Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Okay--So what now?

This is where I take off my pastor-teacher cap and pick up my cheerleader megaphone! If you've been following these past couple of weeks, you know I've been talking a lot about becoming a Kingdom-Change-Agent for Christ.  If you missed that series you can catch up starting here.

As much as I hope and pray that the message of this little series has edified and encouraged you, my greatest hope is that you are spurred on to a deepr walk with Christ and to good works!

“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds” (Heb. 10:24). 

My hope for you is that these blogs have inspired, deepened, or rekindled a Kingdom-change-agent-mentality within you. Your coworkers, classmates, family members, neighbors, etc.; everyone you know and interact with is hungry to experience it—even if they don’t know it yet! 

Pause and ponder how an attitude of godly optimism, consistently demonstrated in your interactions with people could have a life-changing impact for the gospel.

Peter shares something in his first epistle that I believe offers us a perfect daily game-plan. He writes, “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,” (1 Pt. 3:15). 

Three Steps to Daily Change Agent Living.
Step One: Set Jesus Apart As Lord. 

“But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord” (1 Pt. 3:15a).

This is where it all begins; waking up with the prayer, “Lord Jesus, you are my only sovereign and king. I’m optimistic today because in You I know that all my sin is forgiven, I’m whole, redeemed, loved and my life is in the hands of a God who is always working for my good! Father, by your Spirit, fill me with the power and the desire to be an agent of Christ-centered optimism everywhere I go today, for your glory and in the name of Christ I pray, Amen!”

Step Two: Be Ready! 

The above little prayer lived out will cause you to stick out. Your Jesus generated kindness, hope, encouragement and can-do attitude will cause you to shine as a beacon of hope. And when people struggling in darkness encounter people of light and hope, they pay attention. That sets the stage for Peters next set of instructions to us.

“Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have” (1 Pt. 3:15b).

“Always be prepared…” (1 Pt. 3:15b)

This phrase means just what you think it means. Peter is teaching us that living as a change agent isn’t an event that we mark on our calendars, prepare for, execute and then forget about. Living for Jesus as His ambassadors is a twenty-four - seven daily lifestyle. We don’t know when or where our opportunities will come. We aren’t called to know that. Our job is simply to shine wherever we go for our King; to ALWAYS BE PREPARED to bless, help and encourage others wherever we go.

“…to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have” (1 Pt. 3:15b) 

In 1989, Field of Dreams, one of my all-time favorite sports movies was released. It’s a wonderful story. Here’s a little excerpt from Wikipedia's description of the plot.

"Ray Kinsella is a novice Iowa farmer who lives with his wife, Annie, and daughter, Karin. In the opening narration, he explains how he had a troubled relationship with his father, John Kinsella, who had been a devoted baseball fan. While walking through his cornfield one evening, he hears a voice whispering, 'If you build it, he will come.'  He continues hearing it before finally seeing a vision of a baseball diamond in his field. Annie is skeptical of that, but she allows him to plow the corn under in order to build a baseball field.”  And what happens next is magical! In case you’ve not seen the film I won’t spoil it for you here.

I share this little story because Field of Dreams made famous the line “If you build it, he will come.'  Peter is whispering a similar message in our ears. If you shine, people will notice and God will use it for His glory! Some may, as Peter suggests, come right out and ask you why you’re so hopeful? But many will cloak their “ask” in a variety of other ways. Some will silently watch how you live. Some will ask peripheral questions like, “Are you religious?” or “Do you go to church?” Others may begin talking about their life with you, sharing their struggles, which provides a perfect segue for you to say something like, “I’ll pray for you about that…” or “You know, I was just reading about worry in my devotions. The Bible says some really helpful things about this.” Or... well, the list of possible scenarios could go on forever. The point is, if you shine for Jesus around people, opportunities to interact with them in meaningful ways will come.

IMPORTANT REMINDER: 
This doesn’t just happen automatically. If you don’t daily set Christ apart as Lord in your heart, you’re probably not going to shine very brightly. If you aren’t intentional about engaging with people and looking for opportunities to bless and encourage others, the odds of someone randomly seeking you out and saying, “Hey, are you one of those Jesus-following people? My life’s a mess. Can you help me?” are slim-to none. But if you begin each day with that prayer we talked about above and walk through your day prepared and seeking opportunities to shine, they will come!

Step Three: Be humble. 

“But do this with gentleness and respect” (1 Pt. 3:15c). 

I think D.T. Niles captured the Peter’s thought here when he said, “Evangelism is just one beggar telling another beggar where to find bread.” 

“There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Gal. 3:28). 

The ground is level at the foot of the cross. No one is better, or morally superior to another. Apart from the blood of Christ, everyone is hopeless. Social status means nothing in the Kingdom of God. So, Peter exhorts us to stay humble. Never lose sight of where you would be apart from Grace and allow that humility to guide you in your interactions with everyone.

Set Christ apart as Lord… Be ready… Be humble… 

Let’s do it!

Are you ready to become a Kingdom Change Agent of godly optimism? I’m pulling for you! God is pulling for you! It’s time to move beyond religion to genuine discipleship; daily following Jesus as King.  It’s time to engage an intentional lifestyle that flows out of your relationship with Christ. As the Lord of Life lives and moves in you, He will shine through you. As you walk through your days—in the company of whoever happens to be with you—rejoicing in the Lord, not in a stuffy-religious way, but authentically; not just when things are going your way, but especially in the difficult moments, people will see your hope and that will open doors for conversation, testimony and kingdom work. Let's do it!

Blessings, thanks for reading!   Remember to SHARE!

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