Word Alive! © 2021 Winter Series
You Can Begin Again!
Concord Baptist Church of Boston in Milton
Conley Hughes, Jr., Senior Pastor
Tuesday, 25 May, 2021
Max Lucado, “Begin Again” Lesson 17, (Chap. 17)
Devotional Time: “Begin Again” (pp. 125-129)
Being Different Matters – Being different does not always diminish a person’s capacity for being effective. This was evident when the Apostle Paul encountered the Christians who lived in Berea, a city some 19 miles from the ancient city of Thessalonica. Paul taught the Gospel some three weeks in Thessalonica, but instead of embracing the message, the people assaulted him. Paul’s house-host, Jason, and Silas were arrested for supporting the Apostle. They later posted bond and left jail. The scripture says, “As soon as it was night, the brothers sent Paul and Silas away to Berea (cf. Acts 17:10, NIV).” It was in Berea, as Paul began again his mission, that he encountered something much different in Berea. The Christians in that city were spiritually mature. What others in Thessalonica found offensive, the Bereans embraced, and gained much respect for the exemplary nature of their Christian character (cf. Acts 17:11-12, NIV). Christians are called to be different; having a mature character in a world of flux. Jesus said, “The world would love you as one of its own if you belonged to it, but you are no longer part of the world… (cf. John 15:19b, NLT).” Like the Berean Christians, we must “examine the Scriptures daily,” that we may come to understand the truth and principles of the Word. As promised many millennia ago, understanding God’s plan revealed in the Scripture will benefit us and successive generations (cf. Deuteronomy29:29, NIV). Israel was promised a settled place, and restoration of the provisions God had given them. However, this was conditioned upon the nation turning whole-heartedly to God (cf. Deuteronomy 30:2-3, NIV). In the prophet Samuel’s farewell address to Israel, he reminded them: “But be sure to fear the Lord and serve Him faithfully with all your heart; consider what great things He has done for you (cf. I Samuel 12:24, NKJV).” What should make us “different” as Christians is our faithfulness to God. Extending ourselves to others, is reflective of how God is extending help to us at all times. What is peculiar about all who serve God, is that the strongholds that collapse before us, is not the result of our own power, human strength or intuition. The psalmist declares it is God’s help that saves us, because He loves us (cf. Psalm 44:3, NLT). Paul explained, “The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world…divine power demolishes strongholds.”
The Difference You Can Make – Jesus told the disciples, which was intended for all believers, He chose them/us that we might be productive and effective (cf. John 15:16. NLT). When we pray with the authority of Christ’s will for us, we can do much more to help people. The scripture affirms: “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us – whatever we ask – we know that we have what we asked of Him (cf. I John 5:14-15, NLT).” With this guidance and assurance in prayer, we can agree with Paul’s affirmation concerning the value of the Christian’s life (cf. Philippians 1:22a, NLT). We can make a difference in life because we value the joy and sacredness of life! Christ lives in us; through our Christian character and life contributions, we have the assurance of sharing in his glory (cf. Colossians 1:27b, NLT). The difference we can make in our varied locales and environments, is to simply do what Jesus has said: “Use well what [you] are given.” (Cf. Matthew 25:29, NLT) Oseola McCarty, an African American, was born on March 7, 1908 and died on September 26, 1999. She never married and had no children. She was survived by a few cousins. The dash between her birth and death was characterized by hard work and often lonely times. She was a laundress and had a fifth-grade education. However, in her lifetime she managed to save $250,000, and $150,000 was given to a scholarship fund to help needy students. Her story went viral, and the generosity of this Christian woman inspired people around the world. She was different, and made a great difference. She’s known as the University of Southern Mississippi’s most famous benefactor. To date, 113 students have been awarded $568,158.00. We can all make a difference through our generosity. We give only what we have, and God provides the increase. The early Christians were generous, and were instructed to exercise benevolence (cf. Acts 4:32-33, NLT; I John 3:17, Amplified). Failure to help others in need when we could, will call into question our compassion as Christians, and our love for God. We are assured that sharing our resources and gifts with others will make a difference, for the very act of giving opens doors (cf. Proverbs 18:16, NLT).
What We Believe
Through faith and maturity, we can make a difference!
1. The principles in God’s word structures our lives.
2. How we live can make a difference in the world!
Acts 17:11-12, NIV “Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true. Many of the Jews believed, as did also a number of prominent Greek women and many Greek men.”
Deuteronomy 29:29, NIV
“The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever,that we may follow all the words of the law.”
Deut. 30:2-3, NIV
“And when you and your children return to the Lord your God and obey Him with all your heart and with all your soul according to every-thing I command you today, then the Lord your God will restore your fortunes and have compassion on you and gather you again from all the nations where He scattered you.”
Psalm 44:3, NLT
“They did not conqueror the land with their swords; It was your right hand and strong arm and the blinding light from your face that helped them, for you loved them.”
John 15:16, NLT
“You didn’t choose me. I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce lasting fruit, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask for, using my name.”
Philippians 1:22a, NLT
“But if I live, I can do more fruitful work for Christ…”
Colossians 1:27b, NLT
“And this is the secret: Christ lives in you. This gives you assurance of sharing His glory.”
Matthew 25:29, NLT
“To those who use well what they are given, even more will be given, and they will have an abundance. But from those who do nothing, even what little they have will be taken away.”
Acts 4:32-35, NLT
“All the believers were united in heart and mind. And they felt that what they owned was not their own, so they shared everything they had. The apostles testified powerfully to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and God’s great blessing was upon them all. There were no needy people among them, because [some] who owned land or houses would sell them and bring the money to the apostles to give to those in need.”
I John 3:17, Amplified
“But whoever has adequate resources, and sees his brother or sister in need, but has no compassion for them, how does the love of God live in him or her?”
Proverbs 18:16, NLT
“Giving a gift can open doors; it gives access to important people.”