everyone … shall be saved

Acts 2:21 (ESV)

21 “‘And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.'”

So what does it mean to ‘call upon the name of the Lord’?

If we turn to Paul in the Letter to the Romans we find: ‘… if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.’ (Rom 10:9)

Paul, too, then quotes Joel 2:32 saying ‘For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”‘ (Rom 10:13)

So it seems to me that it’s an acknowledgement that Jesus is Lord and a whole-hearted acceptance that He died and was raised to life by God.

Pretty straight-forward.

But so, so hard for many people to grasp a hold of. They would rather turn their back on Him; ignore Him; reject Him.

Yet the offer of salvation is to everyone.

There’s no select group. No elite inner circle. Simply a universal offer to ‘all nations’. (Matt 28:19)

Everyone.

Kim+

prayer : thank you that hold out to everyone the offer of salvation

action : help me to tell everyone I know that Jesus Christ is my Lord and Saviour

a mighty rushing wind

 

Acts 2:1-4 (ESV)

1 When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. 2  And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. 3 And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. 4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.

The coming of the Holy Spirit on this occasion was unlike anything before. Yet it has distinct similarities with the Creation account in the Book of Genesis.

There, the ‘Spirit of God’ (Gen 1:2) can also be translated as His breath; His very life-giving force.

How great it is that God breathes life into us.

For not only did He create us as we were ‘wonderfully made’ in our ‘mother’s womb’. (Ps 139:13-14)

But better still, when we ‘repent’ and are ‘baptized’, we are promised the ‘gift of the Holy Spirit’. (Ac 2:38)

Thus we are ‘a new creation’. (2Cor 5:17)

We ‘walk in newness of life’. (Rom 6:3)

We have the promise of ‘eternal life’. (Jn 10:28)

Kim+

prayer : thank you for the gift of life – physical & spiritual

action : ‘present [myself] to God as [one] who [has] been brought from death to life, and [my] members to God as instruments for righteousness’ (Rom 6:13)

devoting themselves to prayer

Acts 1:12-14 (NIV)

12 Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a Sabbath day’s journey away. 13 And when they had entered, they went up to the upper room, where they were staying, Peter and John and James and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot and Judas the son of James. 14 All of these with one accord were devoting themselves to prayer, together with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers.

 

Wouldn’t you love to be a fly-on-the-wall? To hear their prayers?

To know what was on their hearts and on their minds.

Excitement? Curiosity? Apprehension?

Whatever it was they were lifting it all up to God through the risen (and now ascended) Christ.

Who was and is now seated at ‘the right hand of the Majesty on high, …’ (Heb 1:1).

Who was acting as their ‘… great high priest …’ (Heb 4:14) and interceding for them; indeed ‘… for us.’ (Rom 8:34)

The fact that they were devoting themselves to prayer sounds to me like it was a full-on, wholehearted, totally committed time of intercession.

And even though the circumstances surrounding these events are quite specific, it isn’t a big stretch to expect Christians to always be devoted to prayer. (Rom 12:12, NASB)

Kim+

prayer : please help me to be devoted to prayer

action : ‘… pray without ceasing, …’ (1Th 5:17)

God, have mercy on me, a sinner

Luke 18:9-14 (NIV)

9 To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everybody else, Jesus told this parable: 10 “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector.11 The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector.12 I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’

13 “But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’

14 “I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

 

Many people, even Christians, think that to be ‘righteous’ (effectively ‘right before God’) involves doing the right thing. Keeping the commandments. Obeying the Law.

But this completely misses the point.

It’s because we are unable do good all of the time that Jesus paid the price for us. Stood in our place. Received the punishment we so justly deserve.

We are all sinners. Each and every one of us. (Romans 3:10)

Acknowledging this and asking for God’s forgiveness is our only path.

Trying to earn His merit is a futile endeavour. No matter what we do we will never be good enough. At least, not without Jesus.

It’s such a simple, pure concept of substitution that we find it hard to grasp.

We are reluctant to accept such generosity. Such grace. Such mercy.

Perhaps it’s about time you stopped struggling to pay an insurmountable debt and instead accepted the gift on offer: eternal life.

Kim+

prayer : that friends & family would discover the joy of faith

action : share the hope I have in Christ with family & friends

I have finished the race

2 Timothy 4:7 (ESV)

16 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.

 

As a long-distance runner I have always loved Paul’s analogy of the Christian life.

A journey that is not a quick dash but rather a long-haul, pavement pounding, heart-wrenching, soul-enriching marathon.

One that takes plenty of preparation, planning, and bucket-loads of perseverance.

To be able to come to the end of my own days and say, like Paul, that despite everything life threw at me I still managed to keep the faith would be quite an achievement.

Yet it’s one I’m aiming for, training for, and hoping for.

Knowing that by Gods grace I will finish the race, and finish strong.

Kim+

prayer : help me to persevere, keeping the faith no matter what

action : encourage a fellow brother and | or sister in Christ to persevere

equipped for every good work

2 Timothy 3:17 (ESV)

16 … that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.

 

It’s Scripture, God’s very breath, that helps us stay on the straight-and-narrow.

Guiding us like ‘a lamp to [our] feet
and a light to [our] path’ (Psalms 119:105).

Sometimes the instructions and commands are explicit, specific.

Other times it’s necessary to understand God’s will, His very nature, in order to find our way.

Like a cryptic crossword His purpose may not always be clear at first. It takes time and effort and persistence to come to a greater (if not complete) understanding of His intent.

But it’s well worth the effort. And His gentle prods and corrections are invaluable.

How else are we to do good work if we lack His guidance? And not just some but every good work.

Kim+

prayer : thank you LORD for teaching, reproofing, correcting and training me

action : help me to do good works

breathed out by God

2 Timothy 3:16 (ESV)

16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness…

 

What a wonderful image of the Word of God: His very breathe.

It brings to mind the beginning of time – when ‘the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters’ – just as God spoke and formed the universe (Genesis 1:2).

And as such we should never take His Word for granted. Never suppose to be above it. Never presume to fully understand it.

What we should do is seek to read it daily. Day & night.

Ponder it. Unravel it. Obey it.

Because it is the ultimate way we can know God’s mind.

His will. His grace. His love.

Kim+

prayer : thank you LORD for your Word

action : delight in and meditate on God’s ‘law’ day & night (Psalm 1:2)

why I changed my Facebook profile picture #ن

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It started off as a pretty innocuous thing. I noticed a friend’s Facebook profile picture was now sporting a strange new image: a glowing golden glyph on an inky black background.

I was curious but dismissive. I didn’t recognize the symbol. I certainly didn’t understand it’s meaning, hidden or otherwise.

It was only when this change became ‘viral’, transforming profile photos of many more Facebook friends, near and far, that I finally sat-up and took notice.

So what’s it all about? What does this odd curved character mean? And why adopt it as my new profile pic of all things?

The symbol ن is being used by Islamic State (IS) militants. They spray-paint the ن mark (the Arabic letter for “N”) on Christian property they plan to seize. “N”, or ن​, is the first letter of the Arabic word for Christian, namely ‘Nasrani’ or Nazarene (source: euronews article).

Why? Because the Christians were given an ultimatum to “either convert to Islam, submit to their radical rule and pay a religious levy, or face death by the sword.”

Not very nice to say the least.

Frustrated by the lack of a serious response and any coordinated action from the international community, social media has taken it upon itself to publicize the plight of these persecuted Christians.

I admit I was initially hesitant. I’m not one for following a crowd. I didn’t want to respond to some mindless mob-like campaign, reacting to what may well be faddish and trendy yet lacking substance and serious thought.

I know it sounds like a small thing to change a picture yet I felt it was actually quite a big decision; more than just a click of a button.

So rather than blindly copy what others were doing I first did a little digging; researching the whys and wherefores behind the movement. I investigated what it stood for. And looked at who else had adopted the new profile pic. Not every Christian I knew had done so. But many had whom I respected for having sound, considered judgement.

Did I wonder about the reaction I might receive from other people by my Facebook update? Oddly, I was more concerned about fellow Christians laughing at my potentially silly, ill-considered decision rather than my non-Christian friends rejecting me for taking such a stance.

Yet I also felt strongly led by the Holy Spirit to do something.

The ن mark reminded me of the ‘Ichthys‘, or fish: a secret sign probably used between early Christians to identify one another. Although perhaps it’s more like the ‘Yellow Badge‘ that Nazi Germany forced upon Jews given the injurious and pernicious behaviour of IS.

For me it’s essentially a call-to-action: signifying that I stand together with my brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ suffering for their faith.

Far from being a lone voice in the wilderness I am, in fact, part of a world-wide show of solidarity through my willingness to count myself amongst those ready to die for their beliefs.

By doing so I personally hope to raise awareness of their dire circumstances; be reminded every day of God’s good grace; pray for all persecuted Christians throughout the world; and encourage other Christians to do the same.

I pray that they will “persevere” despite their sufferings (Matthew 5:11-12, Romans 8:28) knowing that nothing can “separate [them] from the love of God” (Romans 8:35).

I pray that they would “endure” (Colossians 1:11, Revelation 6:11) and “not seek revenge” (Romans 12:19).

I pray that they would “not fear death” despite it being a distinct possibility (Philippians 1:21, Hebrews 2:14-15, 1 Peter 5:10).

And that God, in His infinite wisdom and mercy, would give them the “strength” (Psalm 86:16) and “courage” (Psalm 86:16) to “live by faith” (Galatians 2:20).

I pray that they would “rejoice” in their suffering (Hebrews 11:26) and in so doing, “glorify God” (James 1:2-3).

And finally, I pray for these “enemies”, the members of IS, despite their evil actions (Matthew 5:44, Luke 6:27).

Put simply, it’s my hope that by adopting this new symbol persecuted Christians everywhere will feel united as “one in Christ” (Galatians 3:28). That they will know we are thinking about them; that we’re deeply concerned for them; and that we love them.

Kim+

the LORD will come in fire

Isaiah 66:15-16 (ESV)

15 “For behold, the LORD will come in fire,
and his chariots like the whirlwind,
to render his anger in fury,
and his rebuke with flames of fire.
16 For by fire will the LORD enter into judgment,
and by his sword, with all flesh;
and those slain by the LORD shall be many.”

I think we often forget that the LORD is a God of judgement as well as mercy.

And that His judgement will be harsh but fair (Romans 2:2).

Fire is considered a means of purification; a way of cleansing and refining. Like the process of melting down gold to separate the good bits from the bad bits and in so doing create a pure metal.

Because God hates sin, because He is angry with man’s ungodliness and unrighteousness (Romans 1:18), He will one day act to destroy those who sin: to ‘slay’ those who turn their back on Him.

In some ways it is a “fire & brimstone” message.

And we should all sit-up and take note of it. Because no one – not one of us – is guilt-free.

We have all – every last one of us – rejected God and “gone our own way” (Isaiah 53:6).

Yet that’s where Jesus comes into the picture …

Kim+

prayer : thank you LORD for your justice and mercy

action : confess my sin before God, repenting, and seeking His forgiveness and mercy

abstain from the passions of the flesh

1 Peter 2:11-12 (ESV)

11 Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. 12 Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.

Abstaining from sinful desires is easier said than done.

Whatever our resolve, all know that we give into temptation. Why else would we need a saviour?

However, He too was tempted like us (Luke 4:1-13): to give into the hunger that gnawed deep inside (v.3); to reject God the Father and take what was rightfully His (v.7); to put God’s word to the ultimate test (v.9-11).

But He didn’t. He refused to be goaded by Satan. To be lulled by his empty promises and scheming deceptions.

Instead, Jesus Christ returned again and again to God’s word to sustain Him (v.4, 8 & 12). Putting His trust in God the Father alone. And not in the Prince of Lies.

Sadly, we are not nearly as strong. Yet it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to do the right thing.

So that our deeds may also ‘glorify God’. And in so doing, help others to repent & believe so that they in turn will ‘glorify God’.

Kim+

prayer : make me strong enough to withstand temptation yet humble enough to admit my sins and accept your forgiveness

action : during this time of Lent please help me to make a conscious effort to walk closer with you God and abstain from the passions of the flesh