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.

Nehemiah 7-9; Psalm 140; Revelation 7

Lately I’ve been quoting Revelation 7:9 a lot to individuals when talking about two things:

  • When will the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19&20) be completed?
  • What does God say about culture?

Here’s the verse:

9 After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands… (Revelation 7:9 [ESV]).

The first question may be answered by stating it could happen in our lifetime. There are approximately 7,000 unreached people groups in the world. The Apostle John states that he sees people from every tongue, tribe, and nation. We have a long way to go. And if this is going to be a reality in the future — which I believe it will be — then even the return of Christ depends on these peoples being reached. The question for you this morning is, “What are you doing in your life to see these peoples reached with the gospel?” There’s a lot to yet be done before the Lord returns. In a sense we are on a war footing. How are you helping to win this war?

The second question is a really cool one. I believe God thinks very highly of ethnicity and culture. Did you catch the wording here? The Apostle John saw people from every tongue, tribe, and nation. He saw! I believe we take our ethnicity into heaven with us. If you are white now — you’ll be white in heaven. If you are black now — you will be black in heaven… For what purpose I don’t know, but let’s celebrate our cultural diversity as Christians around the world and look forward to a great time together in heaven.

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Esther 4-6; Revelation 2

We come upon one of the most profound verses in the Bible when it comes to matching God’s will with our lives and our will. It’s the words of Mordecai, Queen Esther’s relative. The king has ordered that all the Jews be killed in the kingdom and Mordecai is persuading Esther to intervene. Here are his words:

14 For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14 [NIV])

The Apostle Paul tells us in Acts 17 that we are here on earth in God’s timing and to do God’s will. That’s what Mordecai was sharing with Esther. She had come to power at such a time as this. Really to save God’s people from annihilation. Esther was placed on earth at just the right time for just this purpose (I’m sure there was more she did for God, but this was the big one).

Why did God cause you to be born in the 20th or 21st century? Why does He have you living where you are? Why does He have those neighbors living close to you? Well in Mordecai’s words, “For such a time as this.”

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

Zechariah 9-11; 1 John 5

Periodically I hear people criticize Christianity because they say it’s just a bunch of rules you have to follow. And the Apostle John sort of agrees with them in this passage. And yet in the middle of these verses you find an astounding statement. See if you can find it.

Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the Father loves whoever has been born of him. 2 By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. 3 For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome. 4 For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—sour faith. 5 Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? (1 John 5:1-5 [ESV])

Did you find it? I think the second sentence in verse three is astounding, “And his commandments are not burdensome.” I am reminded of some of the world class athletes we know. Michael Jordan never complained about the rules in basketball. He never complained because the basket rim was at 10 feet. He never complained about the 3 second rule or the length of the court. He was world class while playing within those constraints and excelled.

The rules and commands we find in the Bible are for our good. They protect us and give us freedom. They are not there to control but to bring freedom to our lives. They are not oppressive but freeing.

How bout you? What command are you having trouble with? Have you thought about the fact that obeying that command will bring you freedom. Try it and see if it works.

Oh and by the way. By keeping these commands in no way gets us into heaven. The Apostle John addresses that later in the chapter and takes all the guess work out about the heaven thing. Read below:

13 I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life. (1 John 5:13 [ESV])

So he gives us that answer right there in the statement. We enter into an eternal relationship with God by putting our trust in Him alone for our salvation. Simple believe in what He has done for us on the cross.

So where are you in all this today? Are you believing in Jesus alone for your salvation? Do you understand that it isn’t a bunch of rule keeping that gets us there? But on the other hand do you realize how freeing it is to live by the rules and commands God has given us? Think on these things today.

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Ezra 1-2; John 21

The scene is set. Peter and Jesus are sitting around an early morning charcoal fire… Just like the charcoal fire the night Peter denied Jesus three times…

Jesus then asks Peter if he loves Him and asks Him three times.. Read below:

15 Then when they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these do?” He replied, “Yes, Lord, you know I love you.” Jesus told him, “Feed my lambs.” 16 Jesus said a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He replied, “Yes, Lord, you know I love you.” Jesus told him, “Shepherd my sheep.” 17 Jesus said a third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was distressed that Jesus asked him a third time, “Do you love me?” and said, “Lord, you know everything. You know that I love you.” Jesus replied, “Feed my sheep. (John 21:15-17 [ESV])

Jesus always looks past our sin to what we can do for Him in His kingdom. Peter had done the unthinkable. He had denied Jesus three times. Even when Jesus takes Peter aside and tells him He was praying for him Jesus looks past the denial. We read the following:

“Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.” (Luke 22:31&32 [ESV])

One of the greatest sins ever committed and Jesus doesn’t demand an apology. He let’s Peter know He knows in the passage of this morning, but His call to ministry was the focus of Jesus here.

If Peter hadn’t turned back, or had blown off the sin Jesus wouldn’t have had the early morning breakfast meeting with him. Jesus knows our hearts probably more than our words.

Some of us have struggled with sin and we have asked and asked and asked for forgiveness. The first time would have been enough, but even still Jesus knows your heart. He knows you are sorry and when He does He gives you a new mission to accomplish in His Kingdom work.

We have all had to ask for forgiveness but has dwelt there. Jesus wants us to look forward to the new assignment He has for us. Satan is the one that keeps us at the sorry point putting the lie into our heads that we are no longer any good to God. God is waiting to give you your next assignment in His Kingdom. What will it be for you?

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Ezekiel 46-48; John 16

I have been to Ukraine 30 times in the last 27 years. It is always good to catch-up with my friends and do ministry together. They are a hearty lot those Ukrainian Christ-followers. The love the Lord and speak longingly for His return.

The first question I ask them when we greet each other is, “How are you doing?” Or, “How have you been?” They have never, and I mean never, said “good” and they have never, and I mean never, said “bad”. What the have done is quote this verse to me every time.

33 I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” (John16:33 [ESV])

They have had it hard there. The country has been through a lot. A friend of mine was eight years old when a knock came on the door and the KGB came and took his parents (his father being a pastor) and they never saw them again. Our brothers and sisters in Ukraine know how hard life can be, but they also know the only place that is safe and has a future for them is with their Savior. What a blessing they are to me.

Where are you today? Are you going through heartache and sorrow? Is every aspect of your life going well for you? No matter where you are this moment, be like our Ukrainian friends and take heart, because no matter what Jesus has overcome this world. Some day he will set all things straight. What a day that will be.

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Ezekiel 31-33; John 11

The resurrection of Lazarus. There were so many things going on when we come to John 11. Jesus receives word that Lazarus is sick. He is petitioned to go quickly to heal him. Jesus waits two more days before traveling to see his friend. That’s where we come across the first character study. It’s with the disciple Thomas. Thomas later in the Gospels doubts the resurrection of Jesus, but here he is ready to die with Jesus. There were hostile territories they would be passing through and Thomas believes they may die before even reaching Lazarus. Jesus has told them that Lazarus has died, so we find Thomas stating the following:

16 So Thomas, called the Twin,2 said to his fellow disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.” (John 11:16 [ESV])

Thomas was willing to die with Jesus in chapter 11 and later in this passage he witnesses the resurrection of Lazarus, but later doubts that the same thing could have happened to Jesus. Here he is courageous, later he is doubtful. What happened to Thomas along the way? None of us really know, but it brings out the fact that we need to stay in touch with Jesus and His power to change lives lest we too fall into a doubtful jaded place in our spiritual lives.

Jesus and the disciples get to Mary and Martha and see how distraught they are. How hopeless they are and even thought Jesus knows what’s going to happen, he weeps with them. Verse 35 is the shortest verse in the Bible…

35 Jesus wept. (John 11:35 [ESV])

Even in our darkest most emotional moments we are not alone. And on this side of eternity the one thing we know is that when we weep, Jesus weeps with us. He is our high priest and has suffered all that we have suffered. He stands with us and weeps as we weep. What a powerful picture of God’s love for us all.

That brings us to our third observation. The religious leaders instead of being convinced of Jesus’ Messiah-ship at this point are ready to kill Him. This is the straw that breaks the camel’s back. Can you believe this? Read it for yourself:

49 But one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, “You know nothing at all. 50 Nor do you understand that it is better for you that one man should die for the people, not that the whole nation should perish.” 51 He did not say this of his own accord, but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the nation… (John 11:49-51 [ESV])

The darkness of the human heart can be very deep. Don’t be surprised, then, when you share the gospel with friends and family, if people who saw Jesus resurrect Lazarus are ready to kill Him. Our job — like Jesus — is to be faithful to the mission God has given us and let Him handle the consequences.

A couple of question this morning:

  • Have you lost your zeal for Jesus? Are you falling into a season of doubt. Ask Him to rekindle that love you have had for Him in the past.
  • Are you grieving over a lost loved one or a broken relationship? Remember Jesus cares and is weeping with you today.
  • If for some reason you stumbled across this blog by accident today and don’t know Jesus at all, what will it take? He has raised the dead, He has performed miracles way beyond what our minds can imagine. Yet today He wants to have a personal relationship with you. Please let Him into your life to have that relationship.

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Ezekiel 16-18; John 6

Sorry I am a bit late this morning. As we look at John 6 today perhaps the disciples were a bit late too in realizing the power and scope of what Jesus could/can do.

Some of my favorite words with the disciples are found here:

8 One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to him, 9 “There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish, but what are they for so many?” 10 Jesus said, “Have the people sit down.” (John 6:8-10 [ESV])

Andrew is my favorite disciple. Who is your favorite? I like Andrew because he was always bringing people to Jesus. I think Andrew was a people person. Here he is with a young boy in tow. The boy had five loaves and two fish, but Andrew was bringing him to Jesus to see if he could help in feeding the five thousand people gathered with the disciples. Phillip had already failed the test, and in Andrew’s case he would fail again when he brings some asking about Jesus to Andrew and asks him what should we do with these guys and Andrew takes them to Jesus.

And the most important bring was most likely his brother — Simon Peter. And Andrew was probably humble too. From then on Andrew was referred to as Simon Peter’s brother, not the other way around and you never hear anything about that from Andrew.

I love Andrew’s character for three reasons… I’ll share two here. First, he must have been a people person. I can resonate with that cause I am one too. Second, he brought people to Jesus. He wasn’t the big spokesman or front man, but he kept building relationships and bringing people to Jesus. That is something we can all do.We don’t need to have all the answers all we need to do is point people to Jesus.

Who are you pointing to Jesus today?

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