Monthly Archives: January 2011

Genesis 27; Matthew 26; Esther 3; Acts 26

“You are out of your mind, Paul!”  Acts 26:24

That was the response of Festus, the Roman Governor of Judea, after Paul’s impassioned and eloquent speech to King Agrippa. 

Paul amazes me in his ability to thoughtfully, logically, and compassionately present the arguments for who Jesus is.  Equally amazing is that he is willing to do so at great personal cost: his loss of freedom and complete humiliation.  I’m fine with presenting Christ in comfortable surroundings, to “friendly” listeners.  But I live in fear of being ridiculed.  Despite his credentials, Paul believed it was a worthwhile trade to be persecuted and thought the fool in the off chance that someone in his audience might respond to the truth of Jesus Christ. 

King Agrippa mocks him,  “Do you think that in such a short time you can persuade me to be a Christian?”   And Paul responds with love,  “Short time or long–I pray God that not only you but all who are listening to me today may become what I am, except for these chains.”  (Acts 26:28-29)

Am I willing to be persecuted to spread the word of God?  Am I willing to risk being thought the fool to let people know about the source of the hope that is in me?

Lord,

Grant me boldness to proclaim your name even if it means I will be persecuted.  Give me the eloquence to make convincing arguments and, yet, the humility to accept that sometimes I will still look like a fool.  Amen.

Greg (gmd40187)

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Gen. 26; Matt. 25; Esther 2; Acts 25

Themes of Acts 25:

False accusations (v. 7),

Entrapment (v. 3),

Injustice (v. 8).

Sound familiar?

In the various accounts of the trials of Jesus throughout the Gospels, there are noted similarities to Paul’s trial in Acts.

Acts 25:27 ~ “For I think it is unreasonable to send a prisoner on to Rome without specifying the charges against him” – Festus

Luke 23:4 ~ Then Pilate announced to the chief priests and the crowd, “I find no basis for a charge against this man.”

Acts 25: 10b ~ “I have not done any wrong to the Jews, as you yourself know very well.”

John 18:23 ~  “If I said something wrong,” Jesus replied, “testify as to what is wrong. But if I spoke the truth, why did you strike me?”

I couldn’t help notice similar general weaving themselves through the trial of Jesus and Paul. I am not suggesting the two are mirror images, but the comparisons are certainly there. False accusations, entrapment, injustice.

More pertinent and relevant than the similarities, is the idea and theme in my own life of experiencing the trials of Jesus to become more like Him.

I think that Paul was intentionally allowed to experience this “trial” to grow, be changed, and experience more of the life and death of Christ.

The battle cry of enduring all to be more like Him, to

know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead. Phil. 3:10-11

To become like him in his death as I submit to my parents,

To become like him in his death as I listen to a friend unload their life,

To become like him in his death as I make time to rest. Cease striving. Admit that I am not God. And allow Him to take His rightful place.

And hopefully, through these trials, through these tiny “deaths to self,” that the resurrection of Christ may be more revealed in me. As I die. And He becomes my life.

– christiancourier517

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Genesis 25; Matthew 24; Esther 1; Acts 24

Matthew 24: 3 – “While He was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples approached Him privately and said, ‘Tell us, when will these things happen?  And what is the sign of Your coming and the end of the age?'”

Thoughts of the world ending used to scare me to death.  I remember watching some movie when I was younger about a nuclear war.  People were dying everywhere.  Terrifying.  Even after I became a Christian, I feared death.  The Bible taught me that I would go to Heaven after I died, but what would that be like?  I read all of the Left Behind books.  Still, I was uncomfortable with the whole process.  Fear of death plagued me.  I loved my life here on earth.  It was seemingly perfect.  Singing songs in church about wanting Jesus to return really confused me.  I had everything I could have ever wanted — why on earth would I long for Heaven?

It was not until my husband died that I decided to take a fresh look at death.  It sounds kind of morbid, but my perspective really began to change.  No longer did this life on earth have such an appeal. Life here is so temporary.  It is so clouded — so focused on insignificant things.  What really matters is God and relationships.  I needed to start living for eternity right away.  What did that look like?

Relationships.  I took some time to really begin to reflect on relationships that I needed to make right. In several instances, that meant seeking forgiveness from those whom I have wronged.  What a painful process, but it brought forth such freedom.  The restoration of broken relationships is such a beautiful thing.  God has extended total forgiveness to me for my sins — as I experience forgiveness in human relationships, I am experiencing a tangible reminder of God’s grace.

God.  I feel like the “Prodigal Daughter.” Sometimes I am so on fire for Him.  Other times, I have turned my back and run completely in the opposite direction from God.  In these times I think that I know best, and I want to be in control. What a mistake and what a trap of Satan!  To truly live for eternity, I have needed to be in step with God.  Abiding. I am trying to fill myself with His Truth and get to know Him on a deeper level so that I am ready when He calls me Home.

I am not so afraid of death anymore.  I am secure in my eternal future.  End times still scare me, but in a whole different way.  It’s not that I am afraid for me or what I am leaving.  I am afraid for my loved ones who do not know Jesus.  It terrifies me when I think of them spending eternity separated from God.  Jesus says, “Now concerning that day and hour no one knows — neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son — except the Father only” (Matthew 24:36).  There is a lot of work to be done here.

God, thank You for Your grace and forgiveness.  I praise You for sending Your One and Only Son to die so that I can have eternal life.  May I live life with an eternal perspective, keeping short accounts with others and drawing near to You daily.  I pray that I would be ready when You return.  And I do ask that You would come quickly, Lord! I love You, Jesus.

Suzie (suzielawyer)

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Genesis 24; Nehemiah 13; Matthew 23; Acts 23

“(Isaac) …went out to the field one evening to meditate, and as he looked up, he saw camels approaching. Rebekah also looked up and saw Isaac. She got down from her camel and asked the servant, “Who is that man in the field coming to meet us?”    “He is my master,” the servant answered. So she took her veil and covered herself.  Then the servant told Isaac all he had done. Isaac brought her into the tent of his mother Sarah, and he married Rebekah. So she became his wife, and he loved her; …”    Genesis 24:63-67 ESV


Cold feet.

Those two words have struck dread in the hearts of many an expectant bride and groom. It’s the fear of being left at the altar when one’s fiancé is experiencing the hesitation. It’s the fear of making an ill-advised lifelong commitment when one’s own feet are catching the chill. I have no idea how many prospective brides and grooms have experienced such fears through the years. What I do know is that Isaac didn’t. Neither did his bride Rebekah. They agreed to be married, sight unseen. They did so with a boldness unmatched since Adam and Eve. They did so in faith, knowing their marriage was personally ordained by God.

 

“…You are not to give your daughters in marriage to their sons, nor are you to take their daughters in marriage for your sons or for yourselves. Was it not because of marriages like these that Solomon king of Israel sinned? … Must we hear now that you too are doing all this terrible wickedness and are being unfaithful to our God by marrying foreign women?”  Nehemiah 13:25-27 ESV


So, marriage shows up in two passages today. In Nehemiah we learn that God wants His people to marry from within His people. In Genesis, we see God’s involvement in the individual selection process. Apparently God cares about who we choose to marry.

I was relatively blind to this when I was single, but as always, God was overly gracious to me. Concerning the Nehemiah principle, He made sure that every potential relationship I pursued prior to meeting my future bride barely got off the ground. With Kellie, it was obvious from the start that we were equally yoked spiritually. Concerning the Genesis passage, God granted me what I lacked the wisdom to seek. One Sunday morning the Holy Spirit personally provided to Kellie and me a unique and unmistakable blessing of approval concerning our impending marriage. I don’t remember harboring any doubts beforehand, but I KNOW I never had any afterwards.

It’s an amazing feeling to recite one’s marriage vows before God to someone you know He has specifically approved for you. I wouldn’t wish anything less for anyone.

I’ve listened to too many believers tearfully pray for the salvation of the husband/wife they love.  So many believers have struggled to lead their children to saving faith, trying to overcome the contrary messages (even if only the message of indifference) the children were receiving from their other parent. Believers dating back to Biblical times have stumbled in their walks through the influence of an unsaved spouse. I’m grateful that God, with so little cooperation on my part, led me away from such potential heartache.

The time for today’s application has already passed many of us by. For anyone whose marriage is still future, I see God in these passages extending to you a none-to-subtle invitation to involve Him in your search for a spouse. Call on Him to direct you in His own time to the one He’s chosen for you, and patiently let Him work. You’ll not regret it.

Dear Lord, Creator of all wisdom, bless you for the guidance you have provided me through both your Word and your Spirit, in matters great and small, whether I requested it or not.  Please continually give me the wisdom to seek it out in all matters and at all times.

Michael  (mmattix)

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Filed under Genesis, M'Cheyne Bible reading plan, Nehemiah

Genesis 23; Nehemiah 12; Matthew 22; Acts 22

In Matthew 22 Jesus tells the parable of the wedding feast. The king prepared a banquet for his son, but the invited guests refused to come. The king then opened up the feast to everyone. The people in the streets were very receptive! I wonder if once word got around about how fabulous this banquet was there were some pretty upset folks wondering why they gave up the opportunity? I wonder if the people were resentful that the street people got to go?

In Acts 22 the saga of Paul continues. Paul has been arrested on charges that he was teaching “everyone everywhere” against the Jews and the temple and the law. Paul was able to quiet down the crowd and give his testimony. He gave the whole story that starts with his family and training credentials and describes how zealous he was for God just like the people in the crowd, maybe even more. I love how Paul often begins his testimony by relating to the audience. It seems to work, as they listen for quite a long time, even when the story becomes offensive to them. But as soon as he talks about going out to preach to the Gentiles the crowd explodes again. They cry “Rid the earth of him. He’s not fit to live!”. They really didn’t want any Gentiles in their exclusive little club. They were God’s people, and the Gentiles were not, and it was important to keep it that way. Even after the spectacular Damascus road story they were not willing to accept the notion of God’s grace much less God’s grace extended to Gentiles.

When I think about how that applies to me, or to our culture, I wonder if I have ever wanted to keep my church or my church circle of friends as my own little exclusive club. Do I ever look at those outside the church as unworthy? Do I really get it that I don’t deserve God’s grace any more than they do?

Lord, I want to accept my invitation to the banquet. It’s your banquet and you can invite anyone you choose. Help me to not only enjoy the banquet you provide but make room for all those that come through the door. And give me the strength to go out to the streets, to the “Gentiles” of this age, and extend your invitation.

Sue

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