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Mandate | Commissioned

#storychanging

Mandate | Commissioned

MondayI’m astonished that you are quickly turning to a different gospel, which is really no gospel at all. Galatians 1:6-7

What IS this gospel the Bible talks about? Before we can share the gospel with other people, we need to be clear about what it is and what it is NOT. The term “gospel” means “good news.” And we only appreciate good news when we understand the bad news. What often passes for the gospel today never mentions the bad news. We hear about a Cheerleader Jesus. We hear perky pep talks, self-help, self-esteem, and self worship. But very little about the bad news that makes us eager for good news. Jesus talked a LOT about the bad news because that’s the whole reason He came to earth in the first place.

The bad news is that every human being is a sinner and sin separates us from God. Sin must be paid for. We can either pay for it ourselves in hell, or we can let the perfect Son of God be punished in our place. When Jesus went to the cross, He paid in full the debt we owe God. Our sin was placed on Him so God could pronounce us “Not Guilty.” When He rose from the dead, He conquered our greatest enemy, death. That means whoever surrenders to Jesus as Lord will also rise again to be with Him forever. That’s good news when we understand the bad news. Any so-called “gospel” that adds to or takes away from what Jesus did is a different gospel, which is really no gospel at all. Jesus commissioned us to share the real gospel.

Final Thought:  Before you start to share the gospel, be sure you’ve got the right one.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, thank you for coming to earth, dying for my sin, and rising from the dead so that I can live forever with you. Help me study your word for myself so that the gospel I share with others is the right gospel. In your holy name, amen. 

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Tuesday  He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.”   Mark 16:15

This command is known as The Great Commission. However, the words in Mark differ enough from the words in Matthew 28:19 that scholars believe they were spoken at different times. While Matthew specifically mentions making disciples of every nation, Mark’s gospel suggests a wider meaning. A quick look at the Greek opens a new area of possibility. The Greek word translated “creation” is “ktisis,” which means something created by God out of nothing. Ktisis is not limited to human beings, although that is implied. But could Jesus have been suggesting more when He said to preach the gospel to all ktisis?

All ktisis is under sin’s curse. Paul says in Romans 8:19 that “the whole (ktisis) waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God.” Could even nature itself yearn to hear the gospel that will free it? What if, in addition to making disciples of people, Jesus also wants the gospel to so define us that we exhale it with every breath? We shout God’s majesty to the sunsets, worship aloud in the forest, admire His handiwork in new babies, marvel at His creativity in a rose, thank Him aloud when we bite into a juicy peach. A Christian who is saturated in the gospel cannot help but preach it to all creation. When we rejoice in the gospel with all ktisis, we may find that preaching the gospel to other people is a natural result.

Final Thought:  What does “preaching the gospel to all creation” look like in your world?

Prayer: Jesus, make me more aware of opportunities to preach your gospel to all creation. Help me become more vocal with my praise, bolder in my thanksgiving, and eager to bring you into every situation. May your gospel saturate my life.  Amen.

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Wednesday   “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you and you will be my witnesses…”  Acts 1:8

Bruce squinted toward the street in front of his house. Was he seeing what he thought he was seeing? He wiped grease from his hands and started across the lawn. “Larry?” he called. “Is that you? What are you doing?” Larry leaned against the car he was pushing and wiped sweat from his forehead. He gasped for several minutes before he could speak. “Yeah…gotta get to work. Big project. Need my car to get to appointments.” Bruce gave him a puzzled look. “Well, aren’t you supposed to sit in that thing, not push it? I believe the car is supposed to do all the work, not you.” Larry shook his head. “Wouldn’t start. But I’ve got a job to do. Meetings to get to. Clients to transport. Don’t wanna disappoint the boss, so I’m gonna get there if it kills me.”

That’s the way many Christians serve Jesus. “I’ve got a job to do, so I’m gonna do it even if it kills me.” Then they white-knuckle their way through the Christian life, thinking they’re pleasing the Boss. It can feel like shoving a car uphill.  When we try to live the Christian life in our own strength, we wear out or burn out. There’s no joy. No peace. No power. Jesus gave His disciples a job to do but forbade them to start until the Holy Spirit came. It would be impossible on their own. Nothing has changed. God gave us a mandate, but He doesn’t expect us to push a car uphill. We have to wait on the Holy Spirit. Only He can save a soul. Only He can transform a life. Serving God without the Spirit’s power is like pushing a stalled car uphill.

Final Thought:  Are you trying to serve God in your own strength or do you rely on the Holy Spirit’s power?

Prayer: Lord, I’m thinking of all the times I tried to obey and serve you in my own strength. With willpower. With gifting and talents. With pride. Please forgive me. I will get in position to be filled with your Spirit and trust you to live through me. Amen. 

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Thursday  And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.  Acts 4:31

When you think of someone who is filled with the Holy Spirit, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? Speaking in tongues? Running around the room? Performing miracles? Unfortunately, the idea of being filled with the Holy Spirit has gotten a bad rap from fakers and immature Christians. In scripture, when people were filled with the Spirit it usually resulted in instant boldness. Courage replaced fear. God-pleasing replaced people-pleasing. Even threats of beatings and imprisonment could not stop the bold preaching of those filled with the Holy Spirit. God fills people so that they can reach other people with His gospel.

What does “speaking the word of God boldly” look like in our world? Circle the right answer: a) Whacking a neighbor with a giant King James Bible. B) Loudly rebuking a church visitor because her skirt is too short. C) Inserting Bible verses into every sentence to impress people with your spirituality. d) Using company time to corner coworkers with your sermons. If you did not circle any of these, good for you! You’re on the right track. We speak the word of God boldly when we are more committed to truth than popularity. We don’t let fear keep us from connecting with people hostile toward God. We openly profess Jesus as Lord and Savior and then live in a way that validates the claim. We speak the word of God boldly when we live His truth 24/7.

Final Thought:  Have you been filled with the Holy Spirit? What evidence in your life validates that claim?

Prayer: Father, I need more of you. More of your Spirit. More of your boldness. More of your truth so I can reach my world. I empty myself now of everything that is in your way. Fill me so I can speak your word boldly. In Jesus’ name, amen.

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FridayCretans and Arabs—we hear them speaking in our own tongues the wonderful works of God.”  Acts 2:11

The speaker stomped off the stage in disgust, waving his Bible at his hosts. “I’ve preached five nights in a row and these people just gape at me. I flew all the way from America to bring them the gospel, but they just stare!” The host lifted a brow. “Sir, I tried to tell you last week. They don’t speak English. Nothing you said got through to them because you refused to speak in their tribal languages or use a translator. I’m sorry you came all this way, but they don’t understand you.”

We may not do anything that dumb, but sometimes we forget that a lost and hurting world doesn’t speak our language. We can talk to our church friends about being “washed in the blood of the Lamb” and “being baptized in the Spirit,” but unbelievers just gape at us. Part of our mandate is to speak the words of God in a language our hearers understand. Jesus did that all the time. He’d come from indescribable glory, but He broke it down into stories about farming, sheep herding, and family disputes. He could read minds, but He asked them questions. Jesus was God in a language we understand. When the Holy Spirit filled the first believers and gave them the ability to speak in languages they hadn’t learned, God was saying, “Break it down!” The higher the education, the more we know of the Bible, the simpler we should make it. Being lofty and religious is NOT a sign of spiritual maturity. Just the opposite. People filled with the Holy Spirit speak in a language their hearers understand.

Final Thought:  How well do you break it down for people who need to hear the gospel?

Prayer: Father, I’m not as aware as I need to be of the languages this world speaks. I don’t have to join their sin in order to speak their language. Jesus did it. The first believers did it. Give me the ability to break it down too.  In Jesus’ name, amen.