Thursday, November 30, 2017

Day 64~Phil 3-4

Don't you find that the more you watch the news, the easier it is easy to get anxious about the future?  I find it creates a breeding ground of negative thoughts.  “Life was better when we were younger.” “The U.S. is going to hell in a hand basket!” “This new generation doesn’t have a chance!”  It’s easy to look at the world as a “glass half empty”.  Life these days ca be so negative that we just want to throw up our hands in defeat and say, “Come, Lord Jesus!”

However, I love what Paul says in 4:8, “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable- if anything is excellent or praiseworthy- think about such things.” 

We are called on by Paul to be a “glass half full” type people!  How can we not look at life that way?  “We are more than conquerors through him who loves us.” (Rom. 3:37)

It’s hard to keep that in mind when the never ending negative news comes pouring into the house via TV or internet.  So, because what the news does to my mental state, I have cut back dramatically on my viewing!  I don’t need the gory details of the sin in the world.  Now, I just read the headlines on my home page when I log into the computer to stay in touch with the going on’s of the world but then, I move on. 
For me, this has been a good start to “put it into practice” (4:9) the recommendations that Paul gives.
To put things into practice we need to ask ourselves questions.  “What is praiseworthy that I can think about today?”
As you may know, I am taking a geology class.  I have enjoyed it so much because I find the subject causes me to praise God for his marvelous creation!  Give me a half hour of studying geology over a half hour of network news any day!! 

What is pure in your life?
What is noble?

Think about examples.  Think on those things!  The natural result will lead to, “And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (4:7) 

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Day63~ Phil 1-2

There is debate among Biblical scholars as to when Paul could have written to the Philippians.  
We just read yesterday in Acts that Paul was in jail for at least 2 years in Caesarea (24:27).  It’s possible he was sitting in jail thinking , “I have some thank you letters to write.”  He thanks the Philippians for their gifts to him (4:14-18) and also uses the letter, especially chapter 2, to encourage them in their faith.

There's that reason,...but also, Paul refers to "Caesar's household"(4:22) and "palace guard" (1:13), indicating Roman imprisonment that could have been in a provincial city, like  Caesarea.  It's for these reasons Philippians was placed here in our chronological reading.  

It was a short reading today!  Did anything stick out to you?

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Day 62~ Acts 20:4-24; Acts 21-23

“ only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me- the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.” (Acts 20:24)

Wouldn’t that be great if we looked at our life like that!  Our only aim being the duel purpose of finishing this life with faith and share that faith with others.  I think many struggle with the first part of that- finishing the race.  We get so distracted with life that we forget our faith. 
Imagine a marathon runner who has trained all year.  The big day arrives, the gun goes off and he starts to run.  He is about 5 miles into the race when something catches his eye.  A beautiful flower!  He stops to smell it.  Other runners are yelling. “What the heck are you doing?”  Keep running!”  Yet, he decides to pick it.  Now he decides he needs to find a vase for the flower.  He gets so side tracked looking for a store that sells vases, he forgets the race entirely.

Now, I’m sure you’re thinking, “That would never happen!  A true marathon runner would never stop running until they reached the finish line”.  Well……I'm going to go out on a limb here and say, as a true believer, we would never allow the things of this life to interfere with our faith in Jesus.  Like Paul, it would be our “only aim” to finish.  And if it was our only aim, wouldn’t it be on our mind so much that we naturally talked about our faith with others?

If things are distracting you, you gotta ask….”What kind of runner am I?”

Monday, November 27, 2017

Day 61~ Romans 13-16

Don't you wonder what our world would be like if everyone practiced what Paul was preaching in Romans 13?  “Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, than respect; if honor then honor.” (13:7) It seems that in the U.S. we have lost the idea of what submitting to authority entails.  I’m not just talking about those you see on the news running when the police tell them to stop.

My daughter and I were at Target, nearing the end of the day on Black Friday.  The isle that displayed bean bags chairs was filled with about 10 teenagers who had pulled all the chairs off the shelves, into the the isle and sat in them. On one hand, projecting my exhaustion onto them, I thought it looked pretty comfortable.  One the other hand, they took up every square inch of the entire row; there would be no shopping down there.  My daughter and I were in the opposite isle observing this when an employee popped onto the head of their isle.  She immediately asked them all to get up, explaining why they couldn't be there blocking the row (not to mention getting the bean bags dirty from being on the floor).  
To my utter shock, none of the teens moved! 
In my teen years I would have jumped up at the sight of the employee for two reasons.  One, I would have already known what I was doing was wrong and two, I would have been humiliated that an adult had to step in to correct my behavior.  These kids, however, didn’t show any sign of remorse or embarrassment.  (My thought was, obviously, their parents didn’t teach them what my parents taught me!!)  They just continued to stare at the employee as she repeated herself at least two more times! 
What was going to happen?  Why were these kids not obeying authority?…..

Finally, they began to move, reluctantly.  I turned away from the scene, feeling sick to my stomach.  Then I turned to my daughter and said, “Always respect those in authority!” (Romans 13:7)  “Look how gross it looks when you don’t!”  Fortunately, she agreed!

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Day 60~ Romans 10-12- Proper Worship

Sunday mornings and often in my car, I belt out some worship tunes.  When I was little, I learned that it is good to make a joyful noise unto the Lord (Psalm 98:4). Sadly, that’s what I make, a joyful noise; I’m not that great of a singer, but that’s OK.  God hears a sweet sound, I’m sure!  He even thinks shouting to him sounds good! (Isaiah 44:23, 49:13 & 52:9)
The pastors remind our church body each week that giving our tithes is a form of worship as well.  So, I gladly drop my tithe in the offering plate each week!
These two examples are ways to worship, but the verse that stood out to me today speaks of so much more!!  
“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God- this is your true and proper worship.” (12:1)
That means we are to offer everything we are. One commentary put it this way, “The worshipper must present, before God, himself, with all his living energies and powers directed consciously to God’s service.”  That’s radical!  That entails way more than what we do on Sunday! It entails way more than me singing (shouting) and giving my money to the Lord.  Another commentary wrote, “God’s glory is the utmost goal of everything we do.”  That is true and proper worship!! Wow! Ummm…can I say that about my own life?  In everything I do?  

This kind’a goes along with the new slogan I made up the other day. (Day 55) 

WAYDIF- Who Are You Doing It For?  When my answer is God…I’m worshipping Him!!!🙌🏻

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Day 59~ Romans 7-9 The world groans!

"For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God (Romans 8:20-21).

My footnote says “creation is in reference to both animate and inanimate, but exclusive of human beings, where “whole creation” (vs 22) and “we ourselves” (vs 23) are contrasted.  So the world and everything in it, not including people, is looking forward to Christ’s return.

Isn't that an interesting use of personification?  Creation is frustrated, waits eagerly, feels bondage, and groans! Paul definitely conveyed the sad state of creation through the use of this literary device! I love it!   It’s hard to imagine decay not happening.  In some cases, we see decay as a good thing.  After all, it’s the decay process that improves soil conditions resulting in better growth for new plants.  For a scientific mind, one would disregard the idea of no decay.  Decay is necessary for life.  They would probably look at the above verse as being a literary device and nothing else. 
For me, however, since I believe in divine intervention, I read Genesis 3:17 literally.  The ground was soft…and by God’s intervention, it became hard. I can also imagine that God can make plants grow without the decay process.  Jesus tells us that with God, all things are possible (Matt. 19:26).

I have really enjoyed taking a geology class this semester!  Man is pretty smart to figure out so much stuff about how God started creating.  However, these scientists, who take so much pride in how much they have figured out, will be humbled if they don’t give God the credit.  Being in this class reminds me of 1 Corinthians 1:25, “For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God’s sight.  As it is written, “He catches the wise in their craftiness.”

What we and every scientist need to realize is that, how we understand things now, will pass away.  There will be a new order of operation (Rev. 21:1), and creation is groaning in anticipation for that day! 

How exciting!

Friday, November 24, 2017

Day 58~ Romans 4-6

I love how the writer of Romans uses the analogy of being a slave to righteousness verses a slave to sin. (6:20-22).

Some who don’t follow Christ may say that they don’t want to become a Christian because they think “it’s a bunch of rules” that they don’t want to follow.  They think they are “free” by not following rules.  
What they don’t understand is that they are not free.  They are slaves to sin & Satan (6:20).  The reality is, one is either a slave to sin or a slave to righteousness.  There is no absolute freedom for any human.  We are slaves no matter how you look at it.  

Personally, I would rather be a slave to one who loves me and wants to make me his child (Romans 8:15), verses to one who hates me (Rev. 12:7) and ultimately wants me to suffer for eternity along with him (Rev. 20:10).
Oddly, (remembering what we read yesterday, 2:4) the ones who don’t want to choose the master who is loving, actually have a contempt toward that master!  Weird to me…..but that’s the reality of it. 

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Day 57~ Romans 1-3

“Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, forbearance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance? (2:4)

Have you ever thought about the fact that those who reject Jesus as their Savior are actually showing contempt toward God? 😳

Some little old lady from Pasadena, who did all sorts of benevolent acts in her lifetime; looked like an angelic soul from outward appearances, but refused to accept that Jesus died for her sins (or refused to believe in God, for that matter)….is actually showing contempt for God?!
She will have no excuse when she gets in front of God on judgment day.  “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities- his eternal power and divine nature- have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people (like the little old lady) are without excuse(1:20).

Even knowing the above scripture, we still feel sorry for the little old lady, don’t we?  We look at her acts as being worth something, right?…
Well, the writer of this letter is using pretty clear language here!  He sums it up perfectly when he writes, “For we maintain that a person is justified by faith apart from the works of the law.” (3:28)

The little old lady must have faith in Jesus!  Apart from that, her works don’t do anything to get her into heaven.   That is such a hard concept for us to fully embrace.  It’s hard to imagine and maintain that the little old lady is full of contempt.  But….that’s the reality…

Remember, Satan wants us to be blind to reality.  He makes things look so close to being right (2 Cor. 11:14).  Doing good for others is good- but it’s not the way to salvation.  Good thing we have this letter to the Romans to keep that clear for us!!

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Day 56~ 2 Cor 9-13; Acts 20:1-3

 I thought Paul’s choice of words in chapter 12 was interesting. Paul says, “I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up in the third heaven.” (12:2)
At first, I thought it was an old friend of his, but then I figured out he was referring to himself! As we continue the reading, he says, “But I refrain, so no one will think more of me than is warranted by what I do or say, because of these surpassingly great revelations.” (12:6)
The 3rd heaven, as you may have figured out already is in reference to heaven. The first heaven being earth’s immediate atmosphere and the 2nd being outer space. The 3rd is into the presence of God.
I think Paul showed great wisdom by down playing his experience so that no one
thought more of him and less of Jesus. For Paul, everything he did was for Jesus. (Like what I commented on in yesterday’s post- “WAYDIF”)
He always wanted Jesus to get the full attention, which is in complete contrast to how false prophets operate.
For example, Mohammad claimed to have visions from heaven in 610 AD which resulted in the beginnings of the Quran. We know that the vision was not from God because it took glory away from Christ. That is something God, the Father, would never do to his Son.
Another example of a false prophet is Joseph Smith. He boasted of visions that lead to the writing of the Book of Mormon. Again, the focus was taken away from the redemptive work of Christ.
With God, it is ALL about Christ! The entire Old Testament points to the coming of Christ and the New Testament keeps Christ at the center. By down playing his experience, Paul successfully avoided having some people ‘thinking more’ of him than they should. We hold his inspired writings as the word of God because the focus is always Jesus and nothing conflicts with that; a sure sign it is from God!

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Day 55~ 2 Cor, 4-8 "WAYDIF"

Four chapters today may seem like a lot, but I got through it pretty quick!  

The verse that stuck out to me today was, “And he died for all, that those who love should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again. “ (5:15)
That verse is such a good reminder for me to ask myself, “Am I living for myself or for Jesus?”  What is motivating my actions?

Remember a few years back a saying became popular in the Christian world, “WWJD”?  What would Jesus do?  Someone even gave me a bracelet with those letters on it.  It worked for awhile.  Posing questions to yourself like that, get’s you to think before acting.  (Or, that is the hope, at least.)

I think it’s time for a new question to be posed!  Maybe I should make a new bracelet that says, WAYDIF, “Who Are You Doing It For?”  That’s ‘way dif’ferent, don’t you think?  😊
It can be asked in every situation!  
Who are you doing it for?  To please God, other people or yourself?  According to the verse above, the answer should always be, to please God. 
  • Why do I wear the outfit I’m wearing?  To please God or man?
  • Why do I pay for the entertainment I watch? To please God or me?
  • Why do I eat fancy food or the amount of food I eat?  To please my stomach or to please God?
  • Why do I go on trips far and near?  To please myself or God?

If the answers were always, ‘for God’, that would be a radical lifestyle, don’t ya think?  Yet, that is the lifestyle Paul is calling us to live.  That is also the lifestyle Jesus called us to live! (Luke 14:25-34)

We have been called to live a life WAY DIF than people who do not follow Christ.  Wouldn’t you agree we could benefit from a new slogan?!  Who Are You Doing It For? (5:15)

Monday, November 20, 2017

Day 54~ Acts 19:23- 20 & 2 Cor. 1-3

I am really enjoying the chronological reading!  Because of it, we have a pretty good idea what Paul is talking about when he tells of “the hardships we suffered in the province of Asia.” ( 2 Cor. 1:8-10).  After all, we just read about the scary riot in Ephesus, which is in Asia. ( Acts 19:23-31).

As we continue with the reading we find that Christians have a distinct smell (2 Cor. 2:16).  I love the metaphors Paul uses!  We Christians have a smell and God loves what we smell like!  
I have a son who has a keen sense of smell.  When he was a toddler he would always take a big, deep, inhale of his baby sister’s head. “Ahaaaa”, he loved what he smelled!  It made me so curious! What was it about her head that he loved so much? It often caused me to take a whiff as well! I never smelled anything in particular.  One day I asked him, “What do you smell when you smell her head?” He answered simply, “Gawa”, his nickname for her. 

Back to our reading, when God smells us, we know what he smells, his son (2:15).  And he loves what he smells! If we asked, “What do I smell like?” and he would simply answer “Jesus!” 😌Mmmm…

Paul goes on to say that everyone else can smell us too!  To some, we smell great (‘cause they smell Jesus just as God does) but to others, we stink!  We actually smell like a rotting cadaver! 
The one’s who think we smell good will want to know where we get our perfume.  You better tell them where you got it!  To others, they will turn their noses up to you. In that case, I am reminded of another metaphor, Matt. 7:6, “Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs.  If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.”  Eekkk!  

Wow, metaphors can drive home a point like no other!

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Day 53~ 1 Cor 13-15

I am reading the Bible chronologically in a newer Bible than the old tattered one I have had forever.  They are both NIV but my old Bible was reviewed and published in 1984 and the new one in 2011.  The NIV review committee makes every effort to translate accurately from ancient scripts to modern English
As I was reading about speaking in tongues, I noticed Paul used the term “inquirers” twice. “So if the whole church comes together and everyone speaks in tongues, and inquirers or unbelievers come in, will they not say that you are out of your mind?” (14:23)
I had never heard that term used before so I got out my old Bible to see how it was written before.  It read, “ ..some who do not understand or some unbelievers come in…”  So, the translators changed ‘some who do not understand” to “inquirers’.  
I love that!  

I love that there is a term to use that is in-between ‘believers’ and ‘unbelievers’. Because, frankly, our churches are filled with “inquirers”….they aren’t unbelievers, yet, they just ‘do not understand’ (yet) what it means to be a true believer.
The term inquirer to me gives great hope that if they are seeking, they will find answers to their inquires, right?! (Matt. 7:7)

Anyway, that sure was a bunny trail from today’s reading!  
Did any verse stick out to you?

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Day 52~ 1 Cor. 10-12- Crazy thought today!!

Can we cause angels to stumble?

Isn’t it interesting that Paul mentions angels in 6:3 and then again today when he is talking about women’s hair? (11:10)  I just had to ask myself, why did Paul throw that in there…as if, his readers would understand what he was saying with the very few words he used.  “It is for this reason that a woman ought to have authority over her own head, because of the angels.” 🤔
Today, we don’t have the insight into what Paul was referring to as the Corinthians may have had, so that leaves us to do some investigating!  What on earth does he mean by, “because of the angels”?

Well, what I know is that angels are ministering spirits (Hebrews 1:4).  As such, Biblical scholars assume that angels would be present in the meetings of Christians. I have never thought of that before! Can you imagine on a Sunday, when you are at church, the room is filled with the people you see every week AND it is also filled with angels?!  I bet you anything that while we are singing praises to God, the angels can’t help but join in because they love God too!

What else do we know of angels? 
  • Take a look at Mat. 18:10, our ministering angels go back and report to God. They are always face to face with God! 
  • They know what God likes~ humility! Some (or maybe all) show their respect (humility) to God by covering their faces (Isa. 6:2). 
  • Some of the things they see on earth and go back to report, causes them great distress (Mat. 18:31).  They have reactions or feelings to what they witness.

With those things in mind, some commentators imply that, if angels are present in our worship, Christians should be careful not to do anything indecent or irregular because angels are “sensitive to decorum in worship”.  Paul just got finished teaching us to be sensitive to other believers, not causing them to stumble (8:9).  Have you ever thought that we should also be sensitive to the angles?  That thought has never crossed my mind until today!

Imagine a woman strutting into your worship time at church, with a ‘tude. Hair is “her glory” and she is flaunting it! Angels are noticing that her bold attitude and arrogance (displayed in other ways than just hair) take over the scene.  (Now, we humans can’t see any of that because our eyes are closed and we have turned our attention to God.)  But, some of those poor angels are wigging out! They noticed her and are upset with what they are seeing! No-one should take attention away from their Lord!!! 😠
Here’s a thought….Can we cause such anger in angels as to cause them to sin?😳  Paul says, “Do not sin in your anger” (Eph 4:26).  And we know that angels have sinned (who knows what type of sin) and got sent to prison for it. (2 Peter 2:4-6)…. just a thought…..

So, back to today’s reading…Paul is saying, “Ladies control yourselves because of the angels.” (11:10) Be sensitive to everyone, including angels!  Boy! After these new thoughts I have more incentive to obey that command!  I want to be careful how I present myself in worship for many reasons, but one of them now is, not to cause an angel to stumble and get thrown into angle prison! I would feel terrible if I was the cause of that!   Crazy new thoughts, wouldn’t you agree?!

Friday, November 17, 2017

Day 51~ 1 Cor 7-9

“But whoever loves God is known by God.” (8:3)  That verse got me thinking…..

I remember hearing those words before…..Gal 4:8-9  “Formerly, when you did not know God, you were slaves to those who by nature are not gods.  But now that you know God- or rather are known by God- how is it that you are turning back to those miserable principles?”

And that verse reminded me of Matthew 7:23, “Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’  Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me you evil doers.’ ”

(Seriously, that’s how my brain jumps around sometimes!! Key words get me to hunt down verses that I vaguely recall!)
So after pondering those verses, I was thinking,….

Obviously an all knowing God knows who you are!  After all, he created you.  And because he loved you, He sent his Son….even while you were in your sinful state.  

So,…..what does “know” in this context mean? 
One commentator translated the Greek meaning of “to know” to also include “is approved by God”, “meets with his favor”. (See 1Cor. 11:19)

You can ‘know’ God with a head knowledge, but these verse point out a knowing that is ‘heart knowledge’.  It is the heart knowledge that gives us the right to be called children of God (John 1:12). It is important to understand that He does not call those with only the ‘head knowledge’,  his children (1 John 3:2). Nope, that title is reserved for those he approves of….those who love Him with all their heart knowledge.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Day 50~ 1Cor. 4-6

Paul is one of my Christian heroes!  He was a brilliant scholar, a motivated preacher and full of love for all his converts…a true inspiration for all future Christians!   Yet, it is  good for me to remember that he is one of us, “servants of Christ” (4:1).  He wasn’t perfect like Christ, yet as a devout follower of Christ he was given divine words from God (2:13). 
I thought Paul got a little testy today! His come back to those who were questioning his leadership role in the church (1:11, 3:4, 3:21) could be paraphrased as, “I don’t care what you think!” (4:3).  
Ooh!  He told them!
He sounds a little defensive to me, but he had good reason!  Wouldn’t you agree?!  Now, I am not saying that there aren’t a whole lot more deeper, theological points that can be uncovered in this reading, I am just commenting on an observation. Paul is human.  Let me elaborate further. 

Paul also gets a little sarcastic! (Sarcasm is an insincere form of politeness which is used to offend one’s interlocutor.)  “We are fools for Christ, but you are so wise in Christ.  We are weak, but you are strong..” (4:10)  Paul is using sarcasm as a technique to call out these fellow believers on their puffed up attitudes; puffed up on pride and self-conceit.  One commentary said that “pride commonly is at the bottom of quarrels” (6:1) and “self-conceit contributes to produce undue esteem of our teachers.” (1:11).

So, even though Paul used some “human-nature” strategies, to defend himself, I also noticed that he quickly stepped back into his loving, fatherly role to guiding these young believers (3:2) back into right thinking (4:14). Christ is the perfect role model for us.  It’s best to follow perfection.  But, it sure is nice to also have a human role model to see how he deals with his human imperfections and still live a godly life.

I am confident that the believers in Corinth took the correction letter well, in spite of being scolded, because after all,….they felt it worthy enough to save it for us to read!

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Day 49~ 1 Cor. 1-3

We just read yesterday in Acts 19 that Paul stayed in Ephesus for over 2 years (19:10).  During his time there he writes to the people in Corinth about his upcoming departure from Ephesus (1 Cor. 16:18).  For that reason this letter is placed here in our chronological reading.

As confusing as 1 Corinthians 2 may seem at first read through, I really like it!  It gives me confidence to stand firm in what I believe!  My Bible titled chapter 2 as “God’s Wisdom Revealed by the Spirit”.  
I especially liked verse 10- “The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. For who knows a person’s thoughts except their own spirit within them?  In the same way no now knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God.”

If you read that verse out of context, you are left with, “No one knows the thoughts of God.”  But in context, Paul is trying to make the point that we believers KNOW the thoughts of God!!!
Paul knew it and claimed it!  “This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words tough by the Spirit explaining spiritual realities with Spirit-taught words” (2:13)
If the Spirit of God lives in you, don’t act like you can’t figure out life and what it all means! You have the very thoughts of God!!  You can figure it out because, “The person with the Spirit makes judgments about all things…” (vs 15)

Doesn’t that give you confidence?!  In our culture of “education is the key to success”, remember we (believers) have the ultimate education going on in our souls being taught by the ultimate teacher!!!!

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Day 48~ 2 Thes 1-3 & Acts 18:12-19:22

“The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with how Satan works.  He will use all sorts of displays of power through signs and wonders that serve the lie…”
(2 Thes 2:9).
Did you notice what Paul said here when he was speaking of end times?  He described how Satan is already at work. Satan already uses the tactic that he will use in the end times as well!😳 
Keeping that in mind jump to our reading in Acts 19 when Luke is telling how some Jews went around driving out evil spirits (Acts 19:13).  These men were not sharing the good news of Jesus to the people. 
I have a commentary that explains how “missionaries” in the Greco-Roman world often took to the marketplaces using displays of power to advocate devotion to their own god.  These people, Jewish or non-Jewish, were migrant, traveling from city to city to show the power of their deity (and make a living off the earnings).  Luke says the 7 sons were Jews doing this very thing (Acts 19:14).
Doesn’t that sound like the work of Satan?  He’s a copy cat.  He will use “displays of power” but it is always “to serve the lie”.  So, even though these brothers tried to use the name of Jesus, they didn’t have the Spirit of Jesus in them.  Isn’t it fascinating to read that the demons knew that?!!!  Remember what we read the other day? (Day 44)  If we draw near to God, the devil runs the other way! (James 4:7-8) These seven brothers were no where near God!  The demon knew it, so these guys were free game! 😬

When displays of power are in the name of Jesus, it is always to glorify God and further His kingdom.  It is never for anyone else's fame or financial gain. 

I love how this story ends, “…and the name of the Lord Jesus was held in high honor.” (19:17)

Monday, November 13, 2017

Day 47~ 1 Thes. 4-5

Boy! Paul sure did pack a lot into two chapters!  We get a picture of what the end times will be like (4:15-17) and we are given a lot of instruction on how to “live in order to please God” (4:1).

I love the imagery of putting on “the hope of salvation” as a helmet.  Paul tells us to encourage each other with the words about how Christ is coming back to get us (4:18).  Put that hope in your head (or on your head).  Protect your mind/brain with the thoughts of the return of Jesus.  
Doesn’t the thought of Jesus coming to take you away from the sadness of this world give you hope?  You bet it does!! So keep your thoughts on that!  The helmet in place, protects your mind from outside, destructive thoughts of no hope. (Isn’t it just like Satan to try to make us feel the opposite to what Christ wants us to feel?!)

Also, the mandate here is to remind fellow believers of the hope we have (4:18).  
I can go on about the breastplate as well, but that helmet really stood out to me today.  Protect your mind!!! 

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Day 46~ 1 Thes 1-3

We just read in Acts 17 that Paul and his buddies went to Thessalonica.  Remember, Paul had to leave Thessalonica rather quickly (Acts 17:10) after being there for only a couple months. He then traveled to Corinth (Acts 18)where it is thought that he wrote this letter to the Thessalonians that we are about to start.
It makes sense that this letter would start with him expressing joy at the report of their steadfastness in the faith, despite the “strong opposition” (2:2), especially after what he experienced there.

I like how Paul wrote, “…you received the word of God…which is indeed at work in you who believe.” (2:13)  
Do you ever think about that? The word of God is at work in you!  God is doing the work to change you and me to be more like him.  I love that!! 
I love that Paul was so confident of the work that God had did in him that he boldly wrote, “You are witnesses, and so is God, of how holy, righteous and blameless we were among you who believe.”

Would you be able to describe yourself like that?  Holy, righteous and blameless?  Why not?  If you truly believe in Jesus, His Spirit is doing that work in you!! Be bold!  Be like Paul.  Claim it!! 😄

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Day 45~ Acts 15:36-18:11

“From one man he made all the nations,...he marked out their appointed times in history...” (Acts 17:26).
In context this is stating that God planned out the exact times when nations would emerge and decline. 
But, you can also bring it down to the individual. He planned the exact time when you and I were born! And why did he choose this time for me?
“God did this so that they would see him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from anyone of us.“ (Acts 17:27)

How personal, when you think of it that way! We are not random acts of chance that evolved over billions of years. We each were formed at a certain time so that we would seek out God and “perhaps“ reach out for him and find him. The ‘random act of chance’ sounds like it has more to do with us than him!
He doesn’t force his love on anyone, but he is near each of us, if at anytime we decide to accept it. 
He gives each of us the time in history that would be best for us to reach out to him.

I am so glad he felt this century was the right time for me!!  AND, I am so glad I reached out for him and found him!!!

Friday, November 10, 2017

Day 44~ James 1-5

Since this letter is distinctively Jewish in nature (sent out to the 12 tribes scattered among the nations), it suggests James was written when the church was still predominantly Jewish converts that had just recently been “scattered by persecution” (Acts 11:19).  Therefore the book of James was placed here in our chronological reading.

The verses that stuck out to me today were, “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.  Come near to God and he will come near to you.” (4:7-8)
I love that! When we draw near to Jesus, the devil runs away!  Isn’t that good to remember!?!  

Why is it that when I am tempted with something, I try, with my own efforts, to overcome it?  I often fail and give into the temptation.  That is because it is Satan’s job to tempt us in to sinning (Matt. 4:3 & 1 Thes 3:5).  These verses in Acts are key to remember because they shows I can conquer Satan, but not on my own volition.  It is by God’s power that I can defeat Satan.  I don’t get into a battle with Satan, all I do is draw close to God and Satan runs!  There is no battle!  Satan is a chicken when he knows God is near.
So the question I need to remember to ask myself is not, “How do I fight off this temptation?”, but rather, “How do I draw closer to God?”

This is one of those verses in the Bible you can use as a promise.  Draw near to God and he will come near to you.  I love that promise!!!!

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Day 43~ Gal. 3-6

“I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.”  (Gal. 5:21)
OK, isn’t that the most confusing thing to read when we know that we are saved by our faith and not by our works?  Yet, now it seems like Paul is saying judgement will be based on works (not doing all the evil things he listed in 5:19-21).  Which one is it?  I found a great commentary that I think explains it so well, I am just going to cut and paste it here:

“It may come as a shock that Paul is announcing judgment on the basis of works. But there can be no doubt that that is exactly what he is doing. Those who practice the works of the flesh are denied entrance to the kingdom of God. How can Paul, who so vehemently defends justification by faith in Christ, not by works of the law (2:16), now turn around and declare that judgment will be on the basis of works? Is this a glaring contradiction in his theology? Some have thought so. But some reflection on the flow of Paul's argument will show the consistency of his thought. The evidence that the Galatian believers had really been justified by faith was the presence of the Spirit in their lives. They had received the Spirit simply by believing the gospel, not by observing the law--just as righteousness had been reckoned to Abraham on the basis of his faith (3:1-6). Those who receive the Spirit experience a moral transformation by the directive power of the Spirit (5:16-18). If there was no evidence of moral transformation, then there was no basis for claiming the presence of the Spirit, and hence there was no basis for claiming justification by faith. And if they had not experienced justification by faith, then of course they would not inherit the kingdom of God.” 

Doesn’t that make it clear?!  No contradiction at all!!  The way you live your life shows (gives evidence to) the inward faith you have in Jesus.  If there is no moral transformation, don’t fool yourself thinking you are saved. You are only lying to yourself. 

Does that sound harsh?  Just know, I didn’t say it…Paul did.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Day 42~ Acts 15:1-35, Gal 1-2

So here we start Galatians, while still going through Acts.  Galatians was put here because of the topic in Acts about whether or not Gentile’s should be circumcised.  Some Biblical scholars feel that Galatians was one of Paul’s first letters and that it could have been written prior to the decision made in Jerusalem regarding circumcision.  So it makes sense to tuck this letter in right here while we read Acts.

This verse stuck out to me:
“I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be grained through the law, Christ died for nothing!” (Gal 2:21)

That is a good verse to remember when someone says, “I’m a good person, I’ll go to heaven.”

Ummm… no…if you think being good will get you to heaven and you don’t have a relationship with Jesus….then Christ died for nothing.  That puts things into a clear perspective, don’t you think? 

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Day 41~Acts 13-14

“So Paul and Barnabas spent considerable time there speaking body for the Lord who confirmed the message of his grace by enabling them to perform signs and wonders.” (14:3)

Lately, I have been thinking it sure would be nice if the Lord “confirmed the message” by doing some overt, huge miracle for some who just can’t believe in God.  I know someone who has rejected the idea that there is a creator of the universe.  He feels it all “just happened” over billions of years.  He also says that “miracles” can happen if you consider the mathematical odds. (I know, sounds hard to believe, but that’s how his brain wants to explain miracles.) I was thinking a big miracle would really help this friend of mine.  Why wouldn’t God want to do that for him since he used miracles in the beginning of the church to “confirm the message”?  
“Come on, God. Just one supernatural act to help confirm the truth for my friend? Please?”

But then….I kept reading what followed 14:3……”The people of the city were divided; some sided with the Jews, others with the apostles…”(vs. 4). These people saw the signs and wonders and were still divided!!!!
It didn’t matter for some that they saw miracles.  I don’t know…maybe they explained them away like my friend does.  
Have you ever read the book, Left Behind? The author used some plausible reasons to explain away the fact that millions of people had disappeared.  Those left behind thought it could have been internal combustion, a governmental conspiracy, aliens, etc.   But, they couldn’t come up with the obvious, “the rapture of Christians”.
I guess if one doesn't want to accept the truth, one can explain away even the obvious.
Jesus said something to that effect when he was telling the parable of the rich man and Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31). “If they don’t listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.”

So, I guess I will change my prayer for my friend.  Instead of praying for a supernatural miracle, I will pray for a different miracle.  God, please, just soften my friend’s heart to be open to the truth that is so obvious to those who believe.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Day 40~ 10-12

Boy, talking about the sins of the father punishing the children to the 3rd and 4th generation! (Exodus 20:5) Oy Vey! 
I’m glad I wasn’t born into the Herod family!!

  • King Herod the 1st (AKA “The Great”) was known for killing the babies under 2 years old in Bethlehem in his attempt to kill Jesus (Mt. 2).
  • King Herod the 2nd (son) was known for beheading John the Baptist (Mt 14).  He also tried Jesus (Lk 23).
  • Kind Herod the 3rd (grandson) killed James in our reading today (Acts 12).

What a horrible legacy for a family name!  It was anything but “great”.  (By the way, they all suffered from terrible deaths.) 
Despite what these three egotistical, tools of Satan attempted in their lifetime, they failed to squelch God’s plans.  Just as a fellow reader on Day 38 commented in regards to Acts 5:39, these Herod boys were fighting God.  They lost!  
I love what Luke writes in Acts 12:24, “But the word of God continued to spread and flourish.”
That was so encouraging to realize after the reading the sad part about James.
We should still be encouraged today!  The gospel is still spreading and flourishing even in the dark parts of the world where it seems evil prevails. Christians are actively spreading the gospel!!! 

If you would like to read about how the Holy Spirit is moving today, check out this website:

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Day 39~ Acts 7-9

Stephan was accused of speaking “words of blasphemy against Mosses and against God.” (6:11)
I’ve read Stephan’s speech before and my only thought was that it was a good review of the Jewish people’s history.  This time through, I caught subtle things that Stephan said that showed he was not guilty of blasphemy against Moses or God but against the Jewish people as a whole.  i.e. “But our fathers refused to obey him” (7:39), “But God turned away and gave them over to the worship of the heavenly bodies.” (7:42)
Stephan’s speech was pointing out to the people that they had a history of rejecting God’s leaders.  Before he even got the real obvious accusations (vs. 51-53), I am sure the leaders were already brisling with irritation at his history summery.

We humans like to have selective memories.  We try to remember the good and forget the bad.  That’s what the Jewish people were doing.  They were focusing on the fact that they were the “chosen race”.  Everything they did, what they ate, how they washed,  was done to set them apart from the other cultures around them.  However, there is a very consistent theme throughout the Old Testament scriptures; stories of how the Jewish people would reject God and how God would use a prophet to bring them back to repentance.  Stephen was not saying anything new to these Jewish leaders, they just didn’t like to be reminded of the bad.
Yet, if we don’t remember the bad, we will not understand that we need Jesus as our Savior to save us from the bad acts we have done. We can’t just look back on our life and think….I was pretty good…I did a lot of good things…
Because there is someone who remembers it all, the bad and the good (Proverbs 15:30)😳

Personally, I want all my bad covered over so it will not be reviewed in the end (Hebrews 8:12).  Wouldn’t it be awfully to have to review every bad thing you did in front of God (and maybe everyone else waiting for their case to be heard). No thank you!  Because in reality, I can remember the bad, things I would rather forget....and the good doesn't seem that great.   I bet you can too.
I LOVE that because of what Jesus did for me, God blots out my sins and remembers them no more! (Isaiah 43:25)

Too bad these Jewish leaders killed Stephan before he got a chance to tell them that part!  😞