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.

Exodus 22-24; Luke 23; Psalms 12, 14

Is there a way that we can tie these passages together? It does seem like there may be a progression here:

  • In the Exodus chapters we see God challenging Israel to obey him and obey his festivals and rules. As we continue to read through the Old Testament, we realize they never did. Can you imagine how different the world would be if we saved our enemy’s animals when they were in distress (Exodus 23:4&5)? Or let’s say no one ever shares a false report! What a blessing that would be (Exodus 23:1). But Israel did not listen to the word of God, so that leads to a further alienation from God.
  • In Psalm 22, not only do people not save their enemy’s animals they spread lies about their neighbors that they should be friends with: Save, O Lord, for the godly one is gone; for the faithful have vanished from among the children of man. Everyone utters lies to his neighbor; with flattering lips and a double heart they speak (Psalm 22:1&2). It seems as if Israel is moving further and further away from God. That leads to the ultimate denial of God in Luke’s Gospel.
  • In Luke 23 we find the leaders of Israel demanding to murder the very God of the universe! They are acting as if there is no God.

So how do I apply this to my life? Perhaps it’s not such a serious progression against God, but as we do ignore his activity in our lives we start to not treat or relate to him as the God of the universe. I know I have become callous to my sin many times and haven’t treated the God I love with the proper respect and honor due him. And yes, perhaps by starting out obeying in the little things then it becomes easier to honor him in the greater ones.

Father God, help us not to become callous in the things you command us to do and observe. May we always be diligent in the smaller things so that when the bigger issues come our way we are ready to obey your word.

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Genesis 41-43; Luke 13; Psalm 5

Today’s passages are filled with people who will not repent and follow the Lord in a strong way. And as we see these people there are several ways we can react. It’s interesting that the Genesis passage deals with Joseph’s brothers. They realized, too late, that their sin would follow them and they would need to pay for what they had done (Genesis 42:18-23). Joseph’s response was to weep as he heard his brothers declare their guilt.

King David is pleading with God to deal with the wicked that plague him and others. And yet his thoughts turn to his own fragile position before the Lord and asks for help in being the righteous person God is calling him to be.

Lead me, O Lord, in your righteousness
because of my enemies;
make your way straight before me (Psalm 5:8 [ESV]).

What a wake up call for me! When I see the wicked succeeding or making trouble for the righteous, I don’t look at myself and ask for help in being/staying righteous, but how can I get even with those people. Or I plead with God to take them out of the picture. WOW I need to re-examine my heart. Am I responding in a way that brings me closer to God or further away.

What about God’s response to all this. I think he grieves over sin and a stubborn people. We see in Luke 13 (vv. 34&35) that he weeps over Jerusalem because of their stubborn sinfulness. He really wanted to gather the children of Jerusalem under his arms, but they would not let him. Like Joseph he weeps over the sin he sees in front of him.

What is my/our response to the sin we see around us? I want to have a heart that follows strong after God. I want to be sensitive to the destruction of sin I see that it brings me to tears, not that it causes my hands to form fists. Lord help us all to be like Joseph and David. Help us to be tender to the havoc of sin that our Lord shows over Jerusalem. Help us to love you more.

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Genesis 9-12 & Luke 3

Have you done much study into your lineage? I had an aunt who did a lot of that for our family. When I look at today’s passages, I am reminded of how important family is. And I am amazed about how connected Scripture is. The same men are mentioned in Genesis 10 and Luke 3. They attest to the lineage of Jesus. I’m amazed at how many lineages you find in the Bible. What does this say to us about a list of names. I have had several thoughts come to mind:

  • Each person in the list has a life lived on this planet. Some lived 900 years others not so many (I’m not sure I’d want to live 900!).
  • Wouldn’t it be cool if our names were in God’s Word? Well, if you are a Christ follower your name is in the Book of Life that is kept in heaven. You are part of a very important lineage that is reflected in the annals of God’s record keeping.
  • I think of another genealogy that all of us can start. How many spiritual children do we have? How many spiritual grand children and on it goes. Who is one person you can start praying for right now that you can lead into your spiritual family?

Another amazing thing about this passage today is found in Luke 3. It speaks to the point above. Just think how connected the entire book we are reading is. Luke 3:4-6 reads:

As it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet:

“A voice of one calling in the wilderness,
‘Prepare the way for the Lord,
    make straight paths for him.
Every valley shall be filled in,
    every mountain and hill made low.
The crooked roads shall become straight,
    the rough ways smooth.
And all people will see God’s salvation.’”
(NIV)

Isaiah

This is a prophecy from Isaiah 40 quoted here by Dr. Luke. Isaiah’s prophecy was made 700 years before John the Baptist came on the scene. God was/is working out his plan for the world and us even if it seems as if it is taking a long, long time. When I become impatient because of an unanswered prayer or an unresolved situation I need to remember that God’s timing is not mine/ours. He has a plan and is working it out and someday we will see it all from beginning to end.

Father God thank you for your book, the Bible, and how it all fits together as we read it and apply it to our lives. Thank you for the plan you have for each one of us. I pray your Holy Spirit would remind us of it often and that we would be alert to those around us that need to be brought into our spiritual lineage. We love you and do pray all these things in Jesus name, Amen!

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Hebrews 11-13 

Hebrews 12:1-2, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (NIV)

This has been an interesting two verses over the years that have had different interpretations. The “therefore” that begins these two verses refers to Hebrews 11. That chapter is the faith chapter in Scripture. The author of Hebrews lists many Old Testament personages who exhibited great faith and then goes into listing nameless people and how they suffered because of their faith. And then chapter 12 opens with, therefore. The author refers to these people as a great cloud of witnesses that surround us. I get the sense that they are above us looking down on how we live our lives in faith to Jesus Christ. Now this can be a metaphor – these people are not really surrounding us – or they are really surrounding us and keeping an eye on us. My preference would be that this cloud of witnesses is a metaphorical one. I’m not sure people in heaven can see what’s happening here on earth. If heaven is a place where all tears and sorrow is gone, then looking down on earth would bring all that back (that’s a topic for another time).

How do we respond to this cloud metaphorical or not? We are given a plan for our response. We are to throw off all that hinders us from following close to Jesus. In a world where distraction upon distraction keeps us from focusing on Jesus this can be a hard plan to follow. In fact I think some of our advancements have replaced the need for the Holy Spirit in our lives. I remember growing up if someone was late, we would pray they were okay. We would ask the Lord to protect them. Today we can take our cell phones and track them and know. No Holy Spirit is needed.

What is your plan today? How are you going to follow strong after Jesus? It will look different for each of us, yet we do have a cloud of witnesses we can take as our role models. We can use them as a guide to keep us close to the one who loves us so dearly that he gave his life so that one day we would join that cloud. Are you ready for that? Let’s work on it together.

Father God, I pray that we – like that great cloud of witnesses – would follow close after you. Please help us to weed out the distractions of this life and do your will in all things. We love you so much. In Jesus strong name we pray, Amen!

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2 Corinthians 3-7

My father-in-law used to say that getting old wasn’t for sissy’s. In this season of my life I totally understand his point of view and have used that phrase many times. On the other hand, toward the end of my mother’s life when asked how she was doing she would answer by quoting Ecclesiastes 3:11, “…. He has set eternity in our hearts…” She would say that she felt young because God had set eternity in her heart (now that’s a misapplication of that verse, but who was going to tell my mom that) and would go on to talk about all the things she felt young about. You know how when Christ followers get older and sick or bored, they keep wondering why God hasn’t called them home. They express feelings about going home to be with Jesus. My mom was not that way. When we would say goodbye to her, she would respond with, “Won’t it be great when we don’t have to say goodbye ever again!” She realized her body was wasting away, but her hope was in heaven, and she was trusting in Jesus.

In a real sense our passage today expresses that tension in our lives.

7But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. 8We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; 9persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. 11For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. 12So death is at work in us, but life in you. (2 Corinthians 4:7-12 [ESV])

There is a bigger principle at place here in this passage. We are all jars of clay and God uses us to share his glory with the world. I think that’s one of the reasons why Jesus picked such a ragtag group of people to be his disciples and why he chooses us. We don’t have our acts together. We have made mistakes with our lives. Our jars are cracked and, in some cases, almost broken, yet God’s glory shines through us bringing many to Jesus.

We look at our brokenness and are frustrated or ashamed. Jesus looks at us and thinks to himself great, here’s another person I can show my glory through. Although death is at work in us we are shining examples of eternal life in Jesus. So, the next time your body fails, or you fail God remember he is waiting to show his glory through you. Always remember it’s not how good we are that gets us to heaven, but whether we have put our hope in Jesus for our salvation. Have you done that? Have you stopped looking at your failings and starting to look at Jesus for your eternal hope. Please do that today.

Father God, we fail you often and our bodies are failing as well. Help us to keep our focus on you and your message to a failing world that you are our only hope. We love you and pray all these things in Jesus powerful and wonderful Name, Amen!

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