Battling Sin

Journal Entry // June 15, 2022

asking as a favor against Paul that he summon him to Jerusalem—because they were planning an ambush to kill him on the way.

Acts 25:3 ESV

There will be trouble in this world. Sometimes this trouble will be the consequences of our own sin and error; sometimes this trouble will be unfairly brought against us simply because of our faith in Jesus Christ. I have found it difficult at times to discern the proper way to respond in these situations, because I am conflicted about my sin. I can see that I am being unfairly treated in a situation, but I struggle to make a defense because of my personal sin and failure that has played a part. So I find myself caught at times not wanting to defend myself and allowing the trouble or adversity to prevail as a form of punishment for my sin in general.

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Apathy and Ignorance

Journal Entry // June 13, 2022

And as he reasoned about righteousness and self-control and the coming judgment, Felix was alarmed and said, “Go away for the present. When I get an opportunity I will summon you.”

Acts 24:25 ESV

Here in this passage is the response of Felix to the gospel of Christ being taught before him with reasoned explanations for righteousness, self-control, and judgement. Paul articulated the truths of the gospel in such a manner that Felix understood what was being said and the implications of his decision in response. So what was Felix to do with this gospel truth? He was alarmed. He knew that the truth of the gospel had brought him to a point of decision in which he could not vacillate. He needed to accept or reject this reasoned message. Yet, Felix chose to delay. He chose to put this truth out of his mind. Felix chose to send Paul away and remove from  his sight the messenger of this critical point of decision. He chose apathy and ignorance.

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All Good Conscience

Journal Entry // June 8,, 2022

And looking intently at the council, Paul said, “Brothers, I have lived my life before God in all good conscience up to this day.”

Acts 23:1 ESV

This statement from Paul is quite amazing when I stop and really think through what he is saying to the council and the high priest. These are the very people that had used Paul, then called Saul, to persecute the church. So when Paul says that he has lived in all good conscience, it is a sharp reminder that Paul was once one of them but now is a follower of Christ. What interests me the most is that Paul can say he has lived in all good conscience before God. Here is a former persecutor of the body of Christ who is fully aware and has embraced forgiveness. Paul now lives a transformed and redeemed life dedicated to the one he formerly hated and now follows wholeheartedly.

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Who Are You?

Journal Entry // June 6, 2022

And I answered, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ And he said to me, ‘I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom you are persecuting.’

Acts 22:8 ESV

The church and the people of God, the believers and followers of Jesus are the ambassadors of Christ himself. Each and every person who calls on the name of the Lord is of vital importance. More than that, they are in essence e bodily representation of Jesus himself. The Holy Spirit has come to inhabit and dwell within the heart of each and every person that holds fast to Christ himself for salvation. Each and every person is important, valuable, and distinct. In this verse, we see Jesus not only identifying with those who Saul was persecuting, but was actually the one receiving the persecution.

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Finish the Course

Journal Entry // June 4, 2022

But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.

Acts 20:24 ESV

These last few weeks, I have been overly concerned with the current state of my life. For the past 2+ years, God has kept me and my family in a state of unrest, anxiety, struggle, and perplexity. It has been a time of upheaval and transition as the Lord seems to be clearing the stage from our previous life and preparing us for a new stage of life and ministry. I have struggled a lot during this time in different ways, but lately there has been a more intense battle with depression and apathy. As I was reading and thinking through my time in Joshua and Acts, I was intrigued by these words of Paul. This statement of humility and selflessness. A man who understands his mission and calling from Jesus. And it brought into sharp focus that I am not living with this righteous perspective.

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Persuasive Reason

Journal Entry // June 2, 2022

And he entered the synagogue and for three months spoke boldly, reasoning and persuading them about the kingdom of God.

Acts 19:8 ESV

Reasoning and persuading… I was thinking on this phrase in the context of the passage and how it is important for my witness to be both reasoned and persuasive. That my faith or anyone’s faith in Christ is not without reason. I think that we all at times may not know an answer to a skeptic’s question, so instead of admitting that we don’t know the answer and need to look into the question more closely, we instantly become defensive and counter that we have to take some things on faith. That we have to leap into the dark so to speak. This is not true though. What we need is a reasoned and persuasive understanding of the faith and patience to explain the truth that we believe to anyone who asks.

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Spirit Provoked

Journal Entry // May 30, 2022

Now while Paul was waiting for them at Athens, his spirit was provoked within him as he saw that the city was full of idols.

Acts 17:16 ESV

There is a feeling of disappointment within myself when I read this passage about Paul travelling to Athens as he was fleeing persecution in Berea and Thessalonica. Here was a man who had been called by the Lord to preach the good news of the resurrection of Christ in all the world. A man that knew his calling and was passionate about being obedient. It would be easy to think that he could simply perform his calling and duty without really engaging his heart in the matter.  I think of Jonah in this way, as he was forced to preach to the Ninevites even while he hoped for their destruction. That is not Paul’s way. I can’t remember all the adversity he’s encountered so far, but I know he has been stoned and left for dead. He has just fled back to back cities because they were seeking to kill him. I would think he would lay low and wait for his friends to arrive. Just rest and take it easy. But this was not Paul. Paul was always engaging his heart and mind for the glory of God.

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Called to Suffer

Journal Entry // May 28, 2022

For I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name.

Acts 9:16 ESV

What is the source of this anger that is prevalent and deep rooted in my heart? This is a good question that needs exploration and prayer. I wonder if this passage sheds some light on the situation. I believe I have been caught in the trap of cultural Christianity. That I have come to mix the fears and anxieties of the world with my faith and belief. I have allowed my heart to grab hold of and plant deep within me a misunderstanding of what it means for God to bless his children. I have believed the lie that suffering is always an indicator of sin or the displeasure of God. That suffering in my life is solely brought about because I have disappointed my Lord. Even thought it is clear throughout the Bible that suffering is a part of following Christ, my heart grabs hold of the thought that suffering is evil.

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Heart Intention

Journal Entry // May 27, 2022

Repent, therefore, of this wickedness of yours, and pray to the Lord that, if possible, the intent of your heart may be forgiven you.

Acts 8:22 ESV

These past few weeks have been difficult for me in a variety of ways. I feel the weight of the burden I am carrying on my shoulders still. The guilt and shame of the past comes upon me at times and I just drift into this state of listlessness. I allow this burden to weigh me down and affect every area of my life. I allow it to suck all the joy and happiness from my life. I allow it’s tentacles to invade both my mind and my heart. I see it happening and I feel helpless to fight it at times. I know the truth. I know that I can lay this burden down before Christ. He will replace my heavy burden with his burden that is light and easy. Yet, I find this difficult to do in practice. I find that as much as I may want to lay my burden down and put on Christ, that my heart struggles still. The intent of my heart is isolation, selfishness, and pride.

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