This morning we begin a new month. We have finished three months of reading the Bible this year. Have things changed in your personal spiritual life? The world sure has changed. Our laser focused vision during these days is to keep our eyes on the God of this universe and let Him guide us.
Our reading for today gives us a pleasant result when we do. Psalm 1 is included below:
1 How happy is the one who does not
walk in the advice of the wicked
or stand in the pathway with sinners
or sit in the company of mockers!
2 Instead, his delight is in the Lord’s instruction,
and he meditates on it day and night.
3 He is like a tree planted beside flowing streams
that bears its fruit in its season,
and its leaf does not wither.
Whatever he does prospers.
4 The wicked are not like this;
instead, they are like chaff that the wind blows away.
5 Therefore the wicked will not stand up in the judgment,
nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous.
6 For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous,
but the way of the wicked leads to ruin. (Psalm 1 [CSB])
It’s an interesting progression that the person who stays happy keeps away from. First of all they do not walk in the advice of the wicked or stand in the pathway of sinners or sit in the company of the mockers. See the progression — walk, stand, sit. I’ve thought of this many times. When we walk with or keep company with those that would pull us away from God it’s easier then to spend time with them (stand) and then finally to be involved with what they do (sit). How harmless it starts and how devastating it ends. If we spend our time walking, standing and sitting in God’s Word and His people we will be like a tree planted by a stream and our roots will grow deep in God.
Where are we spending our time these days? Are we watching too much television news? Is that making us anxious and distracted, or are we finding more time in this enforced slowdown to our lives spending time in God’s Word and in communication with His people? Don’t get me wrong, we need to be well informed on current events, but even that can be too much and become a distraction.
Let’s stay in God’s Word and let’s stay together during these days.
Father God we love You and Your Word. Help us to focus on you in these days of distress and be shining lights that draw others to You and Your Word. Amen.
One way — not the only way — that we can know our efforts in sharing the good news of Jesus and the impact we have on others is to look at their lives. The Apostle Paul gives us a unique glimpse and a beautiful metaphor this morning to gauge our righteous influence on others. Read below:
1 Are we beginning to commend ourselves again? Or do we need, like some, letters of recommendation to you or from you? 2 You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everyone. 3 You show that you are Christ’s letter, delivered by us, not written with ink but with the Spirit of the living God — not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts (2 Corinthians 3:1-3 [CSB]).
Paul, in a way, was sharing with his readers that they were his letter of introduction wherever he went. He could point to their faith and life and say see what God has done through us!
What are you up to these days? Do you have any living letters? If you have children you can start with them. How are they your letters of introduction. How bout others you serve with or teach? Are they your letters of introduction. Can you point to them and will others see your ministry in their lives? Of course this all happens through the counsel and empowerment of our Holy Spirit living inside all who follow Him. Ask Him today to point out your living letters of introduction.
This morning we read about the calling of Matthew. He was a tax collector. Not a very honorable vocation in the sight of the Jewish people. Tax Collectors were historically crooked individuals who would gouge the people they collected from and usually took some for themselves. So Jesus calls Matthew (read below):
27 After this, Jesus went out and saw a tax collector named Levi sitting at the tax office, and he said to him, “Follow me.” 28 So, leaving everything behind, he got up and began to follow him.
29 Then Levi hosted a grand banquet for him at his house. Now there was a large crowd of tax collectors and others who were reclining at the table with them. 30 But the Pharisees and their scribes were complaining to his disciples, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?”
31 Jesus replied to them, “It is not those who are healthy who need a doctor, but those who are sick. have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” (Luke 5:27-31 [CSB])
Sometimes the newer you are in Christ the more creative you are in sharing your new found faith. Here Matthew gathers his friends for a banquet to introduce to them his new found Savior, Jesus. Funny thing, Matthew knows a lot of tax collectors and sinners. And of course the Pharisees take issue with Jesus eating with them. And what is Jesus’ bottom line through all of this? We see it in the last verse he likens them to the sick and says it’s the sinners and calling them to repentance.
Perhaps you should throw a party for all your unsaved friends and invite someone who can explain the gospel in a non threatening relational way. Or perhaps you throw a watch party and show a Christian film that gets the point across. There are so many ways we can share our faith that doesn’t include grabbing someone by the collar or hitting them over the head with a Bible. What can you do? What can I do? this is our assignment this week. What can you do to share the gospel with your friends in a fresh and creative way. Share your ideas in the comments section… We may just start an evangelism movement!
Father God help us all to unleash the creative minds You have given us to plan ways to reach our friends for You. Thank You for saving us and give us that divine passion to introduce others to Jesus. I pray all this in the saving name of Jesus, Amen!
When I was in seminary a rather famous religious figure turned his life over to Jesus in a new and fresh way. Then he felt as if he needed to learn the Bible and theology from a whole new perspective so he came to seminary. Well all at once they wanted this person to be speaking in chapel and representing the seminary in many venues. He had been a true follower of Christ for only eighteen months where I had been one for some eighteen years. I felt belittled and not appreciated for what I brought to the table in that seminary.
In today’s reading we have another dramatic conversion in the person of the Apostle Paul. We read it below:
6 An intense light from heaven suddenly flashed around me. 7 I fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to me, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?’
8“I answered, ‘Who are you, Lord?’
“He said to me, ‘I am Jesus of Nazareth, the one you are persecuting.’ 9 Now those who were with me saw the light,
10“I said, ‘What should I do, Lord?’
“The Lord told me, ‘Get up and go into Damascus, and there you will be told everything that you have been assigned to do.’
11“Since I couldn’t see because of the brightness of the light, I was led by the hand by those who were with me, and went into Damascus. 12 Someone named Ananias, a devout man according to the law, who had a good reputation with all the Jews living there, 13 came and stood by me and said, ‘Brother Saul, regain your sight.’ And in that very hour I looked up and saw him. 14 And he said, ‘The God of our ancestors has appointed you to know his will, to the Righteous One, and to hear the words from his mouth, 15 since you will be a witness for him to all people of what you have seen and heard. 16 And now, why are you delaying? Get up and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on his name.’ (Acts 22:6-16 [CSB])
Now Ananias could have been like me and sulked because he was a devout follower of Jesus and here’s Saul, one who had persecuted and killed Christians, yet, no he went and even called Saul his brother.
We all have stories. Some are dramatic while others are quiet and deep. What is your story? How has God brought you to himself? Knowing where we were before Jesus — even if we were five or six years old when it happened — it’s a dramatic and awesome story to tell. Tell your story to someone today. I’m sure it will be an encouragement and may even draw someone into the kingdom.
We find that after the martyrdom of Stephen the gospel spread throughout the region like wildfire. There is a phrase that has often been quoted throughout church history and it goes like this, “The church advances on the blood of her martyrs.” In fact we find a connection between Samaria — where Philip is — and Ethiopian. The Spirit of the Lord carries Philip away to a deserted road where an Ethiopian eunuch is reading from Isaiah.
26 An angel of the Lord spoke to Philip: “Get up and go south to the road that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” 27 So he got up and went. There was an Ethiopian man, a eunuch and high official of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, who was in charge of her entire treasury. He had come to worship in Jerusalem 28 and was sitting in his chariot on his way home, reading the prophet Isaiah aloud. (Acts 8:26-28 [CSB])
On that desert road this eunuch became a follower of Jesus. Some scholars say that this event was the beginning of the church in Ethiopia that goes strong till today. One act of obedience on Philip’s part and a conversation with an isolated government official and for two millennial there has been a church in Ethiopia.
What/who is God calling you to speak to today. The funny thing about His Kingdom work is that it never is empty of results. Who knows perhaps that conversation you have today or this week could have eternal benefits for millions of people for all eternity.
Father God, help us to keep our wits about us and to look for the opportunities you give us to share the good news of Jesus with those You put in our path. We look forward to what eternal results come from these encounters. In Jesus Name we pray, Amen.
Psalm 124:1-8, 1 If the Lord had not been on our side- let Israel say- 2 If the Lord had not been on our side when men attacked us, 3 then they would have swallowed us alive in their burning anger against us. 4 Then the waters would have engulfed us; the torrent would have swept over us; 5 the raging waters would have swept over us. 6 Praise the Lord, who has not let us be ripped apart by their teeth. 7 We have escaped like a bird from the hunter’s net; the net is torn, and we have escaped. 8 Our help is in the name of the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. (Christian Standard Version)
Has this been your story this year? It may not be people, but could be circumstances. Has God protected you? If you belong to Him you know He has, even if it doesn’t look that way from a human perspective. At the end of the day we can say that God is good all the time and we can also say that all the time God is good.
We have a family coffee roasting business and there have been times — for no apparent reason — that our roasters have not worked all three of them. It has been frustrating and we have lost time and gotten behind in orders, but still at the end of the day we have had to say God is good. He has our best interests at heart.
None of us know what 2020 holds, but God does. The best place to be is in the protection and purpose of the Maker of the universe.
Father God we pray for your grace and goodness to shower on us today. We may not recognize it as such, but show us Yourself in all things and circumstances. In Jesus’ loving and powerful Name we pray, Amen!
All of the passages we read this morning speak to God’s faithful love and preservation of those who are in Christ. And for those of us in Him we have an eternal inheritance.
John 14:1-7, “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. 2 In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. 4 And you know the way to where I am going.” 5 Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” 6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 7 If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.”
Jesus is the only way we can enter this beautiful eternal home He is preparing for us. It’s interesting and I’m not sure I’m right, but have thought about this from time to time. It took Him six days to create the world we live in with all its beauty and majesty and since He has been gone — as I read this passage — Jesus has been preparing a beautiful place for us to dwell with Him! WOW can you imagine what that is going to be like? I sure can’t!
Here is the caveat… the way to this eternal home is only through the person of Jesus Christ. I’m sure that most of us if not all who are regular readers of 66books have already put our trust in Jesus alone for our salvation, but there may be someone reading who has never done that. My counsel to you is to do that today. Pray the prayer posted below and enjoy life everlasting with Jesus in the house he is building for all his followers.
Lord Jesus Christ, I am sorry for the things I have done wrong in my life (take a few moments to ask his forgiveness for anything particular that is on your conscience). Please forgive me. I now turn from everything that I know is wrong. Thank you that you died on the cross for me, so that I could be forgiven and set free. Thank you that you offer me forgiveness and the gift of your Spirit. I now receive that gift. Please come into my life by your Holy Spirit to be with me forever. Thank you Lord Jesus, Amen.