Is your vision too small and parochial? How would you even know?
Psalm 67 is a great vision stretcher!
May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face shine on us— 2 so that your ways may be known on earth, your salvation among all nations.
3 May the peoples praise you, God; may all the peoples praise you. 4 May the nations be glad and sing for joy, for you rule the peoples with equity and guide the nations of the earth. 5 May the peoples praise you, God; may all the peoples praise you.
6 The land yields its harvest; God, our God, blesses us. 7 May God bless us still, so that all the ends of the earth will fear him.
In my morning devotions, I’m currently working my way through Philippians in the company of Alec Motyer (through his excellent commentary). In Chapter 1:13-14, Paul is explaining how his suffering is advantageous for the advance of the gospel. Listen to how Alec Motyer unpacks this:
“He [Paul] did not see his suffering as an act of divine forgetfulness )’Why did God let this happen to me?’), nor as a dismissal from service (‘I was looking forward to years of usefulness, and look at me!’), nor as the work of Satan (‘I am afraid the devil has had his way this time’), but as the place of duty, the setting for service, the task appointed. When the solider came ‘on duty’ to guard Paul, did the apostle smile secretly and say to himself, ‘But he doesn’t know that I am here to guard him — for Christ’?”
“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, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behaviour in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.” 1 Peter 3:15-16
Engage in dialog (Don’t create a Christian ghetto for yourself)
Focus on the ‘hope that you have’ which is the main brushstrokes of the gospel message (Don’t get side-tracked by secondary issues)
Speak with gentleness and respect (something almost absent in our generation)
Let your lifestyle be a witness to your words as you life an exemplary life
“I see how right Francis Schaeffer was when he said that there are no little places and no little people. If Jesus would choose the small, obscure town of Bethlehem as his birthplace and the better-known (but only because of its bad reputation) town of Nazareth—“Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” (John 1:46)—as his temporal home, and if he could choose to build his kingdom chiefly through people who were not wise or powerful or of noble birth (1 Corinthians 1:26), how dare I act or think or believe otherwise as I minister in his name!” Scott Sauls from From Weakness to Greatness
“We draw people to Christ not by loudly discrediting what they believe, by telling them how wrong they are and how right we are, but by showing them a light that is so lovely that they want with all their hearts to know the source of it.”
A brilliant quote from Eugene Peterson about friendship with God:
“God’s friendship didn’t install Abraham on an oasis where he slept on a hammock strung between date palms, refreshing himself with a swim in the pool between naps. God’s friendship meant leaving home, long journeys, dangerous ventures, doubt-filled actions, difficult obedience. Karl Bath, perhaps our most perceptive theologian in getting inside the biblical stories, wrote concerning Abraham, “He must pass from a well-known past to a future which is only just opening up”
At Kingsgate these words need to ring loud in our ears and to capture and enthral our hearts. We “must pass from a well-known past to a future which is only opening up”.