Monthly Archives: July 2012

Psalms 96,97,98; Acts 17:1-15

Paul goes to Thessalonica.

As was Paul’s custom, he went to the synagogue service, and for three Sabbaths in a row he used the Scriptures to reason with the people.

Later, he travels to Berea.

11 And the people of Berea were more open-minded than those in Thessalonica, and they listened eagerly to Paul’s message. They searched the Scriptures day after day to see if Paul and Silas were teaching the truth.

He tells them what earth, sea, fields, and crops already knew.

Psalm 96:

11 Let the heavens be glad, and the earth rejoice!
Let the sea and everything in it shout his praise!
12 Let the fields and their crops burst out with joy!
Let the trees of the forest rustle with praise

Life in exclamation: Jesus is Lord.

Sing to the Lord; praise his name.
Each day proclaim the good news that he saves.
Publish his glorious deeds among the nations.
Tell everyone about the amazing things he does.

Some people have an undeniable gift for evangelism.

I got to know a woman recently who is gifted this way. Nearly every story she tells, she will tell you whether or not the people in it are believers.

“How do you know if they are believers?” I asked. “Do you ask them?”

“Yes,” she said. “Because I may not ever see them again.”

Like a crop in the field, her love bursts with joy.

I am not so bold in my daily travels, like her, or Paul. But I do hope that my love for Him is palpable and evident in how I live–like the rustle of a tree in the forest, or the crashing of waves against the shore … a life that can’t contain praise.

But some of the Jews were jealous, so they gathered some troublemakers from the marketplace to form a mob and start a riot. They attacked the home of Jason, searching for Paul and Silas so they could drag them out to the crowd. Not finding them there, they dragged out Jason and some of the other believers instead and took them before the city council. “Paul and Silas have caused trouble all over the world,” they shouted, “and now they are here disturbing our city, too. And Jason has welcomed them into his home. They are all guilty of treason against Caesar, for they profess allegiance to another king, named Jesus.”

Lord, what does my life speak of you? Who do I resemble: the world or you? Would someone have to ask me if I’m a believer? Would they notice me in the crowd?

Courtney (66books365)

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Psalm 93-95; Philippians 4

I’ve heard it said that the part of the newspaper you read first says a lot about your personality.  For example, if you go straight for the obituaries, you tend to have more stress in your life.  But if you go to the comics first, you tend to have more laughter in your life.  Honestly, I don’t know if there’s any truth to it or what the “experts” would say about those who just read the paper for the coupons.

 

The point of today’s reading has nothing to do with newspapers and everything to do with your focus.  In Psalms 94 and 95, Moses talks about how his focus shaped his anxiety level.  “When anxiety was great within me, your [comfort] brought joy to my soul,” (Psalm 94:19).  “Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the LORD our Maker; for he is our God and we are the people of his pasture, the flock under his care,” (Psalm 95:6-7).

 

Paul said, “I have learned the secret of being content,” (Philippians 4:12).  He didn’t say he was born with it, but rather that he learned it, that he had to work to retrain his focus.  Many times over the course of our lives, we are going to have hard times when our anxiety will be great: in financial struggles, in marital struggles, in struggles with our kids, etc.  In these times of anxiety, where will you train your focus?

 

Father, I thank you for all the times you have delivered me out of my anxiety and into your joy.  You hold me in your hands and keep me close to your heart, promising to never let me go.  I pray that I would always remember that, no matter the circumstances.  In Jesus’ Name I pray, Amen.

HeatherPotts5

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Psalms 89,92; Philippians 3

Psalm 89

1 I will sing of the Lord’s great love forever;  with my mouth I will make your faithfulness known through all generations.

Psalm 92

1 It is good to praise the Lord and make music to your name, O Most High, 2 proclaiming your love in the morning and your faithfulness at night,

Philippians 3

though I myself have reasons for such confidence. If someone else thinks they have reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for righteousness based on the law, faultless.

But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. 10 I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.

What is important?  Where do I place my confidence?  Where is my trust to be found?  Paul had it figured out.  I still struggle with my pride.  I chase after stuff that is not important and get lost in my own righteousness.  I have been bombarded with messages this week, from the Word, on priorities, and it’s only Tuesday.  My resume is not as impressive as Paul’s was, but I can still get hung up on ME!  It is clear that Jesus wants us committed 100% in following Him.  It is obvious to me that I can’t possibly be as committed to Jesus as I would like to be, if I can spend so much time chasing after the things of Ed.  Paul was able to give it all up.  He wasn’t talking about material stuff.  He was talking about pedigree.  He was talking about the stuff that identified him as Saul.  He was able to “Die to Self” and pursue Christ.  He considered everything that had to do with Saul as loss, compared to the greatness of knowing Christ Jesus his Lord!

Father, help me to place my pride behind me.  Turn my heart and focus to Your Son.  Give me the courage to exchange all of me for all of You.  Help me to forget what is behind so that I may strain toward what is new.   Thank you for Your Son.  He is the living proof of Your Great Love and Faithfulness.   I will praise Your Name morning and night and spread it through the generations.  Blessed be the name of Jesus!, Amen!

Ed Sorrell

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Psalms 67,71; Philippians 2

1 If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, 2 then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. 3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. 4 Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.

14 Do everything without complaining or arguing, 15 so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe 16 as you hold out[c] the word of life” (Phillipians 2:1-4,12-16a)

As I read and read these popular passages, I know that these are the verses I need to focus on today. Very practical advice. I think we all stumble over phrases such as “consider others better than yourselves” and “Do everything without complaining or arguing”. I don’t think we have trouble understanding that we need to not put ourselves above others, but consider others better than us? All others?  And “do everything without complaining or arguing”? Did Paul really mean everything? I mean, I know that I should generally not be arguing or complaining, but do everything that way? Now that I think about what I tend to argue and complain about, I can see how I am not considering others better than myself.

Now, I really do like the result of all of this….  I do want to become blameless and pure. I love being called a child of God. I do want to shine like a star in the universe!

Maybe this is where I remember that I truly do need God’s strength to do all those things that are against my nature. While that is always true, one other thing stands out to me now…  “being one in spirit and purpose”. I do know that it is much easier to accomplish things if I understand the underlying purpose. At work I am always asking questions about assignments I am given. I need to understand the purpose of something before I can work on it with any sort of intensity or great effort. And I have experienced the power of a team all working toward a single purpose.

I remember Rick Warren saying that our primary purpose is to glorify God. (Well at least I think he said that…) I’m sure complaining and arguing don’t bring God much glory! It really is all about God, not us. If I remember that, it should be natural to consider others better than myself and to not complain or argue.

Lord, let my arguing and complaining be a red flag that something is not right. Help me understand your purpose in everything I do. Help me to remember that it is all about you and your purposes, and bringing you glory, first and foremost.

suegraff

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Psalms 33, 43, 66; Philippians 1

Scripture:

Philippians 1:12-18, 12 I want you to know, brothers,t that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel,13 so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard and to all the rest that my imprisonment is for Christ.14 And most of the brothers, having become confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.

15 Some indeed preach Christ from envy and rivalry, but others from good will.16 The latter do it out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel.17 The former proclaim Christ out of rivalry, not sincerely but thinking to afflict me in my imprisonment.

18 What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice (ESV).

Observation:

The Apostle Paul wrote the letter to the church in Philippi while he was in jail in Rome. Paul takes a human trial and turns it on its head. He makes imprisonment an opportunity to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with the Imperial Guard. People in Caesar’s household and guard are exposed to the Gospel. What a refreshing way to view a trial, a setback, a tribulation — as a way to further God’s Kingdom. Others of the Christian faith have become even more bold in their testimony because of Paul’s imprisonment. Even those that want to make Paul feel jealous are doing God’s will. In the end Paul is rejoicing because the Gospel is being proclaimed.

Application:

In our twenty-first century way of thinking the worst that can happen is that our lives experience set-backs or trials or tribulations. We become sick, we have financial or job troubles, we have relational issues with family members. The Apostle Paul puts these in context for us. These are times we need to look for what God wants us to do in these situations. Are these times when we can shine for Him? Are these times when the message of the Gospel can be advanced? Or are we worried so much about our own comfort and happiness that we miss opportunities to speak and live for God? Let’s follow Paul’s example the next time we hit trials and roadblocks in our lives.

Prayer:

Father God, although we may not be able to welcome difficulties in our lives, help us to see them as opportunities to advance Your Kingdom. Help us to keep our wits about us so that we can be used by Your Holy Spirit to see Your Kingdom advance. I pray these things in Jesus Name, Amen!

dmbaldwin

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