Monday, June 30, 2014

Amazing Grace


Amazing Grace:

"But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God." (Acts 20:24)

Today I'd like to draw your attention to the book of Acts, or rather the meaning behind the book of Acts. The book of Acts was written by Luke as a constituent to his Gospel of Luke. You can see his main outline for the book of Luke in Acts 1:1. I'll use the Message version for this particular verse, because it makes this concept a bit easier to grasp.

"Dear Theophilus, in the first volume of this book I wrote on everything that Jesus began to do and teach until the day he said good-bye to the apostles," (Acts 1:1MSG)

If Luke was an account of Jesus's ministry on earth, what then was Acts all about? Why did Luke feel compelled to write a sequel? Well, that is found right in Acts 1:8.

"But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth." (Acts 1:8)

This is what Jesus spoke to the apostles just moments before He was "taken up before their very eyes"(Acts1:9). I like to think that Acts is a recording of the world's first every missionaries. It's all about the growth of the Church and the spreading of the Gospel.

I love what Luke writes in Acts 20:24. It really portrays the whole heart and soul behind his work that's recorded in the book of Acts.

"But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God." (Acts 20:24)

There it is! Did you catch it? The ministry that Luke received straight from Jesus before He ascended into Heaven was what? To testify God's grace!

In the original Greek this phrase of "testifying to" means to devoutly and repeatedly bear witness. It also portrays affirming and declaring the truths of redemption; that is, Jesus's work on the Cross to redeem and restore all mankind.

So, in short, Acts is all about testifying to God's grace through Jesus's sacrificial death and resurrection. I see Acts as a book of evangelical strides. This book writes of the movement of delivering the Gospel of God's Grace to the ends of the earth. Paul and Barnabas actually spoke these very words right in Acts 13:47.

"For this is what the Lord has commanded us: ‘I have made you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.'" (Acts 13:47)

We are the light of the world, delivering the Good News of Grace to all those who are in darkness. It's our mission and our joy to tell of God's AMAZING GRACE! The wonderful saving grace that has covered over us cannot be kept a secret, but must be earnestly and continually announced and proclaimed in freedom to those in captivity.

"The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners," (Isaiah 61:1)

Just like the apostles were instructed to be a light in this world full of dark, we too are called to be deliverers of this message of hope. If you're on fire for Christ and the joy that He has planted in you simply cannot be contained, shout for joy, sing praise, and run about in the most free and delightful manner.

Share in the celebrations, and tell the whole world! Live an "Acts life" and act on this miraculous Good News by spreading the freedom fire. Let the Spirit of the living God burst forth with joy inside your heart. Tell of His amazing grace today my friends! 

Jesus said these words, "to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me." (Acts 26:18)

Sharing is caring, but in the sense of Salvation, sharing is imperative (unfortunately that doesn't rhyme). So don't be shy about sharing God's grace, and that's coming from The INTROVERTED Evangelist! It's just too good to be timid! Be blessed today all.


-The Introverted Evangelist

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Wisdom and Peace


Wisdom and Peace:

"You will keep him in perfect peace, Whose mind is stayed on You, Because he trusts in You." (Isaiah 26:3)

Trust is a learning and healing process. It's important to understand that when we're struggling with doubt, disappointment, and discouragement, God is waiting to catch us. He doesn't search for the prime moment to take all your fears and forsake you with them. God's actions are always rooted in His unfailing love. God works for our good at all times, and that includes times of tribulation.

"And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose." (Romans 8:28)

We're called for His purpose. In a gradual trusting bond, there will be moments that make you feel like you're drowning in an ocean of uncertainty. This is only because we so easily forget where to secure our focus. 

God sees EVERY area of our lives, and in this trusting relationship, He reveals that He's perfectly capable of maintaining those areas. This will, in the long run, provide peace and freedom for our souls. Peace because we can fully believe He will never forsake us in our fears and weaknesses. Freedom because the hands that once gripped those areas with white knuckles are now spread open, palms toward Heaven, and ready to receive God's gracious goodness.

"I will bring the blind by a way they did not know; I will lead them in paths they have not known. I will make darkness light before them, And crooked places straight. These things I will do for them, And not forsake them." (Isaiah 42:16)

Ignore the road behind you. Don't let the misty path ahead intimidate you. Just look up. Look into the heart of God, listen to His joyous laugh, His gentle whispers of hope, and feel His hands guiding you onward. God doesn't need to bring up your past, nor does He desire to do so. He is doing a new and miraculous thing.

"Do not remember the former things, Nor consider the things of old. Behold, I will do a new thing, Now it shall spring forth; Shall you not know it? I will even make a road in the wilderness And rivers in the desert." (Isaiah 43:18-19)

God can accomplish the unthinkable. He can even "make a road in the wilderness and rivers in the desert" by His glorious power and wisdom! It doesn't make sense to us. Our frail human minds cannot comprehend His glorious ways. His wisdom is far too lofty above the fleshly limitations in our minds.

"For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts." (Isaiah 55:9)

We often forget about Isaiah 55:9. We get so caught up in reasoning and what seems logical, that we forget all of the countless times God has done the total opposite of logical or realistic. We serve a God of miracles and wonders! God takes what people think is doomed to occur and He amazes them with His mind-boggling provision.

The best part? We can trust Him to do just that in our own lives. God is with you to protect you from the enemy's assaults, He blesses you with eyes fixed to see and ears tuned to hear, and you'll begin to honestly live in God's precious promises.

"Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the Lord your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you." (Deuteronomy 31:6)

Have faith in God's wisdom, for when you invest in the Lord, trust is built. When trust is built, peace is proliferous. When peace is proliferous, joy is abundant. Don't let the enemy steal this from you. Do not allow one horrible lie from the enemy to derail all the truth that God has established through intimate prayer time and long and trying times that  have proved His faithfulness. Cling to the hand of God, and He will uphold you!

"Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand." (Isaiah 41:10)

Fear NOT. Let this anthem resound loudly throughout your soul. Raise a bold banner in your heart. Our God who graciously gives gifts, can we not trust Him with the things that are important to us? Can't we apply "I will never forsake you" to more than one area of our lives? Declare the truths! Deny the lies! God wants to reveal His faithfulness to you, and in turn, bring you into a new level of freedom.

Walk in continually dependence today. God delights in those who depend on Him. Allow your security to be found in the wondrous wisdom of God, for out of His wisdom and grace all blessing flow. Peace. Joy. Abundance. Walk in them today. God be with you all.


-The Introverted Evangelist

Saturday, June 28, 2014

And It Was Good (Rest Is Good)


And it Was Good:

"Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good. So the evening and the morning were the sixth day." (Genesis 1:31)

The context of this verse, as you may have guessed, is the days of creation. This was during the days when God spoke everything into existence for the very first time.

"You, Lord, in the beginning laid the foundation of the earth, And the heavens are the work of Your hands." (Hebrews 1:10)

The towering trees teeming with vibrant plant life that had never existed before, now grew taller and swayed gracefully. Flowers, herbs, rivers, and more, all this was spoken into existence by the Lord. So what did God do after He reviewed all of His marvellous creation? He rested.

"Thus the heavens and the earth, and all the host of them, were finished. And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done." (Genesis 2:1-2)

God rested. How incredible. No grandeur of miracle showcases, no creating, or working. God simply rested. What does this tell us? We as frail humans tend to tirelessly chase our tails in an aim to do what? Make more money? Accomplish more paperwork? Pay more bills? 

We work to earn, then crash and burn. Sometimes it's far too much for our weak flesh and bones to handle. What do we do? To whom can we turn in order to receive the care and restoration we need? 

You see, God rested. He rested so that we would know that it's okay to need some time to be restored. You can't spell restoration without REST, so we can conclude that the only way to be restored is to begin in rest. Rest in God restores tired and weary souls, and that is good.

"Come to Me, all you who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." (Matthew 11:28)

Are you feeling worn out? Have you worked yourself into a wall of weariness? Is the load too heavy for you to carry any longer? God's here to help, and He's telling you, "It's okay that you can't do this alone. I never meant for you to burden yourself with excess labouring. Come into My Presence and receive the much needed rest for your soul, then you shall be restored."

So today, if you're feeling the strain and stress of being heavy laden, follow God's example (is that really ever a bad choice?) and run into His arms of restoring rest. He will renew your strength.

"But those who wait on the Lord Shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, They shall run and not be weary, They shall walk and not faint." (Isaiah 40:31)

God declared all He'd made to be good. How greatly do you think God considers resting to be? Even the Almighty Maker of the universe took a day to rest and renew, so should you. It's a tough lesson to implement (believe me, I know first hand). But, it's better to rest into restoration than be crushed and, from the shattered bits and pieces, build yourself back up (this way is far more difficult). 

"Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made." (Genesis 2:3)

He rested from ALL HIS WORK, so take as long as you need to spend time with God. Listen to His leading. He will guide you in rest just as He guides you in other areas of life. Everything created by God is good, beautiful, and has a purpose, and friend, that includes restorative rest. Be blessed and renewed today.


-The Introverted Evangelist

Friday, June 27, 2014

All Things Through Him and For Him


All Things Through and for Him:

"For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him." (Colossians 1:16)

I love chemistry. The more I learn, the more in awe I become. How stupendously amazing all of His creation truly is! The way each element of this universe is kept together by the differing behaviours of the trillions upon trillions of electrons is spectacular. This leads me to the next verse in Colossians.

"And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together." (Colossians 1:17)

I must step back and take a breath, because the wonder of it all may feel overwhelming. All this, all of this impeccably crafted nature surrounding was all spoken with the lips of Divinity. One sentence and the beginning of light established, one breath and the heart of man starts beating. How it all glorifies the Lord so effortlessly and elegantly.

Everything is held together by Almighty hands. If God has such care for each and every one of those minuscule electrons, how much more will He take care of the situations in your life that seem to be deteriorating?

If all things are held together by His strong and mighty hands, don't you believe that He can hold you together? That the God of miracles can miraculously keep you in one piece? And not just in one piece, but turn all of these ashes into something beautiful.

"To console those who mourn in Zion, To give them beauty for ashes, The oil of joy for mourning, The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; That they may be called trees of righteousness, The planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified." (Isaiah 61:3)

Through Him. Through Him we discover uncontainable, inextinguishable joy that burns uncontrollably inside our hearts. Because His lovely Spirit inhabits our hearts, there will be no room for mourning. For Him, all of our gloominess and sorrowful days are transformed and renewed to be joyous days filled with praise, and it's all for His glory.

Now can you see yet another side to this verse in Colossians? All things through Him, and all things for Him. All of creation made through Him, and all of creation sings praise for Him. All of our days created by Him, and our sadness transfigured to be gladness for the glory of His Name. Through Him, for Him.

"All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made." (John 1:3)

Without Him, there's simply nothing. No life, no joy. Nothing. Take some time today to look around you and watch the world go on. See how the tree grows slowly but beautifully. Marvel at how the colourful flowers reflect the many beautiful attributes of the Lord, and how the song birds never cease to sing His praise songs morning after morning.

All of nature glorifies You, Lord. All this! It's all because of You, and it's all for You! Sovereign and mighty Father, you make all things beautiful! "He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also He has put eternity in their hearts, except that no one can find out the work that God does from beginning to end."(Ecclesiastes 3:11) Beginning to end.


-The Introverted Evangelist

Thursday, June 26, 2014

In His Image


"Body and soul, I am marvellously made! I worship in adoration—what a creation!" (Psalm 139:14 MSG)

What a creation! God's intricate detail and design of each and every living being on this earth is breathtakingly beautiful. Each human has been touched with the gentle press of His fingers. He has left His mark on you. He has left His unique mark on all of us. Our talents, personalities, and ingenuity reflect the complex and unfathomable depths of all that He is.

"Know that the Lord, He is God; It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; We are His people and the sheep of His pasture." (Psalms 100:3)

People of God. What an incredible title! The One true Almighty has placed His seal of approval, ownership, and protection over each and every one of us.

God holds us close and loves us with a passionate and jealous love. He wants us all to Himself, and is deeply saddened when we flirt with sinfulness that ultimately will end in our destruction.

God protects us valiantly. He always guards us with His mighty strength and power, and will never allow the righteous to be moved (Ps.55:22).

"And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being." (Genesis 2:7)

"So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them." (Genesis 1:27)

Filled with His living Spirit and holy breath of life, and creatively crafted into the likeness of our Mighty Lord. This is who we are. You're not defined by past mistakes, past appearances, or past attitudes. Your lifestyle, clothing, purse brand, or popularity don't make you who you are. God alone has purposed you, and given you irreplaceable worth in Christ.

Now take a moment to revel in this remarkable reality. God, the universe's artist, the ocean's orchestrator, and maker of life, has personally breathed His Spirit of life into you! Yes, all of us contain pieces of His magnificence!

He has given us a reason to be here. Life is not meaningless or worthless or even a waste of time. No, life is jam-packed with purposeful plans! We can arise each morning with joy and hope for the future, because it's who we are in Christ that determines the days ahead. We are delicately designed, deeply destined, and dearly desired. Walk in confidence of who You are in Christ the Lord today, and prepare to be overflowing with confident Jesus-joy!


-The Introverted Evangelist

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Created to Create - June 25th Devotional


Created to Create:

"Then the seventy returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name."” (Luke 10:17)

The Holy Spirit of the Lord takes up residence inside of us. This powerful and mighty force is the source of all we need to victoriously complete every battle. The enemy's arrows cannot penetrate the shield of God covering us.

"Behold, I give you the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you." (Luke 10:19)

Every force that attempts to overthrow us and what God is doing in and through us, will be sorely defeated. The all powerful authority of Christ within our hearts, through the gift of the Holy Spirit, subdues every one of those opposing forces and casts them off.

Amazing feats are accomplished when we work in the Name of Jesus Christ. By our own strength and in the "glory" of our own names, no greatness can ever truly be achieved. There is only One Name that can save, heal, set free, and overcome, and that's Jesus.

"But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ." (1 Corinthians 15:57)

Every battle we face will never be faced alone. Call on Him, and be strengthened.

"I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." (Philippians 4:13)

It's those "all things" that we're striving to attain. We were made for more than timidity and loneliness. We were formed for such a time as this. To get the Word out, and make known, not our own names, but the Name of our Saviour Jesus!

Collect an honouring attitude of ultimate adoration. Create bonds between friends that bring you closer together in the faith. Cultivate courage for times of battle, and bravely wear the spiritual armour and weaponry (Eph.6:10-20).

"Jesus said to him, “If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes.”" (Mark 9:23)

Isn't it great to know that the plan God has predestined for us (Eph.1:11), no matter how grand it is or how small may seem to human understanding, we can accomplish it strongly and victoriously through His strength and great victory. No battle we face shall ever be too brutal that we're overtaken, because God is with us and we're continually protected by Him.

"But the Lord is faithful, who will establish you and guard you from the evil one." (2 Thessalonians 3:3)

So, create a new hope and new determination by surrendering doubt and distrust. Allow the Lord to transform your way of seeing the impossible, because...

"For with God nothing will be impossible." (Luke 1:37)


- The Introverted Evangelist

Photograph taken by: Jon Courville
Edited by: Claire Elizabeth
#vrsly

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Hope (June 24th Devotional)


Hope:

"For we were saved in this hope, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one still hope for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance." (Romans 8:24-25)

With every hour that passes, we're an hour nearer to the coming of the Lord. What eager anticipation wells up within me when I think about it. When I think about seeing my Saviour face to Face, I'm overwhelmed with joy and steadfastly determined hope.

"“And now, Lord, what do I wait for? My hope is in You." (Psalms 39:7)

Let's consider gardening. It's an exciting day when the teensy tiny seeds are first planted into the soil, because you know that there's a whole lot of beautiful fruitful potential in each one of them. Days go by. Sunshine, fresh air, water, and fertiliser work their stuff. Then one day blossoms begin to burst forth, and you know that harvest is soon to come!

Now take the Gospel. Whenever we tell others about Jesus, we're sprinkling the seeds of God's Word. These seeds, just like botanical seeds, are loaded with fruitful potential and beauty. When the seeds of the Gospel reach soil that will be regularly watered, weeded, and basked in the Son-shine (His Presence), flowers begin to bloom and the fruits of the Spirit begin to produce proliferous abundance.

When is harvest you ask? The Day He is coming back!

"looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ," (Titus 2:13)

We hope in God's glory (Col.1:27), we hope for the harvest, and we liberally plant seeds of faith wherever we walk. We're gardeners of hope! A chosen people! God has given us the joyous mission to go out and share this hope with as many people as possible!

Radiate with joyful hope today my friends. It is health to your spirit to continually be full of gladness. Be blessed.

- The Introvered Evangelist

Monday, June 23, 2014

Draw Near


Draw Near:

"Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." (Matthew 11:28)

Monday mornings can be difficult. The weekend is over, and it's time to get back to work. The burdens pile back on high, and before you know it, you're burnt out yet again.

In Matthew chapter eleven Jesus tells us to come to Him when we're weighed down by strenuous burdens. He doesn't tell us to work, work, work ourselves into the ground in order to EARN one day of resting.

We are to be still and know that He is God (Psalms 46:10), cast our burdens onto Him because He cares about us (1Peter 5:7), and receive renewed strength (Isaiah 40:31) to more-than-conquer the challenges each day (Romans 8:37).

You might ask, "Well how do I find a place to be still with all this chaotic stress buzzing around me?" This is a good question best answered with Scripture, but then again isn't every question?

"And He said, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”" (Exodus 33:14)

In the Lord's Presence. This is where We find our much needed rest. When we draw near to Him in ultimate intimacy and desperate desire for the heart of God, He hears those heart cries and responds with rest and peace that ONLY He can provide.

"and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus." (Philippians 4:7)

When we draw near to Him, He also restores joy and gladness to our spirits. God doesn't intend for us to live our lives crushed by tasks that "must be done" and ruled by the ticking clock. He doesn't want us living tired and worn lives. He sees us breaking down under these burdens and it breaks His heart. He desires ultimate and unshakable joy for us, not just when we enter eternal life, but right now here on earth too.

"You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore." (Psalms 16:11)

"Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, And uphold me by Your generous Spirit." (Psalms 51:12)

"Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit." (Romans 15:13)

It's simple. Draw near to the Lord, and He will fill you with divine joy, hope, and strength. Through Him we're always victorious, so no case of the mundane Monday morning blues can defeat us.

Draw near and desert fear. Abandon your stress, receive joyfulness.


- The Introverted Evangelist