made for eternal matters. I will never regret the resources I’ve given to the work of God through the local church! These are the best financial transactions I have ever made!
I’m not finished yet … but when I do, I want to finish well! I would invite you to join me!
I would also invite you to join me today for another “Fast Friday” – in “fasting & prayer” to seek God’s will for your life and for our church! This Sunday we will offer our financial commitments to The LifeChange Project – and I am praying that our offerings will be pleasing in God’s sight! I am praying for you today as well!
March 22nd, 2012
Here is a video update on The LifeChange Project from Stan and Scott.