A daily, Bible-based perspective of hope, encouragement and exhortation.
Friday, October 8, 2021
It's nice to see the barn all dressed up every fall! Many decorations are designed for interior but the fall harvest dresses up the exterior, making splashes of autumn color.
Message summary: When Christ rules in our heart, our feet will walk in His ways.
Listen to this message on your audio player.
“But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander” (1 Peter 3:15,16).
Last night I joined a group of friends at a banquet at the Shady Maple sponsored by the Associates for Biblical Research, a local apologetic ministry. Our speaker was John Stonestreet, who leads another apologetics ministry called Breakpoint, which some of our readers will recognize since it is broadcasted daily on many Christian radio stations. Chuck Colson was a frequent speaker before his death. Christian author Eric Metaxas also speaks on this broadcast.
Last night Stonestreet spoke on "Truth In A Postmodern World" and shared the special challenges our society faces, especially as it pertains to raising children.
Today’s Scripture text from 1 Peter is a word much needed by followers of Christ who in their “hearts set apart Christ as Lord”. This is a moral imperative that holds priority over all other decisions in life. This foundational choice begets and controls all subsequent choices. Is He really the Lord of my life?
“Always be prepared to give an answer.” This Scripture teaches that we are to always be prepared with our witness for Christ and truth. Our witness is not something we should be able to turn on or turn off. Paul wrote that we are to “be wise in the way we act toward outsiders; making the most of every opportunity” (Colossians 4:5). The fact is you are witnessing every day, whether effectively or not. Paul wrote of the Corinthian believers, “You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everybody" (2 Corinthians 3:2). What are people “reading” from your life?
The word “answer” is the Greek word “apologia” from which we get the English word apology. But as stated above, it doesn’t mean that it is something we are sorry for! We also get the word apologetics, which is the defense of our faith against all false systems. In fact several versions use the word "defense" in this passage and this is what we are doing. We need to be always be prepared to defend our faith.
Although having a knowledge of the Bible and theology is important, the primary reason for defending our faith according to this passage is “to give the reason for the hope that you have.” This world needs the hope we have in Christ. Do you know the reason for the hope that you have? “My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus blood and righteousness!”
This is a big and growing responsibility with the dominance of secular humanism along with the preponderance of scores of competing religious systems vying for converts. Today know what you believe and why you believe it and stand unashamedly for the Gospel of Jesus Christ! Your life can be a message of hope for a world that is searching.
When Christ rules in our heart, our feet will walk in His ways.
Be encouraged today, (Hebrews 3:13)
Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
Daily prayer: Father, as we set You apart in our heart from everything that is common, we begin to lay hold of Your holiness, Your power and goodness, justice and truth which also gives us an even greater reason for the hope that we have in You. The basis of our hope is in the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, who conquered the enemy of our soul. We defend our faith with gentleness and respect lest we espouse a superior attitude or reveal any attitude that is inconsistent with Your compassionate and just nature. May Your indwelling Spirit guide us in love and truth as we seek to reach others with the message of hope and forgiveness through Christ Jesus our Lord, in whose name we pray. Amen.
Bible teacher Ken Boa has an interesting outline and notes for the passage today:
• “Sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts.” In other words, be certain Jesus is Lord of your life and affirm your utter dependence upon Him. Remember that when you are talking with someone embracing another worldview, this is a spiritual battle. Your task is to be faithful in proclaiming the truth. It is God’s business to change the person.
• “Always being ready.” Know God’s Word and know how and when to use it. In doing so, you will be prepared to correct misconceptions about biblical Christianity.
• “To make a defense.” Always keep the discussion focused on Jesus and His finished work on the cross. Stay away from minor issues and do your best to prevent the other person from focusing on his or her misconceptions. Stay focused in a friendly, God-honoring manner, and do not be sidetracked by the other person’s unique claims or errors.
• “To everyone who asks you.” Pray that God will give you opportunities to share your faith in this pluralistic culture. Above all, be a good listener and ask for permission to express your view in the discussion. Do not be pushy or arrogant.
• “To give an account for the hope that is in you.” It is your personal relationship with the living God that is the source of your power and strength. Do not be afraid to recount your personal experiences of all that God has done for you. He is your hope and strength.
• “Yet with gentleness and reverence.” Show patience, respect, and love as you talk. Always look for common ground and seek to develop a relationship of trust and confidence that God can use to bring that person to Himself. (From James P Eckman, The Truth About Worldviews)
Laifong Lee, along with her husband Nigel, were the first two recipients of my first daily encouragement message in October 1996. They live in the Boston area and twenty-five years later we still stay in contact through daily encouragement! She now serves in mission work with Wycliffe but at the at the time was a molecular biologist working at a Harvard-related hospital in Boston. Years ago she shared a story of "always being ready":
"I have a story to share with you about the unexpected ways in which God works: Yesterday afternoon, I was doing a routine molecular biology procedure called ‘running a gel’ to visualize some DNA. I had done it countless times in the past but for the first time, I forgot to add a chemical which was required for the DNA to be seen. That led me to seek the advice of Scott, a graduate student in my lab, and in the course of ‘salvaging’ my experiment, we ended up having a long discussion on morality. It was an opportunity for me to get to know his views better, and I even voiced my belief that there can be no morality apart from God, and that the inherent conscience that human beings have (for something like murder) is due to the fact that we were created by God and so reflect some of His image. I’d been praying that God will give me more of a burden to pray for my colleagues and what happened yesterday is one way He has answered. I was thinking and praying for Scott on my way home from work. It was good to be reminded that although my work is secular work, God can use it for spiritual purposes.
Many years ago there was a radio program in Kansas City with George Westlake, a local pastor who had a Call-In radio show on Sunday evenings. Listeners could ask questions about the Bible and he would do his best to answer them. I suppose this was before the quick access you now have by using a computer. Yet Pastor Westlake had a deep knowledge of God’s Word and was ready to give an answer based upon Scripture.
Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
"In Christ Alone" Video Shane and Shane This was the concluding song in our meeting last night.
"Living Hope" Video Laudate Mennonite Ensemble We sing this in our church and it is often sung in a rather contemporary style with lots of instrumentation but in this version the vocals are dominant! Listen and watch them sing out and praise the Lord out in a farm field! Here's a Phil Wickam (the composer) version. Video
Friends who joined me at the banquet all of whom have had an influence on my life in one way or another, just a small portion of my lifetime of influencers!
In our circles we rarely see a clerical collar so I commented when I saw this man, Shawn Riley last night (along with wife and son). He is a Reformed Episcopalian and is a dean at their seminary near Philadelphia. He told me it's the oldest seminary in America still holding to a faithful Bible witness, pointing out how Harvard, Yale and many other seminaries have long abandoned their original mission of teaching Bible truth.
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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.
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