Monthly Archives: July 2017

Judges 14, Acts 18, Jeremiah 27, Mark 13

And Jesus began to say to them, “See that no one leads you astray. Many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am he!’ and they will lead many astray. And when you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed. This must take place, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be earthquakes in various places; there will be famines. These are but the beginning of the birth pains.” Mark 13

Since childhood, this passage has haunted me as did all of chapter 13. There is something encouraging and terrifying about it. I don’t know why it has stuck out at me like a sore thumb throughout the years but I distinctly remember reading this at a young age and being deeply affected. I grew up when the Frank Peretti novels and Left Behind series were popular. I would peak around corners in my home scared of my own shadow. I was completely convinced that Jesus would return by the time I graduated high school. And when high school came and went, I just knew in my heart he would return before I had children. I have watched the news; wars come and go, evil rise to power, right become wrong and wrong become right and men evangelize truth and lies. I long for His return. This one passage has affected me probably more than any other from God’s word. I have been watching and waiting for the signs. But not even Jesus knows when he will return to take home his elect.

32 “But concerning that day or that hour, no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 33 Be on guard, keep awake.[a] For you do not know when the time will come.  37 And what I say to you I say to all: Stay awake.” Mark 13

Though I did not grow up learning that works were required for eternal life, I did strive greatly in my heart hoping that my good deeds would make be better, more presentable. I think that’s what was terrifying about the passage. Jesus will return unexpectedly. There will be wars. There will be suffering. We may have to stand up for what we believe and be harmed in the process. It is happening, all over the world. The sprouts are on the fig tree but we have no idea when the leaves will blossom. It could be tomorrow or in a thousand years. My encouragement comes from knowing no matter how bad this world gets, it’s only temporary. I will be called up with Jesus one day. He has warned us so we can look on with great expectation and without fear. We know he will strengthen us during trials and the Holy Spirit will place the words in our mouth at the right time. I am encouraged to know that the Earth will not pass away until God’s plan has been fulfilled. He is in control and not one of the elect will be snatched from his hand, not one of the elect will miss the boat.

This passage now gives me confidence, not in my own works and good deeds but in Christ’s work on the cross and his triumphant return. I will continue to watch and wait, longing for my permeant home and sharing the good news of Jesus Christ with whomever God grants me the opportunity. I will stay awake, testing what the preachers preach and teach my children three children the truth of God’s word.

Dear Lord, thank you for your warning. Though we do not know the details of Christ’s return, you have shared with us what to expect in your word. Help us to test and approve according to your word. Holy Spirit help us discern the truth from lies. Even so, come, Lord Jesus.

 

Kate

 

 

 

Advertisements

2 Comments

Filed under 66 Books, Mark, Uncategorized

Judges 13; Acts 17; Jeremiah 26; Mark 12

I am a questioner at heart. If you are in a small group discussion with me, I may drive you crazy with continuous questions. My questioning is not motivated by doubts in my faith. I just want a more thorough understanding of who God is so that I can love him deeper.

To be fair, I am not just a questioner in my study of God’s word. I question and research and delve deep in other areas of my life too: in the education of my children and even in my hobbies.

I think this is why I really like the Bereans. When I read the account of Paul’s time with the Bereans, I smile and feel inspired.

“Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.” Acts 17:11

The Bereans examined the Scriptures. They were eager to learn more. They compared what Paul said to what the Scriptures said. The Bereans were living out a portion of the greatest commandment:

“The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:29-31

I believe the Bereans are an example of loving God with all their hearts and all their minds. I hope to emulate the Berean people. I hope to love Jesus with a heart that is open to understanding and with a mind that is seeking truth.

Dear Lord, Help me to seek You by asking the right questions and recognizing the truthful answers. Teach me how to love you with all my heart, all my soul, all my mind and all my strength. Amen

Diona

1 Comment

Filed under 66 Books, M'Cheyne Bible reading plan, Uncategorized

Judges 12; Acts 16; Jeremiah 25; Mark 11

A month or two ago in my class at church, one of the girls said that she tried to live every day like it was her last day. Instantly in my mind I decided to do the same. But it wasn’t as easy as it seemed…I soon realized that living every day like it was my last had nothing to do with seeing how much I could get done. Instead, it had to do with obeying God. Paul and Silas did just that.

A Call from Macedonia

Next Paul and Silas traveled through the area of Phrygia and Galatia, because the Holy Spirit had prevented them from preaching the word in the province of Asia at that time. Then coming to the borders of Mysia, they headed north for the province of Bithynia, but again the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them to go there. So instead, they went on through Mysia to the seaport of Troas. (Acts 16:6-8 NLT)

Even in the midst of trouble, they didn’t turn away from God.

Paul and Silas in Prison

One day as we were going down to the place of prayer, we met a demon-possessed slave girl. She was a fortune-teller who earned a lot of money for her masters. She followed Paul and the rest of us, shouting, “These men are servants of the Most High God, and they have come to tell you how to be saved.” This went on day after day until Paul got so exasperated that he turned and said to the demon within her, “I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.” And instantly it left her. Her masters’ hopes of wealth were now shattered, so they grabbed at Paul and Silas and dragged them before the authorities at the marketplace. “The whole city is in an uproar because of these Jews!” they shouted to the city officials. “They are teaching customs that are illegal for us Romans to practice.” A mob quickly formed against Paul and Silas, and the city officials ordered them stripped and beaten with wooden rods. They were severely beaten, and then they were thrown into prison. The jailer was ordered to make sure they didn’t escape. So the jailer put them into the inner dungeon and clamped their feet in stocks. (Acts 16:16-24 NLT)

Paul and Silas are a great example of what it really means to trust and obey God. God places people in tough situations to see how much they really trust him. Right now I can think of several people who are in those kinds of situations. I’ve been in them, too. But I have to remember that God is love. He loves me, and he wants the best for me. I can’t let bad situations pull me down; I have to trust that God’s in control. Because that’s the truth.

Dear God,

Thank you for giving me an understanding of what it means to trust and obey you. I know the bad situations I’ve been in won’t be my last. So I will trust you, God. For your ways are better than my ways, your thoughts better than my thoughts. Amen

Lanie (llilly2017)

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Judges 11:11-40; Acts 15; Jeremiah 24; Mark 10

Judges 11

27 I have not wronged you, but you are doing me wrong by waging war against me. Let the Lord, the Judge, decide the dispute this day between the Israelites and the Ammonites

Over the years, Israel had many judges to lead them. But Jephthah recognized the Lord as the people’s true Judge, the only One who could really lead them and help them conquer the invading enemies. This is still true today, the Lord is our only true judge and is our only leader and is the only One who can lead us and help us conquer our “enemies”.

Acts 15

16“ ‘After this I will return and rebuild David’s fallen tent. Its ruins I will rebuild, and I will restore it, 17 that the rest of mankind may seek the Lord, even all the Gentiles who bear my name, says the Lord, who does these things’18 things known from long ago.

Despite the compelling experiences of Peter, Barnabas and Paul. James turned to God’s Word as the ultimate test of truth. This should be how we evaluate events. We all have beliefs and experiences, and our tendency is to want to measure others by our yardstick. Ultimately, what matters is what God’s word says. The more we know God’s Word, the more we will be able to discern what is right and best.

Jeremiah 24

2 One basket had very good figs, like those that ripen early; the other basket had very bad figs, so bad they could not be eaten. 3 Then the Lord asked me, “What do you see, Jeremiah?” “Figs,” I answered. “The good ones are very good, but the bad ones are so bad they cannot be eaten.” 4 Then the word of the Lord came to me: 5“This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘Like these good figs, I regard as good the exiles from Judah, whom I sent away from this place to the land of the Babylonians. 6 My eyes will watch over them for their good, and I will bring them back to this land. I will build them up and not tear them down; I will plant them and not uproot them. 7I will give them a heart to know me, that I am the Lord. They will be my people, and I will be their God, for they will return to me with all their heart. 8 “ ‘But like the bad figs, which are so bad they cannot be eaten,’ says the Lord, ‘so will I deal with Zedekiah king of Judah, his officials and the survivors from Jerusalem, whether they remain in this land or live in Egypt. 9 I will make them abhorrent and an offense to all the kingdoms of the earth, a reproach and a byword, a curse and an object of ridicule, wherever I banish them. 10 I will send the sword, famine and plague against them until they are destroyed from the land I gave to them and their ancestors.’ ”

 We may assume we are blessed when life goes well and cursed when it does not. But trouble is a blessing when it makes us stronger, and prosperity is a curse if it entices us away from God. If you are facing trouble, ask God to help you grow stronger for him. If things are going your way, ask God to help you use your prosperity for him.

Mark 10

21 Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack“, he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” 22 At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth.

What does your money mean to you? Is money your servant or your master? Although Jesus wanted this man to sell everything and give it to the poor, this does not mean that all believers should sell all they have. Most of his followers did not sell everything, although they used their possessions to serve others. Instead, this story shows us that we must not let anything we have or desire to keep us from following Jesus. We must remove all barriers to serving him fully. If Jesus asked, could you give up your house, car, or level of income? How about your position on the promotion ladder? Your reaction may show your attitude toward money-whether it is your servant or your master.

God Bless

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Judges10-11:11; Acts 14; Jeremiah 23; Mark 9

Judges 10:6 “Then the children of Israel again did evil in the sight of the Lord…”

Acts14:15 “Men, why are you doing these things? We also are men, of like nature with you, and we bring you good news, that you should turn from these vain things to a living God…”

Jeremiah 23:22 “But if they had stood in My council, then they would have announced My words to My people.”

Mark 9:19 “O faithless generation, how long shall I be with you?”

We all can get off track; chasing after idols, playing around with the forbidden, participating in gossip or slander with a neighbor or against a co-worker.  We are also prone to following after charismatic spiritual leaders, becoming comfortable in relying on the weekly inserts in church bulletins to inform our lazy minds what God is saying (at least to the televangelist or pastor).  Why is it so easy and dangerous to run with the crowd? I think it is complacency.  Complacency is a lack of effort, a slipping away from spiritual vigilance over our soul.  We let day after day go by without so much as a glance at the Word of God or a heartfelt, intercessory prayer for others.  It may be difficult to identify how our morals, beliefs, and intentions have been compromised.  We cannot see it happening.  Yet, our testimony, (not the one that brought us to Christ, but the one that we speak every day with our words and actions) points to this falling away.  Over time, we will have to admit we have been compromised when our omniscient God pulls us up abruptly with the words, “…cut it off; it is better for you to enter [eternal] life…than to be cast into hell.”  Strong words, I know.  Yet I have seen the devastation when a believer falls into the death grip of denial and immorality.  Years of wasting away a life once devoted to the things of God, now self-serving.  The collateral damage will require the faith of saints and the mercy of God to repair.

I once heard that most Americans are but a paycheck away from homelessness.  In the same way, our spiritual bank can become low in reserves of truth, belief, faith, utter dependence on, and gratitude to God.  We will find ourselves homeless, holding onto the transitory thoughts and mores of our world and our own darker imaginings.  Our good deeds will not save us; avoiding the reckoning will not delay the inevitable; minimizing the consequences will not justify us.  We can tough it out and hope the saints are wrong, or we can repent and return to diligently seeking the Master’s face, asking for His mercy, putting away the things that interfere with discipleship, then serving Him with our whole heart. My own conscious tells me this is so – have mercy on me, oh Lord.

Janet

From the archives. Originally published July 27, 2013.

Leave a comment

Filed under 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan, M'Cheyne Bible reading plan, Uncategorized

Judges 9; Acts 13; Jeremiah 22; Mark 8

Jeremiah 22:3 Thus says the Lord: “Execute judgment and righteousness, and deliver the plundered out of the hand of the oppressor. Do no wrong and do no violence to the stranger, the fatherless, or the widow, nor shed innocent blood in this place.

I am a “mandated reporter.” That means that because I have contact with vulnerable people, I am legally required to ensure a report is made when physical, emotional, or sexual abuse is observed or suspected. I still remember the first time I had to report abuse to a protective agency. Though there was obvious evidence of abuse, I kept looking for a reason not to report. Instead of focusing on delivering the oppressed and vulnerable, I wrestled with thoughts of retribution, disloyalty, ‘getting others in trouble,’ and even worried that I would not be liked by the abuser. Looking back I think I was trying to save my life as I had formed it; that is, my reputation as one who kept confidences, my image as someone who had things in control, and my need to be a peacemaker. Fortunately, I had professional supervision and did what was right despite my misgivings.

Mark 8:35 For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it.

That first experience and others over the next 15 years taught me to view reporting as a necessary intervention. However, God’s Holy Spirit was the discerning force that knelt with me the day I had to intervene when abuse came close to home. The old fears had returned.  Inertia was setting in. Worry that ruin would result almost caused me to hesitate and counsel wrongly.

Acts 13: 9, 10 Then Saul, who also is called Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked intently at him and said, “O full of all deceit and all fraud, you son of the devil, you enemy of all righteousness, will you not cease perverting the straight ways of the Lord? And now, indeed, the hand of the Lord is upon you, and you shall be blind, not seeing the sun for a time.”

When Paul was presented with a sorcerer who was perverting the message of God, he did not hesitate, but Paul called out the man and initiated judgment.  I think fear of judgment screeches justice to a halt. Is this the greatest fear: the outcome of godly confrontation or the result of righteous conflict may not lead to salvation but condemnation? Yet I am convinced that our Lord God, the King of Kings will sit on the throne of judgment. I know that I have been given the responsibility of protecting others, and I pray that I will always listen to the Holy Spirit in making decisions that affect the lives of all involved.

I ask, Lord Jesus, that you open my eyes to injustice and that you give me wisdom and discernment in every situation. Give me boldness through Your Holy Spirit to speak these words, “Listen to me, you [insert the names of abusers], That God may listen to you!” Judges 9:7. Not for my sake, but for Your love for the underdog and for Your righteous judgments.

Janet (jansuwilkinson)

All Scripture from: The Nelson Study Bible, New King James Version, Trinity Fellowship Church 25th Anniversary Commemorative Edition, 2002.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Judg. 8; Acts 12; Jer. 21; Mark 7

Are we guilty of taking freedom for granted?

“Peter finally came to his senses. “It’s really true!” he said… “The Lord has sent His angel and saved me!” Acts 12:11

Recently, while working in my office at the University, one of my students stopped by with a group of international students as part of a refugee outreach program. One of the students asked a question about a recent trip to Rwanda, and during my response, I said “Thank you, Jesus!” My words immediately triggered her to cowl, then look around to see if anyone had heard what I said, and finally start to back away from the group to separate herself from the rest of us. When I asked what was happening, she reluctantly said “How can you speak like that so openly… aren’t you afraid of what will happen to you?”

The look on my face said it all… how could 3 words cause such a reaction? And it really was just one word, wasn’t it? As Christians, we know that the word Jesus is the most powerful name there is, but to those who are persecuted for their belief in Jesus, that one word is also associated with harsh reality… persecution, and sometimes even DEATH! We are blessed with so many freedoms in this country… it often takes someone who has had those freedoms taken away, or never had them in the first place, for us to realize just how blessed we are as Americans.

Peter in Acts 12 clearly understood the loss of freedom in Herod’s prison, as all of us would under similar circumstances. But spiritual freedom, particularly in this country is one that is rarely discussed because it is assumed, but it represents one of the most powerful of all freedoms as it affects us now while on Earth, but more importantly, it determines our eternity! So many don’t understand the impact of this statement, muddling through life, worshiping whomever and however they please.

As was experienced by Peter in a physical sense, true spiritual freedom comes only from our Lord and Savior, and affects all other freedoms. Verse 11 revealed that even though Peter was in temporary physical bondage, he was spiritually free because he knew that Jesus had already saved him from sin. As a result, Peter’s soul was forever in a much better place than Herod and Peter’s captors, whose physical freedom did nothing to save their souls’ enslavement.

Peter’s physical freedom by God was amazing… but his spiritual freedom was the focus of even more wonder… for it is when, not if, our other freedoms in life are attacked, that our spiritual freedom, centered on our believe in Jesus, will sustain us here, on Earth, and in our eternal life.

Heavenly Father, thank You for the freedoms we enjoy as You are the authority on freedom. In the busyness of day, help us to remember that freedom is not free… in so many ways, the freedoms we experience have come with a heavy price, started with the death of Your Son. And finally, help us to focus on connection with You… only then can we make it through “one more day!” Amen

Greg (gstefanelli)

Leave a comment

Filed under 66 Books, Acts, Bible in a year reading plan, M'Cheyne Bible reading plan, New Testament