SPEAKING THE RIGHT LANGUAGE

Is it actually possible – in a world that doesn’t seem to care that much about Jesus- to share Him with our friends at school? Or our family at home?

One way to connect with people who have nothing to do with Jesus is to speak the ‘right language’. We do this by talking about Jesus in ways our friends will understand and connect with. Whether our friends are talking about the celebrities they’re following, the films they’ve seen, music they’re listening to or school classes they’re struggling with, we can join in. If we’re kind and not judging, our friends may open up to us more.

And we need to remember that Jesus is not an idea or theory. He is our God, making a difference in our lives right now. So if He has changed the way we think about something our friends are talking about, we can share it. Let’s open ourselves up to them, rather than hiding the most important part of us!

Paul gave us an example of this in Acts 17. While visiting Athens, he spoke to the people there by quoting their own poets. He used them as a starting point for talking about God. He said, “For in him we live and move and have our being.’ As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring’ “. Just as Paul talked about what interested those people as a way to introduce Jesus, we too can find ways to make Him part of our conversations.

WE SHOULDN’T BE ABLE TO TALK ABOUT OURSELVES WITHOUT TALKING ABOUT JESUS.

PERFECT FIT ?

Too long. Too short. Too big. Too small. Too tight. Too loose. I can never seem to find any clothes to fit me well.

Finding a church that’s the ‘perfect fit’ is just as hard. Every church has something that’s not quite right. Maybe the people all seem old. We’re not given a chance to take part. Our sense of humour is misunderstood. Certain attitudes, people or styles make us uncomfortable. We feel as if we don’t fit. We struggle to find our place.

We know, however, that God wants us to fit together with one another. Paul said we are being “built together to become a dwelling in which God lives”(EPH. 2:22).

The Christians in the church today, like the temple in the days of Solomon, are where God lives on earth. God wants us to fit together – for there to be no splits in His church. This means that we, the building blocks, are to be “perfectly united in mind and thought”

No church will be a perfect fit, but we can all work at fitting together more perfectly.

THE CHURCH IS ONE BODY – NOT MANY.

A NEW NAME

In the article “Leading by Naming,” Mark Labberton wrote about the power of a name. He said : “I can still feel the impact of a musical friend who one day called me ‘musical.’ No one had ever called me that. I didn’t really play an instrument. I was no soloist. Yet . . . I instantly felt known and loved . . . [He] noticed, validated, and appreciated something deeply true about me.”

Perhaps this is what Simon felt when Jesus renamed him. After Andrew was convinced that Jesus was the Messiah, he immediately found his brother Simon and brought him to Jesus (JOHN 1: 41-42). Jesus peered into his soul and validated and appreciated something deeply true about Simon. Yes, Jesus saw the failure and impetuous nature that would get him into trouble. But more than that He saw the potential of Simon to become a leader in the church. Jesus named him Cephas – Aramaic for Peter – a rock (JOHN 1:42; MATT. 16:18).

And so it is with us. God sees our pride, anger, and lack of love for others, but He also knows who we are in Christ. He calls us justified and reconciled (ROM. 5:9-10); forgiven, holy, and beloved (COL. 2:13; 3:12); chosen and faithful. Remember how God sees you and seek to let that define who you are.

NO ONE CAN STEAL YOUR IDENTITY IN CHRIST.

GETTING UP & STARTING AGAIN

Are you feeling down today? Are you fed up because of something that happened yesterday? Did you have a fight or do something stupid?

There is something worse than making mistakes – it’s not moving on from them. Many people mess things up and fall down, without being able to pick themselves up. But that’s not the case with Christians. Though we sometimes do things wrong and get knocked down, we have Someone to lift us up and put us back on our feet – every time.

John wrote, “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves”. But here’s the good news: “I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have the Father – Jesus Christ, the Righteous one”.

Tell God where you’ve gone wrong. Don’t stress over it, but confess it. Before Jesus died for us, He knew that we would continue to struggle with sin, so He made sure His sacrifice would be “once for all”.

Make a fresh start each day by taking time to tell God where you’ve messed up, to admit your mistakes and to ask Him for His strength to do what He wants you to do. As you rely on His love and forgiveness, you will soon know what victory really is!

SUCCESS ISN’T ABOUT NEVER FALLING DOWN – IT’S GETTING BACK UP WHEN YOU DO.

FAITH TESTING TIMES

During an interview, singer and songwriter Meredith Andrews spoke about being overwhelmed as she tried to balance outreach, creative work, marital issues, and motherhood. Reflecting on her distress, she said, “I felt like God was taking me through a refining season, almost through a crushing process.”

Job was overwhelmed after losing his livelihood, his health, and his family. Worse still, although Job had been a daily worshipper of God, he felt that the Lord was ignoring his pleas for help. God seemed absent from the landscape of his life. Job claimed he could not see God whether he looked to the north, south, east, or west.

In the middle of his despair, Job had a moment of clarity. His faith flickered to life like a candle in a dark room.

Christians are tried and purified when God uses difficulty to burn away our self-reliance, pride, and earthly wisdom. If it seems as if God is silent during this process and He is not answering our cries for help, He may be giving us an opportunity to grow stronger in our faith.

Pain and problems can produce the shining, rock-solid character that comes from trusting God when life is hard.

FAITH-TESTING TIMES CAN BE FAITH-STRENGTHENING TIMES.

15 MINUTE CHALLENGE – Dr. CHARLES W. ELIOT

Dr. Charles W. Eliot, longtime president of Harvard University, believed that ordinary people who read consistently from the world’s great literature for even a few minutes a day could gain a valuable education. In 1910, he compiled selections from books of history, science, philosophy, and fine art into fifty volumes called The Harvard Classics. Each set of books included Dr. Eliot’s Reading Guide titled “Fifteen Minutes A Day” containing recommended selections of eight to ten pages for each day of the year.

Fifteen minutes a day adds up to ninety-one hours a year. But for whatever amount of time we decide to read the Bible each day, consistency is the secret and the key ingredient is not perfection but persistence. If we miss a day or a week, we can start reading again. As the Holy Spirit teaches us, God’s Word moves from our minds to our hearts, then to our hands and feet – taking us beyond education to transformation.

“Teach me,LORD, the way of your decrees, that I may follow it to the end”

THE BIBLE IS THE ONLY BOOK WHOSE AUTHOR IS ALWAYS PRESENT WHEN IT IS READ.

JEPHTHAH

“Where are you from?” We sometimes use that question to get to know others better. But for many of us, the real answer can be a bit complicated. Sometimes we don’t want to share all the details of our past.

In the book of Judges, Jephthah might not have wanted to answer that question at all. His half-brothers had chased him out of his hometown of Gilead for his ‘questionable’ start in life. “You are the son of another woman,” they said. And we’re told even more bluntly: “His mother was a prostitute”.

But Jephthah was a natural leader, and when another tribe picked a fight with Gilead, the people who had sent him packing suddenly wanted him back. “Be our commander,” they said. Jephthah asked, “Didn’t you hate me and drive me from my father’s house?”. After they promised that things would be different, he agreed to lead them. The Bible tells us that “the Spirit of the LORD came on Jephthah”. Through his trust in God, he led them to a great victory. The New Testament even lists him as a hero of the faith.

God often seems to choose the unlikeliest people to do His work! It doesn’t matter where we’re from, how we got here or what we’ve done. What matters is that we trust Him and rely on His love and leading.

MANY WHO ARE FIRST WILL BE LAST, AND MANY WHO ARE LAST WILL BE FIRST.MATTHEW 19:30

STRENGTH IN SUFFERING

CHRIST SUFFERED FOR YOU, LEAVING YOU AN EXAMPLE, THAT YOU SHOULD FOLLOW IN HIS STEPS.

When eighteen year old Sammy trusted Jesus as his Saviour, his family rejected him. But the christian community and church welcomed him, encouraging him and paying for his education. Later, when his story was printed in a magazine, he received more hatred and attacks from his family.

But Sammy did not stop seeing his family. He visited whenever he could and talked with his dad, even though his brothers and sisters tried to stop him taking part in family events. When his dad got sick, Sammy looked after him, praying he would get well. When God healed him, the family began to warm up towards Sammy. Over time, his attitude of love and forgiveness changed their view towards him- and some of his family even became willing to hear about Jesus.

Our decision to follow Jesus may cause us problems. Peter wrote: “It is commendable if someone bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because they are conscious of God”. When we go through pain or suffering because of our life with Jesus, we do so because “Christ suffered for us, leaving us an example, that we should follow his steps”.

Even when others insulted and hated Jesus, “he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly”. Jesus is our example in suffering. We can turn to Him for the strength to continue.

WHEN WE SUFFER FOR JESUS, HE COMES TO WALK US THROUGH IT.

THE JOY OF SERVICE – Arnold Schwarzenegger

Today everything is in front of you – a whole new life with new goals and fresh dreams.

I remember the goal that I had about accomplishing the great American dream – of doing wonderful things in the movie business, becoming a great actor, a man who makes millions of dollars at the box office, I wanted to conquer Hollywood and the business world. I wanted to build real estate empires and restaurant chains.

I can tell you that on the way to achieving my dreams, moving up and turning those visions into reality, I had the most wonderful time, the most incredible experiences, and the greatest joys that you can imagine.

But, I can say that there is no joy like giving back to the community. I consider my biggest accomplishments to be those things I have done for the community. I love the feeling that I get each time I travel around the country promoting health and fitness for our youth. I also love going to the inner cities and inspiring kids to get off the streets and to get away from the violence and crime, and to say no to drugs, no to guns, no to gangs and say yes to education, yes to hope, yes to life. I love the feeling that I have when I help the special Olympians. My greatest joys come when I put time and effort back into the community.

A person’s life is judged by how it touches the lives of others. It is what we leave behind, and how much positive effect we have and how much we help others, especially those who can’t help themselves.

To have great joy, you must follow the philosophy of the strong helping the weak, the rich helping the poor, and the fortunate helping the less fortunate.

I have followed that philosophy, because I have been very blessed: I have been given much from God; I have been given much from this great nation; I have been given much from my parents, friends, and from other people who helped me get to the place where I am today.

I have learned that the right decision is one that helps and serves others. I want to quote the wonderful man who started the Peace Corps. He also happens to be my father-in-law, Sergeant Shriver. He said, “Serve, serve, serve. For in the end it is the servant who will save us all.”

Arnold Schwarzenegger, a former Mr. Universe, is a well known fitness enthusiast and actor.

A TREASURE TO BE SHARED

In March 1974, Chinese farmers were digging a well when they made a surprising discovery: Buried under the dry ground of the central China was the Terracotta Army – life-size terracotta sculptures that dated back to the third century BC.

In this extraordinary find were some 8,000 soldiers, 150 cavalry horses, and 130 chariots drawn by 520 horses. The Terracotta Army has become one of the most popular tourist sites in China, attracting over a million visitors annually. This amazing treasure lay hidden for centuries but is now being shared with the world.

The apostle Paul wrote that followers of Christ have a treasure inside them that is to be shared with the world: “We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure”. The treasure inside us is the message of Christ and His love.

This treasure is not to be hidden but is to be shared so that by God’s love and grace people of every nation can be welcomed into His family. May we, through His Spirit’s working, share that treasure with someone today.

The good news of Jesus is too wonderful to keep to myself, Father. May I live the gospel and share it with others throughout my journey with You, Lord.

Let others see your testimony as well as hear it.