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.

1 Sam 26-27; 1 Chronicles 8; Acts 18

When a church leader of a large congregation had a moral failure and had to leave his church and the ministry, I read a blog about the incident. The writer of the blog — another well-known Christian leader — wondered who would take his place and what new large church would step up into the limelight. It struck me that we are consumed by hero worship and size even in Christian circles. Yet, the church moves forward more by those we’ll never know than by the stars of church work. In fact in the USA there are 450,000 protestant churches. Only 1,500 of them are 2,000 and over. Yet that’s who we focus on.

Wonder where I am going with this based on today’s passages? Well the pages mention those that are either in the background or helpers to those that are leading.

1 Samuel 26, Then David asked Ahimelech the Hethite and Joab’s brother Abishai son of Zeruiah, “Who will go with me into the camp to Saul?” “I’ll go with you,” answered Abishai.

Engraving of “David and Abishai at Saul’s Camp” published in “The Story of the Bible from Genesis to Revelation” Published by Charles Foster in 1883. The engraving is now in the public domain.

Here we see a man by the name of Abishai who immediately volunteered to accompany David on a dangerous mission. He was David’s nephew, and we see him come and go in David’s life. He was an accomplished warrior and leader, but his name does not come to our lips immediately when we think of great people in the Old Testament. Without Abishai David would not have been the leader he was.

When we read the Acts 18 passage we see four people mentioned… Paul, Apollos, Aquilla and Priscilla.

Acts 18: 26 He (Apollos) began to speak boldly in the synagogue. After Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him aside and explained the way of God to him more accurately. 

Much is made of Apollos’ speaking ability and the number of people he preached to. We are introduced to Aquila and Priscilla and from that time on the record refers to them as Priscilla and Aquila. He was the one that sort of brought up the rear of the ministry. In fact I think of Aquila as being the glue that made have held that ministry together.

Each person who belongs to God has a specific mission in His Kingdom. Did you know that research shows that a visiting family/person to your church decides whether to come again based on their first ten minutes on your church property? So 90% of those attending your church have decided whether they are returning without even hearing the preacher preach or perhaps even the worship team lead on song. It’s the person who cuts the grass, the greeter at the door, the usher handing out bulletins, the people that brew the coffee are the most important people to those visitors at your church.

The roles in God’s Kingdom that are behind the scenes or in a serving position are the most important just like Abishai and Aquila were in days gone by. If you are one of those important people in your ministry don’t say, “I just do this..” Confidently share with people your role in God’s Kingdom movement.

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1 Samuel 9-10; Acts 8

A Tale of Two Sauls!

Today’s reading gives us glimpses into the lives of two Sauls. The first king of Israel was Saul from the tribe of Benjamin. The second Saul was a pharisee of pharisees. And as a result of the second Saul’s efforts the church was persecuted and scattered. Saul approved of the stoning of Stephen and the resulting actions were Saul’s dragging Christians from their homes and putting them in prison. And yet wonderful things happened as a result…

First, Philip ended up in Samaria and there was doing a great work with many people coming to Jesus. Second, Philip was spirited away to the desert where he met the Ethiopian Eunuch. He was reading from the prophet Isaiah. And through a conversation he was led to a saving knowledge of Jesus and baptized along the way. Church historians believe this eunuch took Christianity to Ethiopia and this began the church in the country that lasts till today. An act that has changed the lives of millions.

Although not in the readings in 1 Samuel this morning, but the first Saul starts out humble and pliable, but ends up a HUGE disappointment to God. Later in Acts, the second Saul becomes a Christ follower and changes the then known world for Jesus.

Whatever we do in the kingdom there will always be ripple affects. That was true even in evil intent. Many came to Jesus and were saved and are being saved today.

How bout you? What ripples are you making in the kingdom of God today? Even the smallest pebble thrown in a pond makes ripples. What will be your legacy? Hopefully for all of us it will be ripples that move through time bringing many to the Savior.

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Judges 7&8; Luke 22

What a contrast between these two passages. Many of us know the story of Gideon and his 300 men. These guys routed thousands and thousands of enemy soldiers. When you read the passage it seems they pursued them half way round the world. But it really wasn’t the 300 was it? It was the Lord of Hosts — the God of Angel Armies — that routed these enemy compatants. And what unconventional warfare! Trumpets and torches and smashing pitchers start the rout!

19 Gideon and the hundred men with him reached the edge of the camp at the beginning of the middle watch, just after they had changed the guard. They blew their trumpets and broke the jars that were in their hands. 20 The three companies blew the trumpets and smashed the jars. Grasping the torches in their left hands and holding in their right hands the trumpets they were to blow, they shouted, “A sword for the Lord and for Gideon!” 21 While each man held his position around the camp, all the Midianites ran, crying out as they fled.

22 When the three hundred trumpets sounded, the Lord caused the men throughout the camp to turn on each other with their swords. The army fled to Beth Shittah toward Zererah as far as the border of Abel Meholah near Tabbath. 23 Israelites from Naphtali, Asher and all Manasseh were called out, and they pursued the Midianites. 24 Gideon sent messengers throughout the hill country of Ephraim, saying, “Come down against the Midianites and seize the waters of the Jordan ahead of them as far as Beth Barah.” (Judges 7:19-24)

This was a mighty impressive display of power on the part of God. And yet in Luke 22 we see Jesus stay His hand and not call on the power of God to extricate Him from the situation in the garden. I can’t imagine what the full fury of God would have been if Jesus would have given in to that course of action. Instead He let impotent men of this world lead Him to the cross.

That’s how much He loves us. He could have done to those in the garden and to us what He did to those Midianites years before. What a privilege and how humbling it is to think the God of the universe loves and cares about our eternal destinies. Ponder His love for you today. Thank Him for your deliverence.

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Deuteronomy 27-31 & Luke 12

What a lesson in contrasts this morning! First we have the Old Testament reading and chapter 28 may be the most negative judgemental one you will find in all of Scripture. Just read a portion below:

15 However, if you do not obey the Lord your God and do not carefully follow all his commands and decrees I am giving you today, all these curses will come on you and overtake you:

16 You will be cursed in the city and cursed in the country.

1Your basket and your kneading trough will be cursed.

18 The fruit of your womb will be cursed, and the crops of your land, and the calves of your herds and the lambs of your flocks.

19 You will be cursed when you come in and cursed when you go out.

20 The Lord will send on you curses, confusion and rebuke in everything you put your hand to, until you are destroyed and come to sudden ruin because of the evil you have done in forsaking him. 21 The Lord will plague you with diseases until he has destroyed you from the land you are entering to possess. 22 The Lord will strike you with wasting disease, with fever and inflammation, with scorching heat and drought, with blight and mildew, which will plague you until you perish. 23 The sky over your head will be bronze, the ground beneath you iron. 24 The Lord will turn the rain of your country into dust and powder; it will come down from the skies until you are destroyed. (Deuteronomy 28:15-24 [NIV])

God’s judgement and curses are plainly seen in a portion of this chapter. The first part does include blessings, but only by following God closely. We know that today that isn’t the case. Some who follow God closely are always having trouble and issues. In fact Jesus states that in the world we will always have trouble, but He has overcome the world and its troubles.

Then we read Luke 12 and find how much God loves us. We read the following:

6 Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. 7 Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.

8 “I tell you, whoever publicly acknowledges me before others, the Son of Man will also acknowledge before the angels of God. 9 But whoever disowns me before others will be disowned before the angels of God. 10 And everyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven.

11 “When you are brought before synagogues, rulers and authorities, do not worry about how you will defend yourselves or what you will say, 12 for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that time what you should say.” (Luke 12:6-12 [NIV])

Things have changes. It’s not now that when you do good you’ll receive a bunch of blessings and when you don’t you’ll be cursed. Now in the New Covenant we are playing by different rules. God expresses His love toward us and yet for the sake of the gospel there will be times when we suffer and things well be bad. And yet God never leaves us and in fact His Holy Spirit will guide us in what to say when we are confronted with those difficult times.

What are your expectations of the Christian life? Is it the Old Testament system of cause and effect or the New Testament one of doing what He calls us to do knowing it may bring hardship and trials, but that He loves us and will be our ultimate protector and Savior? Choose the latter today.

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Numbers 26-29 & Luke 2

When the movie Hoosiers first came out our family went to view it. It is a great movie and I’ve seen it now a number of times. When a movie is finished our tradition is to just sit there for a bit and let it sink in and let the movie theater clear out. After this film was over — and I’ll never forget this — there was a group of six to eight young people sitting probably ten rows a head of us and to the right (we usually sit on the left hand side in a theather). As the movie credits were scrolling and we were down to the second key grip and the guy who holds the cord for the mic guy and the names are so small it’s hard to read, that group of young people broke out into cheers and applause. There was obviously a friend of theirs or a family member that was that second key grip guy and they went wild with cheers.

I thought of that when I read Numbers 26. There are lots of names in that chapter. Most people we only read there once, but they are there. Names are important. Your name is important. Just read a couple of verses from that chapter:

5 The descendants of Reuben, the firstborn son of Israel, were: through Hanok, the Hanokite clan; through Pallu, the Palluite clan; 6 through Hezron, the Hezronite clan; through Karmi, the Karmite clan. 7 These were the clans of Reuben; those numbered were 43,730.

Plus these people are mentioned by clans, by families. And God works through families. He works through your family. He worked through the generations of David that brought us a Savior. We see that in the first verses of Luke 2:

1In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. 2 (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) 3 And everyone went to their own town to register. 4 So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. 5 He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child.

The house of David brought us salvation, no matter how good or bad all those people were in that lineage. What about your family? You may be laughing now. You can’t see your family making a difference in God’s Kingdom. Yet, there is always hope and opportunity. I’m praying for your family this morning. That all of you will be a strong part of God’s Kingdom work. Remember your name is important and your family’s name is too. Let’s see what God will do through us all!

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