Monthly Archives: July 2020

Judges 14; Acts 18; Jeremiah 27; Mark 13

Have you ever noticed any throw away phrases or verses in the Bible? Now I know nothing is really throw away when it comes to the verbal plenary inspiration of Scripture, but at times it seems that way.

In Revelation when the Apostle John describes the New Jerusalem and that there are gates to it and God appoints angels watch over the comings and goings. That’s all it says… where are people going? Where are they coming from?

Another time in the Gospels it reads that Jesus walked along the beach and told the disciples many more stories. What stories? Will we ever hear those stories? Why weren’t they included in the Gospels?

Well in my opinion we come across one of those throw away phrases in today’s reading. In Acts 18:9 we read, “And the Lord said to Paul in the night by a vision, ‘Do not be afraid any longer, but go on speaking and do not be silent.'” That sort of seems like a throw away verse, but hey wait a minute. The Apostle Paul was afraid? He must have been if God was telling him not to be afraid any longer. I can safely say that each one of us reading this blog post has been afraid at one time of their lives or another. And for many of us there is a real fear in sharing how much our salvation means to us. We are afraid of rejection, ridicule or isolation. And yet we have great company. Paul was afraid too. Perhaps afraid of much more. He had been beaten and flogged. That hasn’t happened to any of us for the sake of the gospel. If so let me know. I hold you in the highest regard.

But fear is fear. And to know that the Apostle Paul was afraid brings some measure of hope and calm to my spirit. The person we all look up to as spreading the gospel throughout the then known world was afraid. What a blessing — in sort of an odd way — that we are all in this together and fear is just part of the process. I have this feeling that God is telling us today not to fear, not to duck and run, but to share our faith with others in a winsome manner that draws people to Jesus.

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Judges 13; Acts 17; Jeremiah 26; Mark 12

When my kids were little, I used to tell them, “If someone has something to say, it’s important for them to say or it’s important for you to hear.” Daily, my media feeds are flooded with messages of people. I find myself wanting, more than ever, to hear what the Lord says.

The woman ran and told her husband, “A man of God appeared to me! He looked like one of God’s angels, terrifying to see. I didn’t ask where he was from, and he didn’t tell me his name. But he told me, ‘You will become pregnant and give birth to a son. You must not drink wine or any other alcoholic drink nor eat any forbidden food. For your son will be dedicated to God as a Nazirite from the moment of his birth until the day of his death.’” (Judges 13:6-7, NLT, emphasis added)

Paul and Silas were used to speaking to groups and were used to hostile responses. Today, Paul is in Athens and addresses a crowd. I listen too.

22 So Paul, standing before the council, addressed them as follows: “Men of Athens, I notice that you are very religious in every way, 23 for as I was walking along I saw your many shrines. And one of your altars had this inscription on it: ‘To an Unknown God.’ This God, whom you worship without knowing, is the one I’m telling you about.

24 “He is the God who made the world and everything in it. Since he is Lord of heaven and earth, he doesn’t live in man-made temples, 25 and human hands can’t serve his needs—for he has no needs. He himself gives life and breath to everything, and he satisfies every need. 26 From one man he created all the nations throughout the whole earth. He decided beforehand when they should rise and fall, and he determined their boundaries.

27 His purpose was for the nations to seek after God and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him—though he is not far from any one of us. 28 For in him we live and move and exist. As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’ 29 And since this is true, we shouldn’t think of God as an idol designed by craftsmen from gold or silver or stone.

30 “God overlooked people’s ignorance about these things in earlier times, but now he commands everyone everywhere to repent of their sins and turn to him. 31 For he has set a day for judging the world with justice by the man he has appointed, and he proved to everyone who this is by raising him from the dead.” (Acts 17:22-31, NLT, emphasis added)

Jeremiah had a message from the Lord that was important, only his audience didn’t want to hear it.

This message came to Jeremiah from the Lord early in the reign of Jehoiakim son of Josiah, king of Judah. This is what the Lord says: Stand in the courtyard in front of the Temple of the Lord, and make an announcement to the people who have come there to worship from all over Judah. Give them my entire message; include every word. 3 Perhaps they will listen and turn from their evil ways. Then I will change my mind about the disaster I am ready to pour out on them because of their sins.

Say to them, ‘This is what the Lord says: If you will not listen to me and obey my word I have given you, and if you will not listen to my servants, the prophets—for I sent them again and again to warn you, but you would not listen to them— then I will destroy this Temple as I destroyed Shiloh, the place where the Tabernacle was located. And I will make Jerusalem an object of cursing in every nation on earth.’”

The priests, the prophets, and all the people listened to Jeremiah as he spoke in front of the Lord’s Temple. But when Jeremiah had finished his message, saying everything the Lord had told him to say, the priests and prophets and all the people at the Temple mobbed him. “Kill him!” they shouted. “What right do you have to prophesy in the Lord’s name that this Temple will be destroyed like Shiloh? What do you mean, saying that Jerusalem will be destroyed and left with no inhabitants?” And all the people threatened him as he stood in front of the Temple. (Jeremiah 26:1-9, NLT, emphasis added)

He reminds me today and again.

28 One of the teachers of religious law was standing there listening to the debate. He realized that Jesus had answered well, so he asked, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”

29 Jesus replied, “The most important commandment is this: ‘Listen, O Israel! The Lord our God is the one and only Lord. 30 And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.’ 31 The second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ No other commandment is greater than these.”

32 The teacher of religious law replied, “Well said, Teacher. You have spoken the truth by saying that there is only one God and no other. 33 And I know it is important to love him with all my heart and all my understanding and all my strength, and to love my neighbor as myself. This is more important than to offer all of the burnt offerings and sacrifices required in the law.”

34 Realizing how much the man understood, Jesus said to him, “You are not far from the Kingdom of God.” (Mark 12:28-34a, NLT, emphasis added)

Lord, help me to watch my words (help me to speak them). Let them be seasoned, honest, wise, encouraging. Let them reflect the time I’ve spent with you, and not the ever changing (turbulent) influence of a culture around me. Help me also to sift through words to get to the heart, to reach another whose heart cries out to be loved, to be valued, to be understood, to be seen.

Courtney (66books365)

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Judges12; Acts 16; Jeremiah 25; Mark 11

I read a story that is still active and alive today. A story of a word – Shibboleth.

In order to keep the Ephraimites from escaping, the Gileadites captured the places where the Jordan could be crossed. When any Ephraimite who was trying to escape would ask permission to cross, the men of Gilead would ask, “Are you an Ephraimite?” If he said, “No,” they would tell him to say “Shibboleth.” But he would say “Sibboleth,” because he could not pronounce it correctly. Then they would grab him and kill him there at one of the Jordan River crossings. At that time forty-two thousand of the Ephraimites were killed. – Judges 12:5-6 GNT

My mom would tell me stories during the war of how they could find out if an American spy, posing as a German, could be tested in order to find them out. I think, we in the church do the same thing in determining whether one is really a follower of God. It is by prayer that I believe I refrain from lapsing into the Pharisee’s censoriousness.

Why cannot I be free to move as the Holy Spirit moves me just as Paul and Silas were?

They traveled through the region of Phrygia and Galatia because the Holy Spirit did not let them preach the message in the province of Asia. When they reached the border of Mysia, they tried to go into the province of Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them. – Acts 16:6-7 GNT

It is difficult to understand why I have to do something differently but there is a moment of faith where I can almost see God’s hand trying to show the 30,000 foot view of where the Holy Spirit is moving.

The same is so when it comes to my sin. I pray that I never take it lightly.

The Lord, the God of Israel, said to me, “Here is a wine cup filled with my anger. Take it to all the nations to whom I send you, and make them drink from it. – Jeremiah 25:15 GNT

I am so thankful that I can pray and ask for help in overcoming the temptations of judgement on others and in ignoring the move of the Holy Spirit. I pray for faith to believe and the power to forgive.

Jesus answered them, “Have faith in God. For this reason I tell you: When you pray and ask for something, believe that you have received it, and you will be given whatever you ask for. And when you stand and pray, forgive anything you may have against anyone, so that your Father in heaven will forgive the wrongs you have done. – Mark 11:22, 24-25 GNT

Father, may my walk with You be based on faith and not of judgment, on believing in You and not in myself, and on forgiving so that I may find myself being forgiven. Amen

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Judges 11:12-40; Acts 15; Jeremiah 24; Mark 10

“Go sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven.  Then come, follow me.” At this the man’s face fell, and he went away sad, for he had many possessions.  Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the Kingdom of God!” This amazed them.  But Jesus said again, “Dear children, it is very hard to enter the Kingdom of God.  In fact, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God!” The disciples were astounded.  “Then who in the world can be saved?” they asked.  “Jesus looked at them intently and said, “Humanly speaking, it is impossible.  But not with God.  Everything is possible with God.” Mark 10:21-27 NLT

Mark 10:27 is such a familiar verse to me.  God has used it in my life to speak hope to my soul.  But, I don’t remember if I have read the entire passage before. It puts it in a whole new light.  It makes me question what I am treasuring.  What am I holding onto that won’t fulfill me?What is hindering me from fully following Him?

“God knows people’s hearts, and he confirmed that he accepts Gentiles by giving them the Holy Spirit, just as he did to us.  He made no distinction between us and them, for he cleansed their hearts through faith.  Everyone listened quietly as Barnabas and Paul told about the miraculous signs and wonders God had done through  them among the Gentiles.” Acts 15:8-12 NLT

What is my faith in?

“Then they reached Jericho, and as Jesus and his disciples left town, a large crowd followed him.  A blind beggar named Bartimaeus (son of Timaeus) was sitting beside the road.  When Bartimaeus heard that Jesus of Nazareth was nearby, he began to shout, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” “Be quiet!” many of the people yelled at him.  But only shouted louder, “Son of David, have mercy on me.”  So they called the blind man. “Cheer up,” they said.  “Come on, he’s calling you!” Bartimaeus threw aside his coat, jumped up, and came to Jesus.  “What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asked.  “My Rabbi, “the blind man said, “I want to see!” And Jesus said to him, “Go, for your faith has healed you.” Instantly the man could see, and he followed Jesus down the road.” Mark 10:46-52 NLT

The blind man continued to follow Jesus after he could see.  I can picture him walking the rest of his days with Jesus. Because he knew that He is the only place where true healing could be found.  I don’t think he was thinking about what he was giving up, but what he gained.  Not only his eyesight, but Jesus.

Dear Father, please forgive me when my heart is far from you. I am reminded of a song that says, “There is nothing better than You.”  I want to sing that and believe it, but sometimes I have to tell it to my heart. You are worthy. Amen.

Amy(amyctanner)

 

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

Photo by Mandy Baldwin

“ ‘If you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for one who believes.”

‭‭Mark‬ ‭9:23‬ ‭NIV

I would love to know the emotion behind this interaction for Jesus. He had been performing miracles and teaching. The crowds following Him were growing and He was gaining the unwanted attention of the pharisees. Is He frustrated? Does He wish He were trusted more? Believed more?

I wonder if it’s not any of those emotions but an invitation. An invitation to trust more…ask for more…believe more. I sometimes have trouble asking assertively for what I want. What if Jesus was giving this father a second chance to ask for what he really wanted…complete healing for his son.

Why don’t we ask for more? Well, we’ve been taught to be polite. Don’t ask for too much and don’t overstep. This interaction seems like an invitation directly from God to ask for more. Boldly go before your God that loves you and desires good things for you and ask.

Dear God, we come today with open hands. We ask boldly for those desires of our hearts that keep us awake at night. You are not offended by what we ask for but sad because of what we don’t ask for. God, we desire to be like the father Jesus encountered when we say “I believe, help my unbelief.” Amen.

Mandy

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