Day 31 – One Life Going and Telling

How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in Him of whom they have never heard?And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?” So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ. Romans 10:14–17

God’s Words through Paul are very clear. Think about this for a moment. Who shared Christ with you leading to the moment of your salvation? Maybe a pastor, parent or friend. Now, here is a harder question. Who shared Christ with them? Let’s take it one more step further. Who shared Christ with the person who led that person who led your pastor/parent/friend who led you to Christ.

Maybe you read the Bible on your own and a tract and gave your life to Jesus. Someone had to have put that tract in a place where you would take it or someone worked to have that Bible published so you could read it.

The crazy thing to think about is this, your understanding of who Jesus is and your relationship with Him is direct fruit of the original disciples of Jesus (not just the 12). They were faithful to tell others, who were faithful to tell others, who were faithful to tell you. Wow. What is even crazier to think about is generations from now, people will believe in Jesus because of people who were faithful to share the gospel with others after you told them.

I think you get where I am going with this. Now here is the point.

People hear about Jesus because somebody tells them about Him. The gospel literally means good news and good news is meant to be shared. The essence of Christianity is being a witness to Christ. We give a witness by talking and sharing about what we have seen and heard.

Here is the truth. The gospel has been given to believers so that we might take it all over the world. We have ultimately one action in living out the purpose God has given us. We glorify God by making disciples. So, the logical thing for us to do is to go where the gospel is not and tell the story of Jesus Christ. David Platt wrote, “The glory of God among the nations is the reason for which we have breath” and he is right.

One Life Opportunity

You and I live in a time where it is easier than ever in history to get a passport and as American Christians we have access to almost every country in the world. We have the opportunity to take Christ everywhere. Why not spend you life doing just that? Whether you are a teacher, firefighter, policeman, secretary, assistant, plumber or pastor you can spend your life making disciples of your neighbors and the nations.

* These devotions will continue on our Parkway App and dangerousprayers.net on at least a weekly basis. Thanks for doing this with us! We are praying that God uses them to inspire us to be about the gospel in all of our One Life! *

Day 30 – One Life Giving

Many times we give out of guilt or to appease someone. Often my heart simply needs to see and be reminded by what God’s Word says. So, today, here is a collection of verses from God’s Word about giving.

Deuteronomy 15:10 Give generously to him and do so without a grudging heart; then because of this the Lord your God will bless you in all your work and in everything you put your hand to.

Deuteronomy 16:17 Every man shall give as he is able, according to the blessing of the LORD your God which He has given you.

1 Chronicles 29:9 Then the people rejoiced because they had offered so willingly, for they made their offering to the Lord with a whole heart, and King David also rejoiced greatly.

Proverbs 3:27 Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to do it.

Proverbs 21:26 …the righteous gives and does not hold back.

Proverbs 28:27 He who gives to the poor will never want, but he who shuts his eyes will have many curses.

Malachi 3:10 “Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in My house, and test Me now in this,” says the Lord of hosts, “if I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you a blessing until it overflows.”

Mark 12:41–44 And He sat down opposite the treasury, and began observing how the people were putting money into the treasury; and many rich people were putting in large sums. A poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which amount to a cent. Calling His disciples to Him, He said to them, “Truly I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all the contributors to the treasury; for they all put in out of their surplus, but she, out of her poverty, put in all she owned, all she had to live on.”

Luke 6:38 Give, and it will be given to you. They will pour into your lap a good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over. For by your standard of measure it will be measured to you in return.

John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believes in Him wouldn’t perish, but would have eternal life.”

Acts 20:35 “In everything I showed you that by working hard in this manner you must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He Himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”

Romans 12:8 …Or he who exhorts, in his exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.

2 Corinthians 9:6–8 Now this I say, he who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed.

2 Corinthians 9:10 Now He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness;

Check out the following site: www.cpmissions.net/2003/what is cp.asp When you give to Parkway Baptist Church, 10% of what you give goes to the Cooperative Program (CP). It is amazing to see how God multiplies our giving. Also, on a lighter note, here is a fun video http://vimeo.com/78067466 about CP giving and what the CP is.

One Life Opportunity

James 2:15-16 If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and be filled,” and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that?

For 2013, our goal for our Parkway Acts 1:8 Global Missions Offering is $150,000. This will go to support IMB Missionaries, Church Planters in various countries and to initiatives to feed, clothe, and give Bibles and basic health-care to people who need to hear the gospel of Jesus Christ. Pray about how much you will give on December 15, 2013 this year in our Sunday morning services.

Day 29 – One Life Praying

The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. James 5:16

The next three days of this devotion will look at three moving parts of missions that are most effective when done together. Pray, give and go.

Some see these as three mission options, meaning that if they cannot go, then they can pray and give. Or if they are in the habit of going on mission, then they do not have to give their money, because they give their time. Still some believe they can just give money and not pray or go. All of these are deceived by lies from the evil one. Jesus doesn’t want our obedience in just one area of completing the great commission. Partial obedience is not obedience at all. Just like if I ask my son to clean his room, and he picks up his shirts only, but doesn’t pick up his toys, or his shorts, then he did not obey me. I then ask him why he didn’t obey me, and he emphatically tells me, “I picked up my shirts!” He did pick up his shirts, but didn’t obey me. He did it his way, but not the way I asked him. We are often like that with the Lord. He asks for obedience and we go do one thing and turn around and tell him — “Look God, I did this for you” but we don’t obey all that He commands us. Partial obedience is not obedience at all.

We are commanded to make disciples — teaching them to obey everything that He has commanded us. We do that by praying for, by giving to, and by going to make disciples of our neighbors and the nations. While all three are actions that we are to obey, there is one that is the most important — prayer.

Prayer is essential to the accomplishment of the mission of making disciples of all nations. John Piper said “Prayer is primarily a wartime walkie-talkie for the mission of the church as it advances against the powers of darkness and unbelief. It is not surprising that prayer malfunctions when we try to make it a domestic intercom to call upstairs for more comforts in the den… Until you know that life is war, you cannot know what prayer is for: Prayer is for the accomplishment of a wartime mission.”

Read James 5:16–18. Here we find a reference to Elijah praying that it wouldn’t rain and it didn’t for three and a half years. Then Elijah prayed for rain, and it rained and the earth bore fruit. Why was Elijah’s prayer powerful and effective? Elijah was praying for people to know that God was the Lord. Elijah wasn’t trying to do a magic trick or show off God’s power. He was making disciples. Elijah’s prayer was for the mission of advancing the kingdom of God. God’s kingdom is unstoppable. Our prayers can be powerful and effective like Elijah’s if our prayer is for the glory of God. When we pray for God’s Kingdom to advance and to push back the darkness in missions, then we are praying for a sure thing.

One Life Opportunity

Looking for ways to pray for the world, gospel impact, and an unfailable mission? Go to http://www.operationworld.org/ to see how to pray for people groups. Pray for His mission in the world and how God can use you to accomplish it.

Day 28 – One Life Persecuted but Not Abandoned

“We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies.” 2 Corinthians 4:8–10

Read Acts 12 and retell the story to someone in your own words.

It is amazing to see that God rescued Peter out of prison. I love that Rhoda was so excited to see Peter that she forgot to let him in, but ran to tell her spiritual family that Peter was free! No doubt they expected Peter to lose his life the same way that James, the brother of John did.

What can we learn from all of this?

Pray for the persecuted brothers. Never stop praying for them. Peter’s spiritual family was praying for him. They were still praying for him when he showed up at their door.

We can rest in the midst of persecution. Peter was sleeping chained to two guards! The angel had to strike him to wake him up. That is a man who trusts God and is not afraid of what will happen to him.

We should expect supernatural things to happen. It may not be our release being led by an angel, but God will show Himself mighty in some way.

We do not retaliate against our persecutors, God will take care of them. God took care of Herod. He will either take them to a relationship with Jesus or take them out.

One Life Opportunity

Watch this video about Nik and Ruth Ripken and their story.

www.youtube.com/watch?v=dLf6Ft2eevE

Order his book and read it. Check out their website www.nikripken.com

God is using a man who has seen great persecution, but he is not forsaken. He is carrying around the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in his body.

Day 27 – One Life Testifies Even When Criticized

“If then God gave the same gift to them as he gave to us when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could stand in God’s way?” Acts 11:17

After Peter saw all of Cornelius’ household come to faith in Christ, Peter was questioned about his new practice from people who held to his previous convictions. Peter told them the whole story. He told them how God spoke to him in a vision, then how the Lord gave confirmation, and the results of his obedience to go and share the gospel with a Gentile group. Then Peter directly addressed his critics in a peaceful way. Peter didn’t apologize for obeying God, he didn’t shirk away from his critics, he didn’t try to appease them, he simply said, “who was I that I could stand in God’s way?” Peter began to understand that he did not have nor did anyone else have a monopoly on the work of God. God doesn’t work according to our rules. We work as servants to the Master, doing whatever He asks us.

The testimony of the truth of Jesus and His work among people silenced the critics and caused them to give glory to God. This whole story may have been what Peter was thinking about when he wrote his letter later. 1 Peter 2:9-12 says, “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for His own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. 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.”

For us, we must understand that in our one life, we are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, and we are to proclaim His excellent works and gospel to those who need to hear. Why? Because God called us out of darkness and into His marvelous light. We were once not a people at all, but now we are God’s people. One day, people will speak against us and what we do for God, but our good deeds will cause them to glorify God when He reveals Himself to them.

One Life Opportunity

Do you have a critic when you serve God? Pray for that critic. Give a testimony of how God is working to that critic. Allow the Holy Spirit to prompt that critic to give glory to God. Trust God with the results.

Day 26 – One Life Willing to Change

“Behold, three men are looking for you. Rise and go down and accompany them without hesitation, for I have sent them.” Acts 10:19b–20a

Read Acts 10.

We find in Acts 10 an amazing story of God preparing the hearts of the hearer of God’s Word and the sharer of God’s Word. Here are the highlights:

  • Peter was not willing to go to Gentiles because he was a Jew.
  • God prepared Peter’s heart to talk to the Gentiles through his prayer time with God — Peter heard God because He was in a place and took time to listen to God.
  • God asked Peter to do something that was unnatural to him, offended his sense of cleanness/holiness, and required faith.
  • When God asked, Peter went without hesitation because He was willing to obey God even though it went against something he had believed for a long time.
  • Peter was willing to change his practice because he was more interested in obeying God than in obeying his preferences.
  • Peter was willing to go to people who were despised.
  • God prepared the heart of Cornelius before He called Peter to go. We see that wherever God calls us to go, God has already done the prep work. He ALWAYS goes before us, with us, and is behind us.
  • When Peter saw he had a captive Gentile audience, he preached the gospel to them.
  • While Peter was speaking, the Holy Spirit fell on the Gentiles. God showed that He shows no partiality to those who can be saved.
  • Peter did not lead them to Jesus and then leave. He stayed with them for a few days and discipled them.

One Life Opportunity

Here are some questions to ask yourself today.

  • Are there people/places that I am unwilling to go because of my preferences?
  • Am I willing to go to hated and despised people knowing that it will be hard work?
  • Do I love God more than I love my preferences or comfort?
  • Do I believe and know that God will ALWAYS go before me, with me and behind me?
  • Do I believe that God speaks to us in any way He wants to get our attention?

Day 25 – One Life All or Nothing

You have not lied to man but to God.  Acts 5:4d

Read Acts 5:1–11

I understand this is not one of the most warm and fuzzy passages of scripture. However, it is part of the infallible and inerrant Word of God and there is a clear message in this story that the Lord wants all of us to understand. We should never hold back something for ourselves when we are supposed to give to the Lord. And if we do, we definitely shouldn’t lie that we did give Him all we had. The consequences of sin may cost us more than what we held back.

There are three things that are eternal: God is eternal. God’s Word is eternal. The souls of men are eternal. Understanding that we will live forever, we must make two choices in our lives. The first is a once and for all choice: we choose between eternal punishment and eternal life (only through Jesus). The second choice is a daily choice and only becomes a choice once we’ve received the gift of eternal life: We choose between spending our lives on that which is temporal (our own selfish desires) or investing our lives in that which is eternal.

Ananias and Sapphira chose to invest in that which was temporal in this story and it cost their lives. At first glance, you might read this story and think, “hey God, that punishment was harsh. It was just money they held back from you. It’s not like they killed anybody.” I’ve even had that thought. One thing I forget, God doesn’t want part of me. He doesn’t want part of my time or part of my money. He wants it all. Why? Because God’s plans for me, my time and my money are infinitely better than my plans. God made me. God gave me breath. God blessed me with the things I have stewardship over. It is all His. I am just pretending if I actually think something is “mine”.

It wasn’t the money. Ananias and Sapphira lied to God, or they tried to. Proverbs 5 says a man’s ways are in full view of the Lord. We cannot hide from God.

Peter didn’t cause their death. Ananias and Sapphira caused their own death because they sinned against Holy God and tried to lie to Him about it. All Peter did was give them each an opportunity to repent. We should never hold back on God. He wants it all or nothing.

One Life Opportunity

What are you holding back from God that you need to give Him? What are you hiding from Him that He wants you to give? What has God asked you to give (time on mission with Him, money for missions/offering, telling that person about Jesus) that you are holding back on Him? Give it all. Don’t hold back. Pray and ask Him for strength.

Day 24 – One Life Praying for Boldness

“And now, Lord, look upon their threats and grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness.”  Acts 4:29

Read Acts 4:23-31

After Peter and John were released from prison, they went to their friends and told them what had happened and the interaction they had. In simple terms, they went and shared their testimony with their friends. We often read over things like this in the Bible and totally miss the fact that the people in the Bible were JUST LIKE US. When things happened in their lives that were extraordinary they went and told the people they know and love. We do the same thing. When we have an unexpected opportunity to share Jesus with someone, don’t we usually call, text, or email our loved ones and tell them about it. Maybe you don’t. Maybe you should. God OFTEN uses someone else’s testimony of God working in and around their lives to encourage our own faith in God’s power.

Peter and John didn’t just share the good though, they also shared the bad. They shared about the interrogation and the persecution. An awesome thing happened next, their friends prayed with them. Together they called on the “Sovereign Lord” and confessed to Him that what was happening was in His hand and that God wanted it to take place. Then they simply prayed that God would continue to give them boldness to speak God’s Word even under threats. They asked God to continue to show Himself mighty.

This is where conviction comes in for me. Often I call my friends to commiserate and not to pray with them. What do you do? What should we do?

Peter, John, and their friends were MOST interested in God getting glory out of their situation. They prayed for God to give them boldness. They did not pray to endure, not to simply make it through to the end, but they prayed to have boldness to proclaim Jesus! WOW. Maybe our prayer should be to boldly proclaim Jesus in our situation and not simply to just “make it through unscathed”.

What happened next was awesome — the place they were gathered to pray was shaken, God answered their prayer filling them with boldness from the Holy Spirit, and they continued to speak God’s Word. We might just see the awesome boldness of God in our life if we did the same.

One Life Opportunity

Call your family and friends together and pray for boldness to continue to speak God’s Word in whatever situation you are in today. God may just AMAZE you with His awesome power to make you bold for Him. Pray for boldness for our missionaries.

Day 23 – One Ordinary Life is Extraordinary with Jesus

When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus. Acts 4:13

Read Acts 4:1-22

Peter and John were jailed after the healing and disturbance that had taken place. They were asked, “by what power, or by what name” did Peter and John heal the lame man. They took their opportunity to share that it was the name of Jesus Christ, the one who was crucified and God raised from the dead. Again, Peter took the opportunity to take the emphasis off the physical healing and emphasized the spiritual healing that can take place if people would place their hope in Christ. He said to them, “salvation is found in no one else.”

Acts tells us that the people saw that Peter and John were ordinary and unschooled men. They were not polished orators, educated lawyers, or distinguished pharisees (not that God cannot use men and women like that). Peter and John were ordinary men doing extraordinary things because they knew, love, and served the God who created them and everything else.

When was the last time someone was amazed at something that you did and the only explanation is that God could have done that?

When was the last time someone said “that person has been with Jesus” after spending time with you?

Have you attempted anything for God lately that you know would absolutely fail if God did not empower you? Often we think that means accomplishing some goal we have always had — like having the money to buy that car we’ve wanted, or going to some event we have been wanting to go to, or attaining a status or degree we have been working for. While these are good things, these are not the goals that once accomplished will drive those around us to say, “surely, Christ is the Savior of the world and I want to be saved!”

The goals Christ want for us to have is to know Jesus, to glorify Jesus and to be like Jesus. When is the last time you attempted to make Jesus known among your neighbors and the nations and you know that your effort would absolutely fail if God did not work and empower you?

Peter and John were ordered to stop speaking in the name of Jesus and their response was bold and honest. They said, “which is right in God’s eyes: to listen to you, or to God?” Peter and John confessed that they could not help but speak about what they had seen and heard about Jesus.

One Life Opportunity

Don’t let another day go by without doing something that can only be explained by the power of God. Tell someone about Jesus. Do something ridiculously kind and generous for someone. Pray about it, listen to what God might tell you and do it.

Don’t let another year go by without trusting Christ to go to the nations and tell them the good news of Jesus. Maybe you are afraid of flying or don’t know who would care for your family. Pray about it, and see how God provides. Tell Him you are willing to go and watch Him work.

Day 22 – One Life With Eyes Open

Read Acts 3.

 Whatever fear and shame Peter had before the crucifixion and resurrection faded after receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit. Peter and John were on their way up to the temple (just going about their day) when they came upon a lame man who asked them for money. Acts 3:4 says that Peter and John looked straight at him and asked him to look at them (they wanted his full attention). Peter said, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.”

 What happened next had to be a sight. The man lame from birth jumped to his feet and began to walk. Then he went with them into the temple courts, walking and jumping, and praising God (I would have to). While the man held on to Peter and John, all the people were astonished and came running to them. When Peter saw that they were attracting a crowd he took the opportunity to give God glory and to tell the story of Jesus. He said, “Fellow Israelites, why does this surprise you? Why do you stare at us as if by our own power or godliness we had made this man walk? By faith in the name of Jesus, this man whom you see and know was made strong. It is Jesus’ name and the faith that comes through Him that has completely healed him, as you can all see.”

 After sharing about the death and resurrection of Jesus, Peter gave the people an opportunity to respond to the gospel truth. He said, “repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord.”

 What is astonishing about this story to me is what if John and Peter had hurried past the lame man. What if they had been more involved in their thoughts or a conversation, or in where they were going, that they ignored an opportunity to minister. I know what you are thinking, “yeah, Derek — but Peter and John healed that lame man. We can’t do that.” Well, God healed the lame man, not Peter and John, and Peter and John simply allowed God to interrupt their day. They had their eyes open to their surroundings and they were willing to share truth with those God put in their path. I don’t think the most important part of this story is the lame man’s healing. I think the main part of the this story is the sharing of the gospel of Jesus Christ with lost people who need to hear it. God performed a miracle so that Peter could share about the GREATER miracle of the death and resurrection of the God-man Jesus. Are we walking around with our eyes open to the people God has put around us? Are we saturating our lives with prayer and God’s Word that when life is interrupted, we are ready to meet needs in the power of the Holy Spirit?

 One Life Opportunity

Jenna Moye is the first long term missionary that Parkway will be sending to the nations! Check out her testimony https://vimeo.com/77400872 and pray for her as she goes to the nations in January. Watch the video with your family or a friend and talk about what it would be like for someone in your family to go to the nations. Pray for Jenna’s family and friends as they prepare for Jenna’s departure.