Sunday, February 17, 2019

Acts 7-8~ Day 48~ 2 wrongs don’t make a right.

We are so fortunate to live in America where we can make long speeches with relatively little fear of being killed for our words (although it does seem like our culture is changing ever so subtly in that regard)!
At first read through, it seems that Stephan’s speech is just an oral account of Jewish history, that his audience would have known well.  Why would they get so upset? 
Well, at the very end, he says something that I think provoked down right fear
“Look”, he said, “I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” (Acts 7:56) 
This very crowd could have been some of the same people who heard Jesus tell the council of religious leaders, “ But from now on the Son of Man will be seated at the right hand of the mighty God.” (Luke 22:68) These were the exact words that sealed the deal on the death sentence for Jesus! 
I bet the men who heard those words out of the mouth of Jesus were shocked out of their minds and filled with terror! “Oh no!! His words were true! Stephen is seeing it!! Nooooo, it can’t be!!!”

The fear of knowing one has played a role in killing the Messiah would be overwhelming, don’t you think?!  Instead of sinking into despair, anger is another reaction that can be chosen. Anger is useful to repress guilt and get rid of the  that is causing the guilt. 
It reminds me of how some people respond today to guilt from their past. They may choose to get on a crusade to make what they did wrong into a socially normalized right. And they get angry at people who don’t agree with them. 


Sadly, for these people we are reading about and today’s people on their crusade, “Two wrongs don’t make a right.” 

Saturday, February 16, 2019

Acts 5-6~ Day 47~ "Wait"~ That's sound advise!

You know Gamaliel, who stood up in the Sanhedrin?  He was a pretty wise dude!  Even though he was a teacher of the law (a group of people Jesus often called hypocrites), he seemed to have more sense than the others.

Luke, the writer of Acts, tells us Gammy was "honored by all the people" (5:33). Paul was even under his teaching (22:3).  I can see why!  He showed his wisdom when he said, "But, if it is from God, you will not be able to stop those men, you will only find yourselves fighting against God." (5:39)  That is good advise!!  It's like he is saying, "Time will tell."

I often say to my kids, "Just wait.",  "See how it goes." , "You don't need to respond right away."
God works at his pace not ours, right?!
What I know of God is that he is patient (Rom. 9:22, i Pt. 3:20, 2 Pet 3:9) and slow to anger (Ex. 34:6, Num 14:18, Neh. 9:17, Psalm 86:15. 103:8, 145:8, Jonah 4:2, Nahum 1:3 - to name a few).
Therefore, Satan would naturally encourage the exact opposite, right?  Look at our culture today: immediate gratification, results and responses, quick fixes and quick to jump to conclusions.  We don't know how to endure, persevere or be patient!

So, wise Gamaliel was  right; "Wait"  The Bible is full of this teaching!
"But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it." (Romans 8:25)
"Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary." (Gal. 6:9)
"Yet those who wait for the Lord will gain new strength." (Isaiah 40:31)

If hurry, worry and trying to fix things fast is your thing....you may want to look again at what Gammy said, "you will only find yourself fighting against God."

Gammy knew, what everyone eventually learns, God's purpose will be done regardless! 

Friday, February 15, 2019

Acts 3-4~ Day 46~ We are being schooled...by the best!

I have a feeling that after Jesus rose up into the clouds, the disciples hurried back to Jerusalem, got out their dusty old scriptures they had at home and started to read.  Or if they didn't have a copy of their own, they went to the synagogue where they could get their hands on a copy.

I can just imagine their minds being blown away when they opened the scriptures and began to see what had been there the whole time.    I bet they squealed with excitement every time they came across a prophesy that they had witnessed Jesus doing.....

John:  Pete, listen to what I am reading in Psalms!!! "They divided my clothes among them and cast lots for my garments."  They did that!!! I saw that the soldiers didn't want to rip that really good coat Jesus had, so they gambled for it!!

Peter:  OMG! That's incredible!  Listen to what I am reading in Zechariah!, "..see your king coming seated on a donkey's colt."  I went and got that donkey!!  Jesus told me exactly where to go to get it and there it was!!  This is blowing my mind!!

It was no longer a boring read that they heard a thousand times as they grew up going to the synagogue each Sabbath.  Rather, they eagerly read it and the Holy Spirit revealed it's meaning to them.  No wonder,  "This happened that the scripture might be fulfilled that says...", was a common phrase in our gospel reading we just finished!

So, in light of all that, this verse stood out to me:
"When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus." (Acts 4:13)

I think by this time in the life of Peter and John, and the other disciples, they were pretty schooled!  Meaning....no, they didn't formally study the law under a Jewish Pharisee like Paul had done (Acts 22:), but they studied scripture none the less! And they had been with the greatest teacher of all!!
What a good example for us who didn't go to seminary.  We don't have to have formal theological training to read and understand the Bible.  We just need to get into it and READ it!!  The Holy Spirit will reveal things to us daily!!  He is the best teacher after all!

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Acts 1-2~ Day 45~Grief turned to Joy!!

I always pictured the disciples watching Jesus ascend into the clouds, leaving, with them feeling really sad.   I would be!.....don't leave me Jesus! 😫

But then, I remembered something Jesus said back in John.  "Very truly I tell you, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices.  You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy." (John 16:20)

After being reminded of that verse and reading what the two men dressed in white said to them (he's coming back), I actually think they were filled with joy and eager expectation! They were probably excited thinking about what it meant to be "baptized with the Holy Spirit." (Acts 1:5)  I don't think they turned from the scene and headed back to Jerusalem somber and filled with grief.  Rather, I bet they hurried back to Jerusalem with the excitement a kid feels on Christmas morning!  They're probably thinking, "What is Jesus going to do now??"  True, Jesus left them, probably, a little dazed, processing all that was happening, but I don't think mourning the loss of Jesus was one of their emotions now......
Anyway, that was a new thought for me on the reading today.

There was one other thing that stood out to me.   I found it interesting that Peter quoted Joel saying, "In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people." (2:17)   The words "last days" stood out to me.  Did you know that the disciples and Paul all felt that they, and we, are living in the last days now.  Check out 1 Cor. 10:11, Heb. 1:1-2, 1 Peter 1:20 and 1 John 2:18.
The last day’s to what? “before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord.” (Vs.20)

For those of you who read Revelation 20 and believe that Jesus will return and then reign for 1000 years, this must cause some confusion, don't you think?
I'm going to repeat myself, I know I have said it often on this blog....scripture does not contradict itself.....new prophesy does not contradict old prophecy.  Therefore, I'm going to suggest an idea that's not so popular these days.....consider that we are in the "figurative" 1000 year reign of Christ now.  That makes sense in light of being in the "last days".  You might turn to Rev 20 and read about the dragon and think, well the devil certainly isn't bound up now!!.... well, don't forget...."by his (Jesus) death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death-that is, the devil-and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fears of death." (Hebrews 2:14-15)
That sounds like the dragon to me!!.......I'm just say'en.......Something to think about.........😁

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

John 19-21~ Day 44~ Three chapters today! 😁

Two days ago I mentioned that I can remain in Jesus by staying in his word.  John says basically the same thing in today's reading!

"Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples which are not recorded in this book.  But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name." (20:31)

John wrote his account so that we may believe that Jesus is the Messiah.  Luke also wrote his account so that Theophilus "may know the certainty of the things" he had been taught. (Luke 1:4)
Lucky us, we get four written accounts to help us believe!!!

Once again I am thankful for this reading plan that keeps me in the word daily.

Have you EVER met anyone who was actively reading the Bible and says, "I don't believe."?  I have met a lot of people who have stopped reading the Bible and started spending a lot of time in other people's writings.  Those people seem to get off the course.  They go off their memory of what the Bible says, but they are actually not remaining in the words of Jesus.  I am reminded again of what we just read the other day, "If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you." (15:7)

If you know someone who is "getting off course" because they are going off their memory as to what the Bible says, why don't you ask them to read with you now!  We start Acts tomorrow.  That's as good a place as any to start reading!!  "These things are written that you (they) may believe"!

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

John 17-18~ Day 43~ Jesus needs to be sanctified???

I thought I would give a little FYI today to help clarify a verse.  It clarified it for me at least!

"For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified." (John 17:19)

I needed clarification because it's weird to read that a holy God (Jesus) needs to make himself holy. 🤔
So, here is the thing.  When Jesus says he "sanctifies" himself, it can also be translated "consecrate" which means "dedicated".  In light of that definition, Jesus is saying he is dedicating himself (which he did, to the cross) in order to make others holy.

Well, that makes sense!  So, it's like he is saying,"For them I am dedicating myself to the cross so that they may be holy as I am holy."

That word study helped me!  Hope it helped you too!

Monday, February 11, 2019

John 15-16 ~ Day 42~Remain in Jesus

So, yesterday I learned that the focus of my prayers and their results should be to glorify God.    With "glorifying God" fresh in my mind,  this verse stood out to me:
"This is my Father's glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourself to be my disciples." (15:8)

Yesterday I learned that in everything I pray, it is to glorify God and then today I am learning that everything I do should glorify God.  Everything I pray?  Everything I do?
Well, in my humanness, that's a little overwhelming!  I can't do it!  My nature is not one that naturally thinks about God and how to glorify him every moment of my day.  I'm just being honest here....
I can be focused on myself a lot of the time!  😞

So, I re-read the verses to figure out how to do bring glory to God even though I am an extremely inadequate human.
The answer was easier than I thought!  I don't have to struggle to "bear fruit" or live a life that is so above reproach that no one can accuse me of being a false Christian.  There is actually ONE thing, and only one thing that I need to "do".......remain in Jesus! Keeping his word in my mind and heart will result, naturally, in "bearing fruit".

I can do that!!  I can remain in Jesus! Thank goodness for this reading plan that keeps me in his word daily!!  I can keep believing in Jesus!  I can remain in his love. That's not hard!  I got this!!! I CAN produce fruit! I CAN glorify God!  I just need to remain in Jesus!!

You are reading with me!! The same goes for you!!