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Thursday, July 21, 2022

John 3:16 with globe

"I Am A Christian"

Message summary: Let us boldly, with a humble heart, declare to our world, "I am a Christian"!

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"And he (Barnabas) left for Tarsus to look for Saul; and when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. And for an entire year they met with the church and taught considerable numbers; and the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch" (Acts 11:25-26). "For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek" (Romans 1:16). "However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name" (1 Peter 4:16).

AgapeYesterday I had lunch with my friend Jesse Lapp at the Agape Cafe' in Strasburg. It's a wholesome place to eat with the motto "FOOD. COFFEE. FELLOWSHIP". As most readers know Agape' is the Greek word for love used in Bible verses like John 3:16.

When we were newly married and right out of Bible College in the late 70's we named the church we established in Saint Marys PA, AGAPE'. At that time and especially in the small town we lived in that was a very unusual word, which prompted the need to explain. And that could lead to an opportunity to share our faith by quoting John 3:16.

Jesse shared with me about an interesting faith-sharing opportunity he had on an Old Windmill Farm tour with visitors from Shanghai China, a mother and daughter. As he gives the tour he always shares with his guests, "I am a Christian".

The daughter who spoke English responded, "My mother is also a Christian". Jesse went on to have a conversation with her and she told him that the underground church is thriving in China and they had a mutually edifying conversation. What a great demonstration of the healthy diversity in the church to picture a middle-aged Amish man having fellowship with an elderly Chinese woman. (Jesse told me it was interesting that the daughter told him, "My mother is a Christian" and inferred from that the daughter may not be a Christian but of course there's always the possibility of a language barrier.)

One of the songs many of us learned as children (at least in our generation) went like this.

I am a C (pronouncing letters)
I am a C-H
I am a C-H-R-I-S-T-I-A-N
And I have C-H-R-I-S-T
In my H-E-A-R-T
and I will L-I-V-E  E-T-E-R-N-A-L-L-Y!
(Of course you speed it up each time you sing a round!)

Today attempts have been made to develop another label for those who follow Christ, in part due to how "Christian" can have such a broad meaning as well as those who have given the designation "Christian" a bad name. The most popular replacement is "Christ-follower" but of course that is not necessarily going to solve the tendency of any word or phrase to broaden or for someone to give it a bad name. I think there’s good reason for sticking with "Christian" going back to the Bible.

The Bible identifies the time "Christian" was first used to identify Christ’s disciples in our daily text, “The disciples were first called Christians in Antioch”. The Greek word means "follower of Christ". It comes from Χριστός (Christos), meaning "anointed one", with an adjectival ending borrowed from Latin to denote adhering to, or even belonging to, as in slave ownership. The word Christian is a transliteration of the original Greek word Χριστιανούς (Christianous - the “ous” at the end designates plural). Strong's concordance asserts that the word was first used by the Gentiles in describing Christ’s followers. It seems to me it could also have been a word in which they self-identified.

After its first use in Antioch the name stuck and is used elsewhere in the Bible. It was clearly a word used by non-believers as seen in King Agrippa’s response to Paul, "In a short time you will persuade me to become a Christian" (Acts 26:28). But later Peter used the word to describe his fellow disciples, "But if anyone suffers as a Christian, he is not to be ashamed, but is to glorify God in this name" (1 Peter 4:16).

I am a Christian! I am part of the company of the redeemed first called Christians in Antioch nearly 2,000 years ago. Today this great movement has grown and has representatives all around the world. Scores of Christians have lived out their appointed time on this earth and are now in heaven. One of the remarkable aspects of this daily encouragement ministry is its broad geographical distribution. The only information required to be on this list is a valid email address but we have had personal responses from every continent and many countries all around the world. Several days ago we heard from Moses and Jackline from South Sudan.

In massive Chinese cities like Shanghai God has a people who are calling on His name to be saved. All across Africa there are those who believe in Christ and on this day they will bear a witness for the Lord. In remote jungle villages in Papua, New Guinea dedicated missionaries are sharing the message of Christ with primitive, previously unreached, tribes. In London England a missionary engages in witness to Muslims.

Indeed in virtually every part of the world, from huge cities to rural villages, there is a group of people called Christians. I especially want to remember today my brothers and sisters in Christ who, as the Apostle Peter wrote, “suffer as a Christian” (1 Peter 4:16). It’s so easy for us who live in lands where we have not personally experienced physical persecution to forget, yet the Bible clearly calls us to remember.

What a place heaven will be! Several times in the book of Revelation we see the indication of the broad scope of Christ’s redemption. I really enjoy being in multi-cultural settings. For one thing it gives me a sneak preview of heaven's inhabitants. Here’s a glimpse from the book of Revelation, “And they sang a new song: ‘You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation’” (Revelation 5:9). Note especially this phrase: “Every tribe and language and people and nation”. Today, reflect on the joy it is to be among the redeemed and worship Him who sits on the throne. Let us boldly, with a humble heart, declare to our world, "I am a Christian"!

I’ll tell the world, that I’m a Christian,
I’m not ashamed, His name to bear;
I’ll tell the world, that I’m a Christian,
I’ll take Him with me everywhere.

It's the song of the redeemed
Rising from the African plain
It's the song of the forgiven
Drowning out the Amazon rain
The song of Asian believers
Filled with God's holy fire
It's every tribe, every tongue, every nation
A love song born of a grateful choir

Be encouraged today, (Hebrews 3:13)

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is salvation to all who believe upon Jesus as the Son of God. It’s natural and inviting to join in with a crowd of believers and declare with exuberance our privilege and joy to be a Christian. But when we stand alone against a defiant crowd or are confronted by those who declare evil against the Christian believer it becomes a grave responsibility and conviction to honor Christ by proclaiming our allegiance in a hostile setting. We pray for those confronted with that choice this very day. We also pray for families and friends who grieve the loss of their loved ones who took a Christian stand by staying true to their Christian faith though it cost them their earthly lives. May these families, all over the world, be consoled by the Scripture in Revelation 2:11 declaring that those faithful unto death will be given “the crown of life”. That is our prayer today that we be found faithful in life and faithful unto death, however that comes to us. In the name of Jesus our Lord and Savior we pray. Amen.

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"God So Loved"  Video   We The Kingdom

"I Am Not Ashamed Of The Gospel"  Video  Lauren Talley

"I Am A C-H-R-I-S-T-I-A-N"  Video  Cedarmont Kids  Now sing it faster and faster!

"He Reigns"  Video  Newsboys

"I'll Tell the World"  Video  Steve Darmody

The Agape Cafe and Grill is in Strasburg, PA

Finally today:

Processing corn on the Old Windmill Farm
Yesterday the Lapp family worked together processing corn picked fresh from the garden earlier in the morning. Much of it will go into a family favorite recipe, chicken corn soup!

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Weber couple photo 7/3/22
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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 make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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