SHAKE THE DUST OFF

(Post by: Lilly Hobbs)

Have you ever taken notice of the natural desire for honor that we have? Whether you have or not, it seems to consume us in more ways than I think we’d all like to admit. However, the desire for honor is something I believe is meant to bring us closer to Jesus (because He made us with it), yet we have confused its purpose, as we have with many other desires, and instead used it for our own glory.

Which is usually how the story goes when Jesus isn’t our only priority in life.

You see, we want to receive honor from our employer, from our followers on Facebook, from the teacher grading our papers at school, from our pastor, from coaches and organizations, from friends and peers, or even from leadership positions in the Church.

Here’s what people don’t want to tell you, though… Your choices have consequences, and you get to choose whose honor you receive.

It matters who is giving you the honor.

I’ve always struggled to understand the meaning behind Acts 13:50-52 which says, “But the Jews incited the prominent God-fearing women and the leading men of the city. They stirred up persecution against Paul and Barnabas and expelled them from their district. But Paul and Barnabas shook the dust off their feet against them and went to Iconium. And the disciples were filled with joy and the Holy Spirit.”

I used to wonder why Paul and Barnabas “shook the dust off their feet against them”, and you may be wondering what this has to do with honor. Allow me to explain, because I believe that this could be really impactful for the American Church if we got this today.

In Biblical times, pious Jews would often shake the dust from their feet when leaving Gentile cities to make clear their separation from Gentile practices and refusing to honor them. However, here we see that Paul and Barnabas shook the dust from a Jewish town off their feet, which is interesting because they were both prominent Jewish men. But this action spoke volumes because it made clear their separation from the Jews who rejected their Messiah. Their very own people.

Are y’all getting this? Paul and Barnabas didn’t want their honor. They answered to a higher authority (Jesus) and wanted to be honored by their Savior, not the very world and people who despised Him.

Now, let me ask you this question… Whose honor do YOU want? Whose “well done” are you ultimately after?

Some of us have purposely been sitting in the world, conforming to all of its standards, just because we desire their honor. I am so sick of that! Why would we want their honor??

A.W. Tozer once said, “We cannot afford to let down our Christian standards just to hold the interest of people who want to go to hell and still belong to a church.”

That’s where Paul and Barnabas were at. They were not willing to compromise under any circumstance because they knew whose honor really mattered in the end. The devastating thing is that I don’t see very many Christians who have a relationship with Jesus like that now.

Instead of being bold and shaking the dust off, most Christians like to sit on the sidelines and claim that they are being “persecuted”. Listen, most Christians today aren’t being “persecuted” because they love Jesus and have the desire to be honored by Him alone. No, they are actually being held accountable for NOT acting like Him.

We’re running out of time. I want to hear “well done, good and faithful servant” from my Savior. I answer only to Him. I am after His honor, and I am not willing to compromise under any circumstance.

“Stand up, shake the dust off yourself!…”   (Isaiah 52:2)

SO WHAT IS YOUR RESPONSE?

= Whose honor have you been after as of late?

= Are you all in to this “Jesus thing”?

= What are you going to do differently?

BUT IF NOT

(Post by: Madie Hobbs)

In the summer of 1940, there was a total of 350,000 soldiers trapped on the island of Dunkirk. German forces were closing in around them with the means to completely destroy the island and everyone on it. Invasion was imminent. The speed of the Nazi army was unbelievable, and within days, most of the Allied Forces would be completely wiped out. British, French, Canadian, and Belgian troops had been forced back to Dunkirk by the advancing German army. Almost every escape route to the English Channel had been cut off; a horrible disaster had appeared unavoidable. At the time Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, called it “a miracle of deliverance”.

On May 12th, 1940, Hitler gave the order to invade France. By May 14th, 1940, German tanks had crossed the Meuse and had opened a gap in the Allied front. They reached the English Channel six days later.

The British, French, and Belgium governments had overwhelmingly underestimated the strength of the German forces. Because of this, the British Expeditionary Force (BEF), as well as French, Canadian, and Belgian troops found themselves fighting against horrifying odds. Before long, the Allied forces had retreated to the beaches and harbor of Dunkirk where they were trapped, a sitting target for the Germans.

In Britain, as the British people waited restlessly, a three-word message was transmitted from the doomed armies at Dunkirk: “But if Not.”

Suddenly, the nation of Great Britain was thrust into action. Eight hundred boats of all different sizes and descriptions were called into a response. Every battleship, fishing boat, gunboat, yacht, motorboat, and even small rowboats, sailed across the English Channel to rescue those troops from Dunkirk and return them safely to Britain. “Operation Dynamo”, as it was called, was a success. The Miracle of Dunkirk has gone down in history as being the biggest civilian boat rescue mission to ever take place and will never be forgotten.

Many of you may be wondering, “why did that simple three-word message, ‘But if Not’, spur so many people into action?” Well, dear reader, that message was a reference to a passage of scripture in Daniel that reads,

“Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to him, “King Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. But if not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.” (Daniel 3:16-18)

The story of Dunkirk has always inspired me, but I just recently discovered the power of this message that was sent. This message was so incredible because the army at Dunkirk was saying simply that they REFUSED to let the tyrant that was Adolf Hitler, force them into submission and worship of the diabolical group that was the Nazi’s. They pleaded for the British government to help rescue them, ‘But if Not’, they would fight, and they would go on fighting, until the destruction of every last soldier.

The reason I am writing this blog post, is to call the Church into action. Just like the soldiers on Dunkirk, our enemy is closing in around us. And he is closing in fast. Just like the soldiers on Dunkirk, we need a divine rescue.

One thing I want you to notice about this army though, is the fact that they had already been fighting, and they meant to go on fighting, even if there was to be no divine rescue. This is the part the American church is missing. We like to act as if we have been fighting for a long time. We like to act as if we have suffered for the cause in which we believe. But today I want to ask you, do you believe in the cause for which you fight so much, that you would be willing to say, “But if Not”?

Would you be willing to give up all that you love, cherish, and desire in order to fight for our cause? If many of us were honest with ourselves, the answer would be “No”.

Many of us like to think that we have taken a stand for freedom and for the Gospel, but I think we need to start being real with ourselves. So many people told me last year that they would not go back to in-person learning if there were mask mandates in their schools, but every one of my friends went back to school and wore a mask every single day for the entire school year. So many pastors said they would never shut down their churches just because the government told them too, but almost every single one of them did. Many people told me that if a restaurant told them they were not allowed to have a table because they weren’t wearing masks, they would go somewhere else, but ended up only going to a different restaurant if they were with my family since we would not wear them.

I want you all to know that I do not hate the government, or America, or my fellow Christians, but I believe that every one of the things I just listed, have become weak. Many of us like to read the story of Dunkirk and talk about how inspiring it is and act like if we were in their position, we would stand and fight. But one thing we must also remember, is that the Allied Forces did not win WWII just because they were evacuated from Dunkirk. They still had to go on fighting the Nazi’s in order not to be enslaved.

“We must be very careful not to assign this deliverance the attributes of a victory. Wars are not won by evacuations.” (Winston Churchill on the evacuation of Dunkirk)

Church, we cannot look at our present circumstances and act like we have been victorious. We still have fighting to do. Just because our country is not presently a communist country, does not mean that we may not be one in the next few years if we simply continue to evacuate when things get heated. Just because the American church is not under serious persecution, does not mean that we never will be. We must be Christians like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abenego. We must be willing to say to anyone who opposes the Gospel of Christ, “But if not, we will not serve your gods, or worship the image of gold you have set up.”

Our job is to be the Light of Christ and fight the darkness that is creeping all around us. We must never surrender.

“What is to give light must endure burning.” (Viktor E. Frankl)

SO WHAT IS YOUR RESPONSE?

= Will you give your all for Jesus?

= What are some things you can do to advance the Gospel?

= What are you going to do differently?

THE SILVERSMITH

(Post by: Lilly Hobbs)

How’s your day been? How’s your week been? Whether it seems like it has been the best or the worst, it’s extremely likely that you’ve had some kind of “crisis” happen that you’ve had to deal with, maybe even just today.

What’s your first reaction to a “crisis”? Maybe it was that a loved one got sick, or you totally forgot to turn that one year-end assignment in on time, or perhaps it’s just friend/family drama.

You see, I’ve been taught that you cannot fix a spiritual problem with a physical solution. So very often we look at things in life and our first reaction is to do what the people around us (who usually do not know Jesus) say to do, or what the world tells us to try.

But some good life advice I have personally received: Always try Jesus’ way FIRST before resorting to any other option.

1 John 5:19 says, “We know that we are from God, and the whole world lies in the power of the evil one.”

More often than not, our first reaction to a crisis is to run to the world for a solution or “quick fix”, because we are already functioning in a worldly mindset on a daily basis. However, this is a bigger issue than we think it is. Our choices are evidence of whom we ultimately trust.

This means that we make Christianity look absolutely weak and trivial when we trust in anyone or anything but Christ.

Titus 2:11-15 says, “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age,waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works. Declare these things; exhort and rebuke with all authority. Let no one disregard you.”

We are called to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives. I don’t think we are living up to that expectation when we turn to the world and let it be our source of security and hope instead of Jesus.

Lilias Trotter once said, “Holiness, not safety, is the end of our calling.”

If there’s one thing I’ve noticed about crisis, hardships, and trials it’s that if I’m doing what I’m called to do through it, He will certainly do His part and make me more like Himself.

For example, it reminds me of when a silversmith heats up silver. He has to heat it up over and over again. As the heat draws out the imperfections and impurities and they would surface, he would scoop it off the top and start again.

Do you know when he would stop refining the silver? He would stop when He could see his own reflection in it. Only then was it perfect.

This is exactly what Jesus does in our lives. He begins to sanctify us, and mold us into His likeness, which is indeed, the most beautiful thing.

The verse above said that Jesus “gave Himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession”. Just take a minute to think about that.

He wants you to be His, and His alone! He is a jealous God because of how much He loves and cares for us.

A.W. Tozer once said, “When I understand that everything happening to me is to make me more Christlike, it resolves a great deal of anxiety.”

I’m not sure about you, but I want my first reaction in the midst of crisis to be to trust that He is just taking some time to draw out some impurities. He wants to make us more like Himself, but the question you and I must decide the answer to is, are we going to let Him?

“It is safe to tell the pure in heart that they shall see God, for only the pure in heart want to.”  (C.S. Lewis)

SO WHAT IS YOUR RESPONSE?

= What tends to be your first reaction in the midst of crisis?

= Do you desire to be holy?

= What are you going to do differently?

DO YOU WANT TO WANT?

(Post by: Lilly Hobbs)

Here we are, four days post-Easter weekend, and I am once again just absolutely in awe of my Savior’s perfect love and the ultimate sacrifice He made for my sin. I am so refreshed in my relationship with Jesus when I am reminded of all that He has done for me, and I pray the same for you.

You know, I was so encouraged this weekend when I saw people sharing their testimonies and posting Scripture that was impacting them, as well as how they were celebrating Jesus. It was simply incredible! Christians were actually publicly professing to be followers of Jesus. However, when Monday came, all of those things ceased. It was as if Easter was just a slight “interruption” in their lives and nothing more than that.

What happened?

I can’t tell you how many individuals I heard say that they just felt different. Many expressed that they felt content with where God had them. Others explained that were falling in love with God’s Word again, and that they knew God was trying to speak to them in powerful ways.

Then, most of them went back to their worldly “normal”.

You probably already have an idea of where I am going with this, but allow me to ask you a question…

If we feel so free when we are actually doing what God commands of His followers, why wouldn’t we want to be a part of that every day?

It pains me to see how quickly our love and devotion for Jesus fades, and how fast we run back to materialistic things and glorifying ourselves.

We so desperately want to be God!

Somehow, we have tricked ourselves into thinking that three days is really enough because we want to get back to our “normal”. Are you content with spending three days to mourn your sin, celebrate the cross, and post lifechanging Scripture?

I’m not.

A.W. Tozer once prayed, “O God, I have tasted Thy goodness, and it has both satisfied me and made me thirsty for more. I am painfully conscious of my need for further grace. I am ashamed of my lack of desire. O God, the Triune God, I want to want Thee; I long to be filled with longing; I thirst to be made more thirsty still. Show me Thy glory, I pray Thee, so that I may know Thee indeed. Begin in mercy a new work of love within me. Say to my soul, ‘Rise up my love, my fair one, and come away.’ Then give me the grace to rise and follow Thee up from this misty lowland where I have wondered so long.”

I want to want Thee. That is my prayer. I want Jesus more than anything else. Church, are we ashamed of our lack of desire for Him?

The good news is this… If you’re not content with only feeling free for three days, you don’t have to be. Jesus can help you change; you just have to choose Him above all else.

If you want to want Him, make different choices. It all starts with your choices.

SO WHAT IS YOUR RESPONSE?

= Do people know you are a follower of Jesus?

= What keeps you from living for Him?

= What are you going to do differently?