Aug 17, 2012

Friday SHINE...


 Today's reading: Acts 23

Good morning SHINE girls! This is Rebekah. We are more than half way through Acts and it's jam packed with faith in action. You guys, it deserves a SHINE post.  :)

Seeds of Boldness… what I’m (still) learning from Acts-
Rebekah Vepraskas
 
The disciples are poster boys for out loud faith. Aren't they?! Boy, do they inspire me.  Luke chronicles these “acts” of the Apostles-- The verbs of the Apostles. The bottom line of who they were. 
I am trying to use these seeds of boldness in my life to build my faith, walk and witness to others. But... I have a confession. (I am horrible.) 

I used to bristle under my mother’s request to "pray for a problem" over the phone. It was always my problem, by the way, she was being such a sweet friend to me. But, I ran from prayer. Ugh--- it drove me crazy! I would actually (sometimes) tell her "no, I can't." Granted, sometimes, I was at work and unable to stay on the phone, but often I was just annoyed. Do you know what she did? She told me “that’s fine, darling, hang up and I will call you back and pray on your voice mail” and she suggested I could listen later and agree with her in prayer. As much as it annoyed me, she planted a seed in my life, a seed to pray. I wasn’t a very good prayer partner years ago, but it has made me much more willing to use that muscle of prayer today and pray. A work in progress! That's me! So, I am learning from Acts...
  •  The GIFT- The Holy Spirit for us all- Acts opens with Jesus giving this gift to His disciples.  From then on, the Holy Spirit has been available as our comforter and peace. I think the Holy Spirit is a strength giver, too.  He gives strength in our faith, strength in our boldness, strength in our walk—Strength in our “Acts.”
  • The Lord uses challenges to spread FAITH in HIM- The Apostles or disciples would tell the good news and then often flee for fear of imprisonment or death.  This only spread the WORD faster. The disciples didn’t stop telling the GOOD NEWS when trying times came. Their message was constant even when their homeland was not.
  • Keeping our message constant- This grows the faith of others’ tremendously.  When we share our faith through adversity, others are amazed, surprised by the positive threads of hope in the face of a huge challenge.  I think of believers with life threatening illnesses. How inspiring is their faith in adversity? That unexplainable peace attracts so many to Christ. We have a friends (David Boyd, Stuart Smartt, Caroline Ingle St. John, Linnetta Foster) whose cancer battles were the beginning of a rich Christian walk for so many. Especially me. How we respond to life impacts others' lives.
  • The act of boldness {Talk about Jesus} It’s not easy. (But, not nearly as hard as the job the Apostles set out to accomplish!) We live in a world devoid of Christ. It’s so foreign to even hear small symbols of faith in our language and conversations with each other. Does it have to be? This is what I am trying-- Even at work, my kids' schools, with my neighbors and strangers at the grocery store.
Good Luck="God Bless You"
That’s Lucky!="What a blessing!"
A trying time=“God can turn this to good!”
A huge raise, a new job="That's God’s provision"
A friend calls with a huge challenge=(A chance to pray)
  • PRAY- When a friend calls with an insurmountable problem. Exercise Prayer. Engage God in the equation. When we pile on, validate and commiserate without prayer for our friend-- our friend is left with diminishing hope. Listen and pray. He is our Help. We are not each others' help. Talking is great, praying is better. We are often distracted on our way to God by our friends. If we pray together, we are suddenly back on track.
  • They were flexible in the Holy Spirit – In Acts, Chapter 8, Philip was riding along (at the Holy Spirit’s prompting) with an Ethiopian man. Philip was “telling him of the good news about Jesus…” Acts 8:35. They passed by water and the Ethiopian man asked if he could jump out and be baptized by Philip. They did and the man was miraculously changed. Wow! Would we all see the water we are passing as water that held purity and sanctification? Being willing to follow the Holy Spirit is huge. No matter how unlikely it may seem.
  • Forgive others- The disciples were misunderstood, lied about, stoned, imprisoned, bullied… they forgave. They kept on doing the will of God, spreading His message. If we are distracted by the wrongs of others, it only delays our growth in Christ. If the disciples had gotten distracted by how hostile people were toward the good news, the good news would have been a fire fizzling out---Others are wrong, we must get over it. Go, forgive and ask God for direction, He promises to make our paths straight. What if the love you extend to the unlovely is the only grace they ever experience. What if they saw Jesus in you?
  •   Our Acts- Now, what are the Acts of SHINE girls? If Luke were to write a book about us, what would it say? How are we living? What are our verbs? We know what we do says a whole lot about who we are. We must stay focused on ourselves and our own lives and grow in Faith and Relationship with God. It's the tip of the iceberg. But, it's faith in action.
Dear Holy Spirit come near, please, we need You. Fill us with goodness, peace, hope and love. Help us to reflect our faith and love in Jesus Christ. Sanctify and purify our hearts. Help our actions to speak boldly of our life in Christ. It all takes boldness. Help us to be bold, Dear God. Give us the strength we need to persevere in our faith and bring Glory to Your Name, in  Jesus’ name, Amen.

Love you girls!
Rebekah