Just wanted to share this heart-tickler with you to start your Sunday! I’ll be honest with you this wasn’t a dry post for me. some tears may have been shed in the making of this post so if you have an issue (tears), you may need to grab a tissue! This is a really awesome and heart-warming story I found recently so enjoy and let your hearts be warmed! Hope y’all have an awesome Sunday!
“At a fund-raising dinner for a school that serves learning disabled children, the father of one of the students delivered a speech that would never be forgotten by all who attended. After extolling the school and its dedicated staff, he offered a question.
“When not interfered with by outside influences, everything nature does is done with perfection. Yet my son, Shay, cannot learn things as other children do. He cannot understand things as other children do. Where is the natural order of things in my son?”
The audience was stilled by the query.
The father continued. “I believe, that when a child like Shay comes into the world, an opportunity to realize true human nature presents itself, and it comes, in the way other people treat that child.”
Then he told the following story:
Shay and his father had walked past a park where some boys Shay knew were playing baseball.
Shay asked, “Do you think they’ll let me play?”
Shay’s father knew that most of the boys would not want someone like Shay on their team, but the father also understood that if his son were allowed to play, it would give him a much-needed sense of belonging.
Shay’s father approached one of the boys on the field and asked if Shay could play. The boy looked around for guidance and, getting none, he took matters into his own hands and said, “We’re losing by six runs, and the game is in the eighth inning. I guess he can be on our team, and we’ll try to put him in to bat in the ninth inning.”
In the bottom of the eighth inning, Shay’s team scored a few runs but was still behind by three. In the top of the ninth inning, Shay put on a glove and played in the outfield.
Even though no hits came his way, he was obviously ecstatic just to be in the game and on the field, grinning from ear to ear as his father waved to him from the stands.
In the bottom of the ninth inning, Shay’s team scored again. Now, with two outs and the bases loaded, the potential winning run was on base, and Shay was scheduled to be next at bat.
At this juncture, let Shay bat and give away their chance to win the game?
Surprisingly, Shay was given the bat. Everyone knew that a hit was all but impossible. Shay didn’t even know how to hold the bat properly, much less connect with the ball.
However, as Shay stepped up to the plate, the pitcher moved in a few steps to lob the ball in softly so Shay could at least be able to make contact.
The first pitch came, and Shay swung clumsily and missed. The pitcher again took a few steps forward to toss the ball softly toward Shay. As the pitch came in, Shay swung at the ball and hit a slow ground ball right back to the pitcher.
The pitcher picked up the soft grounder and could have easily thrown the ball to the first baseman. Shay would have been out and that would have been the end of the game.
Instead, the pitcher took the ball and turned and threw the ball on a high arc to right field, far beyond the reach of the first baseman.
Everyone started yelling, “Shay, run to first! Run to first!”
Never in his life had Shay ever made it to first base. He scampered down the baseline, wide-eyed and startled.
Everyone yelled, “Run to second, run to second!”
By the time Shay rounded first base, the right fielder had the ball. He could have thrown the ball to the second-baseman for the tag, but he understood the pitcher’s intentions and intentionally threw the ball high and far over the third-baseman’s head.
Shay ran toward second base as the runners ahead of him deliriously circled the bases toward home. Shay reached second base. The opposing shortstop ran to him, turned him in the direction of third base, and shouted, “Run to third!”
As Shay rounded third, the boys from both teams were screaming, “Shay, run home!” Shay ran to home, stepped on the plate, and was cheered as the hero who hit the “grand slam” and won the game for his team.
“That day,” said the father softly with tears now rolling down his face, “the boys from both teams helped bring a piece of true love and humanity into this world.””
“19 Then some Jews arrived from Antioch and Iconium and won the crowds to their side. They stoned Paul and dragged him out of town, thinking he was dead. 20 But as the believers gathered around him, he got up and went back into the town. The next day he left with Barnabas for Derbe.”
I’ve been hooked on these verses in Acts after hearing them preached this past Sunday. We see in the book of Acts already in chapter 1, verse 8, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
Verse 8 shows us Jesus giving the gift of the Holy Spirit to all those that believe in Him. Jesus shows us that we have been given this awesome power dwelling within us and the reason why we would need this power from God. To witness, spread the name of Christ across the world and continue in the ministry Jesus had began on earth. We have the power, we have the purpose, what’s next?
When you keep reading into Acts you see so many awesome examples from these early Christians going city to city preaching the Good News of Christ to all those around them. You also see that people are completely amazed at this Good News, but some didn’t take so kindly to hearing this Gospel message that challenged their beliefs. Chapter 14 of Acts we see Paul and Barnabas on a missionary journey to spread the Good News to each city they went in. They preached all over the city and what’s pretty crazy is they know there is opposition awaiting them by doing this so when they would go into a city, “1 The same thing happened in Iconium. Paul and Barnabas went to the Jewish synagogue and preached with such power that a great number of both Jews and Greeks became believers (Acts 14:1).” These two men straight to the Jewish synagogue first to preach the Gospel of Christ. They could have went anywhere else in the city but they chose to go to the place where they would face the most opposition from Jews who believed another story from God. Why would they walk right in to the jaws of rejection and the pit of persecution???
That’s what I asked when I read this because I did what most of us do these days, look at the bad, the negative possibilities, the place out of my comfort zone closer to harm. I looked at that because it’s scary. But what gave these men the courage to walk right into the place where they were in the most danger and least wanted? They believed the truth about what Christ had done for them, they believed the truth that they have been given the power of the Holy Spirit within them to speak boldly and confidently about Christ even in the face of opposition. They also kept the PURPOSE Christ had given them to be a witness for His name to as many as possible. Their hearts and vision were aligned with God’s will, I’m sure they saw the possible opposition and danger but what they saw that was even bigger was a group of people who were in need of hearing the Good News of Jesus Christ. They knew that those people had the chance to have their lives changed completely and given LIFE for the first time by coming to faith in Christ so the GLORY of the MISSION and PURPOSE Jesus had set them on was bigger than their fear, bigger than any danger, rejection or opposition they could ever face, bigger than any physical harm they may endure. Sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ and the chance to see others come to know Jesus personally, for them to have the gift of eternity and experiencing the powerful and life-changing love of Christ was BIGGER than anything and everything!!
What an awesome example these guys set for us as believers. In these verses, their example was brought out even BIGGER for us. A crowd of some Jews that had already caused some trouble for Barnabas and Paul had heard of their preaching in this town, they schemed against the two men and got the crowds on their side. Then they stoned Paul. Dragged Paul out of the town. To the disciples Paul looked dead.
It’s cool to look at their example, see the positive influence Christ was having through them in people’s lives but how hard do you think it was for these men, during the awful, painful harm they faced, how could they remember the good in such a bad moment? Honestly, sitting in a seat personally and a culture around us that screams “comfortable Christianity.” How could we read that and say, “yeah, I would do the same thing if I was in that situation.” But the truth is we’re not, being in the Bible belt of the South, or anywhere really, we can’t talk much about being rejected or persecuted from sharing the Good News because we are facing opposition telling us to stay in our comfort zone. Lies such as, “you can be comfortable and be a Christian.” If we aren’t going out of our comfort zone, how will we ever truly see lives changed? How can we ever experience Christ in the fullest of ways, living a life that says, “the mission that Christ has given me to share Him with the world, it’s worth whatever I have to go through to accomplish it.” I heard someone say this the other day and it may hurt to hear but it’s the truth of where our churchy culture has gone, “we’d rather send money to missionaries and local ministries to do all the dirty work while we sit comfortably on our church pews.”
It’s convicted me greatly to realize how comfortable I am, how lazy and not really caring about living out the purpose God has given me through the power of the Holy Spirit to do it. As a follower of Jesus Christ, it isn’t the preacher’s job, the missionaries job or any other ministry calling, we’ve ALL been called to the same mission, to do the work of Christ sharing the love of Christ to all those who are around us, to do the work that gets nasty, dirty, filled with a lot of rejection, opposition and sometimes even blood in some cases. We have to ask ourselves honestly without giving and “oh yeah of course it is” response like I myself have done so many times. Is Christ worth it? Is sharing the GREATEST news about what the GREATEST name has done and watching people have the GREATEST relationship with such a loving Savior, IS IT NOT WORTH IT? IS IT NOT WORTH ANYTHING or IS IT WORTH ABSOLUTELY EVERYTHING!!!!!!
You know what the right answer is but take an honest look at how you daily pursue Christ and daily pursue the mission to take Christ to others? We can be blinded by our comfort sometimes that we overlook the truth about who Christ has called us to be!
In these verses, the examples set by Paul and Barnabas come to a head. The struggle for them is realer than ever, they’ve went through it all. Rejection, persecution, opposition and physical harm. Paul literally gets beat to the pulp by stones. Think for a second how badly that hurt?!? But then at the lowest point where we would almost gurantee from our human comfort-seeking perspective. Paul is dead, or he is really hurt and should just stay down, and if he ever gets up from this beating then they need to run as far away as they possibly can, but…….
“he got up and went back into the town”
WHAT?!?!? NOOO WAY?!?! ARE YOU SERIOUS?!?! How could one man go through all that, almost dying then get up and walk back into the same town with the same people that just tried to kill him for his faith?!?! In the midst of any struggle we face in life, there will be moments when we get beat down to the point of what feels like death, but the big thing to takeaway from this is, WHAT DO YOU DO WHEN YOU FACE THE OPPOSITION THAT YOU’VE ALREADY BEEN TOLD IS COMING? I look back at so many times in my life and because of a few times of getting beat down, I fear failing so I stay away from it, stay comfortable. But this fight we’re in, this AWESOME mission Christ has given us, the power of the Holy Spirit that He has given us, that changes everything that happened yesterday and gives us the power, the purpose, and strength to attack the most harmful places first, go to the Synagogue, go right to the root of the problem! Then when it looks like all has failed because you are getting hit worse than ever, getting talked harshly about by people around you because of your faith, when things of this world makes you look dead, YOU DON’T HAVE TO FEEL DEAD AND MORE IMPORTANTLY YOU DON’T HAVE TO ACT DEAD!!!! Why? Because YOU are alive in Christ!!! Forever and always!!! He’s given us everything we need, He’s given us a mission, directions to go and what to say when we get there, He’s given us Himself. What are we waiting on?
Is Gospel of Jesus Christ that saved your life worth enough to you that you will go out of your way, suffer and endure through opposition, to share with someone else, to give them the message that Christ died for them to hear? When you get beat down, you wnat to give up, remember that lives are at stake, remember that you’ve got the Spirit of God inside of you, remember that Christ IS WORTH IT, in fact, He’s more than worth it. So walk into town today, do what you’ve been called to do, if they try to kick you out and beat you down, by the powerful name of Jesus Christ in the obedience to this Kingdom mission, STAND! WALK BACK INTO TOWN!
“There is salvation in no one else! God has given no other name under heaven by which we must be saved.” The members of the council were amazed when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, for they could see that they were ordinary men with no special training in the Scriptures. They also recognized them as men who had been with Jesus.”
Acts of the Apostles 4:12-13
Digging into Acts a little more! Gosh there is so much Gold in these scriptures!!! So to set the scene, Peter and John, two of Jesus’ main disciples were out working for the Lord. We saw in Acts 1:8 that Jesus gave us the power of the Holy Spirit living within us so that we would be able to continue His Ministry here on earth, being a witness for His name! Sharing Christ with others, living as examples of Christ, this is the purpose and mission that Jesus gave us all and here in these verses, Peter and John were out working in the power of Christ that flowed within them. Through the Holy Spirit, a lame man who wasn’t able to walk at all, was now walking, running and skipping with joy after a few moments spent with Peter and John. These men were fulfilling the purpose Christ has left for them by the power of the Holy Spirit at work within them.
Because of this great miracle, the religious officials didn’t like it very much so they put Peter and John in jail and arrested them. These verses are where Peter and John get the chance to talk to the Jewish council which were like the top of the top Religious leaders. These guys were Bible all-stars, they had spent their life studying God’s Word and felt as if they knew it all (except their pride getting in the way of believing in what Christ did.) Peter began speaking to them and you would think, if you’re in jail, already in a bunch of trouble and you’ve already seen through multiple people what these religious leaders are capable of doing to followers of Christ like death, you would think they’d be scared right? You would think that they would try their best to say whatever the council wanted to hear so they could get out of prison and escape their possible death.
But…..not so fast! Remember that Peter and John are filled with the Holy Spirit of God! They have the power that rose Christ from the grace flowing through them, and they’ve been given a mission from Christ to serve. They spoke truth to the council! Despite knowing it was almost certainly going to make the council mad and go against what they believe, they spoke the truth that their power comes from Christ, that salvation comes from Christ and CHRIST ALONE!!!
After seeing their boldness and the confidence in which these men spoke the truth, these extremely knowledgeable Jewish leaders couldn’t figure it out. They said, “they could see that they were ordinary men with no special training in the Scriptures.” They were amazed because Peter and John were so NORMAL. They were average Joe’s, they were normal clothes, they didn’t look like guys who had spent years and years in study of the Bible like they did. How could they speak so boldly in witness for Christ?
It’s cool looking at this and looking at all the excuses we tend to make on why we can’t witness to others about Christ. “I don’t know enough, I’m not good enough, smart enough, I don’t look like someone who would do that.” That’s what’s so cool, you don’t have to be super smart, or be supremely knowledgeable of the Bible, you don’t have to have all the answers or look the part, you just have to be you and speak the TRUTH God has planted inside of you, speak the Gospel message that saved your life, and trust in the power of the Holy Spirit to bring up the power to be bold in witness! To be confident in your words, to carry yourself as a person who knows that nothing in this world, no person or their beliefs or a word of rejection can separate them from Christ and the truth that He has saved you and has done everything that’s needed to be done to save others also!
What qualifies you as a person to witness for Christ? Being a follower of Christ. Okay that’s it! You’re ready! Don’t look at horizontal lies to make you feel inadequate to attack the mission God has given us! Believe the vertical truth and the power of the Holy Spirit that lives within you! Then speak that truth!!! As followers of Christ the truth is that we are just ordinary men and women, with an extra-ordinary power within us that allows us to boldly do out of this world works for Christ!
“16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.”
Spent some time with a good friend today that I haven’t seen in awhile. This time spent with him was nothing but an awesome blessing. He’s a friend that spoke so much Gospel truth into my life, Gospel truth that I really needed to hear. He reminded me of some the truth that I so often forget, look past, and blind myself to see. It’s easy to walk through this life blinded to our sin, the enemy’s distractions and temptations and in a world that is so focused on “I” it’s easy to forget that it not about “I” but it’s all about God and the Good News of what He’s done for us by sending His Son Jesus Christ!
It’s the most important truth we could ever come to know and as much as being reminded of it helped me in my life today, I want to extend the same truth and blessing to you so you too can be reminded of the only truth that really matters in this life. God loves us, He loves us despite our past, despite our sin, despite our putting Him second place in our lives when compared to ourselves and our desires. He loves us so much despite all that, so much He sent His only Son to die in our place. Jesus Christ died for me and you when we are still sinners. He paid the cost for our sins and the first moment we believe in Him, our sins are washed away, our sins are wiped clean, gone forever. Just because your sin nature draws you into committing sins today and the enemy tells you all these lies and excuses to why you’re so bad, why your situation of bad circumstances or addictions is impossible. We hear so many lies, we tell ourselves so many lies but the TRUTH is that as a follower of Jesus Christ, your sins have been forgiven.
You may feel at times so far from God because of your weakness or emotions of defeat and fear. But have faith! God is always there, He is always there for you in every situation. God is so loving and so faithful to us, He is there to meet our every need, we just have to ask. Stay in constant communication with Him because as a follower of Christ you have been given eternal life, a new life into adoption as a CHILD OF GOD!!! No sin, no person or ant lie the enemy tells you can separate you from your Father! Jesus didn’t die and give us life to the fullest so we could feel defeated and live a life in the lowest. Jesus died for us to give us LIFE, eternally and now! Jesus did everything for us so we could walk triumph, walk in victory of what He has done! Because despite all the lies, the truth is that we may face some battles, we may even lose some, but at the end of the day you’re still a Child of God and you can rest in knowing the TRUTH that the ultimate war has been won! You aren’t a product of your emotions, your sin, the past mistakes you’ve made or your current circumstances, you are a product of the cross!!! Have faith in what Jesus has done for you, have faith in knowing that no matter what you’re a child of God and have faith in knowing that nothing can come at you and there’s nothing you can do or not do that makes the fact that Christ has saved you, brought you to LIFE in Him and has washed your sins away. The price has been paid, there’s no need to try and pay something that’s already been paid!!! The victory has been won, there’s no need to walk in defeat as a victim when God has called you VICTOR!
Message somebody today, call them, go hang out with them, send an encouraging word their way, speak the TRUTH that God has given us to them reminding them and blessing them with God’s awesome love and truth of the Gospel! My buddy was that person for me today and I want to be that person for you so you can be that person for someone else! The truth breathes life into people, breathes life into you, breathe it, speak it, and live it today Child of God!!!!