A daily, Bible-based perspective of hope, encouragement and exhortation.
Wednesday, January 20, 2021
Perhaps we should just call them squirrel feeders!
Message summary: Today we need to recognize the world is upside down and we must not get accustomed to the extent that we think it's normal. Rather the world is deeply marred by sin to the extent that it's upside down! The life-transforming message of Christ remains the world's greatest hope both for individuals and for nations.
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"These who have turned the world upside down have come here too" (Acts 17:6).
We visited with the employees at Audrey's yesterday during our chaplain visit. This company gives us the opportunity to share a brief devotional for employees who voluntarily attend and thankfully most do. We get there bright and early and greet the people as we walk through the huge warehouse.
Audrey's sells home decor items and we get to see the latest products that are not even on store shelves yet. But our favorite section is the bargain aisle where they sell returns, seconds, close-outs, and defective products. An observer may not even detect the defect but yesterday I saw the small plaque posted to the right, which had a rather glaring defect. For those can't see the photo it's a small plaque with a Scripture text: "Give thanks with a grateful heart". The word "grateful" is stylistically on a small piece of wood which was glued on upside down (lnɟǝʇɐɹƃ)!
Several employees told me, "You'll probably get a message out of that!" Indeed I do enjoy trying to develop spiritual lessons from the many observations of life. One quick message would be, "We need to be grateful when things seem upside down in our life"!
But today let's go another direction as we consider the rather dramatic description of the impact of Christ's teaching on our world.
The daily text is a powerful expression of the world’s perspective on the mighty and far-reaching impact of the early church. It is specifically referring to the ministry of the Apostle Paul and those who traveled with him as they proclaimed the message of Christ in Thessalonica. Apparently their reputation had preceded them. Their message was so absolutely transforming that it was said to "have turned the world upside down".
The key Greek word used here is “anastatōsantes” which means to "upset or unsettle". When Christians confront a world whose mindset and actions move full steam ahead in opposition to God’s commands it surely is upsetting and unsettling.
Indeed, wherever the true message of Jesus Christ goes, it has a transforming impact. This impact will be seen in individuals, families, churches, communities, countries and entire cultures. It’s important to realize that the transformation is upside down from the world’s perspective but right side up according to God’s created design!
Pastor David Guzek observes, "Actually, God was working through Paul and Silas to turn the world right side-up again. But when you yourself are upside-down, the other direction appears to be upside-down as reflected from their point of view!"
Today we need to recognize the world is upside down and we must not get accustomed to the extent that we think it's normal. Rather the world is deeply marred by sin to the extent that it's upside down! The life-transforming message of Christ remains the world's greatest hope both for individuals and for nations.
I still recall a special formative moment in my personal discipleship when a fellow believer named Dave Cook shared with me a spiritual concept based on Romans 12:2. "Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind". That was nearly 50 years ago! The transforming process of breaking conformity to the world and conforming ourselves to Christ and His teaching continues in my life through the ongoing renewing of my mind. There have been many setbacks along the way but God continues the process and I am assured that He will carry it on to completion until the day He appears (Philippians 1:6).
Be encouraged today,
Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
Daily prayer: Father, as we walk in step with Your commands our presence makes a positive difference in the classroom, the workplace, the neighborhood, the community and nation, our churches and most especially in our families. With Your sanctifying seal upon our lives we no longer live according to the lust of the flesh, but the life of the Son who resides in us. May we see our world turned right-side up as people walk away from evil while being transformed by Christ’s redemptive power in the name of Jesus we pray, Amen.
Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
"Ancient Of Days" Video CityAlight This song begins with a powerful reminder all we who trust in Christ need to realize:
Though the nations rage
Kingdoms rise and fall
There is still one King
Reigning over all
"The Worthy Medley" Video The Acappella Company
For further study: CH Spurgeon in his introduction to his sermon "The World Turned Upside Down" on Acts 17:6 wrote:
THIS is just an old version of an oft-repeated story. When disturbances arise in a state, and rebellions and mutinies cause blood to be shed, it is still the custom to cry, “The Christians have done this.” In the days of Jesus we know that it was laid to the charge of our blessed and divine Master, that he was a stirrer of sedition, whereas he himself had refused to be a king, when his followers would have taken him by force to make him one, for he said, “My kingdom is not of this world;” yet was he crucified under the two false charges of sedition and blasphemy.
The same thing occurred with the Apostles. Wherever they went to preach the gospel, the Jews who opposed them sought to stir up the refuse of the city to put an end to their ministry; and then, when a great tumult had been made by the Jews themselves, who had taken unto them certain lewd fellows of the baser sort, and gathered a company, and set all the city in an uproar, and assaulted the house of Jason, and sought to bring him out to the people, then the Jews laid the tumult and the uproar at the door of the Apostles, saying “These that have turned the world upside down are come hither also.” This plan was followed all through the Roman empire, until Christianity became the state religion.
There was never a calamity befell Rome, never a war arose, never a famine or a plague, but the vulgar multitude cried, “The Christians to the lions! The Christians have done this.” Nero himself imputed the burning of Rome, of which he himself doubtless was the incendiary, to the Christians. The believers in Jesus were slandered as if they were the common sewer, into which all the filth of sin was to be poured; whereas, they were like Solomon’s great brazen sea, which was full of the purest water, wherein even priests themselves might wash their robes. And you will remark, that to this day the world still lays its ills at the door of the Christians. Was it not the foolish cry a few months ago, and are there not some weak-minded individuals who still believe it, that the great massacre and mutiny in India was caused by the missionaries.
The men who turned the world upside down had gone there also; and because men broke through all the restraints of nature and of law, and committed deeds for which fiends might blush, this must be laid at the door of Christ’s holy gospel, and the men of peace must bear on their shoulders the blame of war! Ah! we need not refute this: the calumny is too idle to need a refutation. Can it be true, that he whose gospel is love should be the fomentor of disturbance? Can it be fair for a moment to lay mutiny and rebellion at the door of the gospel, the very motto of which is, “Peace on earth, good will towards men?” Did not our Master say, “Render unto Cæsar the things that are Cæsar’s, and unto God the things that are God’s?” Did he not himself pay tribute though he sent to the fish of the sea, to get the shekel?
And have not his followers at all times been a peaceful generation?—save only and except where the liberty of their conscience was touched, and then they were not the men to bow their knees to tyrants and kings, but with brave old Oliver they did bind their kings in chains, and their nobles in fetters of iron, as they will do again, if their liberty ever should be infringed, so that they should not hare power to worship God as they ought.
We believe that what these Jews said of the Apostles, was just a downright willful lie. They knew better. The Apostles were not the disturbers of states. It is true, they preached that which would disturb the sinful constitution of a kingdom, and which would disturb the evil practices of false priests; but they never meant to set men in an uproar. They did come to set men at arms with sin; they did draw the sword against iniquity; but against men as men, against kings as kings, they had no battle; it is with iniquity and sin, and wrong everywhere, that they proclaimed an everlasting warfare.
But still, brethren, there is many a true word spoken in jest, we say, and surely there is many a true word spoken in malice. They said the Apostles turned the world upside down. They meant by that, that they were disturbers of the peace. But they said a great true thing; for Christ’s gospel does turn the world upside down. It was the wrong way upwards before, and now that the gospel is preached, and when it shall prevail, it will just set the world right by turning it upside down.
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