Sunday, May 7, 2017

Day 37~ Acts 16-18

When I read my three chapters a day, I always pray, “Show me what you want me to get out of the readying today, God.”  Sometimes what I get out of it makes me feel uncomfortable.  Today was one of those days.  These are the verses that stuck out to me today:

“We sat down and began to speak to the women who had gathered there(by the river)…” (16:13)

“So he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and the God fearing Greeks, as well as in the marketplace day by day with those who happened to be there.” (17:17)

“Every Sabbath he reasoned in the synagogue, trying to persuade Jews & Greeks.” (18:4)

“Don’t be afraid; keep on speaking, do not be silent.” (18:9)

Are you picking up on the theme that I did?

Lord, are you telling me you want me to speak up….not just stick to “life style evangelism”?  But, I don’t know enough!!!

But then, I read about Apollos (18:24). He had a  “thorough knowledge of the scriptures”  and “he spoke with great fervor”  But, he didn’t know it all! He just had a lot of excitement about what he did know!  And, he was open to learning more from Priscilla and Aquila.

But…..I don’t have that gift….you know…“some have the gift of evangelism” (Eph. 4:11).  I am not one of the “some”. 

However, I can’t help think of an analogy. 

The boys in my family are REALLY into cars! When you have a passion about something, you talk about it!  My husband, Scott,  would never think, “Because it’s not my career, I really don’t have the ability to talk about cars” Quite the contrary!  When he and my sons get together they talk, and talk, and talk about cars. πŸ™„ So much so, that I get up and walk away because it bores me to tears.  I don’t understand how they have so much to talk about!  To me, a car has a color, four wheels and it gets me from here to there.  That’s it!  But to them…..oh, it is soooo much more!  AND, when they talk about cars, other boys come around them and join their conversation!!!

Again, I know Scott, he would not be thinking, “I don’t know enough about cars to talk about them. I just hope that my boys get my passion for cars by looking at me and seeing how I lovingly gaze at my cars.  They will understand everything I know about cars by watching me wash my car and drive it around.  They will eventually understand….I don’t need to talk about the passion in my heart.”    

So, I started today’s blog saying sometimes I feel uncomfortable with what God is putting on my heart.  Today’s reading is causing me to ask myself an uncomfortable question; do I have the passion for Jesus and Scripture as my boys do for cars?  Am I as excited to “reason” with people as Paul and Apollos were?  If not…..why? 

You know….Satan can use scripture to trick us.😳 (We know that from our reading in Matt 4.)  Is he using Ephesians 4 to trick me into believing it’s not my job to talk to others about Jesus; it’s only the job of those with that gift?  How did Jesus combat Satan’s trickery? With other scripture!!  

OK, Lord, help me to “speak with great fervor” like Apollos did, even if I don’t know everything!  And teach me more!!

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Day 36~ Acts 13-15

Verses like 13:48 always get me to ponder.  “…and all who were appointed for eternal life believed.”
Sounds like predestination, doesn’t it?  I mentioned in another post that I believe in free will so verses like this always get me thinking. I have come to the conclusion that both concepts are backed by scripture, thus both are true.
Here is what my commentary says to that: Possession of eternal life involves both human faith and divine appointment.
I like that! 
Just wait, we will read more about this topic when we get to Romans 8.πŸ™ƒ

What stood out to you in today’s reading?

Friday, May 5, 2017

Day 35~ Acts 10-12

Don’t you find it quite remarkable that even though Cornelius was described as “righteous and God fearing” (10:22) and he was generous and prayed to God regularly (10:2). Yet, God still told him to send for Peter so “He will bring a message through which you and all your household will be saved.” (11:14)?

So, that means, even though Cornelius acted and “looked” like a believer he wasn’t saved.  He still needed “the good news of peace through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all.” (10:36)

“..the good news of peace” I have two thoughts about that verse:

1.) It does not mean that as true Christians we have a calm heart in all circumstances.That would make us look like a group of monks or a group of yoga teachers walking around saying “Namaste” to each other or chanting “A-U-M”….Hate to tell ya, but there is no such thing as “achieving inner peace”! That is a false teaching of the world.  Christians hear that teaching and think it sounds good, right; it’s sooooo close to the truth……especially when you think of verses like Phil 4:7, without it’s context. “And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Yet, in context, this verse speaks to the fact that our citizenship is in heaven (Phil 3:20) because of our reconciliation to God through Christ. There is a peaceful state for all, whose sins are forgiven. 

Remember, Christ said, “Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth” (Matt10:34).  There will be conflict with others who don’t like what you believe.  That isn’t very peaceful! 
…..But you might be remembering the angels heralding the birth of Jesus in Luke 2: 13, saying, “Peace on earth, good will toward men”. Isn’t that on EVERY Christmas card; isn’t that what Linus said to Charlie Brown??? 
The fact is, it says, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rest.”  (Those who have been reconciled to him).

2.) Jesus said, “Peace I leave you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives.” (John 14:27)  He has a different kind of peace in mind, it is one of reconciliation.  When there is reconciliation, there is peace. 
That type of peace/reconciliation is explained by Paul in Eph. 2:14-16, 2 Cor. 5:18-19, Rom. 5:1, and Col. 1:20.  

As a Christian, the only area in our life that we can feel absolutely calm and at peace is the fact that we are right with God and because of that, we are spared his wrath that we would otherwise deserve. (Rom. 5:10) That is the good news of peace!! 

Both Jews and Gentiles (i.e. Cornelius) needed to understand this new peace, as do people today.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Day 34 ~ Acts 7-9

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?😳 
What are your thoughts on that? 

Our buddy Peter sure was working hard to establish a proper beginning for the church.
First, back in Jerusalem there was that scene where the husband & wife try to lie about their tithe amount (ch.5).   Their death definitely showed that “God can not be mocked” (Gal. 6:7).  Then here, in ch.8, Peter is doing more clean-up work in Sameria.

No wonder Jesus called him the rock on which he would build his church (Matt. 16:18) These two stories shed new light for me on the meaning of what Jesus said to his disciples in John 20:23!

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Day 33~ Acts 4-6

Acts 4:23 is titled “The Believers Prayer” in my study Bible.
I love that pattern of prayer!  Start with the big picture.  Start with what you know! God is BIG! 

They raised their voices together in prayer to God.  “Sovereign Lord, you made the heaven and the earth and the sea, and everything in them. You spoke by the Holy Spirit…..”
Then they bring their prayer to the present…”Now, Lord, consider…”

I have noticed in my reading of the Old Testament that believers back then also started prayers/supplications/praises by placing God in his proper position; “Creator of Heaven and earth..” (Psalm 121:2)
Jonah proclaims God this way (1:9)
David prayed/sang that way (Psalm 115:15,146:6)
Jeremiah professes it (51:15)
A king writing to Solomon recognized it (2 Chron. 2:12)
Isaiah reminds us (42:5)
That"s just name a few!!!

These early Christians in Acts were praying just as Jesus instructed them in Matt 6:9.  They were putting God in his rightful place.  “Father who art in heaven…”

When you start your prayers with that perspective, then, when you get to your petitions you are aware and confident that they can be easily handled by a Big God and taken care of according to His will.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Day 32~ Acts1-3

Hello Fellow readers!
You finished the gospels! Now on to Acts......

Acts 2:40, “With many other words he (Peter) warned them; and he pleaded with them, ‘save yourselves from this corrupt generation.’ Those who accepted his message were baptized…”
This verse stood out to me for two reasons.
1.) The message has not changed.  It’s the exact same message that nonbelievers need to hear today.
2.)The delivers of that message (us believers today) have changed.  I am going to be bold here in saying that a vast majority of believers don’t want to use “many other words”, “warn” people and “plead with them”.  We like the safety of “lifestyle evangelism”.  But let me ask you, do you know anyone, using lifestyle evangelism, who added 3000 to their number that day?

This reminds me of part of the theme verse of this blog.  “Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor serving the Lord.” (Rom. 12:11) 

I think I need to exhibit a little bit more zeal in my evangelism, like my mentor, Peter did.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Day 31~ John 19-21

20:22 has always intrigued me.  Why would John make a point in writing, “And with that he breathed on them and said, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit.’ “?  I have my thoughts, but what are yours?

Then following that, the next sentence, 20:23, may leave you perplexed as well.

23 If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”

I like how one commentary worded the explanation of that odd verbiage.  

“The statement is connected with their (the apostles) being sent our into the world, and with the effect of their ministry of the Gospel in the forgiveness of sins by the Spirit’s power, or the retention of sins by the rejection of the message.”