Monthly Archives: April 2018

1 Samuel 18-19; 1 Chronicles 3; Psalm 59; Acts 13

Now there were in the church at Antioch prophets and teachers, Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen a lifelong friend of Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” Then after fasting and praying they laid their hands on them and sent them off. d(Acts 13:1-3 [ESV])

Again this morning we have a passage of the Bible that notes the change of human history. This time it’s the sending off of the first missionaries Saul (later to be named Paul) & Barnabas. The church in Antioch was the first sending church on purpose. Obviously earlier we see the church in Jerusalem sending out many, but that was because of persecution that happened. This was the first time missionaries were sent out on purpose. And it was under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. He set Saul and Barnabas aside for this important history changing work.

Where are you involved in this important work of the Church and consequently the Holy Spirit? Can you point to one place outside of your immediate context where you are being used by the Holy Spirit to reach people with the Gospel?

There are presently 3,200 people groups in the world where there is no Gospel witness. Some of these groups number in the thousands and some in the millions. They have never heard the name of Jesus and there is no church they could go to and hear about Jesus. In my city alone there must be a dozen.

Begin today searching where you can join others in reaching the world with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

 

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under 66 Books, Acts, Uncategorized

1 Samuel 17; 1 Chronicles 2; Acts 12

And there came out from the camp of the Philistines a champion named Goliath of Gath, whose height was six cubits and a span. And the Philistine said, “I defy the ranks of Israel this day. Give me a man, that we may fight together.” When Saul and all Israel heard these words of the Philistine, they were dismayed and greatly afraid. 1 Samuel 17: 4, 10-11 ESV

Saul and the Israelites drew a battle line against the Philistines at the Valley of Elah. However, they were not expecting the Philistines champion, Goliath. Goliath was 6 to 9 feet high and his armor weighted roughly 121 pounds. Saul and his men were terrified of Goliath, running away when they heard him challenge them. The Israelites refused to face Goliath’s challenges for 40 days, until David visited the camp.

As he [David] was taking with them, behold, the champion, the Philistine of Gath, Goliath by name, came up out of the ranks of the Philistines and spoke the same words as before. And David heard him. All the men of Israel, when they saw the man, fled from him and were much afraid. And David said to the men who stood by him, “What shall be done for the man who kills this Philistine and takes away the reproach from Israel? For who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?” 1 Samuel 17: 23-24,26

David is sent by his father to visit three of his older brothers were in the army. David was the youngest of his household and a shepherd of his father’s sheep. However, God had bigger plans for David. David was shocked when he heard Goliath mocking the Israelites. He was also surprised that none of the other Israelites had faced Goliath and let him freely defy Israel and God. So David decided to take things into his own hands.

Then he took his staff in his hand and chose five smooth stones from the brook and put them in his shepherd’s pouch His sling was in his hand, and he approached the Philistine. And the Philistine said to David, “Am I a dog, that you come to me with sticks?” And the Philistine cursed David by his gods. Then David said to the Philistine, “You come to me with a sword and with a spear and with a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. And David put his hand in his bag and took out a stone and slung it and stuck the Philistine on his forehead. The stone sank into his forehead, and he fell on his face to the ground. Then David ran and stood over the Philistine and took his sword and drew it out of its sheath and killed him and cut off his head with it. 1 Samuel 17: 40, 43, 45, 49, and 51 ESV

David was the only Israelite brave enough to face Goliath. He knew God was on his side and would protect him, just like God had protected him against wild animals that had attacked his flock of sheep. And, just like David said He would, God gave His protection.  David brought Goliath, a massive champion, down with just a sling and a stone. God had a plan for David’s life, and worked things together for his good, even before he was born.

Nahshon father Salmon, Salmon fathered Boaz, Boaz fathered Obed, Obed fathered Jesse. Jesse fathered Eliab his firstborn, Abinadab the second, Shimea the third, Nethanel the fourth, Raddai the fifth, Ozem the sixth, David the seventh. 1 Chronicles 11-15 ESV

David’s great grandfather was Boaz, who married Ruth. Ruth’s story is an amazing example of God’s care and protection. Through Ruth, David and eventually, Jesus would come to further God’s plan for earth. God would later work all things together for Peter.

Now when Herod was about to bring him out, on that very night, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains, and sentries before the door were guarding the prison. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood next to him, and a light shone in the cell. He struck Peter on the side and woke him, saying, “Get up quickly.” And the chains fell off his hands. Acts 12:6-7 ESV

Peter was imprisoned by Herod to appease the Jewish leaders, who hated him for preaching the gospel. Herod had already killed James the brother of John and Peter may have wondered if he would be next, but God had a different plan. An angel freed Peter from his chains and led him out of the city. Peter went to the house of Mary, the mother of John, before heading to another place.

But the word of God increased and multiplied. Acts 12: 24

Dear God, please guide me through my life. Please protect me like You protected David and Peter and give me courage in the face of adversity. In Your Holy Name, Amen.

Nathanael (nborger2017)

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

1 Samuel 15-16; 1 Chronicles 1; Psalm 39; Acts 11

Samuel gave a message to Saul from the Lord. Saul didn’t completely obey the command. Perhaps he thought he did enough, but he really did what pleased himself.

35 Samuel never went to meet with Saul again, but he mourned constantly for him. And the Lord was sorry he had ever made Saul king of Israel. (Samuel 15:35, NLT)

Those words cause me to mourn too. Tasks unfinished, or work half-hearted, one doesn’t have to be a king to do a poor job, to be selfish. The Lord, he sees it all.

Lately, I’ve been working on goals, and as big things get checked off and I consider the little things, I lose heart. These dailies, they seem quite small and insignificant (and to be honest, some things I just don’t want to do). But a friend kindly pointed out the deep importance of my diligence. And when I shifted my gaze to what God has before me, the diligence is not only shaping character, it has a potential to affect generations. These daily little things–a choice to do them or not has very real (and bigger) consequences.

David was out in the fields watching sheep and goats. His place in the family–shepherd and youngest–seeming, perhaps, quite small and insignificant. He wasn’t given a thought to be called to meet Samuel.

11 Then Samuel asked, “Are these all the sons you have?”

“There is still the youngest,” Jesse replied. “But he’s out in the fields watching the sheep and goats.”

“Send for him at once,” Samuel said. “We will not sit down to eat until he arrives.”

12 So Jesse sent for him. He was dark and handsome, with beautiful eyes.

And the Lord said, “This is the one; anoint him.” (Samuel 16:11-12, NLT)

David goes from the field to serving in Saul’s court as harpist and armor bearer. And that was just the start. He was chosen by God. Would David choose God back? (Perhaps Saul wanted to follow God, but he wanted what he wanted more, and his lack of focus would cost him.)

Lord, remind me how brief my time on earth will be.
    Remind me that my days are numbered—
    how fleeting my life is.
You have made my life no longer than the width of my hand.
    My entire lifetime is just a moment to you;
    at best, each of us is but a breath.” 

We are merely moving shadows,
    and all our busy rushing ends in nothing.
We heap up wealth,
    not knowing who will spend it.
And so, Lord, where do I put my hope?
    My only hope is in you. (Psalm 39:4-7, NLT)

These readings are full of wisdom and encouragement. Lineages chronicled of people, all part of God’s story. And in Acts, believers, unnamed, are scattered with the power of the Lord, influencing many lives. Life, wholehearted.

24 Barnabas was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and strong in faith. And many people were brought to the Lord. (Acts 11:24, NLT)

Lord, thank you for this gentle correction. I praise you for the big ways you’ve moved in my life this year. And I want to be passionately diligent with the (seemingly) little things. You’re looking at my heart. I put my hope in you.

Courtney (66books365)

 

Leave a comment

Filed under 1 Chronicles, 1 Samuel, 66 Books, Acts, Bible in a year reading plan, New Testament, Old Testament, Psalms, Uncategorized

1 Samuel 14; Psalm 124; Acts 10

It was one of those days again, it happened this past weekend – hearing someone verbally abusing just so they could hurt our family – all because we are different – all because we are the only followers of Christ in our family.

The Philistines said, “Look! Those worthless Israelites have crawled out of the holes where they’ve been hiding.”– I Samuel 14:11  CEV

I have been verbally abused for my faith by co-workers, by neighbours, by friends – but when it is family, it hurts most.  Somehow I know the promises of God when it happens with the others, but with my family I forget that God is there to protect me too.

Let’s praise the Lord!
He protected us from enemies
    who were like wild animals – Psalm 124:6  CEV

So as our family regroups and begins to pray for when our next family visit will take place, one of the most encouraging thoughts is that grace abounds where nothing else will do.  God wants our family to know Him – everyone is accepted.  As I lead my family through grace and as we heal, this one fact remains.

Peter said to them, “You know that we Jews are not allowed to have anything to do with other people. But God has shown me that he doesn’t think anyone is unclean or unfit. – Acts 10:28  CEV

It is a whole lot easier just to invite them to a church service and have them decline.  No, God has called them to Himself and as family, we are called to share Him with them.  I am reminded of what Jesus went through when He entered the very world He created.

I loved Courtney’s post where she wrote the entire Psalm 23.  That is how powerful that Psalm is – and it helped me this past weekend to know that I do not walk alone.

Lord, thank you for Your Word.  Thank you for Psalm 23. Thank you for speaking encouragement and allowing us to see others as You see them. Thank you for showing us how to take verbal abuse for our walk with You and how not to take it personally.  Give us the strength, give us Your Holy Spirit, and allow us to continue to serve You, speak about You and most of all, follow You even in the face of difficulties. Amen.

Erwin (evanlaar1922)

 

Leave a comment

Filed under 1 Samuel, 66 Books, Acts, Bible in a year reading plan, New Testament, Old Testament, Psalms, Uncategorized

1 Samuel 11-13; Psalms 38; Acts 9

“So, I said, ‘The Philistines are ready to march against us at Gilgal, and I haven’t even asked for the Lord’s help!’ So I felt compelled to offer the burnt offering myself before you came.” “How Foolish!” Samuel exclaimed. “You have not kept the command the Lord your God gave you. Had you kept it, the Lord would have established your kingdom over Israel forever. But now your kingdom must end, for the Lord has sought out a man after his own heart. The Lord has already appointed him to be the leader of his people, because you have not kept the Lord’s command.” 1 Samuel 13:12-14 NLT

How many times am I like King Saul and try to do things in my own strength?  Instead of having a humble and repentant spirit like David.

“O Lord, don’t rebuke me in your anger or discipline me in your rage! You arrows have struck deep, and your blows are crushing me. Because of your anger, my whole body is sick; my health is broken because of my sins…I am exhausted and completely crushed. My groans come from an anguished heart. You know what I long for, O Lord; you hear my every sigh.” Psalms 38:1-3,9-10 NLT

In Acts I read about another Saul.  One that God chose, even though he was far from him.  Maybe God knew that his heart could be softened like Davids.  It took blindness to get Saul’s attention. Sometimes in my own life I am blind to what is paralyzing me. I forget I am chosen, like Saul was. I am encouraged by God’s constant pursuit of him. And the impact he made for the kingdom. When I want to give up praying for someone, this reminds me that no one is too far gone. God didn’t give up on Saul.  He saw him for what he was becoming, not who he was.

“But the Lord said, “Go, for Saul is my chosen instrument to take my message to the Gentiles and to kings, as well as the people of Israel. And I will show him how much he must suffer for my name’s sake.” So Ananias went and found Saul. He laid hands on him and said , “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road, has sent me so that you might regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” Instantly something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes, and he regained his sight. Then he got up and was baptized. Afterward he ate some food and regained his strength… And immediately he began preaching about Jesus in the synagogues, saying, ”He is indeed the Son of God!” All who heard him were amazed. “Isn’t this the same man who caused such devastation among Jesus’ followers in Jerusalem?” they asked. “And didn’t he come to arrest them and take them in chains to the leading priests?” Saul’s preaching became more and more powerful, and the Jews in Damascus couldn’t refute his proofs that Jesus was indeed the Messiah.” Acts 9:15-22 NLT

Lord, Thank you for never giving up on me.  For your grace, mercy and forgiveness. I desire to have a heart that searches after you. Amen.

Amy(amyctanner)

Leave a comment

Filed under 1 Samuel, 66 Books, Acts, Psalms

1 Samuel 9&10; Acts 8

What amazing passages we are reading this morning! Lots to discuss, but for the sake of brevity my thoughts center on the last part of Acts 8. Keeping in mind the “little” things that make HUGE advances in God’s Kingdom.

26 Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip, “Go south to the road—the desert road—that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” 27 So he started out, and on his way he met an Ethiopian eunuch, an important official in charge of all the treasury of the Kandake (which means “queen of the Ethiopians”). This man had gone to Jerusalem to worship, 28 and on his way home was sitting in his chariot reading the Book of Isaiah the prophet. 29 The Spirit told Philip, “Go to that chariot and stay near it.”
30 Then Philip ran up to the chariot and heard the man reading Isaiah the prophet. “Do you understand what you are reading?” Philip asked.
31 “How can I,” he said, “unless someone explains it to me?” So he invited Philip to come up and sit with him.
32 This is the passage of Scripture the eunuch was reading:
“He was led like a sheep to the slaughter,
and as a lamb before its shearer is silent,
so he did not open his mouth.
33 In his humiliation he was deprived of justice.
Who can speak of his descendants?
For his life was taken from the earth.”
34 The eunuch asked Philip, “Tell me, please, who is the prophet talking about, himself or someone else?” 35 Then Philip began with that very passage of Scripture and told him the good news about Jesus.
36 As they traveled along the road, they came to some water and the eunuch said, “Look, here is water. What can stand in the way of my being baptized?” 38 And he gave orders to stop the chariot. Then both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water and Philip baptized him. 39 When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord suddenly took Philip away, and the eunuch did not see him again, but went on his way rejoicing. 40 Philip, however, appeared at Azotus and traveled about, preaching the gospel in all the towns until he reached Caesarea. (Acts 8:26-40 [ESV’)

Philip is given an assignment. He starts out not knowing what the Holy Spirit has in store for him, but he “happens” across an Ethiopian Eunuch. This man was the treasurer of Queen Candace’s treasury. A very influential person in Ethiopia. A “chance” encounter that Philip has with this person. Sort of like Ruth’s encounter with Boaz. A chance encounter that will change the course of human history… You see the modern day church in Ethiopia can be traced back to this singular event. The Coptic’s in Ethiopia look at this as the beginning of their church.

As we start out this day, let’s not overlook the smallest task God has for us, or to look at anything as mere happenstance. That very tiny act may be what changes the course of human history. That’s the way God’s Kingdom works.

Leave a comment

Filed under 1 Samuel, 66 Books, Acts, Bible in a year reading plan, Old Testament, Uncategorized

1 Samuel 6-8; Acts 7

In 1 Samuel chapter 4-5, I read of the Philistines’ victory over Israel and how they captured the Ark of the Covenant. God brought the Philistines’ god down and inflicted them with a disease. The rest of the story is in 1 Samuel 6.

And the Philistines called for the priests and the diviners and said, “What shall we do with the ark of the LORD? Tell us with what we shall send it to its place.” They said… “Now then, take and prepare a new cart and two milk cows on which there has never come a yoke, and yoke the cows to the cart, but take their calves home, away from them. And take the ark of the LORD and place it on the cart and put in a box at its side the figures of gold, which you are returning to him as a guilt offering. Then send it off and let it go its way and watch. 1 Samuel 6: 2-3a, 7-9a ESV

The Philistines’ priests and diviners tell them to deliver the Ark to the Israelites in a cart drawn by milk cows. The fact that the cows pulled the cart to Beth-shemesh and the Israelites proved that God cared about the Ark. Milk cows’ first instinct would be to stay with their calves, so they should have gone to their stables to be with them. Not to mention that fact that these cows have never wore a yoke or pulled a cart, so they didn’t know how to work together and pull something. God used this event to show that He was in control of the events and was fighting for Israel.

Now when the Philistines heard that the people of Israel had gathered at Mizpah, the lords of the Philistines went up against Israel. So Samuel took a nursing lamb and offered it as a burnt offering to the LORD. And Samuel cried out to the LORD for Israel, and the LORD answered him…the LORD thundered with a mighty sound that day against the Philistines and threw them into confusion, and they were routed before Israel. Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen and called its name Ebenezer; for he said “Till now the LORD has helped us.” 1 Samuel 7: 7a, 9, 10b, 12 ESV

The Philistines tried to conquer Israel again, but this time Samuel offered up burnt offerings and call on the LORD for help. The LORD helped Israel and subdued the Philistines before them. After calling on God to help the Israel defeat their enemies, Samuel becomes a judge of Israel.

And Samuel said to all the house of Israel, “If you are returning to the LORD with all your heart, then put away the foreign gods and the Ashtaroth from among you and direct you heart to the LORD and serve him only, and he will deliver you out of the hand of the Philistines.” 1 Samuel 7:3 ESV

Samuel tells the Israelites that they must follow the One True God, not the gods of the people around them, if they want His protection. Israel had a long-running problem with idolatry. Early disciple, Stephen, pointed this out in his speech to the high priest in Acts. Stephen was brought before the elders, and the elders, and the scribes for alleged blasphemy. Stephen defends his faith in Jesus and tells of how Israel repeatedly resisted God and disobeyed him to that day.

“And they made a calf in those days, and offered a sacrifice to the idol and were rejoicing in the works of their hands. But God turned away and gave them over to worship the host of heaven, as it is written in the book of the prophets: Did you bring to me slain beasts and sacrifices during the forty years in the wilderness, O house of Israel? You took up the tent of Moloch and the star of you god Rephan, the images that you made to worship; and I will send you into exile beyond Babylon.” Acts 7: 41-43 ESV

Stephen tells at the first time Israel disobeyed God as a group, the creation of the golden calf. That was sadly not the last time they turned against the LORD. The book of Judges is full of examples of God rescuing His people, only for them to turn back to worshipping the false gods of the nations around them. However, through Jesus, God rescued His people once and for all. After Stephen delivers his speech, he is attacked by mob that is enraged by his words. However, before he is killed, he sees Jesus.

But he (Stephen), full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. And he said, “Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” Acts 7: 55-56 ESV

Stephen became the very first martyr, dying at the hands of the council. However, because of his faith in Jesus, God saved him from his sins and he went to heaven, a place he got a foretaste of just minutes before he died.

Dear God, that you for rescuing me once and for all. Please give me the strength to follow you and to stand strong in the face of opposition and persecution. Please help me obey your words and to seek you. Amen.

Nathanael (nborger2017)

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized