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Inspiring Generations

God’s Agenda

February 27, 2015

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. and you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere-in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.  Acts 1:8 (NLT)

Yesterday I talked about God beginning to reveal areas of my life where I have become numb. Numb is defined as unable to think, feel or react normally because of something that shocks or upsets you, devoid of sensation or emotion. Another part of the definition that I did not include yesterday is the word indifferent.  Today I would like to look at how we have become numb (indifferent) to God. We just spent the last month focusing on missions.  Being intentional as we live our lives. Webster defines intentional as done in a way that is planned, or intended, done by design. Are you numb (indifferent) to what you heard? God has called us to live missionally. We are to be light in a dark world in our city, our state, the nation and the world. God has given us the explosive power of the Holy Spirit to accomplish His work. Are you engaging in your role in the kingdom?

It will not happen by accident, you must be strategic. Just like I said yes to join a Bible study, (even though I wanted to say no) each of us must say yes to join God where He is working. We must be aware of the people God puts in our lives and see them as He does. We must be willing to step out of our places of comfort and engage a lost and dying world. It is time we let go of our own agenda and join God’s.

    1. Join God’s Agenda Locally
      In Austin:
      Angel House Soup Kitchen
      Baptist Community Center
      Bannockburn Food Pantry (South Austin)
      Compassionate Hand Quilters
      English as a Second Language
      Johnny Bags. Just Add Water Bags
      South Austin Pregnancy Resource Center
      Thomas Right Homeless Ministry
      Yarns of Love
      In Dripping Springs:
      Helping Hands Food Pantry
      Tiger Totes
      In Manor:
      Food Pantry
  1. Join God’s Agenda Nationally
    Crossroads Community (New Orleans)
    Bible Institute of Edinburg
  2. Join God’s Agenda Globally
    Abundant Life Mission
    Austin-Guatemala Project
    Haiti Bible Mission
    Hands, Hearts, Minds

For more specific information on any of these opportunities click here: http://bbcfamily.com/missions/our-world

Personal Application: Spend some time in prayer asking God to reveal anything that is keeping you from being 100% sold out and radically obedient to what He is calling you to do in your city, state, nation or the world.

Home Application: Have a family meeting and get intentional about living missionally. Decide today to commit to one or more of these opportunities.

How are you numb (indifferent) to God’s calling to live on mission for Him?

Devotional written by Kathy Spade

NUMB

February 26, 2015

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen His glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. John 1:14

On Monday, I got a text from a friend that said, “I’m starting a Bible study in Austin this week~begins tomorrow evening. It’s called Numb. Jennie Allen is leading. It is about 300 women from around Austin and is based out of John. It’s a yes for me but doesn’t mean it is a yes for you, but wanted to extend an invite.”  I immediately ignored the text message. On Tuesday morning I could ignore it no longer and called my friend to ask about details and before I knew I was signed up!  I said yes to something that I knew very little about. Tuesday night I found myself driving to a church in the city that I had never been too, to participate in something I wasn’t even sure about, with women I didn’t even know. As I arrived I felt totally out of my comfort zone and began asking God what in the world I had gotten myself into. As I made my way to the registration table to check-in and then into the large worship center everything inside for me wanted to run. But God had a plan as always! I find my group and who is there but my friend (who sent me the text) and another friend that I never get to see. Only God. So I’m still not sure what I have gotten myself into but I know God wants me there.

Webster’s defines numb as unable to think, feel, or react normally because of something that shocks or upsets you; devoid of sensation or emotion.  One of the things I discovered Tuesday night is there are areas in my life where I have become numb…areas where I am unable to think, feel or react normally. Over the next eight weeks I am saying yes to God as He brings those areas of my life where I am numb back to life. How about you, are there areas in your life where you have become numb? Will you join me by saying yes to God and allow Him to unnumb you?

Personal Application: What are the things that God places in front of you that you want to say no to but He is drawing you to say yes? Will you step out in faith with a grateful yes and trust Him?

Home Application: Talk with your family about opportunities to say yes to God and join Him in the work He is doing.

Where are you numb?

Devotional written by Kathy Spade

 

 

 

Never too far gone

February 25, 2015

Meanwhile, Saul was uttering threats with every breath and was eager to kill the Lord’s followers. So he went to the high priest.  He requested letters addressed to the synagogues in Damascus, asking for their cooperation in the arrest of any followers of the Way he found there. He wanted to bring them—both men and women—back to Jerusalem in chains. Acts 9:1-2 (NLT)

Occasionally, as we make our way through life we will come across a person who embodies words like mean, difficult, evil, or hateful.  Sometimes this person’s actions come because of a deep hurt that they experienced, and now it seems their goal in life is to make everyone around them hurt just as deeply.  Other times, like in the case of a religious extremist, the person might believe they are doing the right thing by causing harm and difficulty for others.  As we are introduced to Saul, he was definitely mean, difficult and hateful in the way he related to people who believed in Jesus.  Earlier, we discover that he was a part of the group that killed Stephen for his faith in Jesus (Acts 7:57-8:1).  Saul had it out for Christians, and also had the power to do something about it.  He thought he was serving God in what he was doing, and this caused him to be even more passionate about his persecution.

As we think of Jesus’ desire for us to go into our world and be witnesses, thinking about Saul can challenge us in two ways…

    1.  There is no person “too far gone” down the wrong path that we shouldn’t be willing to pray and work to see  them come to know Christ.  Saul was about as far down the path as they come, yet God was able to touch his life in a way that caused him to respond to the good news about Jesus and he later became one of the most influential Christians in human history.  Hating people like Saul is not the will of God.  Loving them enough to pray for them, engage with them and not give up on them is the Christ-like approach.
    2. What you “have been” is not a determining factor on God’s ability to use you to share the message of salvation  with others.  Saul went from being a persecutor of Christians to becoming a missionary who traveled thousands of miles on foot talking to people about Jesus and starting churches.  If you sense God is calling you to tell someone about Jesus, don’t buy into the lies that you have no right because of your past or that you are not worthy or equipped to do it.  If God is calling you, it means he wants to and will use you if you will let Him.

Application: Are there people you consider too far gone?  Begin to pray for them, and ask God to give you His love and passion for seeing them move from darkness to light.  Has God been calling you to witness to someone or go on a mission effort, but you have disqualified yourself because of your past or because you think you are not qualified?  Pray for yourself, that responding to the call of God will be more important to you than any self depreciating excuse that you might find yourself hiding behind.

Devotional written by Jeff Humphrey

Embrace your place

February 24, 2015

Acts 17:26-27 (NIV)   From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live.  God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us.

           

One day Paul was sharing the good news about Jesus Christ with a group of influential people in Athens.  Today’s passage is one of the points he made about the sovereignty of God.

 

If you really believe that this statement is true, then it is no accident that we are occupying planet earth at this time and that there is a purpose for us being here.  That purpose is that we would come to know God and help others to know Him too.  You might have been a surprise to your parents, but you were no surprise to God.

 

The exact place that you would live was important to God as well.  If God has placed you in a city then you are part of His plan to reveal Him to that city.  You will never be a strong witness for Christ in your city if you don’t believe God has a strong purpose for your being there and embracing it with passion.  If you are willing to embrace this, you will do whatever it takes to make God known.

 

Application-  How about you?  Are you passionately appreciative of the place God has placed you and your family to live?  Are you seeking to meet people and use your influence to introduce them to Christ?  Do you spend your time complaining to God about all the things you don’t like about the city and people you share residence with?   Ask God to forgive you for the times you have forgotten that the time and place you have been called to live are to accomplish His greater purpose of making God known.

 

Today’s devo written by Jeff Humphrey

 

 

Suffering to death

February 23, 2015

John 18:25-27 (NLT)   Meanwhile, as Simon Peter was standing by the fire, they asked him again, “You’re not one of his disciples, are you?” He denied it, saying, “No, I am not.”  But one of the household slaves of the high priest, a relative of the man whose ear Peter had cut off, asked, “Didn’t I see you out there in the olive grove with Jesus?”  Again Peter denied it. And immediately a rooster crowed.    

The week Jesus was crucified, he experienced pain and suffering on many levels which included the injustice of a rigged and illegal trial in the dark of night, numerous beatings, whippings and humiliations, and then the ultimate suffering… death on a cross.

It is one thing to be hurt by those who hate you, but sometimes the deepest emotional pain comes when we are hurt by those who supposedly love us.  Jesus experienced this in today’s scripture passage.  Peter denied that he even knew Jesus, just so he would not be persecuted.  Peter loved Jesus but he was more interested in escaping his own suffering than he was in standing  up for Jesus when he was asked if he was a follower of Jesus.

All around the world, there are people who are physically persecuted because they are faithful to declare their association to Jesus.  To read their stories and pray for those that are known visit www.releaseinternational.org

Most of us reading this devotional today do not face that kind of persecution.  Like Peter, we deny that we know Jesus but for reasons that relate more to the friends we might lose, or the limit it might put on our ability to make a buck or climb up the ladder of popularity and success.

 

Personal and Family Application-  Don’t think that Jesus is not affected by our denials.  The Bible tells us that He can be grieved by what we do (Eph.4:30).  Talk to God about ways you deny knowing Him.  Ask God to replace your timidity with a bold, willingness to let people know you are associated with Jesus Christ.  Help those in your home be willing to suffer for the sake of Jesus, and pray for those around the world who are suffering to death.

Today’s devo written by Jeff Humphrey

Missions… Acts 1:8 style

February 20, 2015

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”   Acts 1:8 (NLT)        

The instructions we find in Acts 1:8 are some of the last words Jesus spoke to us in the flesh before He went back to heaven.  In them He gives us the game plan and scope for fulfilling the great commission (Matthew 28:18-20).

First, He reminds us that our power comes from God’s Holy Spirit that indwells us.  It is the Holy Spirit that provokes and empowers us to accomplish every spiritual act we will ever do.  We can passionately pursue the Spirit’s activity in our lives or we can grieve the Holy Spirit by living lives that are self indulgent and self serving.

Then, He reminds us that God’s heart is for everyone to experience a relationship with Him and so we need to go everywhere.  It starts where we are (the town you live in) and like the waves made by a pebble hitting the water it moves out to every region, state and nation of people on the planet.

No one person can do this completely, but as the church we can.  There are times the Holy Spirit will let you know you are to go to that local person or people who live in a specific region, state, or nation of the world.  Through the power of the Holy Spirit and the prayers and support of the church God will give you what you need to be successful for Him.  Other times, the Holy Spirit may be leading others in the church to go.  Through the power of the Holy Spirit and your prayers, encouragement, tithes and offerings God will give them what they need to be successful for Him.  God could do some amazing things through a church that had this kind of Acts 1:8 passion.

Are you willing to be an Acts 1:8 believer… willing to go to whomever the Holy Spirit sends you to and support others in the church to go as God sends them?  If this is a hard thing for you, ask God to begin to work on your heart.  Ask Him to give you a heart that is willing to go when God says go, and willing to pray and give so that others might go when God is calling them.

 

today’s devo by Jeff Humphrey

Easy to say, hard to do

February 18, 2015

But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life. – Jude 1:20-21

How are we supposed to do this Christian life? The book of Jude gives us the answer. It even points out that we are to continue doing the same way when faced with people scoffing us for our faith. So what is it?

1. Build yourselves up in the faith

Daily implant yourself into the faith. Learn the word of God (Bible), apply what you learn, and share it with others.

2. Pray in the Holy Spirit

Everything we do as Christians comes down to the Holy Spirit. Without counting on the Holy Spirit, we are just doing and not allowing God to work. Without the Holy Spirit, our best efforts will fail.

3. Keep yourself in the love of God

We cannot escape the love of God, but we do need a reminder of God’s love for us daily.

4. Wait for the mercy of Jesus that leads to eternal life.

If we take a hard look at the mercy given to us by Jesus on the cross, it motivates us to do the three steps above.

Personal Application: Putting these things into four simple steps really makes it seem easy, however you must have a complete trust in the Holy Spirit to help you do each and every one.

Home Application: Parents: Instill these into your kids by modeling them. You are the biggest influence in your child’s life. As a family, pray for specific areas each of your family members needs to have the Holy Spirit work on.

How does your life stand out for Christ today?

Devo written by Travis Hogg.

Permission Granted

February 17, 2015

Jesus said to them, “My time has not yet come, but your time is always here. – John 7:6

Have you ever been in a situation where you wanted to ask your boss for a raise? You are fearful because you are wondering if your boss thinks you deserve a raise. You start telling yourself that your boss will get mad at you for even asking. You eventually think of all the ways your boss will say no and you chicken out. A lot of times, this same situation hits us when we are sharing the Gospel.

In this passage, Jesus is being asked to make himself known during a Jewish festival. His brothers are asking Him why He works in secret if He wants to be known openly. It’s a great question. Jesus did several things and then told the witnesses to not tell anyone about it because it was not time yet. What I love about this verse is that Jesus tells them that their time is always here.

Jesus knew the exact plan for His life and knew what needed to happen for Him to die on the cross. Because He is God and has the foreknowledge, He can do as He wants. But the best part is that Jesus gives us permission to always make His name known. Our time to live a life that explodes with Christ’s love for people. Our time to tell the masses on this earth who He is!

We have no reason to fear making His name known. It is our life’s purpose. One of my favorite song these days says:

Shout it, Go on and scream it from the mountains
Go on and tell it to the masses
That He is God

(All the Poor and Powerless by All Sons and Daughters)

Personal Application: Make a commitment today to tell someone your story, have a spiritual conversation, or share the Gospel.

Home Application: A family unit is a great place to encourage one another when we may be fearful of sharing the Gospel.

Why are we so afraid of a “no” when we never give people a chance to say “yes” to Jesus?

Devo written by Travis Hogg.

Like a screen door on a submarine…

February 16, 2015

So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. – James 2:17

An old song from my childhood, you may know it, said, “Faith without works is like a screen door on a submarine.” I love this analogy because while a screen door would play the part of a door, letting people in and out, it would be useless in the overall workings of the submarine.

James is writing in this passage and explaining that because of our faith in Jesus, we HAVE to be propelled to action. He makes it clear that this is not what saves you but what proves your faith. We live in a literal world and one way to physically show who you believe in is by showing people. Jesus said that we show we are one of his through love.

So if we are commanded to action because of our faith, what are we doing? Christians have done a lot of sitting in pews hearing great sermons, but have done a poor job at acting on what they have heard. As we have been moving through the Acts 1:8 passage with Pastor Nathan, the Holy Spirit has reminded me that our entire life’s purpose is to go. Go doesn’t have to be across the world because going starts by going out your own front door first.

Church: Let’s stop being consumers of the Gospel and be givers of the Gospel. Austin is full of opportunities to help the poor, needy, sick, down-and-out, rich, busy, doesn’t care, etc. Why has God placed you in Central Texas at this very moment?

Personal Application: Take a look a your normal everyday looks like and start to look at it as Christ would. Where can you show actions of faith in your life?

Home Application: Serving as a family is both an incredible teaching moment for the family, but is also a powerful force for the Gospel when others see a family unit serving.

Where in your life do you need “to go?”

Devo written by Travis Hogg.

Love freely and weirdly. Not just an Austin thing…

February 13, 2015

For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. – Galatians 5:1

You are free! Did you know you used to be a slave? Yep, as a Christian, you were once a slave to sin and now you are free! Exciting right? Now what to do with that…

Paul says we should show our faith through love. The best way to show Jesus to other people is by loving them in a way that this world doesn’t see very often and frankly doesn’t understand.

During the 1992 Summer Olympic Game in Barcelona, Spain, a runner by the name Derek Redmond was ready to compete for gold. He had been training and training and training some more for this possible once in a lifetime moment. He was a runner in the 400 meter dash. Derek took off running and he was 3/4 of the way around the track when he heard a ‘pop’ in his right hamstring. He hit the track. Medical team came out with a stretcher and he told himself that he would finish the race on his feet. In obvious pain, he looks and sees his dad pushing past security to get on the track. His dad meets him, helps him up, and carries him the remainder of the way across the finish line. Derek did not receive a medal but he did receive an awesome gift of love from his dad. The entire crowd jumps to their feet and cheers the two on.

When we hear stories like that, they make a huge impact because it is foreign to our world. But as Christians that is exactly what we are supposed to be. We are supposed be so loving that it’s almost weird. Use the freedom we have in Christ to love freely and make a difference.

Personal Application: A lot of times, it’s not that we do not want to love, but that we miss the opportunities to love because we are not looking for them. Don’t get so wrapped up in your own world that you miss the chance to show Jesus to others.

Home Application: Pray that God gives you His eyes for people and the ideas to show your faith through love.

How can you notice the love needed around you?

Devo written by Travis Hogg.

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