Monday, June 24, 2019

Acts 21-22~ Day 55~ The Lord's will be done!

Life would be a lot easier if I always lived by, "The Lord's will be done." (Acts 21:14b)  Wouldn't you agree?!
Seriously!  Aren't we all like the Christians who were pleading with Paul not to go to Jerusalem?  Speaking for myself, I will admit, I can become filled with fear anticipating bad things that could happen.  I plead and beg God to keep me from uncomfortable situations that are either real or imagined. It's easy to become stressed out or filled with anxiety.

It's at those points that I need people in my life, and the Holy Spirit to say to me, "What are you doing..?" (21:13) Often times it's the Holy Spirit that gives me the reminder, "Were is your faith?" God has a plan for me!  Fretting about the what ifs that could happen won't change his plans for me.

Paul knew God had a plan for him.  Paul is so impressive to me because God gave him insight to what the plan was and he moved forward anyway (Acts 20:22).  What an obedient disciple!
How inspiring to read,  "I am ready not only to be bound but also to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus." (21:13)

 I want to be like Paul when he said, "my purpose is to finish my course and the ministry I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of God's grace." (20:24)  That goes for me too! I want to finish my course and the ministry Jesus gave me!  I don't want to waste anytime fretting, stressing  or fearing.  After all, what is the point? The Lord's will be done!

Sunday, June 23, 2019

Acts 19-20~ Day 54~ Prepared hearts

It’s always interesting to me to read about “some disciples” who didn’t know Jesus (19:1). How were they disciples then?
Perhaps Luke, as he was reflecting back, called them disciples because that is what they became. Or maybe he was thinking "disciples of John" but just wrote disciples.  I don't know but, regardless, Paul “found” these men by noticing something they were demonstrating.  These 12 men understood that they were sinners and needed forgiveness. They were repent-full enough to be baptized into “John’s baptism”.
This reminds me of the verse found in Corinthians 7:10, “Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.”  If these men just stayed in their knowledge of needing to repent, but never knew who could restore them...that would be a sad state indeed! (Like Judas's sorrow in Matt. 27:3)
But God wasn’t finished with these men yet...He sent Paul to finish the story! I think that is so cool!

The purpose of John’s baptism was to prepare hearts to be open to hearing about the Messiah.
Like the saying goes, you can’t have a savior if you don’t need saving. These men, thanks to John's preaching knew they needed saving.  Boy, were these men prepared to hear about the Messiah! Upon hearing about Jesus, they immediately got baptized in his name!
I just love that story!
Lord, please prepare the hearts of some people I know, so that when they hear more details of Jesus, they are are ready to make Him their Savior!! 

Saturday, June 22, 2019

Acts 17-18~ Day 53~ Women play a crucial role.

Vacations throw me off. Sorry for the late post. ðŸĪŠ

I think it’s interesting how Luke comments on the women who are hearing the gospel. We heard about Lydia in chapter 16, who sounds like a successful business woman since she had the means to host Paul’s group at her house. Then in today’s reading he writes that “in Thessalonica, some of them were persuaded enjoyed Paul and Silas, including a large number of God – fearing Greeks, as well as a number of leading women.” (17:4). Also, in Berea, “many of them believed, including a number of prominent Greek women as well as men.” (17:12)

Leading women/prominent women......I liken all of us in the US to women like that. Women in the United States have had all the advantages of the leading women of that time. On the most part, we are well educated, and we are financially secure in relation to the rest of the world.   We have the ability to gain a platform, to let our voice be heard, if that was our desire.  That makes us prominent women, wouldn’t you agree? We have influence in our culture, whether we use it for good or for bad.

In the same way, the women back in Paul’s time were able to use their influence to either forward Paul’s work or squelch it. Remember back in 13:50, “The Jews incited the prominent God – fearing women and the leading men of the city (Antioch). They started a persecution against Paul and Barnabas and expelled them from their district.”

Luke doesn’t give details about these “prominent” women, but I would imagine the prominent women who believe in the good news, helped Paul financially in his ministry. I remember reading how women helped financially with the group that followed Jesus (Luke 8:1-3). Jesus didn’t magically make dinner appear every might for his disciples. He allowed others to support his work. Women in particular were mentioned for doing so!

I can definitely learn from the mention of these prominent women.
1) I can use my position, whether I am prominent or not, to influence others towards embracing the good news.
2) I can use my finances to support evangelical ministries.

The role of women in the body of Christ is crucial! I, for one, want to play my part!!

Friday, June 21, 2019

Acts 15-16~ Day 52~ Sex can be idol worship!!

When I read today, how the church in Jerusalem discussed the issue of circumcision, I was impressed with their conclusion!  They concluded, with the help of the Holy Spirit, that there are requirements for a believer to follow.  Each requirement had to do with pagan worship, and not being a part of it.  If you are apart of it, then you are engaging in pagan worship which, obviously would demonstrate that one is not worshipping Jesus alone.  You can not serve two masters! (Matt. 6:24)

These were the requirements that they set forward (notice, it reads, "requirements"- vs. 28):
  • Abstain from food offered to idols (but if you don't know it's that type of food, don't worry about it- you weren't engaged in idol worship- see 1 Cor. 8)
  • Abstain from blood and from anything that has been strangled.  (These too were acts of pagan worship.  Seems pretty straight-forward- don't practice idol worship!)
  • Abstain from sexual immorality. (This is a form of idol worship we still see today in our culture!) 
So, what is sexual immorality?   It's any sexual act outside the context of marriage, where two become one. (Gen. 2:24, Matt. 19:5, Mark 10:8, Eph. 5:31).  How is that part of pagan worship?  An idol would be anything that is put in front of God's rightful place on the throne in one's life.  The idol most people worship today is "self".  Satan, being the crafty enemy that he is, knows that God made us sexual beings.  So he (Satan) works hard,  using that area in our life, to take our eyes off of God and put them on ourselves.  Sexual immorality, is an outward expression of what is in one's heart.  Worshipping one's self, not worshipping Christ.

I have seen first hand how this type of "worship" leads to a familiar practice pagans engaged in during Biblical times.  You may know that I work at a pregnancy resource center.  Most of our clients have engaged in "sexual immorality" (I say most, because a few are married). Even those who profess to being Christians, choose, as a result of their sexual immorality, to go down the same path of putting their children on alters, as the pagans did, to Molech. (Leviticus 18:21, 20:2-5, 2 Kings 23:10 and Jer. 32:35) in the movie Unplanned, There is a scene where Abby Johnson is apologizing  to her children she aborted. Her words were profound,  “I’m sorry I didn’t fight for you.  I’m sorry I sacrificed you on the alter of Convenience.”

It's hard to hear those words in today's culture, where sex outside of marriage is as common as drinking water, but, nothing has changed!  Sexual immorality was common back in the day of the early church. This is why the Holy Spirit gave these men these words. "You will do well if you keep yourselves from these things." (15:29)  Those in the early church were so wise!!  

The Holy Spirit was very clear (15:28)!  Idol worship will keep you from the number one commandment, "Love the Lord your God"  That is what being a Christian is, loving Jesus and turning to him for one's salvation.  If you do so, it will "go well", you will have eternal life.   

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Acts 13-14~ Day 51~ It's necessary to go through hardships?

"Some Jews came from Antioch and Iconic, and when they won over the crowds, they stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, thinking he was dead." (14:19)

I've read this before, but it really hit hard this time!  Paul was stoned, nearly to death!!  When I was a  teenager, I saw a movie based in Biblical times.  I remember well, the scene of a lady getting stoned.  It made such an impression on me, I can picture the scene, vividly, of Paul being stoned!  Stone after stone, rapidly hitting their target, causing abrasions, blows that cause blunt trauma, blows that cause concussions, blows that cause loss of consciousness.  It's a scene that takes many men filled with a deadly goal.

Picture the anger in those men to do something like that!! They were filled with rage toward the words Paul spoke, "We are proclaiming good news to you, that you turn from these worthless things to the living God, who made the heaven, the earth, the sea and everything in them." (14:15)

This same message, "turn from worthless things to the living God", still gets people lividly angry!  Fortunately, we have laws to protect us from stoning, but this anger that people have is still real and present, displayed in angry faces at demonstrations and law suits meant to silence people with moral convictions.
What an example Paul is to us when we may experience that anger!! He did not "go underground", he did not go to another location, instead, to my surprise, "he got up and went into town" (vs. 20)  What?!?!  Then get this....He went back to the very towns the angry men came from-
Antioch and Iconium (vs. 21)  Unbelievable!!  Yes, Paul is very inspiring!

So,.....do you agree with Paul when he says, "It is necessary to go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God." (vs. 22)?  Do you think that statement is just for the "radical" Christians, like Paul, or every Christian? 

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Acts 11-12~ Day 50~ Set apart.

Reading how the Jews were so conditioned to be "set apart" from all those around them (11:2), I have often wondered how that applies to me today.  Have you ever thought about that?  Are we supposed to still be obviously set apart from everyone else in our culture?

I have often thought that God set an example for us (or a foreshadowing of what he expects from us), by showing us what he expected from the Israelites.
He set them apart by having them:
-Worship only one God
-Not eat certain food that was unclean (10:14)
-Not associate socially with others that weren't Jewish (10:28)
-And be circumcised

Don't you think that they were an example for us believers today?  We are to set ourselves apart from the rest of the world as well.
-We still worship one God
-We eat the Bread of Life (God's Word) rather than filling our mind with "unclean" stuff.
-We are not to be of the world (1 John 2:15-17)
-We have circumcised hearts (Rom 2:29)

Peter confirms this idea that believers are "set apart" when he writes, "But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his possession, so that you may proclaim the praises of the one who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light." (1 Peter 2:9)

So, here is something to ponder, if Jews, new believing Jews, held being "set apart" in such high regard...do we do that today?  How do we Christians, today, show that we are set apart from the rest of the world?  Are we supposed to take being "set apart" as seriously as they did?  If so, the question for me is, how do I show others I am part of a "holy priesthood"?

Humm.... interesting things to ponder....what are your thoughts?  What sets you apart?

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Acts 9-10~ Day 49- Belief = Change

Piggybacking on yesterday's thought,  was thinking how different the people in Cornelius's house were in their conversion, verses Simon the Sorcerer's conversion.  These people heard the message and had a heart change immediately, whereas Simon's conversion took a bit longer.

One thing is clear in both stories, a change in direction needs to occur as far as the heart is concerned.  I commented on this idea on another read through and thought would post it again:


If someone in Cornelius’s house got up to go to the bathroom just after Peter started talking, they may have heard, “God does not show favoritism but accepts men from every nation who fear him and do what is right.” (10:35)
As he is walking to the outhouse, he may think, “Sweet!  God accepts me because I do what is right!”
But that guy better hurry up and get back to the house so he can hear, “All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him (Jesus) receives forgiveness of sins through the name.” (10:43)
There is no “doing” in that sentence. So if someone came in late to the talk and only heard that…they would have missed the “doing” part and think that just belief is all that is needed.  

It seems to me, a lot of people “go to the bathroom” or come late to the talk and catch only one part of the gospel message.
The gospel message has always been two parts:
1.   Repent (turning from your former ways is a ‘doing’)
2.   Believe

Jesus says it in Mark 1:15, “Repent and believe…”
Peter says it in Acts 3:19, “Repent, then and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out”
Paul sums it un Acts 20:21, “I have declared to both Jews and Greeks that they must turn to God in repentance and have faith in our Lord Jesus.”

And, boy!  When the heart hears and responds with both a turning and belief- look how fast the Holy Spirit moves into His new home!  It is immediate when the TWO things occur!  “While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit came on all who heard the message” (10:44).

Monday, June 17, 2019

Acts 7-8~ It's a heart issue.

I always enjoy reading these chapters!  Steven's review of Jewish history, Philip's boldness in sharing Christ even though he and others had to flee Jerusalem to escape persecution, and Simon the Sorcerer's conversion, are all inspiring stories!

I have had different thoughts on these chapters that I went back and read thinking,...."Huh! Those are still interesting thoughts!"  If you feel like reading one of them, I thought I would include the link.

Thoughts about Steven's situation: https://www.walkingwiththeway.com/2019/02/acts-7-8-day-48-2-wrongs-dont-make-right.html

Thoughts on Moses:https://www.walkingwiththeway.com/2018/08/acts-7-8-moses-day-48.html

Thoughts on Simon's situation:https://www.walkingwiththeway.com/2018/03/day-88-acts-7-8.html

Yet, this time, I once again pondered what I had wondered in the past.  These were thoughts I had, but no one commented.  So I thought I would pose the question again. I would sure love to hear other's thoughts!
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Previous post:

Ahh, the church has barely begun and we are presented with a scenario that still happens in the church today! 
Simon (the sorcerer) hears Philip as he “preached the good news of the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ…” (8:12).  Luke says that Simon himself believed and was baptized. 
Yet, when Peter came to town, he confronted Simon saying, “May your money perish with you…you have no part in this ministry…repent of this wickedness…For I see that you are full of bitterness and captive to sin.”

What a scene!  Can you imagine a pastor calling out a parishioner like that today?  So when I say this scenario still happens today, I mean the part of Simon.  There are a lot of Simons today; not so many of those playing the role of Peter.

Can someone believe, be baptized and still not have genuine faith?ðŸ˜ģ 
What are your thoughts on that?  

I am thinking that a person can believe like the demons do, (James 2:19), get baptized for the "ceremony" of it, and still not have a true heart change.  The Hnly Spirit does not come in until there is a heart change..not a heart perfection....but a heart that has changed directions. 

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Acts 5-6~ Day 47~ Great examples to emulate!

Well I got inspired by the disciples today!!
First they get beaten by the religious leaders yet leave "rejoicing that they were counted worthy to be treated shamefully on behalf of the Name.", then they "continued teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Messiah." (5:41-42)  Then to top it off, they "devoted (themselves) to prayer and to the ministry of the word." (6:4)

It's inspiring to read, but I have to ask myself....where am I on that inspiring scale?   These were fully devoted followers of Christ!  Am I like that?  Would I endure a beating and rejoice after it?  Would I continue to proclaim the good news if I had been beaten or would I slink away?  Do I devote myself to teaching or proclaiming the good news?

These are great questions to ask myelf to, check where my heart stands in my devotion to Christ.  I like these guys!  I may not be at their level of devotion, but they sure set good examples to emulate!  Lord help me to be like Peter, John and the other disciples.  Help me to be bold in speaking about you and not to fear any repercussions!

What did you get out of the reading today?


Saturday, June 15, 2019

Acts 3-4~ Day 46~ The gathering of the elect is all planned out!

"Heaven must receive him until the time of the restoration all things, which God spoke about through his holy prophets from the beginning." (Acts 3:21)

I found this verse to be confusing and needed some clarification.  I think the words "restoration of all things" is what is confusing. To me, that makes it sound like Jesus isn't coming back until everything is perfect. Other verses speak against that!  In fact they speak to the fact that it's going to get worse before he comes back.  So...what does this mean?

I found that some translators find the words "restoration of all things" can also mean "until the filling or fulfilling of the times of all things". In reading different commentaries, Gill's Exposition helped clarify the verse for me. I thought I would include his words in case you may want further clarification as well! 'Whom heaven must receive,....Hold and retain in his human nature, and which does not at all hinder or confront his mission, and coming to his people, in the mean while , in a spiritual way and manner, to their joy and comfort, "who must receive heaven", the kingdom, and glory, and reign there:
until the times of the restitution of all things: not of all created beings to their original estate, which there is no reason to believe ever will be; or the churches of Christ to purity of doctrine, discipline, and conversation, which is to be hoped for, and will be in the spiritual reign of Christ; but of the accomplishment of all promises and prophesies concerbubg the bringing in the fulness of the Gebtules, and the conversion of the Jews, and so the gathering in all the elect of God: and concerning all the glorious things spoken of the church of Christ in the latter day; which sense is confirmed by what follows: which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets, since the world began."

I don't know if that helped you, but it helped me!  That also reminds me of these verses,

"The Lord does not delay his promise, as some understand delay, but is patient with you, not wanting any to perish but all to come to repentance." (2Peter 3:9)

AND 

"A partial hardening has come upon Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in" (Romans 11:25)

OK, I'm getting some clarity, now I can read that verse as, Jesus will reign in heaven and then come back when the full number of believers, is achieved, according to what had been prophesied.  Boom! Done!.....And then we know what will happen!!
"At that time people will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with power and great glory."  (Mark 13:26)

Woo woo!! ðŸ™ŒðŸŧ


Friday, June 14, 2019

Acts 1-2~ Day 45~ Thanks Luke!!

I am very thankful for the work Luke put into his two "narratives" (1:1).  In fact, it was his life's work!  Because he wrote about his travels with Paul, we know that this book covers a span of 30 years!  With the very precision of records, i.e. names and travel itineraries, Luke obviously took meticulous notes during the years before he put it together as the narrative for his friend (and possibly sponsor), the honorable Theophilus (Luke 1:3 & Acts 1:1).

I never thought this thought before, but I wonder how Luke felt as he was interviewing all the people that had first hand experiences with Jesus?  Was he thinking, "Shoot, I missed God incarnate by just a couple years!" or, "Maaann, they were  so luuucky to have been with Jesus!!"  (At least, those would be my thoughts!)  I can imagine Luke hanging on every word, scrambling to take notes, as he listened to Mary share her experiences with Jesus as a baby and then a boy.  (Luke must have been a fast writer since there were no keyboards back then!)

So, I bet Luke took a lot of comfort, as do I,  in the words Jesus said to Thomas, "Jesus said, 'Because you have been with me, you have believed.  Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe.' " (John 20:29)
We are blessed because we believe, even though we never got to have that personal experience here on earth with Jesus.  Also, we have something else, we have the Holy Spirit!!  Luke could attest to that personally.  He didn't need to interview others about that!  He had the power of the Holy Sprit himself and he got to see first hand how the Holy Spirit worked in his own life.  I know this to be true because of what Peter says, "Repent and be baptized, each of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of you sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and for your children, and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call." (2:38)
That included Luke, and that includes us!!
So, thanks to Luke, who was filled with the Holy Sprite, we get this divine word form God. Luke was   obedient to his life long calling and took the time to write down all he heard and learned.  Good job Luke and thanks!
Acts is going to be a fun read!!

Thursday, June 13, 2019

John 19-21~ Day 44~ Three profound words, "It is Finished".

With three chapters today, we conclude the reading of the four gospels.  Wow, that went fast!

I am reflecting back on the things Jesus said while he was here.  "Jesus said to them, "This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms." (Luke 24:44)
and,
"But do not think I will accuse you before the Father....If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote about me." (John 5:45-46)

Peter even refers to how Jesus finished what was foretold about him.
"But this is how God fulfilled what he had foretold through all the prophets, saying that Messiah would suffer." (Acts 3:18)  "Indeed, beginning with Samuel, all the prophets who have spoken have foretold these days." (vs.24)

I have been studying one of the Old Testament prophets, Daniel, (that Jesus and Peter referred to) and I'm reading the words that predict Jesus! So, this sentence in our reading today stood out to me, "It is finished." (19:20)  There is so much to those three little words!!  In fact there is 4000 years of "previews" from the Old Testament included in those 3 little words!  Jesus fulfilled them all!

One pastor worded it well when he was talking about Old Testament Prophesy.  He explained the words of Jesus in Luke 24:44 like this,
"Jesus opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, that is to say the Old Testament at that time.  The Scriptures only make sense in light of Jesus Christ, because they testify to him.  Trying to understand the Bible without recognizing that it is pointing to Jesus is like trying to read a map without grid lines or without a North marker.  Jesus is the marker; he’s what the Scriptures are oriented around, all roads lead to him." 
http://aaronsimms.com/everything-written-law-moses-prophets-psalms-must-fulfilled/

Reminding myself of this fact, Daniel has been so much easier for me to read this time! And those three little words of Jesus were profound!

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

John 17-18~ Day 43~ He's excited to show off to each one of us!

Yesterday, we read Jesus saying, "I have conquered the world." (16:33b)

Today we read, "Now, Father, glorify me in your presence with that glory I had with you before the world existed." (17:5)

From our reading of the other gospels, we already know that Jesus does take that position of glory after he raises from the dead.   "When the Lord Jesus and spoken to them. He was taken up into heaven and he sat at the right hand of God. " (Mark 16:19)  Other New Testament authors also speak to the position Jesus takes ~Rom. 8:34, Eph. 1:20-21, Heb. 1:3, 8:1, 12:2 and Pet 3:22, to name a few.

This verse in particular stood out to me today, "Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, so that they will see my glory, which you have given me because you loved me before the world's foundation." (17:24)
I just think that is the cutest thing ever!!  He wants us to see his glory.  I picture him being eager! "Ooh, just wait, just wait, just wait!  It's going to be awesome!!" We didn't get to see it on his first visit to earth, since he came in such a humble way, but we will see his glory and live with it for eternity on his second visit.

I think that Jesus is so eager to show his "true self", so to speak, that he gave glimpses of what that scene looked like when he left this earth and returned to his rightful position.  He gave the glimpse to two men, Daniel and John, whom he knew would do a good job writing it down for all faithful ones to read and get excited for the day.

First, I think he gave a glimpse to Daniel, who was privileged to see the glorious scene in a vision.
Daniel just got finished watching a vision that describes turbulent times leading up to Christ's first advent. Then the Messiah comes, and as we know, is killed, raises from the grave and goes back to his Father.  This is how Daniel describes that glorious scene:
"..and suddenly one like a son of man was coming with the clouds of heaven.  He approached the Ancient of Days and was escorted before him.  He was given dominion, and glory, and a kingdom; so that those of every people, nation, and language should serve him.  His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will not be destroyed." (Dan 7:13-14)

How glorious that scene must have been!  Coming back to his Father on clouds!

Then, the other lucky guy who got to see the same scene wrote it like this:
"After this I looked, and there was a vast multitude from every nation, tribe, people,and language, which no one could number, standing before the throne and before the Lamb....And they cried out in a loud voice: Salvation belongs to our God, who is seated on the throne, and to the Lamb!" (Rev. 7:9)

Another description of that glorious scene with Christ getting the worship he deserves!

So, yeah, God gives a glimpse of Jesus in his rightful position to these two men (Daniel and John), but Jesus wants all of us to see it first hand as well! That's what I think is so cute about that verse (17:24) that tells of the conversation Jesus has with his Father.  It's like he is saying,  "Yeah, Father, they have an idea of who I am because of what others have written,....and that should get them excited,.....but I'm looking forward to the day when they will be seeing my glory first hand!!"

What a personal Savior we have!! So cool!

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

John 15-16~ Day 42~ Check to see if you are a poser vine...


This is the view from my back yard.

You are not looking at a vibrant, live tree here.  It's actually a dead redwood tree that has been overgrown with an ivy vine.  The tree it's self is dead, but the owner down the hill can't see that the tree is dead because it looks so green to her.  She's been fooled.

I have looked at that vine growing up the tree for a couple of years now, and have thought,....there's an analogy in that "fake" tree.  Today's reading made me think it was a good time to use the analogy! I know, Jesus uses a lot of analogies to drive his points home, I don't really need to add another one! However, the tree in my backyard is such a good visual!

"Remain in me, and I in you." (15:4)  Jesus is a living tree where the roots provide nutrients for the whole tree. (So, let's make the dead tree in my backyard an alive tree for the sake of my analogy.) ðŸ˜œ

Even though many people come into my back yard and think the tree is fine, at second take they see the reality. The vine is not part of the tree.  It has not been grafted in, sharing the same source for it's food.  It is just a vine hanging on the tree.  It's not part of the tree and never can be.   In the same way, some people can "look" like Christians, but in reality they are just hanging on the tree, posing like they are part of God's family, fooling some of those around them.  They may even be fooling themselves because of their ability to fool others.  Yet, the fact is, they don't get the "nutrients" they need from God.  Paul uses a similar analogy with the tree and the branches in Romans 11.  He clearly states, "You do not support the root, but the root supports you." (11:18)

Jesus's point in our reading today is, we need to get our nutrients and support from the root (Jesus), because without being an indwelling part of the tree, we "can do nothing without him" (15:5).  My analogy points out that some may think they are doing just that, but in reality they are acting like the vine in my backyard.  They are posing, looking pretty good to themselves and others......but.......God knows those who are really a part of the tree.

He wants to be "glorified by this: that you produce much fruit and prove to be my (His) disciples." (15:8)  You can't just hang on the tree,  you gotta be part of the tree in order to glorify God. 

Monday, June 10, 2019

John 13-14~ Day 14~The Holy Spirit= Peace

I take so much comfort in these words, "Peace I leave with you.  My peace I give you.  I do not give to you as the world gives.  Don't let your heart be troubled or fearful." (14:27)
Ahhh, Jesus gives us his peace....😌....but do I honestly feel it....all the time?  How does Jesus give us that peace?  Well, he tells us how....
"I am going away and I am coming to you." (14:28)
I giggle when I read that sentence because it reminds me of my mother's famous words when she would come to babysit my kids, "Leave now, so that you can come back."

Jesus may have had his 2nd coming in mind when he said, "I am coming to you", but I think he was referring to the Holy Spirit aspect of our 3 in one God.  After all, he just got finished saying, "But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and remind you of everything I have told you." (vs. 26)

So, how do I have peace in this world (that can be so sad and stressful?). The Holy Spirit reminds me of everything I know of Jesus!  So, I have to know some critical things!  These are just a few:

  • My father loves me (14:21 &23).
  • God will not leave me (14:18).
  • God gives good gifts (Mt. 7:11).
  • God will give me words to speak (Luke 12:12).
  • God will give me strength and power in my weaknesses (Isaiah 40:29)

These are the words the Holy Spirit whispers in my ear when I am going through a hard time.  God never said I wouldn't go through hard times, but with the Holy Spirit reminding me of the truths listed above, I can have peace.  That's what Jesus leaves us with here on earth, his peace through the Holy Spirit!!

Aahhh....😌

Sunday, June 9, 2019

John 11-12~ Day 40~ God is so poetic!

Chapter 12 starts off with, "Six days before the Passover.."  Thanks, John, for giving us a time frame!  That makes it one-week before Jesus is crucified.
So, I went off on a tangent from the reading....I don't know a lot about how Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread are celebrated, so I took a little time to do some googling.

I found out that Passover is a 24 hour period and the Feast of Unleavened Bread lasts for 7 days. During that Feast, two different readings are done each day, a Torah reading and a Haftarah reading.  The Haftarah reading is a prophetic reading. These readings can vary from synagogue to synagogue, country to country, family to family, however, I found that the last day of prophetic reading (The Haftarah),  ends with the hope and vision of the Messianic Era.  They usually read Isaiah 10:32-12:6.  Every year they remind themselves of this hope to come!

I think that is so cool! So, I had to read the passage myself, of course! Wow, does it point to Jesus! I saw a couple obvious verses; I bet you can find more.
"The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him-" (Isaiah 11:2) (See Luke 3:22)
"His delight will be in the fear of the Lord.  He will not judge.." (11:3)  (See John 3:17 &12:47)
"You will joyfully draw water from the spring of salvation" (12:3) (See John 4:10)

Jesus's body was in the tomb during the days of Unleavened Bread...then he raises from the dead...can you imagine, as the Jewish followers of that time finish the week with that reading in Isaiah, knowing that Jesus had raised from the dead......their minds would have been blown away!! I guarantee the Jewish believers caught the symbolism!! They would have no need to continue celebrating the Feast of Unleavened Bread.  It was completed and done!  The Messiah had come, no need to keep looking forward to that!

It doesn't take being an English teacher to see the great foreshadowing, symbolism and awesome story telling God uses to reveal his plan for his people.  I love this book!!

Saturday, June 8, 2019

John 9-10~ Day 39~ The word "we" caught my eye.

So, how are you liking the reading of John?  I find it quite different from the other three gospels.  It's good...but to be honest, some of the wording confuses me!
Like, what does this mean?,
"We must do the works of him who sent me while it is still day.  The night is coming when no one can work." (9:4)
The context is that Jesus is about to heal the blind man.  Why does he say "we"? Why would darkness come if Jesus is with us and he is the light, therefor we are the light (Matt. 5:14)?  What does he mean?

Well, I had to do some digging...

I use some old commentaries and I found something interesting.  The verse can be read "I must do the works of him...", in several translations (King James, Darby, TYN, WEB & WBF).  Why would that be?  Why would translations vary like that?  After all, that one little word "we" changes the meaning significantly!
Well, it turns out that old translators felt that they needed to match the pronouns, so they altered "we" to "I" to make it agree with the "me".  Now most scholars are translating it to the original writing of "we" and are not worried about making the pronouns match. Therefore, you know what that means??   Jesus is including us in his comment of having to do the work of God.  We are supposed to do the work of God as well!

Ok, I get that, but what does he mean about the darkness?  I read one commentary that said, "night is coming" refers to the physical death each person will go through.  Jesus is referring to his own, as well as to ours by using the word "we".

So, as Meyer's stated in his commentary, the verse can be read like this, "It is we who are destined by God to work His works as long as we live, and until death puts an end to our activity."

I love how Jesus weaves instructions for believers right into a scene where he is proving that he is the Messiah!  In a way, he is multi-tasking!!  It's easy to miss those little nuggets if we are just looking at the big picture.  I'm glad that little "we" stood out to me today!

What stood out to you?

Friday, June 7, 2019

John 7-8~ Day 38~ Jesus makes it very clear and simple!

Whenever words are repeated, I perk up!  Boy, did Jesus repeat himself in today's reading!  He is making it quite clear that if one doesn't believe in Him....well......you die!....If you believe....you won't die.  It's very simple!

8:21-"I'm going away; you will look for me, and you will die in your sins."
8:24- "Therefore I told you that you will die in your sins.  For if you do not believe that I am he, you will die in your sin."
8:51- "Truly I tell you, if anyone keeps my word, he will never see death."

Works aren't involved and being a "good person" with good intensions has nothing to do with it.  Jesus is clear on that point and the writers of the letters that follow the gospel accounts make it clear as well.  (Acts 16:31, Rom. 10:9-17, 1 Thess 2:13, 1 Tim 4:10, Heb 10:9-17 and 1 Peter 1:9)  So if it's so clear, why do people still get confused?  Could it be the father of lies playing his(John 8:44) role?......Yup, I think so!

It's a belief in Jesus that is demonstrated by a changed life, a belief that, "keeps my (his) words" (vs. 51). this is the type of belief that results in eternal life.
Very simple, yet....belief is hard for those who are "slaves" to sin (8:34)......
All I can say is,
Thank you, Jesus, for my freedom from that slavery!!!! (8:36)

Thursday, June 6, 2019

John 5-6~ Day 37~ What would Jews say today?

The other day someone commented on the blog, wondering what Jews now a days would think of Old Testament scriptures that, to us Christians, clearly reference Jesus.  It's funny, but I think God answered that question, himself, in today's reading!

"You pore over the Scriptures because you think you have eternal life in them, and yet they testify about me." (John 5:39)
and Jesus really nailed them when he said, "For if you believed Moses, you would believe me, because he wrote about me. But if you don't believe what he wrote, how will you believe my words?" (John 5:46-47)

Jews back then and now fail to see how scripture in the Old Testament point to Jesus, even when it is clear!  Nothing has changed!  Jesus goes so far as to say that they don't really even believe the words of Moses!!ðŸ˜ą

I can't help but think of the following verse when I think how I have been grafted in as a true Jew who believes the words of Moses, the prophets and that Jesus is the Messiah:
"And do not presume to say to yourselves, 'We have Abraham as our father for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham." (Matt. 3:9)
and
"For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile-the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him." (Rom. 10:12)

Believers in Christ are the true Jews ( and we are richly blessed because of it)!  

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

John 3-4~ Day 36~ We are the temple now.

"Believe me woman, an hour is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor  in Jerusalem....But an hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshippers will worship the Father in Spirit and in truth.  Yes, the Father wants such people to worship him." (4:21 & 23)

These verses stood out to me because, like I mentioned the other day, I am studying Daniel, which brings one to think about "end times".  One thing I get from these words of Jesus is, there won't be a third physical temple as far as he is concerned!...."Wait, what?!",  you may be exclaiming.  Let me explain.

First of all, the 2nd physical temple was destroyed in 70 AD, so right there Jesus was right in saying, "an hour is coming"...that hour came 40 years after he spoke those words. There has been no temple worship since.  (Jewish worship took place in the temple which was located in Jerusalem).  But, now that Jesus has arrived, that's OK!  No physical temple is OK since now, worshippers "will worship in Spirit and in truth".

Jesus also said, "and is here now", referring to himself.  So, what does that mean?  I read a good commentary that used Old Testament scripture to help explain. Going back to Exodus 25:8, God tells Moses, "Let them make me a sanctuary, that I may dwell in their midst."  So, the Israelites first built a tent and then the temple so that they could have God dwell with them...."The glory of the Lord appeared" (Lev. 9;23, Num 14:10 and 2 Cor 5:14).

I'm thinking...how cool that we just read John 1:14, where he writes, "the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.  We observed his glory, glory as the one and only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth."  Did you know that "dwelt" in Hebrew means "pitch a tent"- I'm sure the Hebrews of the time, reading John's account, got the double meaning!

Now that Jesus has come in physical form, there is no reason for the physical temple anymore.  In his ministry on earth, he was the temple (John 2:19) that the physical one in Jerusalem foreshadowed; he dwelt among them. Now after his resurrection, "we are the temple of the living God" (2 Cor. 6:16b).  Paul, also reminds us in 1 Cor. 6:19, that our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit. Now the Lord dwells in us! (See, also Eph. 2:19-22)

In regards to a 3rd temple needed for the Lord to dwell in again.....I read something interesting on the debate.
"Whether or not this will ever happen is hard to say, but if it does it will have no eschatological or theological significance whatsoever, other than to rise up a stench in the nostrils of God.  The only temple in which God is now and forever will be pleased to dwell is Jesus Christ and the Church, his spiritual body." (Kingdom Come, pg. 20)

Interesting thoughts, don't ya think?

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

John 1-2~ Day 35~ I love everything about John's intro!

Yesterday I listed some Old Testament verses that prophesied about the coming Messiah.  One of them was from the last prophet Malachi, who wrote these words nearly 450 years before Jesus,
"Look, I am going to send you the prophet Elijah before the great and terrible day of the Lord comes. And he will turn the hearts of fathers to their children. Otherwise, I will come and strike the land with a curse." (4:6)

So, having just read that, it stood out to me that John starts his gospel account talking about John the Baptist.  He starts exactly where Malachi left off...talking about the Elijah that was to come before the Messiah.  Now, even though John said he was not Elijah (1:21), he was!

I can see why he, himself, might have missed that fact.  After all, he was the boy raised by Zach and Liz, and he grew up in the dessert (Luke 1:11-17).  He was told by God to tell people to repent.  God didn't say, "Hey John, you will be talking to the people in the spirit of Elijah."  Nope, he just heard from God to go tell people to repent and baptize.  John knew he wasn't Elijah reincarnated.  So, he didn't put two and two together.  I get that.  Also, it would be pretty boastful to compare yourself with the well known prophet, held in such high esteem by all the religious leaders.  (Remember, Elijah was one of the rare prophets they didn't kill.  He had a show stopping exit form this world that you can read about in 2 Kings 2.)

Yet, Jesus did put two and two together for him, the disciples and us (Matthew 11:14, 17:10 and Luke 7:26-27).

Anyway, back to our reading. I think it's a cool place to start the gospel, telling of John the Baptist, because that is where Malachi left off.  It's the last words the Jewish people were left hanging on. What a great reminder for John's initial readers --"This is what you were waiting for, "the terrible day of the Lord" (Mal. 4:5)!!!
On a side note, why would that day be terrible?  I think Jesus told us why in Matthew 21:42-43 when he said, "The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone....Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people producing its fruit."

Christ's coming is a terrible day indeed for those who decide to reject him!

Monday, June 3, 2019

Luke 23-24~ Day 34~I want to take a walk with Jesus!

It stood out to me today when Jesus said, "How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken!...Then beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted for them the things concerning himself in all the scriptures." (24: 25 & 27)

Oh man, I wish I had been part of that conversation!!!  Their hearts burned as He was explaining the scriptures!  Mine would have too!  I would have loved to have gotten all the dots connected for me! I found a commentary that listed many of the prophesies predicting the coming Messiah. The Jewish people definitely had cause to be waiting for one!
Genesis 3:15 & 49:10, Numbers 21:89, Deuteronomy 18:15, Isaiah 9:6-7, Isaiah 53:1-12, Psalm 16:1-11, 22 110:1-7, Daniel 9:25-27 and Malachi 4:5.

I am doing a Bible study on Daniel right now.  I so wish I could ask Jesus, himself, about Dan. 9:25-27.  Talking about confusing!  I'm jealous of these two people walking on the road back to their home town, Emmaus (24:13).  Jesus explained it clearly to them....

But, I know that the Lord has given His spirit to me and can help me understand those prophesies as well! "This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit explaining spiritual realities with Spirit taught words." ( 1 Cor. 2:13)

So, please Lord, with the wisdom you can give me, help me understand Daniel! ðŸ˜Š

Sunday, June 2, 2019

Luke 21-22~ Day 33~ Free will giving

There are big themes in our daily reading, but lately my mind has been drawn to the little paragraphs that I often skim past in order to focus on the big theme.  Yet those little paragraphs hold some gems!

For example, chapter 21 is all about signs these people can look for that point to the destruction of Jerusalem and Jesus coming "in a cloud with power and great glory" (21:27).  Those are huge things to try to comprehend, absorb and imagine!

So, it's easy to miss the quick observation and comment Jesus made about the widow dropping her money into the temple treasury (21:1-4).  Boy, did those four verses get me to ponder!
What exactly does this scripture mean for me?  Would I put in all I had?

First, I was thinking about the lady.  I don't know why, but "poor, old"  made me think hunched over, wobbling up to a collection box and feebly raising her arm to drop her coins into a box (something like the witch in Snow White).  I'm probably totally wrong on that picture!  Maybe she was tall, stood upright and proud, walking with determined steps up to a table where money is placed for all to see.
Anyway, who cares what the lady looked like!  What I should be imagining is me walking up to the treasury!
What would I put in it?  I think Jesus is telling me to put my whole self on the table.  All that I have!  My time, energy, effort, money, house, car, food...give it all to the service of God.  Wouldn't that be sacrificial?!

The thing to remember about the widow's giving was that it wasn't done out of obligation.  She wasn't paying the required temple tax, she was putting her money in the free will offering and she gave sacrificially!

Wow! So much to learn from 4 little verse!  Lord, help me to be like the widow!

Saturday, June 1, 2019

Luke 19-20~ Oh, Jerusalem... 😰

The short little paragraph describing the grief Jesus had when looking at Jerusalem, can get lost in our feelings of celebration as we read about his triumphal entry into Jerusalem.  This time reading through the short paragraph (19:41-44), it hit me hard when I read that Jesus wept because I noticed how Jesus (in Luke's account) sandwiched that scene of him weeping over Jerusalem with two parables explaining why.

The first piece of bread, so to speak, is Jesus telling the parable of the king and the ten servants,  "But those enemies of mine who did not want me to be king over them-bring them here and kill them in front of me."(19:27). The other side of the sandwich is the parable of the vineyard, with Jesus saying, "What then will the owner of the vineyard do to them?  He will come and kill those tenants and give the vineyard to others." (20:16)

The people of Jerusalem were the enemies of the king in the first parable and the tenants in the second parable.  In essence, Jesus gave three warnings (including him clearly stating, "the days will come when your enemies will...crush you" (19:43), telling them they were going to be punished for not "recognizing the time when God visited" them. (19:44).

It's understandable that he would weep!  We readers today get the why and how, of the discipline.  Jesus gives a vivid description of what was to happen 40 years after his crucifixion.  (Matt. 24:15-32, Mark 13:14-31 & Luke 21:20-32)

Like I mentioned in a previous post, the Jewish historian Flavius Josephus, was an eyewitness to the atrocities inflicted on Jerusalem by the Roman army in 70AD.  It was bad!  In fact, he unknowingly  used the words that Jesus used about the distress, "the kind that hasn't taken place from the beginning of the world...." (Matt. 24:21) when he (Josephus) wrote, "That neither did any other city suffer such miseries, nor did any age ever breed a generation more fruitful in wickedness that (then) this was, from the beginning of the world."
ðŸ˜Ļ
For full writings of Josephus see:
https://www.biblestudytools.com/history/flavius-josephus/war-of-the-jews/book-6/

It's no wonder that Jesus wept over Jerusalem (19:41).  It made me sad to read that Jesus cried, but I understood since I have read the why and how of what he was sad about.  He knew the people would be punished severely.  I could weep too thinking of the horror!