Sunday, April 1, 2018

Day 89~ Acts 9 & 10~ Happy Easter!

What a great spot to be in the Bible as we celebrate Easter; reading how Christ's moved after the resurrectuion!! 

Today we read how Jesus chose Paul. Paul was a great leader of the early church.  Thanks to his diligent service to the Lord, the Lord used him to spread the word to the Gentiles, which I benefited from! Yea!!  What I need to remember, however, is that he was an ordinary human, just like me.  And when he first started his ministry, he wasn’t the master at it like he came to be.
His response to Jesus is so incredibly inspiring to me!  I want to have that type of response!!!
“For some days he was with the disciples at Damascus .  And immediately he proclaimed Jesus in the synagogues saying, “He is the Son of God.” (9:20) 

He had his conversion, he learned from fellow Christians and then immediately, he proclaimed what he knew to be true!
Paul’s example is inspiring, yet at the same time I’m humiliated comparing my feeble attempts to share the gospel.
I had my conversion, I have learned from fellow Christians, but have I immediately gone out and proclaimed Christ?…….No,…not like Paul did!   Why not?  

I am reflecting back to how I have been educated in my faith by other Christians.  I think one doctrine that I have rested way too heavily on is, (I’m sure you have heard of this) “Life Style Evangelism.”  I have fallen in the trap that if I just live a good life, people will see the difference in me and want what I have.  Then they will come to me and ask out right, “What do you have that I don’t.”  Well,…….I’ve been  a Christian for 40 something years and no one has ever said that to me…..(well, maybe one girl in high school said that to me in a letter after she moved away.  But I never got to use words with her to tell her more about Jesus.)  The only time I have been able to actually share Jesus,  is when I spoke of him first before they asked. And to be honest, I haven’t done that a lot.  

 Another trap that I think I have fallen into is saying, “Well, that’s not my gift” (1 Cor. 12:7) “Paul was gifted”……..That’s a cop out and I know it.  
In reality, if my life has been transformed and I have received all the blessings that come with that….wouldn’t I want to share that with others, regardless if I am gifted or not?

I was so inspired today reading that Paul, “increased in strength, and confounded the Jews who lived in Damascus by proving that Jesus was the Christ.” (vs 22)

Did you catch that?  He immediately went out to share Jesus and then he increased in strength.  Doesn’t that sound like, the more you do it the better you get?  I just need to start sharing more (with words) regardless if I am good at it or not.  Then hopefully, like Paul, I will increase in strength and get better at it.  Help me with that, Jesus!

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Day 88~ Acts 7 & 8

So, what did you think when you read what Peter said to Simon, the former magician?
“You have neither part nor lot in this matter, for your heart is not right before God…..for I see that you are in the gall of bitterness and in the bond of iniquity.” (8:23)

Did that confrontation leave you feeling a little uncomfortable?  I bet it did!  I have commented on this idea before.  I had to smile with the thought of someone taking Peter’s approach today.  Ha! I don’t think it would happen!  Not in today’s politically correct environment where Christians are afraid to state the obvious, in fear of looking judgmental.  
Sadly, the consequence of our current trend is resulting in a boat load of people going to church (just like Simon), deceiving themselves, thinking they are saved, when in reality they are “in the bond of iniquity” (in other words, living an immoral life).  We as Christians just bit our tongues, smile and maybe say, “Jesus loves you and so do I!”  But is that really loving them?  I think Peter was extremely loving to Simon! In confronting Simon, Peter was, “snatching him out of the fire” (Jude 1:23).

The beauty that resulted in Peter’s confrontation is Simon’s response.  “Pray for me to the Lord, that nothing of what you said may come upon me.” (vs 24).  That sounds, to me, like Simon was realizing his need to change, don’t you think?  If Peter never called him out, he may not have ever realized his error.

Remember, Peter heard first hand from Jesus, “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone.  If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you…” (Matt. 18:15)

When reading this story, it doesn’t indicate who was around them when they had this confrontation.  Simon could have come to Peter alone to exchange money for the “magic trick”.  Or perhaps someone else brought Peter (the 2 of them) to Simon to address this person’s concern.  Either way, it appears that they may have gained a brother by confronting him of his sin.
This reminds me of what Paul also wrote to the Galatians, “Brothers if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him, in a spirit of gentleness.” (6:1)

Jesus, Peter and Paul all taught that we are not to ignore sin, but to confront it, in order to save a person.  Boy, has Satan done a mighty work to muzzle us in this area! I’m just say’en…..

Friday, March 30, 2018

Day 87~Acts 5 & 6

I noticed a couple things I haven’t noticed before reading chapter 5.  We just read about Peter and John being arrested for healing the the lame man (4:3). They went to trial for that but were released with a stern warning, no punishment. (4:21) 

So, today when I read that the apostles got beaten (5:40), I assumed it was just Peter and John again.  However, it wasn’t just those two, it was all twelve! 
This is why I think that:
  1. “Now many signs and wonders were regularly done among the people by the hands of the apostles.  And they were all together in Soloman’s Portico.” (5:12) 
  2. The jealous priests and Sadducees arrested the apostles and put them in public prison. (vs.18)
Ha! Imagine the angel leading 12 men out of the prison secretively!  I had always pictured it was just two….but 12?!  No wonder the captain of the guard and the chief priests were greatly perplexed! (vs. 24)

3.  “But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than man.” (vs 29)
No wonder Gamaliel suggested not to kill the 12 men.  That would have been a lot of blood on their hands!
4.  They called in the apostles , they beat them and charged them…” 

Now I have a better picture of the scene when they all leave, having been beaten.  In unison, all 12 felt the same thing.  They rejoiced “that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name.” (5: 41) The name of the person they followed for three years of their lives!

I can’t help but think that this is a good example of why Christians should stay in fellowship with like minded believers.  Suffering together helps strengthen one’s resolve to stay on course and encourages others to do the same. 

By the way, did you notice the name Gamaliel?  That name will come up again.  He was Paul’s teacher! (22:3)

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Day 86~ Acts 3 & 4

I had a thought when I was reading about the lame beggar that was healed in chapter 3. Why didn’t Jesus heal him during his three year ministry on earth?  After all, 3:2 says “..a man lame from birth (now 40 years old) was being carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple.”  
Jesus had just recently died and rose again, so I am sure that this guy had been on the temple steps on one or all of the many visits Jesus made to the temple.  

Interesting thought….don’t ya think?

It could be that Jesus saw him early on….maybe even at his visit to the temple when he was 12 years old.  The lame man would have been 19 years old then.
Maybe on a visit during his ministry years, Jesus saw the lame man but knew the man’s heart wasn’t ready yet.  Perhaps the lame man saw the crowd that always surrounded Jesus, but he himself didn’t believe that Jesus was the Messiah so he wouldn’t have followed Jesus even if he could walk.  
Or, what if Jesus knew he was going to heal him, but at a specific time for a specific purpose.  Yes, Jesus could have healed him in person, years before, but He chose to wait and do it through those with faith in his name (3:16).  
Ultimately, the healing accomplished the same thing all His healings accomplished during His ministry.  It brought glory to Him and proof of who He was/is. 
“..a notable sign has been performed through them is evident to all…” (vs 16)

This story can be used as an example for us in our lives.  We may have an issue that we have been dealing with for a long time, maybe 40 years!  We may want healing right away, but it doesn’t come.  We need to remember that Jesus has his perfect timing.  We may not understand the timing, but we can rest knowing that when he does heal, it will be for His glory and “evident to all”.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Day 85~ Acts 1& 2

We finished the Gospels!!! Now on to Acts....

I always feel so unsettled when I read about Judas.  Matt. 10:1 says, “And he (Jesus) called to him his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every disease and every affliction.”

Today we read Peter saying, “For he (Judas) was numbered among us and was allotted his share in this ministry.” (1:17) 
“..(Jesus) show which one of these two you have choses to take the place in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas turned aside to go to his own place.” (1:24-25)

So, Jesus called Judas, yet Judas turned aside to go to his own place.  Hummm…πŸ€”

I say this leaves me unsettled because there is an unexplainable mystery here.  I like to figure out mysteries, but there are some that I just can’t.  The mystery of God’s sovereignty and Man’s responsibility is one of those that just can’t be figured out with our human brain.  Some denominations try to explain or stick to one side or the other of those two options. Yet, today’s reading shows both in action. 

Peter says, “save yourself from this crooked generation.” (2:40)  and it also says, “And with many other words he bore witness and continued to exhort them,.. (2:40) 
Both these verses imply a human responsibility to decide.  

However, we also read, “Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God.” ( vs.23), implying God’s sovereignty.  

My heart actually aches for Judas.  He had very opportunity to see Jesus for who he is/was.  Yet, the choice was still his to turn aside.  And that’s what he did….πŸ˜–  Even though it was predicted that Jesus would be betrayed, Judas is still responsible for his decisions.  

I ache for people I know today who are doing the same thing, but as long as they have breath in their body, they can still turn back.  It’s such a shame that Judas killed himself.  He didn’t give himself the opportunity to be restored like Peter had been.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Day 84~ John 21

Once in awhile I think it would be nice to know the future.  Wouldn’t it be great if God told you tidbits of future events in your life specifically?  That way you could plan accordingly, right?  You wouldn’t need to fear the ‘what if’s’ because you would know what to expect.
Well….after today’s reading, I’m rethinking that! I’m actually glad God doesn’t let me in on further events, especially how I would die!  I think that information would actually hinder how I would act.

Jesus told Peter how he would die (21:18).  In one way, knowing that information could help Peter live freely in certain situations.  He could eat without fear of being poisoned to death.  He could cross a river without fear of drowning.  He could hold deadly snakes without fear of dying from a bite.  (He could get extremely sick from all of the above, but he wouldn’t need to fear death.)  On the other hand, every time he went out to “feed the sheep” he could have felt fear of being arrested; which could lead to the death of him.
I don’t know…I think I would rather not know, so that it didn’t hinder me from doing the one job Jesus gave me to do!

God, in his wisdom, doesn’t tell us how we are going to die.  So we don’t need to fear one aspect of life.  All we need to know is that we will die at some point.  Like we learned the other day, Satan can’t touch us, so we don’t need to fear him (1 John 5:8).  We’ve also learned that we don’t need to worry about the things the world strives for, (food, clothing, etc.- Matt. 6:25).
There is only one thing the Bible says we should be afraid of, and one thing only,… Matt. 10:28 if you don’t remember…..
But, thankfully, that fear doesn’t apply to the children of God. He’s our Abba (Daddy)πŸ€—

I get a kick out of memes titled, “You Had One Job!” It will be a picture of how someone obviously failed at their job. 

Peter was given one job, “Feed My Sheep” (21:17).  Thankfully for us, he did not fail.  Jesus gave us one job to do as well;  “Follow me” (21: 22).  I pray that a meme will never be made of me failing to do my job….It wouldn’t be funny.😞

You had one job.

Monday, March 26, 2018

Day 83~ John 20

My kids think I am a little obsessive that I want all beds made in the morning. After today’s reading, I have a new point I can make if we ever get on the subject again. I can say, “Be like Jesus! When he got up, he folded the cloth that had been on his head (20:7).….Jesus made his bed… make yours!” 😁
And by the way, I’m not obsessive, I’m just trying to be like Jesus in every way! πŸ˜‰

On a more studious note, I found it interesting that Jesus told Mary, “Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father,....”. (20:17). I like how my commentary clarified that this statement, “does not deny the fact that Jesus’ spirit went to the presence of the father in heaven at the moment of his death but affirmed that his bodily ascension after his resurrection had not yet occurred.”

This makes sense to me in light of what Jesus said to the thief on the criss, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise.” (Luke 23:43) Their spirits were with God immediately. But we also have this verse, “..and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first.” (1 Thess. 4:16)

So, to me, looking at all these scriptures, it implies that our spirits go to the Lord immediately but our physical bodies join up later to get the updated version. πŸ˜‰ (2 Cor. 5:1-2)

What do you think?....