Thursday, March 21, 2019

Ephesians 4-6~ Day 80~ You will be able to stand!!

The reading plan left out chapter 4!  Sorry about that ! Let's stick that chapter in our reading today.

I just can't help commenting on Eph. 6:10-18.  I love hearing about the armor God has given us to use in our struggle against the devils schemes!  These verse are worthy of memorizing!
One commentary I read said something profound, "All human life is a warfare; the Christian life is the most so; but the struggle will not last always."
Whew,  for that!😳

The verse that always strikes me anew is, "Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand."  (Eph. 6:13)

I love that!!  It does not say that "after you have done everything, you can count the dead demons strewn around your feet', or "count the converts standing with you because of your victory."  NOPE, it just says, "after you have done everything, to stand."

We will be left standing!  That is what the armor is for.  Ultimately, we will be left standing in front of the judge on the final day.  Because of the armor we have, we will be able to stand in front of our righteous king! All others will drop to the ground, shaking in fear, regret, shame, despair......but those who have the armor will be able to stand.  Stand with truth, righteousness, peace and faith, all because of the salvation that was freely given by Christ.
Judgement Day will be a glorious day for us!!! ðŸ™ŒðŸ»

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Ephesians 1-3, Day 79~ Brought near to God.

My husband and I had the opportunity to go to Ephesus on a trip titled, "Footsteps of Paul".  When we arrived in Ephesus, our tour bus took us to the entrance of the gates that guarded ancient streets   uncovered by archeologists.  After paying admission, we made our way down the main street to the stadium, relatively still in tact, that had been built into a hillside.

As a group, we thought it would be cool to have a little worship service.  However,  as we sat, our tour guide said, out of respect to others tourists who may not hold the same beliefs as us, we should be as quite as possible.  We settled into the ancient stone seats, gazed off into the distance at the Aegean Sea and listened to our pastor's devotion. While doing so, we started to hear singing from across the stadium.  We looked over to the group that was a little larger than ours.  They appeared to be Asian (come to find out they were Korean) and were singing in a foreign language.  As we listened closely, we could hear the tune of "Amazing Grace".  We couldn't help ourselves! Spontaneously we all joined in! They heard us signing the same song, but in our language.  They sang louder!   Recognizing fellow brothers and sisters in Christ brought so much joy!   Both groups knew the reality of the words being sung!  The joy brought by the reality of the song and the fact that both groups knew it....well...the singing couldn't be squelched!

It moved me to tears thinking how the Holy Spirit had moved over the years.  First working through Paul to the Gentiles in Ephesus and then spreading out form there....across the globe!  The reality of the scene I was witnessing brought this verse to life for me,

"But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ." (Eph. 2:10)

Obviously, we were far from God, spiritually, before accepting Christ.  We are brought close to God spiritually, through Christ, no matter where we live on the planet. But, together, we are all the church, the body of Christ!  My little experience gave me a glimpse of what it will be like when we all come together on judgment day and praise God for what Jesus has done for us.

The Koreans, the Americans, the people form Turkey, were all brought near to God through Christ Jesus!  What a fun way to celebrate-signing together- to the praise and glory of God!!

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Galatians 5-6~ Day 78~ Carry each others burdens.

I'm getting ready to talk with a group of moms Friday, so my mind is focused on what I am going to say.  (I don't have it completely planned yet.😬)  But, God's word always seems to speak to me at the right time and a new way!

This stood out to me, "Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ." (6:2)

Since I am focused on moms these days, this verse made me think back to my MOPS days.  MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) was all about this verse!  The leaders encouraged young, new moms to reach out and help fellow, new moms.

  • If a mom had a baby-"What day would you like to bring her a meal?'
  • If a husband was hurt or illness struck- "What day would you like to bring a meal?" 
  • If a mom is newly pregnant, sick as a dog, and needs to deal with the other sibling-"Stay in bed and tell me what time you want me to come get little Johnny to get him to his basketball practice...and what time do you want me to deliver the meal?
  • "Your husband and you need some bonding time?  I do too!  How about you watch my kids one night this week and I'll watch yours next week so we can both get that alone time with our husbands?"
  • "Your birthday cake didn't turn out the way you wanted it for Johnny's party? Well, take a look at my Pinterest fail, you'll feel better!"
  • "You were up all night with a teething baby and now feel worn out?  Come have breakfast with us and let your baby be in the care of our wonderful workers.  Enjoy some "me" time at MOPS!
MOPS was all about carrying each others burdens!  And in this way the law of Christ was fulfilled!  The moms felt loved and wanted more.  Then they encountered Christ!  It was and is a beautiful model of how to be Christ to others.  Needless to say, the new found friends back then became life long, life supporters to me.  We still carry each others burdens.  The model isn't to be used only in those baby years!  Paul is telling all Christians- this is how you do life!  Share your burdens, receive help, give help- this is how you fulfill the law of Christ!

Are you burdened?  Others can't read your mind.  They can't see behind closed doors.  You need to share your burden with others.  Allow them in!  Be vulnerable.  Likewise when one is vulnerable with you, do something!  "Carry " is an action word!  Praying for them is doing something! can never go wrong with a meal!!😋

Monday, March 18, 2019

Galatians 3-4 ~ Day 77~ The Nanny

Mary Poppins was a darn good nanny!  She guided those Bank's children into right living when they were young and later in their adult years!  (Mary Poppins Returns was a great sequel!  You should see it, if you haven't already!)

The lesson we can learn form Mary Poppins is that she was the nanny, not the parent and she knew her role.   Thinking of her helped me to understand Paul's analogy, "the law was our guardian until Christ came.." (3:24)
"Is the law, therefore, opposed to the promises of God?  Absolutely not!" (3:21)
Was Mary Poppins opposed to the parents?  Absolutely not! She was put in place until Mr. Banks was able to be with his children.

Well, that's as far as the Mary Poppins analogy goes...unlike Mr. Banks who finally steps into his role as an active father, God had a perfect plan and knew exactly when Christ would step into the role of our redeemer (4:4).

The beauty of the Mary Poppins analogy (if you know the story), is that the kids were elated to go off with their parents at the end of the movie.  They didn't even look back at Mary Poppins.  Their parents were their first choice, their future and their hope!   with that in mind,  I understand Paul's question..."But now that you know God- or rather are known by God- how is it that you are turning back to those weak and miserable forces?  Do you wish to be enslaved by them all over again?" (4:9)  That would be like the Bank's kids turning back to Mary Poppins care rather than their beloved father and mother.  Mary Poppins care was always supposed to be temporary.

If I were to say a prayer regarding this reading it would be,
Lord, I want to be like the Bank's children!  I know who my Heaven Father is. I want to be with him and like him!  I would rather go with Him any day, then to stay with the nanny!!  So, thank you for sending Christ when you did!!!

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Galatians 1-2~ Day 76~ Skip to my Lou!

Do you remember the movie Big from the 80's?  I love the character that Tom Hanks play!  A teenage boy, named Josh,  finds himself in an adult body after he makes a wish.  There is a scene where Josh is walking along in his new adult body with a strut in his step and a smile on his face, like he didn't have a care in the world.  It looked strange or comical for the viewer because....well....adults don't walk like that!  Adults are burdened with the worries of the world, so their gait is more sober and purposeful. (Don't think anymore of the movie, I'm just referring to the child like strut in the adult.)
Anyway, I was thinking about the freedom we have in Christ, the gospel that Paul was preaching, and thought, we Christians should be strutting around with that lighthearted skip!!  Life should be exhilarating and fun when we truly feel free from the burden of sin!!

Paul knew that!  He felt that freedom and wanted everyone else to experience it!  So, I understand why he said, "I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you to live in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel- which is really no gospel at all."(1:6)

The different teaching he was referring to taught that the people had to "do" something in order to get their salvation (2:16).  This 'works' thing became a tool of Satan's from the very beginning!! Adding to my opposite list from the other day, Satan was teaching, "Keep the circumcision thing.  Then you are true Jewish Christians.  Yes, Jesus did most of the work.  But you need to do one little thing as well!"  Paul was reminding these Christians of the true, great, good news,  message, "Only Jesus is required!"

What Christ did on the cross is our good news!  Period! Focus on anything else causes confusion and perverts the gospel. (1:7)  Once that fact is truly understood, I think we will be seeing more adults strutting around with a skip in their step!

Saturday, March 16, 2019

2 Corinthians 12-13~ Day 75~ Examine yourself!

I'm going to the dentist today. 😣Not my favorite thing! I go because I need a check up to see if I am taking care of my teeth.  I think I will pass the test!  I brush a couple times a day and I floss every night, so my teeth should be pretty good. There might be a few places that need scraping, but over all, I usually get a good report.
But, there are some who finally go to the dentist to be examined, and the hygienist finds the patient has not been flossing and gum disease abounds!!  Those people may think their teeth look good, but those teeth are actually getting ready to fall out!

OK, that was a long analogy, but it was what I thought about when I read, "Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves.   Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you -unless of course, you fail the test? (2 Cor. 13:5)

Just like a bright smile that can fool others, a person can fool others and themselves into thinking he/she is a Christian.  Yet, deep down, the person knows they haven't been flossing, right? Partial belief works right?  Well, to go with the teeth analogy, does flossing once a year work?

"Examine yourselves"! Do you bleed when you floss because you rarely, if ever, floss?  Do you stay stressed even though God says, "Give me your burden" (Psalm 55:22, Isaiah 41:13, Matt 6:25, 11:28-29, Phil 4:6-7, 1 Peter 5:7), because you don't truly believe in God or put your trust in Him?

The beauty with this dental analogy is that it works in the regard of testing of one's faith.  If you fail the test, just start flossing!! Your gums start getting stronger immediately!  It's the same with your faith!  God gives you more/or better quality, when you turn to Him! (Matt. 13:12, Luke 17:5-10, Rom. 10:17, James 1:2-3)

Before I finish up on this topic of faith, I thought I would clearly state what faith is.  I like what my Bible commentary said, "Faith is a total dependency on God and a willingness to do his will.  Faith is not something we use to put on a show for others.  It is complete and humble obedience to God's will, readiness to do whatever he calls us to do.  The amount of faith isn't as important as the right kind of faith-genuine."

Friday, March 15, 2019

2 Cor. 10-11~ Day 74~ Satan vs. God

You have heard me say this before, it's becoming my mantra, "Satan teaches the exact opposite to what God teaches on every point!"

Where do I get that?  Well, John 8:44 says that Satan is the father of lies.  And I know he goes around teaching those lies by what Paul says in Ephesians 6:12 and our reading today, "For though we live in the world we do not wage war as the world does.  The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world.  On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.  We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ." (10:3-5)

Satan's lies are the strongholds Paul is referring to and the arguments and pretensions that "sets itself up against the knowledge of God" (that's were I get my word "opposite" from)  If God's word says one thing, the father of lies will set himself up against that.

I can list a thousand examples of what Satan teaches that is in direct contrast to what Gods' word says.   I'll just list a few that we deal with in our society today:
Satan:  Security is in money.                                          
God:   Give us this day our daily bread (Matt 6:11)

Satan: Security is in being liked by others.            
God: If the world hates you, they hated me first. (Jn.15:18) 

Satan: I can never change.                          
God: The old has passed away, the new has come. (2 Cor. 5:17)

Satan: I can never say I am becoming perfect.                                   
God: Let us purify ourselves...perfecting holiness. (2 Cor. 7:1)

Satan:I know I'm forgiven, but I can't forget my baggage.                            
God: Forgetting what is behind, and straining toward what is ahead (Phil. 13:13)                                                                              

Satan: It's my body, I can do what I want.                  
God: You are not your own, you have been bought at price. (1 Cor. 6:19)

Praise the Lord, we have divine power to demolish the strongholds!!!  We can take captive every thought that is opposite to Christ's teaching and make it obedient!! What we must do first, however, is to identify the strongholds, realize we have the weapons to combat Satan and learn how to use them!!  That is why I am doing my daily reading plan; I'm learning how to use one of my weapons!  I'm glad you are learning how to use your weapon as well!!

Thursday, March 14, 2019

2 Cor. 7-9 ~ Day 73~ Clean up the house!

"Therefore, since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence. (7:1)

That is the first sentence of chapter 7, but it clearly goes with the previous chapter.  I wonder why they broke it up that way?  Since Paul goes on to a new thought, I almost missed what he was saying!  The use of the word "therefore" is a call to action!  So, I can't help ask myself, do I strive for perfect holiness out of my reverence for God?

I like how Spurgeon, (a famous preacher in the 1800's) says, "If God dwells in us, let us make the house clean for so pure a God."  That made me think, yeah, if the president of the U.S. was coming to my house for dinner, you can bet I would clean my house from top to bottom, take a shower and do my hair!  How much more would I want everything to be perfect for my all powerful God?!

So, Paul says the knowledge of the promises should play a factor in our desire to perfect holiness.  Again, Spurgeon lists the promises chapter 6 concisely like this:  God promises us divine indwelling (6:16), divine manifestation, divine covenanting, divine acceptance (6:17) and divine adoption (6:18).

Martin Luther also had words on the subject, "What greater insult to God can there be than not to believe His promises.  And if we truly believed his promises, we will strive to obey through His power working in us."

So, I guess the better question to ask myself is, do I really believe God lives in me? Do I believe he manifests himself to me, convenes with me and accepts me?  Do I believe that he has adopted me into his family?  If I truly believe those things than through his power, I will obey and get rid of everything that makes my house a mess! I will work toward perfecting holiness, because I hold God way higher than the president of the U.S.!!!

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

2 Corinthians 4-6~ Day 72~ New bodies!!

I lover chapter 5!  It makes me excited about the new body I'm going to get!  I could totally relate when Paul says, "For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwellings, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life." (5:4)  I'm groaning all right! 😜 Arthritis, old (er) aches and pains can drag one down mentally!  It's exciting to think about a day when all pain is gone, don't you think?!

The spiritual body in the future is one thing Paul talks about, but he shifts to talk about the here and now as well.  "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!" (5:17)

We don't need to wait to get to heaven to feel no pain or suffering due to the sins of our past.  The pain caused by guilt or shame has been lifted!  We Christians need to embrace this new reality now!  The pain is gone!  Don't give into "phantom" pain!  That fact is equally, if not more, exciting than the spiritual body we will get in heaven!  We don't need to feel worn down and old in this life because of past sins.  The new creation of feeling good and excited about life is here now!
Yay!! 😄

I bet you agree, chapter 5 is a good reminder!!  Enjoy that new creation of yours!!

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

2 Cor. 1-3~ Day 71~ We need our time with God!

This section of scripture stood out to me, "I call God as my witness- and I stake my life on it- that it was in order to spare you that I did not return to Corinth.  Not that we lord it over your faith, but we work with you for your joy, because it is by faith you stand firm." (2 Cor. 1:23-24)

What is Paul saying?  I had to do some digging.   Well, I read several commentaries to try to break it down and get some understanding.  This is what I came away with: it's like Paul is saying he didn't want to add "insult to injury" so to speak.  He had just written a letter that was both hard to write and hard to hear (2:3).  He didn't want to discipline the Corinthian church again on issues they were dealing with.  Rather, by stating, "it is by faith you stand firm", it's like he is saying, "I'm not going to come and lord over you or exhort my power to get you to change! Instead, I'm going to let God do the work in you, since your faith is (and should be) in Him.  He can do the convicting, comfort you in the feelings of turmoil you are having and provoke a heart change in you.  It will be all his doing- not mine!  After all, your faith is in Him, not me!"

Well, I can get some practical application form that!  Let God do the work in others!  Their salvation or how they work out their salvation is on them.  It should not rest in my "doing", worry, instruction or prayer for that matter!

However, at first I must admit, I didn't know how to write down what I was learning, so I decided I would chuck this whole thought and go for something else! So, I went back to reread the whole days reading!!  Maybe God would give me something new to focus on!

Yet, right when I started reading, I  smiled as I reread, "Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God." (2 Cor. 1:3-4)
Well, I read that with a whole new understanding!!  The Corinthian church had been reprimanded by Paul (first letter that caused pain and troubled hearts), they wanted clarification from Paul in person and were upset that he didn't come when he said he would (1:15-17), but in Paul's God given wisdom, he didn't return to them.  They needed to put their trust in God rather than in Paul.  That is why Paul says "it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ." (1:21)  Paul was literally giving them time with God!  He wanted them to see that God would do His work in them, not Paul's work.
Praise God, He does His work in our hearts.  The change does not happen because of another person's great teaching.  And when each person has that personal comforting touch by God, they can share that comfort with others.
That's beautiful!

Monday, March 11, 2019

1 Cor. 14-16 ~ Day 70~ A curse be on him??

The words at the close of this letter caught me by surprise again!  So, I went back and read a previous post that addressed the wording, "let that person be cursed".  I appreciated the reading the possible intent of Paul's wording, so I thought I would post it again.  Hopefully it can give some insight for any new readers that may have been confused at Paul's choice of words.

As I am reading, I am almost being lulled to sleep with sweet words of, “Do everything in love..”, “I was glad,…”, “…they refreshed my spirit..” (16:14-18)  
Calm words in a peaceful goodbye….😌  And then I turn the page….“If anyone does not love the Lord- a curse be on him.  Come, O Lord!” (16:22) 😳  Boy, did my eyebrows shoot up!  I’m thinking, “Whaaat?”  What happened to all the warm and comforting, good-bye words?! What is Paul saying?????

Then I thought about Paul.  
This actually fits right in line with all his preaching!  Remember, he is the guy who says, “I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some.” (1 Cor. 9:22)  Save them from what? ......From perishing!
“For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to those who are being saved it is the power of God.” (1:18)  

Remember back in Acts when Paul said to the Jews who opposed him, “Your blood be on your own head! I am clear of my responsibility.” (Acts 18:6)  Paul takes eternal life very seriously!  It is real, and he knows it! We will all go one direction or the other at the final judgement (Matt.25:32).

When we read what he says to the Corinthians, “a curse be on him.” it isn’t like he is calling down a curse from heaven to spite these heathens.  On the contrary, he loves people, he will be and do anything to save some, especially the Jewish nonbeliever! Remember he said, “For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, those of my own race, the people of Israel.”

So, instead, his statement about the curse is more like he is summing up what John the Baptist said using a few more words, “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on him.” (John 3:36) 

The curse is already on all men who don’t love Jesus.  Paul didn’t call down the curse.  He is reminding this group of people he is writing to…..”Do, you truly love the Lord?  ‘Cause if you don’t, the wrath of God is still on you.”

Sunday, March 10, 2019

1 Cor. 11-13~ Day 69~ In vogue or not, God’s word stands.

OK, we come to a chapter I think most Christians gloss over as being socially relevant in today’s US culture. I’m going to go a little deep here, so I hope you hang on to the end and give me your thoughts!

Before I get into the controversial chapter, I have a few questions.  Would you agree with Paul’s views on fleeing from sexual immorality (6:18), his thoughts about getting married or not (7:25-28), or what he says about eattng food sacrificed to idols (8:9))?  What about his warning to avoid temptation (10:13) and his encouragement to take communion in a proper manner (11:27), would you agree with that teaching?

I would and I do! So, why, all of a sudden when reading 1Cor. 11:7, do I bristle, as I’m sure other women do as well, when reading, “A man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image of  and glory of God; but woman is the glory of man.”  (1 Cor. 11:7). And some may want to entirely toss out, “For man did not come from woman, but woman from man, neither was man created for woman, but woman for man. It is for this reason that a woman ought to have authority over her own head, because of the angels.” (vs.8)

So, here is a challenging thought. Am I being influenced by our secular society striving for equal rights? Remember I have said that Satan will hold tight and teach the exact opposite from what God teaches?  Some would say that chapter 11 is socially irrelevant now, but is it? We battle with the same issues they did! I think the ladies of Paul’s time we’re dealing with the original curse given to Eva just as ladies today or doing! Eve’s curse had odd worded, “your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.” (Gen 4:16b). One commentary explained that this curse meant women would now have an on going conflict with men. A “power struggle” would ensue.  The NLT translation says it like this, “ You will desire to control your husband, but he will rule over you.”

With that in mind, Paul’s words make a lot of sense!  They are not socially itrelevant! In fact, they are just as relevant today as ever! So whether head coverings go in or out of Vogue, the line of authority does not change. These verses are filled with God’s design that does not change with what secular society brings into fashion. This is a good example of what Jesus meant when he prayed in John 17:14 for his disciples, “I have given them your word but the world has hated them, for they are not of the world anymore than I am of the world.” In other words we are physically present in the world but don’t hold to the values of the world.

Therefore, if I bristle at any teaching found in the Bible, I better check myself. Whose values am I holding to?

Friday, March 8, 2019

1Cor 9-10~ Day 68~Not everything is beneficial.

Did you notice that Paul repeats himself? Paul uses the same quote twice. He must’ve gotten a letter from these Corinthian’s who felt their freedom in Christ so strongly, they said, “I have the right to do anything!”
But, Paul says, that may be so, but not at the detriment of another. (1 Cor. 6:12 & 10:23) Our freedom is rooted in love.   Out of love, everything we do needs to be for the good of others (10:24).  This isn’t new teaching that Paul made up. He got it from Jesus who was reiterating what God has said from the beginning!
“In everything, than do to others as you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.” (Matt. 7:12)
Ahh, the Golden Rule!

1 Cor. 6-8~ Day 67~ Undivided devotion

Watch your reading plan!  It's switching form 2 to 3 chapters for a few days.  With that, look on the bright side, you will get more continuity in the letter!
That was the case for me with today's reading.  Instead of reading these chapters as a list of do's an don'ts, I read it from the perspective of the devoted followers who had asked Paul their list of questions (7:1).
I was endeared to these new believers who had such a strong desire to follow Jesus whole heartedly that they were willing to not get married, willing to change their lifestyle to follow Jesus, and they felt the freedom that is in Christ so they didn't care about the "taboo" of certain meat.  Their devotion was inspiring to me!
Yet, in their devotion, they needed some clarification:  Do I leave my unbelieving spouse?  Do I push the point that it is OK to eat anything?

Praise God, Paul took the time to answer all their questions!  AND, the letter was so valuable to them, they saved it!!  Saved it so well, that it has lasted two thousand years!  (That is SO God!)  I particularly loved this verse, "I am saying this for your own good, not to restrict you but that you may live a right way in undivided devotion to God." (7:35)

It left me thinking, do I have an undivided devotion to God?  Are there areas in my life that distract me from God?  Lord, help me to be like these new believers in Corinth; eager to please you in all aspects of life.  From my marriage to what I eat, let me be fully devoted to you in all ways! 

Thursday, March 7, 2019

1 Cor. 3-5~ Day 66~ Three chapters today!

I think chapter 5 is really hard to read and hard to implement when necessary.  "Don't you know that a little yeast leavens the whole batch of dough?  Get rid of the old yeast..." (5:6-7)

Welllll... a little yeast won't spread over to me! It's not my job to get rid of the yeast!  Only pastors should do that!  If we got rid of all bad yeast, there would be no bread!! Let's just try to keep the peace.  Who am I to judge if the yeast is bad or not?.......
Be've had those thoughts!  I think most would agree Paul is asking the church to do something really hard!!

While reading today, I got  a new perspective.  I focus too much on the hard act of getting rid of the bad yeast when in reality the focus should be on the latter part of verse 7,  "so that you may be a new unleavened batch -as you really are......unleavened bread of sincerity and truth." (verse 7 and end of 8).  I was thinking...instead of focusing on the hard part, focus on the end goal!!
We want to be known as a people who have sincerity and truth.  That's the goal!

When one has a clear picture of what they are aiming for, than keeping away from things that hinder that goal becomes easier!
Like Paul says, "keep your eye on the goal" (Phil 3:14), referring to eternal life, we can also keep our eye on the goal of sincerity and truth, achievable in this life!

With that in mind, "getting rid of the old yeast" isn't so hard!

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

1 Corinthians 1-2~ Day 65~Without the Spirit, it seems foolish..

Yesterday I got the opportunity to share the full gospel with a gal who came into the center where I work.  I asked her if I could "share some spiritual things" with her.  She said yes and admitted she knew nothing of God or Jesus.  She grew up in a home void of anything spiritual, but filled with alcohol abuse and neglect.
So, I launched into the topic from the beginning "God created the heavens, the earth and YOU!"  I explained the word "sin" (remember, she knew nothing) and how it separates us from God.  I also explained how Christ brings us back into a right relationship with God.

While I was speaking and looking at her face, I could practically hear her thoughts, "This story sounds like fiction!" So, I talked about faith and true belief in this true story and the power of God.  Ultimately, she confessed she was not ready to believe, full heartedly, in what I was telling her.

I couldn't help think of her today when I read, "The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come form the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit." (1 Cor. 2:14)

BUT, I have hope for this girl!!  God is drawing her to himself!  He has had her come to our center twice!  Each time, we have shared a little bit more with her!!  I take heart in John 6:44, "No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them, and I will raise them up at the last day."  That verse does not refer to just a select few that God draws!!  Jesus clarifies in John 12:32, "And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself." The act of dying on the cross for each individual....that fact alone..draws people to Jesus.  First, though, people need to hear that Jesus did that!! (Romans 10:14)

So, now this young lady is being drawn, she has heard.....Lord, please prepare her heart with good soil so that the seeds planted can grow.  Let the Holy Spirit give her understanding!! Amen!!

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Romans 15-16~ Day 64~Old Testament has a lot more for us than we think!

Just the other day I was thinking about Jeremiah 29:11, "For I know the plans I have for you", declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future."

It's hard not to have that one memorized!  It's on every Christian plaque, poster, mug, graduation card  and blanket!  I was wondering if we have gone too far with that verse because, in deed, God was saying it to the Israelites.  The verse is actually written in a letter from Jeremiah to the "serving elders among the exiles and to the priests, the prophets and all the other people Nebuchadnezzar had carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon" (Jer. 29:1).

The Lord was saying, through Jeremiah, that he was going to bring the exiles back to Jerusalem at the end of 70 years,  and he had this plan for them. So, why do we use that promise today?  What makes us think that the verse originally meant for the exiles can be applied to us?

Because of what Paul said to the Romans in our reading today, that's why!!!
"For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope." (Romans 15:4)

"Everything written in the past" would be everything in the Old Testament!  Yes!  WE can apply those words to our lives and get encouragement from them!  So, go ahead and enjoy your mug that may have Jeremiah written on it!

Hmm....I'm thinking God may be prompting me to go back and read the Old Testament again!  ðŸ˜¬
Why wouldn't I want to, though?  I can learn endurance, get encouragement and have hope!!!  Who wouldn't want that?!?!

Monday, March 4, 2019

Romans 12-14~ Day 63~ Christian living

We come to a transition in Paul's letter.  He goes from deep theological points to guidelines on how to live as a Christian among those who are not saved.

Since I was quite wordy on part two of yesterday's blog, I thought I would be brief today.  That might be appreciated by those of you I may have messed up and found yourself reading 4 chapters today, like I did!! ðŸ˜›

So, what stood out to you in today's reading of "Christian living"?

Sunday, March 3, 2019

Romans 9-11~ More thoughts on Day 62 😁

Confession here! I misplaced my reading plan for a few days and just hoped we were still reading 2 chapters a day.  Sure enough we weren't! 😝
So,  just thought I would post some bonus thoughts on the reading and get myself caught up!

"It does not depend on human effort, but on God's mercy." (Romans 9:16) That simple verse stood out to me today.  Following Christ is a matter of truly believing in Jesus (a belief that shows like a grateful servant) and then professing that faith to others (10:9).

Simple!! But there is an entity that works overtime to complicate and confuse everyone.  You've heard me say this before, Satan teaches the exact opposite on every single Godly principle!  His goal is to complicate things! "When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies." (John 8:44)

I think Paul spent some time trying to clarify 9:16 because his mixed audience of Jew and Gentile Christians may have been grappling with some Jewish superiority teaching or simply addressing some lies of Satan that are still dealt with today.

Human effort, or doing, can be many things.  Paul illustrates these "efforts" in different ways and shows that they don't affect who God shows his mercy.  It's not your birth order, it doesn't matter if you were born first, entitled to the blessing that come with that position.  He used the twin story to illustrate that point (9:10-13).  It doesn't matter if you have a strong enough will, it's God's mercy that is displayed when even the weakest chose to accept His righteousness by faith (9:30). Your heritage doesn't matter (10:20), the way you were brought up doesn't matter (except that your parents may have been the one's to share the Word with you-10:17), the way you act doesn't matter *,.....the bottom can't earn God's mercy, your salvation.

(*Side note for clarification: Righteous acts prior to salvation are like fifty rags to Gd (Isaiah 64:6), but righteous acts after salvation are a by-product of gratitude felt from receiving his mercy- not a required response.  Satan will do his best to get that concept mixed up in peoples minds!)

Once the concept of "mercy" is understood and believed, there will never be a time again that you would listen to Satan's whispers, "God won't forgive my sin, it was a bad one." "I'm not good enough". "If I try hard enough, God will let me in", "I'm good for the most part.", "I'm a Christian because my parents were and they baptized me."  Nope.  So, just rest in His mercy and share the good news with others!!!

Romans 7-8~ Day 62~ God is working for our good!!

It seems I have been quoting Romans 8:28 quite a bit lately!  It's a great verse to memorize because there is so much hope contained in the words, "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose."

But.....the hope is only there for "those who love him".  You can't flippantly throw that verse out to someone who doesn't know or love Jesus. The promise isn't for everything to turn out good in this life time.  The hope is the good that will come in the next lifetime, for those who believe.
Yes, God can also turn things out so that the believer is blessed in this lifetime as well, but the ultimate "good" is our "adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies." (8:23)  That's it!  That's what we groan for inwardly and "wait eagerly" for.

Again, it's a great verse to share with a fellow believer who is going through a hard time.  It gives the reminder that this life isn't what "it" is all about.  This world is temporary, the hard time is temporary, and the picture is bigger than what we can see from here.  We are going to be made perfect; to live with Christ forever.   God is working for our good!!  What a great reminder and what great encouragement!!

Saturday, March 2, 2019

Romans 6-8~ Day 61~ Pattern of teaching 💃🏻

So what stood out to you in the reading?

This verse stood out to me today, "But thanks be to God that though you used to be slaves to sin, you have come to obey from your heart the pattern of teaching that has now claimed your allegiance (6:17).
..."the pattern of teaching" learn a pattern and then it comes naturally from the heart.   I like that!
I thought of the cup song when I read that!  Once you learn the pattern to the cup song, it comes so naturally, you can do it without thinking. But, it first takes learning the steps and then practicing it!

Paul says that's what these Roman believers did. The pattern to learn is the same pattern the first Christians did in Acts 2:42, "Be devoted to the apostles teaching, fellowship, communion and prayer." That is what we are to do.

Yes, we are slaves to righteousness as believers and know what is right, without even thinking, but sometimes we mess up.  The beauty I find in the above verse is that the Holy Spirit has put the "pattern" into our heart so well, that after we stumble and repent, we know the pattern to step back into.  A true believer, with a life saving faith, may trip out of the pattern, but will step right back into the pattern of right living because of the true heart change.
One who stays in a pattern of sin needs to do an honest heart check-where is your allegiance?  Did you ever learn the pattern of teaching, to obey it from your heart?

Just FYI about the cup song, I want to learn to do this!! My kids can do it!  Look how good everybody in this clip can do this!! I'm jealous!! Leave it to me to spiritualize cup patterns!  ðŸ˜‚
4 min video:  Anna Kendrick- Cups

Friday, March 1, 2019

Romans 3-5~ Day 60~ It's always been about faith in Jesus!

So, I have always kind'a stumbled through this confusing passage,
"He (God) did this (present Christ as a sacrifice) to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished- he did it to demonstrate his righteousness at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus." (3:25-26)

What does it mean that he "left the sins committed beforehand unpunished"?  Well, I read a commentary that helped me better understand what Paul meant.  "It's not that God failed to punish these old sins.  It's that he stored up His punishment and poured it out on Jesus to fully satisfy the payment for those "former sins".

Well, that makes sense since I know that Christ died for all my past, present and future sins.  He died for the sins of those in the past too!  Those who were "justified" by Christ's blood that would have been shed in their future would still have needed the faith that is required.  Old Testament believers looked forward, in faith, to Christ's coming.  Even though they didn't have the details, like we do on this side of the cross, they had the prophecies that pointed to Jesus.  Some chose to put their faith in those prophecies.  For those, Christ's shed blood covered their sins that Paul calls "unpunished".

That verse makes so makes more sense to me now! Yay!  I love getting new insights each time I read!  

Thursday, February 28, 2019

Romans 1-2~Day 59~ I'm Jewish?

As we finished Acts we read, "The brothers and sisters there (Rome) had heard we were coming, and they traveled as fas as the Forum of Appius and the Three Taverns to meet us.  At the sight of these people Paul thanked God and was encouraged." (28:15)

The believers that went to see Paul were most likely the ones who received and read the letter we are starting today.  Paul hadn't traveled to Rome yet, so these people only knew Paul through this letter.  He wrote to them at least two years earlier when he was in Corinth, getting ready to leave for Jerusalem. So, these Christians traveled a long way to see someone they grew to admire, through a letter, received over two years earlier!

I wonder if I would have traveled to see Paul?  I guess I would have if the letter was life changing.  Boy, these thoughts are getting me excited to see what the letter says....let's get started!!....

So, I just finished the first two chapters.  It's hard to start a letter and then stop...who does that after receiving a much anticipated letter?  The first two chapters are about man's sin and God's judgement of that sin.  If I was the original recipient of the letter and stopped there, I don't think I would want to pick it up again!  But, I peeked ahead, (as some of you know I do, when I read books)...the letter get's better! I actually like how Paul sets up his letter.  It's important to start with the basics and make sure everyone is on the same page.

This verse that stuck out to me today, "..a person is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code..."(2:29).  Paul is pretty clear here that Christian's can be called "Jews" in the true sense of the word and those by physical decent, but not Christ followers, are not Jewish (in the true sense of the word).  That's interesting, don't you think?  I've never called myself Jewish!

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Acts 27-28~ Day 58~ Good comes out of storms.

It's my nature to think of my self first.  ðŸ˜If I was Paul caught in that storm while heading to Rome, I would naturally be saying, "God, why are you doing this to me?  I have been loyal to you! I've been in prison for 2 years already!  I can't take anymore!  Give me a break!"

Well, hindsight is always 20/20, right?  Luke would have been an encouraging friend when Paul finds himself under house arrest in Rome.  I can imagine Luke with his scrolls reviewing with Paul what he wrote; getting to see the bigger picture that went beyond enduring the storm.

Luke:  I recorded that there were 276 people on board the ship we took to get here.

Paul:  Look what God did!  I can see now that if that storm didn't happen, I would not have had the opportunity to stand in front of all of them and tell them about God. (27:23)

Luke:  I also recorded that it was three months that we were on Malta.  That time went fast!

Paul:  Looking back, I can see that was a loving thing God did for the people of that remote island.  He wants even the farthest removed people to hear about him!  I would never have chosen to go to that tiny island, but that was God's plan so that those people could hear about Jesus!

I like the account Luke gives of Paul getting to Rome.  It reminds me not to look at the storms in my life like, "God is doing this to me, arg!", but rather, "God, please use this storm in my life to show your glory to other people."

If only I could have this perspective as foresight instead of hindsight!  God help me to have your vision!

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Acts 25-26~Day 57~ It's a true story!

I am sure you have heard the argument that the story of Jesus was made up by one brilliant men, Paul.  Well, if that were true, would that brilliant man be willing to sit in jail for 2 years in one stretch and two more years in another stretch....for a made up story?....I highly doubt it!!

If you noticed, Paul's story doesn't change over time.  The encounter he had with Jesus was life changing and unforgettable!  He recounts his testimony to King Agrippa exactly how he told the story to the crowd in Jerusalem two years prior.  (It's easy to forget that it was two years since we read the story in one chapter.)  When one has a real encounter with Jesus, the story doesn't change!

I am so thankful that God used Luke to record the facts for Theophilus (so that he could know the certainty of the things he had been taught-Luke 1:4).  While reading Acts, I have noticed that Luke first recounts his research and interviews with those who saw things first hand, and then shifts to recording a first hand account.  Did you notice when he was describing Paul's journey back to Jerusalem he lists all those who accompanied Paul but says, "These men went on ahead and waited for us at Troas.  But we sailed from Philippi..." (20:5-6)  It's a given that Luke was there.  He didn't need to state, "And me, the writer of this account.", that was implied at the beginning of Acts when he writes, "In my former book, Theophilus, I wrote about all Jesus began to do..." (Acts 1:1)

So, with that in mind, I can imagine Luke had stayed near Paul during those two years in the Caesarea prison, being part of a faithful group that helped provide for Paul's needs while in jail.  Therefore, he writes the account of Paul sharing his testimony pre-prison and post-prison from a first hand perspective.  He was there in both cases! We are also going to read that Luke traveled with Paul to Rome and cared for his needs there as well when Paul was under house arrest (28:30). This is assumed by scholars because of Luke's choice of pronoun used in Acts 28:10-16.
God gave enough testimony to prove that the story of Jesus is true.  It's clear to see, it's not made up.  

Monday, February 25, 2019

Acts 23-24~ Day 56~ The Old Testament points to Jesus!

One of the accusations the Jews had against Paul was, "This is the man who teaches everyone, everywhere against our people and our law and this place (Acts 22:28).  Well, nothing could have been farther from the truth!
Paul was justified in saying, "I believe everything that is in accordance with the Law and that is written in the Prophets, and I have the same hope in God as these men themselves have, that there will be a resurrection of both the righteous and the wicked." (24:14-125)

I read an author once who said, absolutely everything in the Old Testament points to Jesus.  It is through that lens that we are to read Old Testament Scriptures.  For example, the Sabbath instituted by God was fulfilled in Jesus (Col. 2:16-17).  Every feast in the Old Testament points to Jesus and how he fulfills them (see John 7:37-44 when Jesus connects the dots).  In addition, the temple, a holy dwelling is now perfectly completed in the body of Christ, his church (2 Cor. 6:16).  And let's not forget the sacrifice system set up to foreshadow the prefect sacrifice!  So, clearly, Paul would not refute Old Testament Scriptures!  In fact, he used them to prove Jesus was the Messiah (Acts 13:16-26).

Jesus himself even said, "Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow form within them." (John 7:38)

I have a friend who has said that the Old Testament is null and void now that Christ has come...No, no, no!  No Christian should ever contradict Jesus!!!  He says, "For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished." (Matt. 5:18)
So, if you haven't read the Old Testament lately, I challenge you to do so.  And when you do,  look to see how it all points to Christ! 

Sunday, February 24, 2019

Acts 21-22~ Day 55~Baptized immediately!!

What is standing out to you in the reading?

As Paul was addressing the rioting crowd, telling his story, the words of Ananias stood out to me, "And now what are you waiting for?  Get up be baptized and wash your sins away, calling on his name." (22:16)  Have you noticed, like I have, that baptism for new believers back in those days was immediate!?!
Remember Philip and the Ethiopian (Acts 8:36), Cornelius (10:48), Lydia (16:15), the jailer (16:33) and Crispus (18:8)...they were all baptized immediately!  I find that very interesting!

Something is being communicated to these new believers so strongly, that it is a "given" that they do the act immediately.  Listen to the words of the Ethiopian, "Look, here is water.  What can stand in the way of my being baptized?" (8:37).

We know that baptism is not a prerequisite to salvation (as evidenced by the thief on the cross), but it is still an important act.  It's an act that forces the answer to the question, "Do you believe enough to be identified with a group of people who will be persecuted like Christ was?"

So....another question.......have you been baptized?  

Saturday, February 23, 2019

Acts 19-20~ Day 54~ I want Paul's work ethic!

I really admire that Paul was a "tentmaker" (18:3).  When he needed to make money, he knew how.  However, when fellow companions were with him, he allowed them to help him so that he could spend all his time teaching (18:5).  They seemed to have a good system down, providing for the needs of their group as they worked to "proclaim the whole truth of God." (20:27)

This verse stood out to me today, "You yourselves know that these hands of mine have supplied my own needs and the needs of my companions.  In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words of the Lord Jesus himself said, 'It is more blessed to give than to receive'." (20:35)

Talking about a work ethic! He worked manually to meet his physical needs, mentally to study scripture and he worked spiritually to share God's love (all night long if necessary! 20:7).  Boy!  That puts me to shame when I have worked during the day and then at night say, "I'm too tired to go to Bible study".😝

Paul is showing how to do Luke 10:27, " 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind' and 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' "
Lord, help me to be like that and do that!!

Friday, February 22, 2019

Acts 17-18~ Day 53~ God has no need for a temple!'s the capital of Greece to this day...I've been there and walked around the Parthenon temple.  It sits on top of a hill for all the surrounding people in the city to look up and admire.  One thing that is very noticeable about the landmark is that it is empty.  It's majestic columns hold up nothing and there is no Athena statue for people to worship. Everything that was "greatly distressing" Paul as he walked through the city (17:16), every idol, has been wiped out.

Don't get me wrong, Satan is still alive and well deceiving people in different ways, but the overt idol worship has been replaced with little statue replicas for sale in tourist shops.

Paul was so right when he said,"The God who made the world and everything in it is Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands" (17: 24).  I feel so blessed that God has revealed himself to me!  I know that my God isn't going anywhere, he can't be destroyed or become an empty tourist destination!!  He always was and always will be!  What assurance for me!! But how scary for those who don't see that reality!  These words leaped off the pages for me, "In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent.  For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed." (17:30-31) No wonder Paul was so distressed!😳

On a total side note, did you know that the Parthenon was used to worship Athena for about 1000years (438 BC- 600AD) years? But then it was made into a church (600's AD)! So for another 1000 years, it was used to worship God!  (Paul would have liked that!)  Then, the church was destroyed in 1458 and the turks converted it into a mosque until 1687 ( a mere 200 years)!  Then it just sat as the ruin it is today...I was surprised at this history.  Just thought I would share...

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Acts 15-16~ Day 52~ Don't be a conflict avoider!!

Can I just say....being a Christian doesn't leave you immune from having "sharp disputes" with fellow believers.

Hopefully, always, things can be discussed until a resolution can be found.  We got to see two examples of that in today's reading.  Paul worked so hard to get a resolution to the circumcision debate that he went all the way "to the top", so to speak, to discuss the matter.  Notice he didn't pull the "I saw Jesus personally" card to enforce his authority and establish policy on his own.  Rather, he went to the elders and presented his case in regards to this doctrinal issue (15:2).  As a result there was God given resolution.

In regards to his personal issue against John Mark (15:37), he and Barnabas came to a conciliatory agreement to "divide and conquer".  They both set off to do the same thing, "encourage and strengthen the believers' (vs34), yet with different partners.  Since we don't know the details of their conversation, we are left to speculate.  One's bias, I guess, would determine how one thinks their argument was settled (or not).  I want to believe that they came to a peaceful resolution of going separate ways,  each with a partner that they could work well with.  After all, we do read later that there is restoration in the relationship between Paul and Mark and they end up working together  (Phm. 23,  Col 4:10 & 2 Tim 4:11) later.

These were both excellent examples of how disagreements between believers can be handled! Don't avoid conflict! Work thorough it!   It is possible when both parties are working for God's glory.

When reading about Paul's conflicts, it's good to remember what Jesus said, "Blessed are the peace makers" (Matt.5:8), which is one who brings reconciliation.  They work at making peace. It does not say, "blessed are the peacekeepers", those who just try to calm people down.  "Shhh, don't say anything it will just upset them...."
There's a big difference!

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Acts 13-14~ Day 51~ Acts provides some things to ponder!

When reading Acts, one can just read it as a story recounting how the gospel spread out from Jerusalem.  However, in the details of the story are some phrases or wording that can cause profound theological ideas, for those who are so inclined, to ponder!  

For example, as we are reading how Paul and Barnabas traveled to the cities in Galatia on their mission trip, we read, “When the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and honored the word of the Lord; and all who were appointed for eternal life believed.” (13:48)

What is that? …all who were appointed?  Well, I like to ponder theological issues!  Is this a verse to hang my “predestination hat” on?  Well…not so fast….Scholars have spent a lot of time studying the word “appointed” (Greek= tasso).  I am going to defer to their study since I don’t have the time to do it myself.😜 The phrase “are appointed” can also mean “have been arranged”, like putting in order or positioning.  Therefore a paraphrasing of this verse could be, “As many as had been prepared for eternal life believed.”

Having a heart prepared to hear the good news is very different than having a heart predestined to choose Jesus.  So, I’m not going to be quick to use this verse to prove any point on the predestination stance.  

If you want to read more on this verse, I found this article to be helpful:

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Acts 11-12~ Day 50~ God's sovereignty + man's responsibility

There are a couple of things that I just can't figure out, no matter how many times I read through the New Testament.  But, that's OK with me.  It proves God is so much bigger than me and my little brain.  That is the kind of God I want!  One bigger than anything I can figure out, so I can feel safe and secure knowing that he can take care of me and my little issues.

So what are these mysteries?  One is "free will" verses "predestination".  The bottom line on that subject is that the Bible speaks to both God's sovereignty and man's responsibility.  Therefore, to me, the answer is both!  If the Bible speaks to both, both are true.

Today, my reading pointed out the other perplexing issue for me.
I thought it was interesting that Barnabas was sent to Antioch and “when he arrived and saw what the grace of God had done, he was glad and encourage them all to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts.“ (Acts 11:23)  Humm... why did Barnabas need to encourage them to remain true?  Could they turn away?  Ahhh, the age old question..."can one lose his/her salvation"?

Most would adamantly argue one can not. I would agree with that, yet because of a multitude of scriptures, I have put it into the category of "God's sovereignty and man's responsibility" working together once again.  A mystery that keeps God, God.
Again, if scripture speaks to both, than both must be true! The Bible speaks to "hold firm to the end", "persevere to the end", "hold on to the end", and "remain true" several times throughout scripture.  (Matt. 10:22, Heb. 3:6,14 and Col 1:23 to name a few).  But it also says God will complete his work, keep you from stumbling and keep you firm (1 Cor. 1:7-9, Phil. 1:6, Jude 1:24).

I LOVE pondering these issues because the mysteries keep me enthralled in my great big, wonderful God who can not be "figured out".

Monday, February 18, 2019

Acts~9-10~ Day 49~Immediate, life changing and growing!

I love reading how Saul got baptized immediately after he could see again – even before eating!!  And, “At once he began to preach in the synagogues that Jesus is the son of God.” (9:20)
What a great example for us!!  If a conversion is real, why wouldn’t one want to show changes in their life right away?! Paul didn’t slowly change, i.e. “I think I will persecute less Christians every day from now on!” No... his lifestyle changed over night! The same should go for us! We don’t slowly eliminate sin in our life, we do a 360 away from it when we realize who Jesus is! As a result,, for Paul, it was obvious to all who saw him that he had become a follower of Christ. The same should go for us! There should be no doubt in other people’s mind’s who we are following!

I also loved how Saul was so bold! Can you imagine if everyone’s conversion story was immediate and bold like his?  The world would be converted in a matter of days!

The best line of all, for me, in today’s reading was, “Yet Saul grew more and more powerful and baffled the Jews living in Damascus by proving that Jesus is the Messiah.” (9:22) Remember, Saul was already very familiar with the law since he was a Pharisee.  However, I bet after a day of preaching in the synagogue he would go back home, re-read the Scriptures, and get a whole new understanding now that he was reading them with “a new lens”.  This was a great reminder for me. I don’t need to know everything about the Scriptures before I share with others who Jesus is. Yet, I do need to keep reading the Bible so that I can become “more and more powerful” in how to explain and “prove” that Jesus is the Messiah.

Paul’s conversion story is a great example for all people, not just for murders, but for people who think they are pretty good in their own eyes. It was immediate, life changing and growing in knowledge day by day. Lord, help me to be like that!! 

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 that which 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 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 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!, 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! ðŸ˜«

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 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. ðŸ¤”
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!  ðŸ˜ž

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!!

Sunday, February 10, 2019

John 13-14~ Day 41~ In His name...

I have to admit, I have been waning in my prayers lately.  Under my prayer tab on this blog,  I explained how I use a shopping list pad of paper to write down the names of the people I pray for.
I thought it was a good idea, and still do, except for one thing... that piece of paper gets separated from my Bible from time to time.  Then it ends up floating around the kitchen, then my desk...when it's out of sight, it's out of  mind.  ðŸ˜ But, to be honest, I have been feeling "out of sorts" on my prayers with or without the list.  When a name stays on the list for over a year, it can feel discouraging.

Well, it's a good thing I am reading the Bible everyday!  It has a way of re-inspiring me to be diligent with my list!!

"And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.  You may ask for anything in my name and I will do it." (John 14:14)

Did you notice Jesus repeats himself?  He says, "in my name" twice.  When I was pondering that, I came to the conclusion that he didn't want me to just tack on his name at the end of my prayer.
"In the name of Jesus I pray!"....hum....what exactly does he mean by that?.....

One commentary said it is to come before God in the righteousness of Jesus.  Not by our own efforts, "Well, I have been pretty good this week, so God will hear me" and not, "I haven't done well this week, so God won't listen." ...It is not anything good or bad that we have done that allows us to step a foot before a mighty God, but by Jesus.  Ahhh, this is making sense.... In the name of Jesus, by the act of Jesus, by the righteousness of Jesus....In the name of Jesus.

So, I am changing to be like Jesus.  Since I follow him, I want to be like him.  So, how does he pray?   We have a good example of how he does it in John 12:27, "Now my soul is troubled, what shall I say?  'Father, save me from this hour'? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour.  Father glorify your name!"

Ah!  There is a similarity to what Jesus said in John 12:27 and 14:14, praying in the name of Jesus or like Jesus, would result in glorifying the Father.  That is how Jesus will give anything we ask in prayer; does it glorify the Father and be in the will of the Father.
Well.....that certainly changes the way one would pray, right?  Jesus didn't ask God to alleviate his "troubled soul" he just prayed that God would be glorified.
OK, Lord, help me to pray like Jesus, with the intent for all things I pray for to glorify YOU!

Saturday, February 9, 2019

John 7-8~ Day 38~ Sorry about the mix up!

Well, I guess I am a creature of habit! Therefore, when my day gets thrown off,  I get thrown off!
I always get up, make my coffee and sit down to do my reading first thing in the morning.  But, two days ago I started to read, checked off the day ( ✅before I was finished with the reading) but then found I had to run out the door earlier than normal, causing me to return to my reading later in the day.  When I went back to my reading, I looked to see where I was, forgot I had already checked my box and went on in the reading to the next date that wasn't crossed out. 😛 
Oh dear!  I get way too excited to do my little check!  I need to learn to wait until I'm done with the reading!!
So, there you have it!  That's how I missed Day 38...I am very sorry for any confusion I may have caused if you thought you got behind on the reading!! I probably messed up your check marks as well!! 😞

So, chapters 7& 8, how did you like them?  😁

I asked this question awhile back to other readers..I thought I would ask it again to a new group of readers:

John 7:7 “The world…hates me because I testify that what it does is evil.” 😳
Have you ever pondered that?
So, here’s a question for you (as well as for me).  If I am to be like Jesus……do I testify to the world that what it does is evil?  Am I hated for doing that?…..
Do Christians (me) skip over this part and just want to focus on “loving” the world? 
The first line of this blog’s theme verse is from Romans 12.  Have you ever pondered how to do this?  “Love must be sincere.  Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.”

What are your thoughts?

By the way, I'll be back on track tomorrow with chapters 13-14 ðŸ˜Š