Friday, September 18, 2009

"Grace Under Pressure" by Pastor Kevin Lynch

In Acts chapter 11, we find that the gospel is being spread in a very unusual way.

People who believe in Jesus are telling other people about it, and they in turn are becoming believers as well.

No huge expensive evangelistic campaigns.

No television huckster "Praise-A-Thons".

Simply pure unadulterated Holy Spirit excitement.

Unusual by today's standards.

It was so amazing that even the Gentiles were receiving the message.

When the rumors to this effect was heard in Jerusalem, the disciples there decided to send Barnabas to Antioch to check it out.

Acts 11:23 - "When he arrived and saw what grace (favor) God was bestowing upon them, he was full of joy; and he continuously exhorted (warned, urged, and encouraged) them all to cleave unto and remain faithful to and devoted to the Lord with [resolute and steady] purpose of heart."

Sometimes I think we fail to read the scriptures properly.

The process appears to break down at times.

I see several culprits that could be the cause.

1. We read the Word with a predisposition. It is as if there is an auto-translation program of some sort running in the sub-conscious of our mind, which makes the Word appear to say what we want it to mean, or what we have heard from others that it means, and we miss the proper meaning and context.

2. The enemy fills our brain with meaningless noise and distractions so that we cannot properly discern the Word.

3. We are too lazy or rushed to really care what the Word is really saying and we miss at least half of it.

I think all three, and more even, could be the cause at any given time.

Take today's passage for instance.

Where is the importance in context to the theme "Grace Under Pressure"?

I think the major weight of that verse is in the first few words.

"...he arrived and saw what grace (favor) God was bestowing upon them...".

Did you catch that?

The grace that GOD was bestowing upon them.

And if we go back and read contextually, we find that it was purely God.

No hooks. No tricks. No programs. No cajoling. No arm twisting. No charge.

Grace. Free. Without pressure.

And that's the way Barnabas left them.

In a pure state of grace. In the good hands of God.

He simply encouraged them to keep doing what they were doing. Trusting God.

When did it all get complicated?

When did it turn into a pressure cooker?

When greedy and avaricious people crept in and put the free gift up for sale.

Once they convinced us that we have to "pay to pray", the Church was turned downhill.

I got off that hamster wheel a long time ago.

I recently read what is called "A Jesus Manifesto For The 21st Century Church", by Leonard Sweet and Frank Viola, and was greatly encouraged. They put on paper things I have had in my heart for a very long time.

It's on the internet. I strongly suggest you Google it and read it.

Let me close this morning with some words from that manifesto:

Christians don’t follow Christianity; Christians follow Christ.

Christians don’t preach themselves; Christians proclaim Christ.

Christians don’t point people to core values; Christians point people to the cross.

Christians don’t preach about Christ: Christians preach Christ.

Great words to contemplate.

No pressure. Just Grace.

Be blessed today, and run everything past Jesus first!

Keepin' it Real,

Pastor Kevin <><

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