A Christian friend of mine, shortly after I gave my life to Christ, told me I should make a conscious effort to live by my new faith in everything I did and especially in everything I said. He warned me that although few people in society today are outwardly Christians, they know what Christians aught to be doing and saying etc… One of the most widespread criticisms of Christians and more broadly, the church, is that for whatever reason, they don’t practice what they preach. It is as if the church as a whole, is perceived by the general public in a similar way that the seven sons of Sceva were perceived by the evil spirit in the passage below. The non Christian public hear the church talking about the power, the glory, the peace and the love of God, but they see precious little of the impact these words promise. So they conclude that the words are empty and the Lord is not in the church.
Acts 19:13-20 NLT
A group of Jews was traveling from town to town casting out evil spirits. They tried to use the name of the Lord Jesus in their incantation, saying, “I command you in the name of Jesus, whom Paul preaches, to come out!” Seven sons of Sceva, a leading priest, were doing this. But one time when they tried it, the evil spirit replied, “I know Jesus, and I know Paul, but who are you?” Then the man with the evil spirit leaped on them, overpowered them, and attacked them with such violence that they fled from the house, naked and battered. The story of what happened spread quickly all through Ephesus, to Jews and Greeks alike. A solemn fear descended on the city, and the name of the Lord Jesus was greatly honoured. Many who became believers confessed their sinful practices. A number of them who had been practicing sorcery brought their incantation books and burned them at a public bonfire. The value of the books was several million dollars. So the message about the Lord spread widely and had a powerful effect.
Today my goal is, once again to confess my sinful practices and rid my life, again, of the old sinful things I still turn to aside from God. Those who reject the love of God can only be reached by the Lord himself and so if he is not in us as individuals, he will not be found in the wider body of the church. I pray in true humility that the Lord would forgive me again for doubting his power and presence in my life. I ask that I might begin again, afresh this morning on my walk with Jesus. I pray that he might recognise me and use me to help spread his message widely and with powerful effect.
2 Kings 15:1-16:20, Acts 19:13-41, Psalms 147:1-20, Proverbs 18:4-5