In Your City | Legacy
Monday— “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Messiah?” John 4:29
Notice the question mark. The first Samaritan missionary was an unlikely candidate for sainthood. There was a reason she went to the well alone, in the middle of the day. Decent people didn’t have anything to do with her. But she met Jesus. And He wasn’t like anyone she’d ever known. He answered questions she didn’t realize she was asking and the news was too good to keep to herself. The result? “People came streaming from the village to see him” (v. 30). The same people who wouldn’t have said “Hello” to her rushed out to meet Jesus at her word. Why? Author Greg Khokl calls it “putting a rock in their shoe.”
This Samaritan woman impacted a whole community by simply asking a question they couldn’t answer: “Could this be the Messiah?” She didn’t lecture, scold, shout, or try to persuade. She simply asked a question that stuck with them, then pointed them in the right direction. When we introduce a soul-probing question, no one gets mad or offended. But we leave them with a rock in their shoe. To the guy with the alien theories, we ask: “Where did the aliens come from?” To the waitress with the spirituality tee-shirt: “Ever wonder if spirituality is good or evil?” To a depressed neighbor: “We all have a foundation for life. What’s your foundation?” Sometimes even hostile people are ready to hear about Jesus when we’ve put a rock in their shoe.
Final Thought: Maybe, like this woman, you’re called to put a rock in people’s shoes. Learn how in Tactics by Greg Khokl.
Prayer: Father, I’ve not been very faithful in telling people about you because I’ve never been sure how. But this woman had never done it before either, and she changed a whole city. Teach me how to stir interest like she did. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Tuesday— “Go home to your own people and tell them how much the Lord has done for you…” Mark 5:19
Earned reputations are hard to overcome. Maybe you were “the rebel,” “the slut,” or “the dropout.” He was “the crazy man.” Everyone knew about him. It was humiliating. He’d lived for years in the cemetery, naked and self-harming. People giggled and pointed. They talked about him but not to him. Then he met Jesus and everything changed. Naturally, he begged, “Take me with you!” But Jesus said, “Your testimony is here, among people who knew you. Your changed life is your witness about me.”
It’s easy to impress people who don’t know us. We can talk a great game, flit about with our noses in the air, but not when there are people who can point and say, “We know who you really are.” Even after we meet Jesus, it’s tempting to want to move to another planet and start over. But it’s with our own people that we prove ourselves. A consistent life change gets their attention. “Whaddya mean you don’t drink anymore? You don’t party? You don’t sleep around? You stopped cussing? You read the Bible? Sure. We’ll see how long that lasts.” And there is our mission field. The space between our verbal witness and our consistent witness is our real testimony. If Jesus has saved you, go home to your own people and prove it.
Final Thought: Our real testimony is found in the space between what we say we are and what we show ourselves to be.
Prayer: Lord, how consistent am I? I’ve told a few people that I know you, but do those closest to me see it? My first mission field is the people who knew me back when. If I can continue to follow you while they watch, it’s real. Please help me. Amen.
Wednesday— They dragged Jason and some other believers before the city officials, shouting: “These men who have caused trouble all over the world have now come here…” Acts 17:6
That’s an interesting phrase: “…caused trouble all over the world.” We don’t realize the significance of this phrase unless we read verse 5: “But some of the Jews were jealous, so they gathered some troublemakers from the marketplace to form a mob and start a riot.” Hmm… jealous, troublemakers, mobs, riots… Sound familiar? Who was actually causing trouble? Was it Paul and his handful of friends? Of course not. They were gently explaining Jesus to people who wanted to hear. Politicians had their own agenda for creating the riots. And yet, regular townsfolk in Thessalonica would have sworn the uproar was caused by Paul. They didn’t know they were being manipulated by evil. This scene could be the lead story on a CNN news ticker.
Why was Paul’s message met with such public outrage? Because it threatened to expose a selfish agenda and selfish agendas always retaliate. When state, national, or church leaders expose evil, evil always retaliates. The result of that retaliation is usually political insanity. It would have been much easier for Paul and Co. to keep Jesus to themselves and avoid hot buttons. But they were called to challenge evil’s agenda with the gospel of grace. So are we. However, we can’t expect that message to be celebrated when it exposes pride and greed, challenges religion and self-righteousness. We can’t go along to get along. The world calls that “causing trouble.” We call it lifesaving freedom. God requires us to be holy troublemakers.
Final Thought: Are you willing to be a holy troublemaker in order to change your home, city, state, and nation?
Prayer: Father, I’m scared to be considered a troublemaker, but I will for you. I don’t want to be offensive, but to be faithful with your message of grace. If that makes people mad, I’m in good company. Give me Paul’s boldness. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Thursday— Everyone, from the least to the greatest, often spoke of him as “the Great One—the Power of God.” Acts 8:10
He was foretelling peace and prosperity while performing incredible deeds right before their eyes. And he was spiritual, too. He credited God with his amazing powers, so everyone from street sweeper to governor was posting his quotes on social media. He was “the Great One.” He was definitely “anointed.” He had the power of God. Anyone could see that, just ask around. So who was it? Was it Paul? Jesus? Another apostle? Nope. It was Simon the Sorcerer. A male witch.
In our mass-media culture, we tend to believe that whatever is trending, is probably right. If the majority of people we trust are going along with Dr. X, then we believe Dr. X, too. When everyone from least to greatest speaks of someone as ‘the great one,’ we tune in, download, and stream them too. Preacher So-n-So is tearing up the blogosphere? He must be great! We like his tweets, so they must be truth. And we are as gullible as Simon’s groupies. We elevate gifted humans to the stratosphere, then walk away from God when they fall. That happens because we allow Satan to shift our focus from God’s word to people who claim to speak God’s word. He convinces us that popular opinion equals truth, so we end up staunch defenders of error.
Final Thought: Just because everybody agrees doesn’t mean they’re right.
Prayer: Father, how much have I allowed popular opinion to shape my views? I get caught up in movements that probably aren’t from you and look to humans instead of your word. Help me not be fooled by the crowd. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Friday— Many of those who believed now came and openly confessed what they had done. Acts 19:18
“The Holy Spirit really showed up at our meeting last week,” cried Berta. “People were slain the Spirit, the preacher fell out, and we danced till morning!” Ethan nodded. “Hm. Is that the purpose of the Holy Spirit?” he asked. “To make believers fall all over the floor? Where’s that in the Bible?” Berta raised a brow. “What do you mean? That’s what our church teaches.” Ethan opened his Bible. “Yeah, it’s just that in scripture when the Holy Spirit came on people, they openly repented of sin, they were bold in their sacrifices, they loved each other deeply. I don’t see anything like what you’re describing. Seems like when He comes on a community, the community repents and changes. Are people in your church, your city, repenting and changing?”
Repentance and public confession seem to have gone the way of horse and buggy when the modern church talks about salvation. Often Jesus is offered as little more than spiritual self-help, baptism as a way to turn over a new leaf. “Pray this prayer and tap into God’s goodie bag!” cries the guy from Houston. Some will toss in the Holy Spirit like a glittery door prize, but we don’t hear much about grief over sin, confessing our wrongs to each other, or turning away from self-rule. But that’s all the Bible talks about. In there, new believers regularly confessed their sins before being baptized (Matt. 3:6). In fact, Jesus’ first public sermon was 8 words: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near” (Matt. 4:17). Doesn’t sound like “Believe in yourself” or “Have your best life now,” does it? But repentance is the only door into God’s presence and Jesus has the only key.
Final Thought: What would your city look like if everyone repented the way you do? You can lead the way.
Prayer: Father, have I treated you like a self-help program instead of Lord of everything? I confess my sins of _____, ______, and _______, and I turn away from them. May my repentance be a model for my church and my city. In Jesus’ name, amen.