Daily D – Acts 15:19
“And so my judgment is that we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God.” ACTS 15:19 (NLT)
We have a tendency to make just about everything harder than it has to be. For example, I plan to attend a worship service today inside a church building with other people for the first time in months. What shall I wear? My practice for the last few months has been to wear jeans (at best). My feet are often bare. Once or twice I haven’t even shaved before singing songs of praise and adoration.
Jeans, however, are probably not appropriate for gathering with a church family where I am not a member. Is a suit and tie too much? Are khakis too little? Would nice slacks, a dress shirt with an open collar, and a sport coat suffice? Do I wear my name tag or not?
See what I mean? Harder than it has to be.
A good article appeared on www.theladders.com. It is entitled, 8 ways you are making life harder than it has to be. Yes, the article title was written in all lower-case letters. Yes, I had to decide whether to follow their style or conventional methods of capitalizing the appropriate letters in the appropriate words. Yes, intellectually that was harder than it has to be.
It’s a good article. You can find others like it with a quick internet search. I am not naming that one company which is synonymous with internet searches. Yes, I am making it harder than it has to be to avoid that name. However, I do not care for some of their worldview and business practices, so I am well pleased to make it harder than it has to be.
One thing we should not make harder than it has to be is the simple act of receiving God’s gift of salvation. In this turning point chapter in Acts, the most important and influential leaders in the nascent Christian movement were gathered to ponder a significant issue. That issue was should they make salvation harder than it has to be? Some said Gentiles who became Christians had to follow Jewish laws that none of them had actually ever fully lived out with perfection.
How hard was it for Gentiles to experience God’s gift of salvation? Listen to Peter’s testimony in Acts 11:15: “As I began to speak,” Peter continued, “the Holy Spirit fell on them, just as he fell on us at the beginning.”
Now don’t miss this, Preachers. Before Peter could offer the invitation, and before the music minister led the congregation to sing Just As I Am, the Gentiles got saved. Crazy, right? Those people did not have to hear a long sermon. They did not need to have everything explained to them in great detail. They were not given a list of do’s and don’t’s. Their hearts were ready and God was even more ready. Peter’s involvement was minimal. It appears God wanted him to be there as a witness of what God did rather than traditional witnessing and causing what happened.
Salvation takes place when a person says Yes to God’s gracious offer. John Wesley, a name you know at least by reputation, talked about how his heart was strangely warmed when he received God’s gracious gift. How’s your heart?
You get the idea from reading Acts and the Gospels that God is more ready to give us his gift of salvation than we are to receive it. The transaction is all his idea. He is ready, willing, and able to take care of all the details right now. He has been working from eternity past looking forward to this moment now. While you read these words, before I place a period at the end of this sentence, you can know and experience your first taste of amazing grace.
Don’t make it harder than it has to be. Start the journey to where you really want to go.
While there are no magic words you need to say, you could express yourself like this: “Jesus, I receive your gift of eternal life. Thank you for dying for me and for forgiving my sin. Thank you for saving me now. Amen.”
Don’t make it harder than it has to be. Like any relationship, learn to enjoy what your Friend enjoys. Learn to see how he sees, to hear what he hears, to love who he loves.
Don’t make it harder than it has to be. Do make the rest of your life and forever beyond as beautiful as it can be. This is the moment every happy ending begins with.
I will not make salvation harder than it is.
Our Father, you prepared and executed the perfect plan to draw all people to yourself. Thank you for your open offer to know you and experience you. Thank you for the reality of the ultimate happy ending. Thank you for being more ready to save us than we are to be saved. Thank you for loving and saving me. Amen.
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Jeremiah 35:12-14 “This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: Go and tell the people of Judah and those living in Jerusalem, ‘Will you not learn a lesson and obey my words?’ declares the Lord. ‘Jehonadab son of Rekab ordered his descendants not to drink wine and this command has been kept. To this day they do not drink wine, because they obey their forefather’s command. But I have spoken to you again and again, yet you have not obeyed me.”
Psalm 78:70-72 He chose David his servant and took him from the sheep pens; from tending the sheep he brought him to be the shepherd of his people Jacob, of Israel his inheritance. And David shepherded them with integrity of heart; with skillful hands he led them.
Jeremiah 23:20-22 The anger of the Lord will not turn back until he fully accomplishes the purposes of his heart. In days to come you will understand it clearly. I did not send these prophets, yet they have run with their message; I did not speak to them, yet they have prophesied. But if they had stood in my council, they would have proclaimed my words to my people and would have turned them from their evil ways and from their evil deeds.