Monthly Archives: July 2010

Judges 14, Jeremiah 27, Mark 13, Acts 18

“No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Be on guard! Be alert and pray! You do not know when that time will come. It’s like a man going away: He leaves his house and puts his servants in charge, each with his assigned task, and tells the one at the door to keep watch.

Therefore keep watch because you do not know when the owner of the house will come back – whether in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or at dawn. If he comes suddenly, do not let him find you sleeping. What I say to you, I say to everyone; ‘Watch!'”

Mark 13:32-37 NIV

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When I was a pre-teen and early teenager, I would often babysit for families in our community. As I read these verses this week, I recalled those times when I was babysitting and the parents were out very late. I remembered being so tired and wanting to sleep on the couch after the kids were in bed, but knowing that if the parents returned and I was dead asleep, how embarrassed I would feel by them catching me like that. I doubt I would have lost any future babysitting “jobs” with those  families, but it certainly was  more responsible of me to stay awake and keep watch over the children.

That’s how I view these verses. Jesus is coming back again. We know He is, because He told us so and can truly be counted on to keep His promises. I don’t know the day or hour. My “job” while I wait is to be alert and pray, helping to further His kingdom on this earth and spread the good news that I have experienced through Him.

These verses do not say that I would lose my salvation if I’m asleep…not alert and praying…but what shame and embarrassment I’m sure I would experience if I was spiritually asleep when He returned.

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Lord,

I so look forward to that day when You will return and we will dwell with You face to face!  My desire is to honor You with my life and share the good news with those around me until that day comes. Please help me to not become complacent with my spiritual walk, but instead stay alert and to daily commune with You.

Amen.

Beckie (look2thehills)

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Filed under M'Cheyne Bible reading plan, Mark, New Testament

Judges 13; Acts 17; Jeremiah 26; Mark 12

Reading about Paul and the Epicureans and Stoics, these happy-seekers with altars to unknown gods so as not to offend anyone. I love how Paul talks with men who “spend their time doing nothing but talking about and listening to the latest ideas”–he speaks with reason and proof. And he tells them, God is the designer, that things are not left to chance.

From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us. Acts 17:26-27 (NIV).

I was talking with a friend yesterday, explaining to him some recent changes in my life, doors that were opening, that I was hesitant to walk through, but preparing for nonetheless. These circumstances seemed to come about all of a sudden, really taking me off guard by speed and opportunity. I said to him, “I think it’s a God thing.”

“I doubt it’s a God thing,” he said.

I have to admit, I have thought some past events and happenings were coincidental or a result of chance. But I am beginning to see God in the details. Glad that he is not far from me.

Courtney (66books365)

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Filed under Acts, M'Cheyne Bible reading plan

Judg.12; Acts 16; Jer. 25; Mark 11

Scripture: (Acts 16:29-34)

29The jailer called for lights, rushed in and fell trembling before Paul and Silas. 30He then brought them out and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”

31They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.” 32Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all the others in his house. 33At that hour of the night the jailer took them and washed their wounds; then immediately he and all his family were baptized. 34The jailer brought them into his house and set a meal before them; he was filled with joy because he had come to believe in God—he and his whole family. (New International Version)

Observation:

This is a great story of redemption. Paul and Silas find themselves in prison. They are singing hymns and praying when an earthquake shakes the prison and all the cell doors fly open. The jailer comes rushing in believing everyone has escaped. Getting ready to kill himself Paul hollers out to him not to because all the prisoners are accounted for. The jailer trusts Jesus on the spot. No lengthy presentations, no debating, but at once he asks Paul & Silas, “What must I do to be saved?” Paul replies, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved and your entire household!” There is another observation here that makes this passage so amazing. Paul and Silas were in jail singing hymns. There was an old-fashioned hymn-sing going on here. The winsome manner in which Paul and Silas were treating their incarceration adds to the attractiveness of the gospel.

Application:

When my father died he was survived by six siblings. Our immediate family was the only line of Baldwin’s in the seven that had any Christ-followers in it. The rest of the Baldwin family was far from God those days. Today — fifty years later — you can find Christ-followers in almost all of the remaining six lines of Baldwin’s. At a recent family reunion there were more conversations re: faith than other topics. A far cry from when our family would gather at Christmas time and many would get drunk. I believe God is in the business of saving families. Paul told the jailer that salvation was available to his entire household. And they all trusted Jesus and were baptized. Perhaps you have un-believing family members — I know there are still cousins on the Baldwin and Hungerford (My Mom’s family) that are not believers yet. So keep praying for their salvation. God wants to save our entire families, not just us. Over time we will see him do great things among us. Don’t give up, keep praying.

Prayer:

Father God thank you for placing us in the midst of families. Thank you that you are in the business of saving families. Save members of the Baldwin and Hungerford families today. Bring salvation to our households I ask. I pray the same for all who read this blog today that anguish over the lostness of family members. Please give them hope through your Word today. I pray these things in the Saving Name of Jesus, Amen.

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Filed under Acts, Jeremiah, Judges, M'Cheyne Bible reading plan, Mark

Judg.11:12-40; Acts 15; Jer. 24; Mark 10

Some time later Paul said to Barnabas, “Let us go back and visit the brothers in all the towns we preached the word of the Lord and see how they are doing.”  Barnabas wanted to take John, also called Mark, with them, but Paul did not think it wise to take him, because he had deserted them in Pamphylia and had not continued with them in the work.  They had such a disagreement that they parted company.   Acts 15:36-39a

Why would Luke record this uncomfortable, and perhaps unflattering, episode?  Undoubtedly, part of the reason is that Luke is a historian who takes seriously his responsibility to accurately report facts.  But on a different level, I suspect that the purpose of this passage is to teach me something.   Here are a couple of insights I have picked up as I have pondered the meaning of these verses: 

1) There is room for honest disagreement within the body of Christ. 
No evidence suggests that the disagreement between Paul and Barnabas was between “right” and “wrong”.  In fact, Paul later comments about the value of Mark in his ministry and requests that Mark be brought to him (2 Tim 4:11).   We know Paul’s path bore fruit from the continuing account of Acts after this episode.  It certainly sounds like the path chosen by Barnabas and Mark also bore fruit.  Honest disagreement between two mature believers resulted in both still effectively serving God.

2) God accomplishes his purposes through different types of people.
The disagreement between Paul and Barnabas appears to be rooted in differing priorities.  Paul valued his mission too greatly to risk it by including someone (Mark) who had let him down previously.  We learn throughout Acts that Paul was always task-oriented, sticking to the plan, whether the plan was to round-up and imprison believers (as he did before his conversion) or preach the Gospel to Gentiles.   Barnabas valued Mark and his continuing development too greatly to abandon him at this time.   As a matter of fact, when we first are introduced to Barnabas we learn that his name means “son of encouragement” (Acts 4:36).  The kingdom of God has room for both task-oriented and people-oriented personalities.

A recent disagreement I had with another believer that resulted in “parting company” highlights my struggle in learning these lessons.  I am ashamed to say that part of me screamed out for vindication.  I wanted the world to see that my position was right and the position of the other party was wrong.  Paul’s example, by reconciling with Mark and affirming his value in spite of their earlier disagreement, is an example for me.

Lord, may I be more like Paul in his humility.  Strip me of the pride that requires me to be “right” all the time.  And may I be more like Barnabas.   Help me to be a “son of encouragement”, especially given my tendency to place the value of the mission above the value of your children.  Amen.

Greg (gmd40187)

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Filed under Acts, New Testament

Judg.10-11:11, Acts 14, Jer. 23, Mark 9

There Are No Ifs

The famous profession of faith by a doubting father is dripping with application, but before getting to that I’d like to take a closer look at Jesus’ response to the man’s plea:

22 And often he has thrown him both into the fire and into the water to destroy him. But if You can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.”

23 Jesus said to him, If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes.”

His almost witty response to the father’s request pushes the ball back into his skeptical court. Jesus is pointing out that the current roadblock is not His ability to heal but the man’s disability to believe.

Regarding His response, Matthew Henry’s commentary says this:

“He tacitly checks the weakness of his faith. The sufferer put it upon Christ’s power, If thou canst do any thing, … but Christ turns it upon him, and puts him upon questioning his own faith…”

Upon hearing that anything that he asks with belief can be done, the man exclaims:

“Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!”

Recently, when I can think to pray, I want to pray bold prayers. Because my God can in fact do anything, I often wonder why I hold back in the smallness of my requests.

Second to boldness is honesty. To be genuine, to say what I mean even when I feel guilt for such feelings. To be gut-wrenchingly real with God to the point that I test my understandings of His grace. Real enough to confess that maybe I don’t even believe the words that are coming out of my mouth. But that I believe He is big enough for my doubts.

MH:

Those that complain of unbelief, must look up to Christ for grace to help them against it, and his grace shall be sufficient for them. “Help mine unbelief, help me to a pardon for it, help me with power against it; help out what is wanting in my faith with thy grace, the strength of which is perfected in our weakness.”

Amen.

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Judges 9; Acts 13; Jeremiah 22; Mark 8

After removing Saul, he made David their king. He testified concerning him: ‘I have found David son of Jesse a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do.’ (Acts 13:22, NIV)

I just returned home from a family reunion where I helped to honor my husband’s 92-year-old grandfather. For nearly a century, Grandpa Storms has remained faithfully obedient to Jesus. He and his bride of 65 years raised three children…all of whom serve in full-time Christian ministry. Four of their six grandchildren work as pastors, and everyone in the family loves the Lord. Who knows how many people have come to know Jesus because of Grandpa Storms. His legacy testifies to his faithfulness to God.

At 92, it won’t be long before Jesus testifies on Grandpa’s behalf, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” In the same way, Paul said that God himself looked on David’s heart and testified concerning him, “He’s a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do.”

Were God to testify concerning me, I wonder what He’d say. Maybe, “She’s a woman after her own ambition; she does everything to honor herself.” Or perhaps, “Amy chases after the approval of others; she’ll do anything for acceptance.”

But oh, to have a testimony like David’s! To be a woman who seeks God in all things. To be known, like Grandpa Storms, for my faithful obedience.

Lord, I want this to be my testimony. Show me where my heart fails to follow You. Correct every area of rebellion and disobedience, until You can testify concerning me, “Amy will do everything I ask her to do.” Make me more like David, more like Grandpa Storms, and more like You, Lord. Amen.

amystorms

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Filed under Acts, M'Cheyne Bible reading plan

Judges 8; Acts 12; Jeremiah 21; Mark 7

The lengths He goes to save.

In battle, where numbers defy logic.

“God gave you victory over Oreb and Zeeb, the commanders of the Midianite army. What have I accomplished compared to that?” Judges 8:3 (NLT)

In captivity, surrounded and bound in chains.

Suddenly, there was a bright light in the cell, and an angel of the Lord stood before Peter. The angel struck him on the side to awaken him and said, “Quick! Get up!” And the chains fell off his wrists. Acts 12:7 (NLT)

In limitations, to give understanding and a voice.

They were completely amazed and said again and again, “Everything he does is wonderful. He even makes the deaf to hear and gives speech to those who cannot speak.” Mark 7:37 (NLT)

In love, to a cross, because His anger burns like an unquenchable fire because of sin.

He is mighty, amazing, wonderful and love.

The lengths He goes to save.

Application? Spending this time marveling at God’s great character and love, because it’s all about him.

Courtney (66books365)

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