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Thursday, October 23, 2014

Atlantic sunrise (Photo by Doug Maxwell) Click to enlarge
Atlantic sunrise
Photo by our friend Doug Maxwell
(Click on photo to enlarge)

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"Turning The World Right-side Up"

"So, being sent on their way by the church, they passed through both Phoenicia and Samaria, describing in detail the conversion of the Gentiles, and brought great joy to all the brothers" (Acts 15:3). "And when they could not find them, they dragged Jason and some of the brothers before the city authorities, shouting, 'These men who have turned the world upside down have come here also, and Jason has received them, and they are all acting against the decrees of Caesar, saying that there is another king, Jesus'" (Acts 17:6,7).

Each day there is breaking news reports, of course. Today the big topic are the terrorist acts in Ottawa Canada, which is about 500 miles due north of us. The terrorist is a recent convert to Islam and these kinds of conversions give the word a bad name. Some of the most repressive countries in the world have anti-conversion laws, which essentially keep people in darkness.

Genuine conversion to Christ however results in a wonderful transformation. In fact it turns our personal world upside down to that of right-side up! Our first daily text describes the great joy that results from turning away from sin and being converted to Christ.

Upside down globe
Many years ago the church we served in New England gave me a globe on a stand as a Pastor Appreciation gift. I have long wondered about something and have yet to find the answer. Globes and maps depict the northern hemisphere as "up" and the southern hemisphere as "down," and of course that is the orientation we consider right-side up. But is there an objective reason this is so? I wonder from the perspective of outer space if there is an "up and down"?

I do know, because of our customary view, that it looks strange to see a globe upside down which brings to mind the second daily Scripture text.

This Scripture portion is set in Paul's second missionary journey. Paul's ministry in Thessalonica was received by some but opposed by most. One receptive Thessalonian named Jason had welcomed Paul and Silas into his home. He now paid a big price for that hospitality. He, along with some other brothers, was dragged before the city officials.

The charge they faced is so interesting. "These men (Paul and Silas) who have turned the world upside down." From the perspective of this angry, unreceptive mob Paul and Silas and their followers were troublemakers, turning their world upside down. What a rebel rousing reputation they had, causing trouble all over the world!

Their accusers sum up the essence of the dangerous message in one phrase, "they are all acting against the decrees of Caesar, saying that there is another king, Jesus".

The "decrees of Caesar" are unspecified in this text but I believe they represent this worldly system.

against (some versions say "defying") the decrees of Caesar to the extent they are in opposition to God's decrees, and saying that there is another king, one called Jesus remains the message of the true church, a message the world hates to hear but it's also a message we must steadfastly proclaim.

That seems to be the pattern regarding receptivity to God's truth all around the world and throughout the centuries. It certainly was true of Jesus' ministry when He walked among a fallen people. And it is true today wherever God's truth is being proclaimed. Certainly it's becoming more and more true right here in America where we have been accustomed to religious freedom throughout my life.

Here in America there is such an increase in opposition to those who boldly proclaim Jesus and the teachings of the Scripture. In doing so the decrees of "Caesar" may very well be defied. For in many ways taking a stand for Christ defies the decrees of the modern Caesar. This is especially true concerning a number of "hot button" issues such as our origins, sexuality and abortion.

We've often heard the phrase, "The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing." The main thing is a consistent demonstration by word and deed, both individually and corporately, of the reality of another king, one called Jesus and another kingdom not of this world, God's Kingdom.

Today let us who love the Lord faithfully proclaim this timeless message. If we are viewed as troublemakers and dangerous so be it! In reality we seeking to turn a world upside down due to sin right-side up. We serve a risen King whose kingdom is not of this world. We live, not just for a lifetime on earth, but for all eternity in heaven.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer:
Jesus, we proclaim You to be the King of Kings and Lord of lords. Help us to boldly declare this glorious message, not only in a setting where we find receptive listeners, but also to a hostile world that is building its perishable kingdom here on earth. May we be full of conviction and infused with Your power as we courageously tell others "There is another King, one called Jesus."  You've called us to be light in a world full of darkness. You've also enjoined us to be peacemakers. Sometimes when we take a stand for righteousness it does not bring peaceful resolution, but instead further conflict arises. Then we go through a surge of emotions and doubts begin to arise regarding our stand. Would You help us to be diligent in our study, prayerful about our stand, and immersed in Your Holy Word. May we not stand in our own strength or be led by aimless ambition. Lord, as we take a position against the evil tide of our land help us to be unapologetic in our stand, consistent in our Christian walk, and loving in our approach. May we, by example and word, say to the fallen world that we serve not the god of this age, but we serve a King who is ageless and eternal. In Your strength alone we stand. Amen.

Lancaster County, PA scene 10/21/14
On Tuesday we saw a simple sign on the left pole that caught our attention.
The homemade sign has a simple yet profoundly true message
(Click on photo to enlarge)
In the course of taking the photo we noticed the interesting steel wheeled John Deere towing the buggy!

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"Jesus Is Still The Answer"  Video  Collingsworth Family

"Jesus, Only Jesus"  Video   Charles Billingsley, Guy Penrod, Michael O'Brien and Travis Cottrell

Answer to yesterday's trivia question was John 6:66

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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. and the King James Version.

Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and I make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and to prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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