Author Archives: dmbaldwin

About dmbaldwin

I'm the husband of Louise, the father of Erin, Eric, Mandy & Sarah and the grandfather of David, Aubrey Simeon & Demaris. I am the President & Owner of Furnace Hills Coffee Company -- www.furnacehillscoffee.com I am an avid NY Giants and Newcastle United fan. I enjoy making "frequent" trips to Ukraine. I work with and teach in seminaries and Bible colleges in Ukraine. I enjoy blogging about coffee & leadership.

Lamentations; Psalm 137; 1 Peter 4

Spiritual Gifts are one of the most mis-understood and least implemented parts of the Christian life. I was with a group of Christians not too long ago. About 25 people and asked them how many of them knew what their gifts were. Only two or three raised their hands. That is a pretty typical response I would say. Yet here we see Peter challenging his readers to steward the gifts they have been given by the Holy Spirit and use them well.

We find the spiritual gifts discussed in the 4’s and 12’s (Ephesians 4; 1 Peter 4; 1 Corinthians 12; Romans 12). Who said the Bible was hard to read or figure you!

So spiritual gifts are given to us at our point of conversion to Christianity. They are given to us to edify the Body of Christ. There are between 19 & 22 depending on your theology (not the place here to discuss that) and each one of have at least one gift.

In this morning’s reading we find the following:

  • Hospitality, v. 9
  • Speaking (most likely teaching), v. 11
  • Serving, v. 11

9 Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. 10 As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: 11 whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen (1 Peter 4:9-11 [ESV]).

Do you know what your spiritual gifts are? Are you using them to serve the Body of Christ? If not read through the 4’s and the 12’s and begin this week.

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Jeremiah 27, 28, 29, 24; James 4

This morning’s passage is a hard one for me for two reasons… First I like to think I am in charge of my own life and I can make things happen on my own. That’s such a total self lie and this passage supports that truth. God is the one who is in control of our days. Second, is our life really that brief!?! Is it really a mist that is here one second and gone the next? Yes it is! Not something we like to think about…

James 4:13 Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”— 14 yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. 15 Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” 16 As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. (James 4:13-16 [ESV])

Regarding the second, Andy Stanley reinforces this truth and shares with us that we serve a God who is from everlasting. Only by throwing our lot in with Him can our mist-like existence have meaning. That’s why every morning my prayer is that in the context of God’s everlasting I can make a difference for His kingdom work. That makes our mist have an eternal impact.

How bout the first… well only by trusting God for everything including our days and our successes and failures will our days be ordered right. Who are you trusting in for your meaning everyday? Thinking that God does order our days and there is nothing we can do but follow Him wholeheartedly is our best course of action. Try it today and see what happens. It just may be your best way forward ever!

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Jeremiah 11-13; 2 Corinthians 12

In Mark Batterson’s latest book Whisper he shares an experience he had with healing. You see Mark has had asthma since childhood. At the writing of his book he had been healed from asthma by God for 700 plus days. However, the first time he was prayed for in healing the asthma, something else miraculously happened. Mark also had feet that were covered by warts. The next morning after the prayer for healing the warts were gone, but he still had asthma. It was like God was saying to him, “I have the power to heal you, but I have chosen not to do so at this time.” Mark had a thorn in his side that lasted for 35 plus years. That may be why his ministry has been so remarkable and he has been so humble.

Paul’s experience is found below:

Therefore, so that I would not exalt myself, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to torment me so that I would not exalt myself. 8 Concerning this, I pleaded with the Lord three times that it would leave me. 9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is perfected in weakness.”

Therefore, I will most gladly boast all the more about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may reside in me. 10 So I take pleasure in weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and in difficulties, for the sake of Christ.a For when I am weak, then I am strong (2 Corinthians 12:7b-10 [CSB]).

I believe the “good news” is the more prideful you are the more serious the thorns God may give you. He wants us to point to Him always and not to our talents and abilities. His plan for us is to be a vessel that He uses and works through to further His kingdom.

Can you point to any thorns in your life God has given you? These weaknesses are given to you so that God’s glory will shine brighter through you and that through those weaknesses His kingdom will advance.

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Habakkuk; 2 Corinthians 7

We come across a shorter book in the Bible and a dilemma that even we in this day and age may find hard to comprehend. Habakkuk is a prophet pleading to God for a revival to take place in Judah. And God’s answer is that He will send an invading army even more evil that Judah to bring about that restoration. Habakkuk can’t get his mind around that idea. God even states, “Look at the nations and watch— and be utterly amazed. For I am going to do something in your days that you would not believe, even if you were told (1:5 [NIV]).” Then God shows him that even this invading hoard will be destroyed, but Judah will return to God through all of this.

There is a promise to those who stay faithful in all this carnage. In Habakkuk’s prayer we read the following, “1 A prayer of Habakkuk the prophet. On shigionoth. 2 LORD, I have heard of your fame; I stand in awe of your deeds, LORD. Repeat them in our day, in our time make them known; in wrath remember mercy (3:1&2 [NIV]).”

Look at the outline below of this very interesting, challenging and short Minor Prophet.

Outline

  1. Title (1:1)
  2. Habakkuk’s First Complaint: Why does the evil in Judah go unpunished? (1:2-4)
  3. God’s Answer: The Babylonians will punish Judah (1:5-11)
  4. Habakkuk’s Second Complaint: How can a just God use wicked Babylonia to punish a people more righteous than themselves? (1:12;2:1)
  5. God’s Answer: Babylonia will be punished, and faith will be rewarded (2:2-20)
  6. Habakkuk’s Prayer: After asking for manifestations of God’s wrath and mercy (as he has seen in the past), he closes with a confession of trust and joy in God (ch. 3)

What are the applications for us? I see several:

  • When we pray for something we need to be ready to have our view of God’s ways stretched. We may find His promises and truths on their heads when it comes to conventional wisdom.
  • Restoration may come with a price. God’s winnowing ministry can hurt as much as destroy, but as Habakkuk prays, mercy is found in judgement as well.
  • God still amazes us in our prayers. We are too many times like the prayer meeting for Peter. When their prayers were answered they didn’t believe it. How are you in that category. I can some times be like those prayer warriors in the first century.

Through restoration and judgement we see God in a new and amazing way. Let’s hold on to that for sure.

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Isaiah 64-66; 2 Corinthians 2

Many of us know that the entire Bible — Old and New Testaments — have a crimson thread that ties it together. It’s all about Jesus. And many of its prophecies are about things that have happened way before we were born, but today we see a prophecy that is yet to be realized. It’s a beautiful picture of what the New Jerusalem will be like. These prophecies are some of my favorite because they share with us what the future for Christ-followers will ultimately be like. Read carefully through these verses and imagine what it will be like when we are there in person.

17“See, I will create

new heavens and a new earth.

The former things will not be remembered,

nor will they come to mind.

18 But be glad and rejoice forever

in what I will create,

for I will create Jerusalem to be a delight

and its people a joy.

19 I will rejoice over Jerusalem

and take delight in my people;

the sound of weeping and of crying

will be heard in it no more.

20 “Never again will there be in it

an infant who lives but a few days,

or an old man who does not live out his years;

the one who dies at a hundred

will be thought a mere child;

the one who fails to reacha a hundred

will be considered accursed.

21They will build houses and dwell in them;

they will plant vineyards and eat their fruit.

22No longer will they build houses and others live in them,

or plant and others eat.

For as the days of a tree,

so will be the days of my people;

my chosen ones will long enjoy

the work of their hands.

23They will not labor in vain,

nor will they bear children doomed to misfortune;

for they will be a people blessed by the Lord,

they and their descendants with them.

24Before they call I will answer;

while they are still speaking I will hear.

25The wolf and the lamb will feed together,

and the lion will eat straw like the ox,

and dust will be the serpent’s food.

They will neither harm nor destroy

on all my holy mountain,” (Isaiah 65:17-25 [NIV])

What about these prophecies warms your heart? What if anything makes you nervous? What are you looking forward to the most? Share in the comment section.

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2 Chronicles 29-31; 1 Corinthians 8

The Corinthian Church had just one questionable practice: whether to eat meat which was offered to idols. The Apostle Paul took three chapters (8-10) to deal with this subject which seems absolutely irrelevant to us today. Has anyone struggled with eating meat offered to an idol lately? Of course not, but you probably struggled with other American questionable practices, and those practices can only be solved by applying the principles of I Corinthians 8:1-13.

So what are the principles Paul lays out — if used — will bring a resolution to these thorny issues? It all settle around the law of love; Love Is More Important Than The Use Of Christian Liberty 8:7-12.

Paul’s exhortation to the weaker brother: Doing things without a clear conscience is sin, but we do need to leave room for the stronger brother who doesn’t see a practice as sin, vv. 7&8.

Paul’s exhortation to the stronger brother: Don’t do things that will cause a weaker brother in the faith to stumble and even be destroyed in their faith, vv. 9-12.

Causing a weaker brother to sin will be sin in itself and offend God, v. 13.

We don’t come across these issues often, but when we do, let’s all apply the law of love and defer to the weaker, those who are still growing in their faith. Who can you encourage today in their faith?

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Isaiah 23-25; 1 Corinthians 3

Today we can reflect on our contribution to the churches we all love and support. What are you doing with your life to build the ministry of your local church? Please read 1 Corinthians 3:

But I, brothers, could not address you as spiritual people, but as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ. 2 I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for it. And even now you are not yet ready, 3 for you are still of the flesh. For while there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not of the flesh and behaving only in a human way? 4 For when one says, “I follow Paul,” and another, “I follow Apollos,” are you not being merely human?

5 What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, as the Lord assigned to each. 6 I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. 7 So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. 8 He who plants and he who waters are one, and each will receive his wages according to his labor. 9 For we are God’s fellow workers. You are God’s field, God’s building.

10 According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and someone else is building upon it. Let each one take care how he builds upon it. 11 For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw— 13 each one’s work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. 14 If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. 15 If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.

16 Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? 17 If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple.

18 Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you thinks that he is wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise. 19 For the wisdom of this world is folly with God. For it is written, “He catches the wise in their craftiness,” 20 and again, “The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise, that they are futile.” 21 So let no one boast in men. For all things are yours, 22 whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future—all are yours, 23 and you are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s (1 Corinthians 3 [ESV]).

First we are to support one another and not be divisive in the local church. Are you supporting your leaders praying for them regularly and those you serve with?

Second are doing good work in the church that will only be purified by fire when we meet Jesus? Or are our works so full of wood, hay and stubble that we will smell like smoke when we enter His presence?

Third, do you know where your place is in the local church? You find that out through discovering how the Holy Spirit has gifted you. Some of us are teachers others administrators. Some are craftsman(women) and others exporters. Be who God has created you to be. Don’t try to be someone else.

In Philippians 4 the Apostle Paul calls out two women Euodia and Syntyche. They were arguing and it had broken out in the church. Extra biblical documents show that the church in Philippi was still arguing with itself 100 years later long after Euodia and Syntyche were gone. Don’t be a part of establishing that kind of pattern in your church.

I have friends who said that when the church in Ukraine had to make a decision — do we register with the government or don’t we — many broke into tears as they realized their church was being split down the middle. And today even with 26 years of religious freedoms those churches still remain separate. What a loss.

Let’s be the people that do good works in our local churches that last through all eternity and let’s not do anything to destroy our unity in the gospel.

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