Tag Archives: Acts

2 Samuel 9-10; 1 Chronicles 18-19; Psalm 89; Acts 26

12One time the leading priests gave me permission and the power to go to Damascus. 13On the way there, at noon, I saw a light from heaven. The light was brighter than the sun. It flashed all around me and the men who were traveling with me. 14We all fell to the ground. Then I heard a voice speaking to me in the Jewish language. The voice said, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you doing things against me? You are only hurting yourself by fighting me.’ 15I said, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ The Lord said, ‘I am Jesus. I am the One you are trying to hurt. 16Stand up! I have chosen you to be my servant. You will be my witness—you will tell people the things that you have seen and the things that I will show you. This is why I have come to you today. 17I will not let your own people hurt you. And I will keep you safe from the non-Jewish people too. These are the people I am sending you to. 18I send you to open their eyes that they may turn away from darkness to the light. I send you that they may turn away from the power of Satan and turn to God. Then their sins can be forgiven and they can have a place with those people who have been made holy by believing in me.’

19“King Agrippa, after I had this vision from heaven, I obeyed it. 20I began telling people that they should change their hearts and lives and turn to God. I told them to do things to show that they really had changed. I told this first to those in Damascus, then in Jerusalem and in every part of Judea, and also to the non-Jewish people. 21This is why the Jews took me and were trying to kill me in the Temple. 22But God helped me and is still helping me today. With God’s help I am standing here today and telling all people what I have seen. But I am saying nothing new. I am saying what Moses and the prophets said would happen. 23They said that the Christ would die and be the first to rise from death. They said that the Christ would bring light to the Jewish and non-Jewish people.” Acts 26: 12-23 (ICB)

Paul’s testimony is one of the most famous conversion stories in the Christian faith and literally a case laid out in his own defense to Agrippa.

This is who I was…this is what God did in my life…this is who I am today…

Sharing the testimonies of my life isn’t about attention seeking or getting in my fifteen minutes of fame. Testimonies are about giving glory to God for the ways He moves in my life. Testimonies are stories of encouragement; me sharing about the struggles I have faced and how God is bringing me through. They are stories of miracles. They are stories of awe and worship, a reminder of God’s goodness and why He is worth of praise.

From beginning to end, the Bible is chock-full of the testimonies of men and women who were chosen and raised up by God to accomplish great things in His Kingdom – Moses, Noah, Rahab, Ruth, Esther, John, Peter, Paul, and of course Jesus, to name small handful.

1I will always sing about the Lord’s love.

I will tell of his loyalty from now on.

2I will say, “Your love continues forever.

Your loyalty goes on and on like the sky.” Psalm 89:1-2 (ICB)

And, David wrote song after song in praise of God, sharing testimonies of his journey from a young man slaying a giant to battle after battle won as a victory of the Lord.

The Bible reminds me that God will never leave me nor forsake me, but when I have moments of weakness, I sometimes forget that truth, and instead, listen to the lies of the enemy. Then I hear someone’s story of what God did for them, or I recognize through my own fog that He has done something surprising for me. A testimony is shared and I once more hold onto the truth that God is good and greatly to be praised, my countenance is lifted, and hope returns to my heart.

Yesappa, Thank You for making me a part of your story, for giving me testimonies to share as encouragement to myself and for others. May my life demonstrate Your goodness, Your love, Your provision, Your sacrifice to those around me. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Blessings – Julie

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Filed under 1 Chronicles, 2 Samuel, 66 Books, Acts, Bible in a year reading plan, New Testament, Old Testament, Psalms

1 Samuel 26-27; 1 Chronicles 8; Acts 18

My friend John is one of the Lost Boys of Sudan. He fled his village at the tender age of 7 and has been separated from his remaining family for over 20 years. He is now a US citizen, but every day he wakes up and Sudan is on his mind. His father is a Sudanese pastor who refuses to leave his congregation, and as a consequence, goes into hiding when the conflict swallows his village. Every time I see John, he gives me the latest news from the Sudan. I can not fathom how he deals with the daily not knowing the ending to his family and his country’s story.

“So on that day Achish gave him Ziklag, and it has belonged to the kings of Judah ever since. David lived in Philistine territory a year and four months.” 1 Samuel 27:6-7.

John’s life provides a glimpse of what it must have been like for David. I read through these Bible stories and easily forget that the people involved didn’t have the advantage of knowing the ending. David woke up every morning with a longing for home and an uncertainty about his circumstances.

“But David said to Abishai, ‘Don’t destroy him! Who can lay a hand on the Lord’s anointed and be guiltless?…But the Lord forbid that I should lay a hand on the Lord’s anointed.'” 1 Samuel 26:9…11.

When given the opportunity to end to his misery by taking Saul’s life, David refuses.  His companion, Abishai must have thought him mad to pass up such a golden moment.

Paul, like David remained faithful in the face of great opposition. There was no guarantee that he would see God triumph in the regular opposition he faced. Both men refused to see their lives through the lens of ordinary human understanding and emotion. They held tight to the faith that God held not only their lives, but the very course of history in His hands.

Lord, like my friend John, allow me to see the future with the eyes of David and Paul. We long for the peace and safety that can only be found in you. May we, by the power of the Holy Spirit look to you and know that you are our only hope. Keep us from dwelling on the forces that threaten to overwhelm, but train our eyes on you and your saving grace. Amen

Klueh

 

 

 

 

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1 Samuel 23-24; 1 Chronicles 6; Psalm 54; Acts 16

15David was at Horesh in the Desert of Ziph. He was afraid because Saul was coming to kill him. 16But Saul’s son Jonathan went to David at Horesh. He helped David have stronger faith in God. 17Jonathan told him, “Don’t be afraid. My father won’t touch you. You will become king of Israel, and I will be second to you. Even my father Saul knows this.” 18The two of them made an agreement before the Lord. Then Jonathan went home. But David stayed at Horesh. 1 Samuel 23:15-18 (ICB)

Godly friendships help me have stronger faith in God.

Humans were created for relationship, companionship. We were created to interact, connect. We were designed to offer strength and encouragement in moments of others’ weaknesses and receive the same when weakened.

When David was struggling, pursued by a king who wanted him dead, his friend Jonathon stepped in to bolster David’s faith – faith that he’d been called, that he’d become the king as anointed, that he wouldn’t be slain by Saul. He encouraged him with the truth to continue on in the journey that had been set before him with courage and strength and without doubts to sway him.

When I am feeling beat down by life, doubting my worth, wondering if anyone, even God, cares about my struggles, I am blessed to have people in my life who pour into me, who find the gold buried deep within my self. I am blessed to have people who encourage me and lift me up when I can barely stand on my own two feet. I am blessed to have people who can see the truth when I am blinded by the lies. I am blessed with kind words, gentle hugs, meaningful gifts, servant hearts, a meal, a conversation over a cup of coffee, and so on.

I’m not sure how I could survive this journey without the amazing people who have been put in my life by the God who created me. I am not sure how I’d make it through motherhood without the Titus 2 women who are walking this journey alongside of me. I am grateful for the friends I’ve had for a few short days and the friends I’ve know for 30 years or more. I am grateful for the friends I have who are like Jonathon and strengthen my faith in God.

Yesappa, Thank You for being my friend forever and thank You for placing godly people in my life to walk alongside me in my journey whether fora  season or for a lifetime. Help me also be like Jonathon to the people around me. Help me be an encouragement to those who are struggling, that I may in turn help their faith in you to grow stronger. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

 

 

 

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1 Samuel 3-5; Psalm 23; Acts 6

1The boy Samuel served the Lord under Eli. In those days the Lord did not speak directly to people very often. There were very few visions.

2Eli’s eyes were so weak he was almost blind. One night he was lying in bed. 3Samuel was also in bed in the Lord’s Holy Tent. The Ark of the Covenant was in the Holy Tent. God’s lamp was still burning.

4Then the Lord called Samuel. Samuel answered, “I am here!” 5He ran to Eli and said, “I am here. You called me.”

But Eli said, “I didn’t call you. Go back to bed.” So Samuel went back to bed.

6The Lord called again, “Samuel!”

Samuel again went to Eli and said, “I am here. You called me.”

Again Eli said, “I didn’t call you. Go back to bed.”

7Samuel did not yet know the Lord. The Lord had not spoken directly to him yet.

8The Lord called Samuel for the third time. Samuel got up and went to Eli. He said, “I am here. You called me.”

Then Eli realized the Lord was calling the boy. 9So he told Samuel, “Go to bed. If he calls you again, say, ‘Speak, Lord. I am your servant, and I am listening.’” So Samuel went and lay down in bed.

10The Lord came and stood there. He called as he had before. He said, “Samuel, Samuel!”

Samuel said, “Speak, Lord. I am your servant, and I am listening.” 1 Samuel 3:1-10

How do I hear God’s voice?

I think at times I hoped for the deep, imposing Charlton Heston-voiced God from the Moses movie – something recognizable as a supreme being. I’ve never heard that voice.

The voice that I hear, sounds more like my own voice, echoing in the chambers of my mind and my heart. I know it’s not me because the words spoken are much kinder and more loving, inspired and not exhausted. The voice of God, still, quiet, and yet with full authority, meets me exactly where I am in any given moment, in a way that I am able to understand, in a way that is relevant, relatable, authentic. Whether resonating through the words of the Bible, a worship song, the encouragement of a friend, or the urging of Holy Spirit, everything that is spoken is borne of truth and brings light into the darkness.

I know that it’s God the same way I know that it’s my husband, my mom, my sister, my friend…when they call me on the phone and the way I know which one of my kids is yelling for me from the other room. I recognize His voice. When I meet someone new, I won’t know her voice if she calls me; she would have to introduce herself on the phone. But as I get to know her, I’ll hear her voice and I’ll know who is calling without needing an introduction. It may take some time, but my brain will make the connections, just as my heart recognizes the connection to my Creator.

Sometimes I go through seasons where I feel like I don’t hear much of His voice. Life is too loud around me and I struggle to quiet my spirit enough to discern God’s voice through the cacophony of running to and fro, children bickering and screaming their “Mommy! Mommy!”, never-ending to-do lists, piles of laundry, dirty dishes, and on and on. It’s difficult to find chunks of silence on any given day and at most I may only find a moment here or there.

I am learning that when I “can’t” hear His voice, it’s time be intentional, to ask Him. It’s a chance to purposely set aside a few, fleeting minutes to ask, “What do You want to tell me? What do You have to say?” And, then stop talking, and listen.

Yesappa, open my ears to hear, quiet my spirit to listen. Amen.

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Filed under 1 Samuel, 66 Books, Acts, Bible in a year reading plan, New Testament, Old Testament, Psalms

2 Samuel 11-12; 1 Chronicles 20; Psalms 51, 32; Acts 27

 The lord says, “I will guide you along the best pathway for your life.

I will advise you and watch over you.

Do not be like a senseless horse or mule

that needs a bit and bridle to keep it under control.” Psalm 32:8-9

Parenting is NOT for the faint of heart!

Yesterday was one of the scariest days of my life. I could not find my 4 year old daughter anywhere. She disappeared while she was playing outside in the few minutes that I went inside to take care of my dog poop/mud-covered 2 ½ year old. For more than an hour, I (along with other friends, family, and even people I didn’t know) searched around 6+ acres of property, inside houses and out, for more than an hour before she was found.

The police finally found her in our upstairs neighbor’s apartment hiding in her friend’s room, playing with toys; they were gone for the day, but the door had been left unlocked and she went right in not caring if anyone was home or not. I noticed the door open and had searched the apartment 3 times and my mom searched once, each of us calling for her to say ‘I’m here’, telling her that we weren’t playing a game of hide and seek and we just wanted to see her face, but we never saw her. My daughter told me later that she didn’t respond because she didn’t want to stop playing.

I think I felt every imaginable emotion and thought of every possible (horrible) scenario, and as much as I felt like yelling and screaming at her, once she was found, I also just wanted to hold her for as long as possible because she was safe!

I ended up waiting to talk to her about what had happened until I knew I had better control over myself. I felt like if I lost self-control, I would also lose a teachable moment.

As I began processing how I would talk with her about it, I thought about how in my own life there have been so many moments like this – times when I’ve ignored what I knew was ‘right’ to get my own way.

And yet, God has never ‘lost it’ with me, He lovingly guides me to better understanding. He gives me counsel and watches over me until I am able to make good choices. He gives me freedom to learn how to manage myself.

As I strive to parent as effectively as possible, I need to continue to imitate my Heavenly Father as He parents me, allowing me to make bad choices, and trusting in His goodness and love to lead me with His eye.

Yesappa, Help me have Your guiding eyes that offer true freedom! In Jesus’ name.Amen.

 

Blessings – Julie, Sholavandan, India (written in the U.S.A.)

 

Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

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2 Samuel 7-8; 1 Chronicles 17; Psalm 132; Acts 25

II Samuel 7:11 “Also the Lord tells you that He will make you a house.”

King David wanted to build a temple, an earthly house, for God’s presence to dwell; but God responded by saying that He would build David a house, a dynasty, from which our Messiah would come. Where does God want to live?

After owning a house for over 30 years, it has been difficult for me to move, not once but four times in the past five years.  Each move a lesson in letting go – separating self from friendly faces full of promise and breaking ties with coveted objects like the shattered ceramic pitcher completer of Grandma’s china set.

God allowed David to build His house, complete with detailed instructions to David and his son, Solomon, and that structure was glorious for the years that it stood before the temple’s total destruction. Glorious and yet a small thing compared to God’s promise for David’s offspring. I Chronicles 17:12-14 quotes God saying to David, “I will establish his throne…I will be his Father, and he shall be My son; and I will not take My mercy away from him…and I will establish him in my house and in my kingdom forever.”

What is the purpose of a house? A place where a man can hang his hat, a refuge from the storms in life, a labyrinth of secret cubby holes for giggling children to play hide and seek, an extension of a woman’s character and kindness? Houses are occupied and vacated, built and torn down, inherited or sold with barely a memory. Even the churches in which we worship are not our eternal dwellings.

We promise God that we will use our homes and our churches for His glory as if these wooden beams and nailed panel walls will hold His glory.  Like David, we promise God “I will not give sleep to my eyes or slumber to my eyelids, until I find a place for the Lord, a dwelling place for the Mighty One of Jacob” (Psalm 132:4,5). Do we really believe that these homes we cherish and that will perish with the last breath we take are exchanged for mansions in the heavens? I find this Hollywood image of a multi-million dollar open house viewing meaningless. Craning my neck at the end of a long, stately table to get a good look at Christ causes me anxiety. I fear that I am of no concern in the grand scheme of eternal life, so I do not find comfort and peace in my worldly view of the Big House in the Sky. I cannot think that I will find a dwelling place for Christ by walking or driving or flying. It seems too simple an assertion that I will see Christ in the next room or down the hall from where He sleeps.

David was humbled by God’s answer to his prayer. God basically said, yes, yes, David, go on and build me a house.  But understand that what you see is not my home; My Holy One will dwell inside you, your descendants, and people of all nations to come. And when you die, you will still be with Me; no separation, no loss, no doors between Us, and no moving away. We are His temple; not just a flesh and bones house. Our spirit hears His voice when He calls us home – His home – His eternal dwelling untethered from this earthly tent.

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2 Samuel 3-5, 1 Chronicles 12, Psalm 122, Acts 22

David and Paul. Both passionate, seeking the heart of their Lord not self serving desires. They were both strong leaders who endured repeated hardships before meeting their Savior. Both determined and strong leaders with a heart for the people they served. I am reminded by their difficult journeys that life isn’t fair. Often as Christians we are left thinking, “why did this happen to me? I’m a good Christian….I love the Lord.” We question why bad things happen to good people and why, if God promises all things will work together for the good, why are there hardships and struggles that sometimes don’t work out to our liking?

Throughout the pages of the old testament story of David and the new testament story of Paul I have often found myself cheering and routing for them to stand up for themselves and seek the justice they deserve but each time they lay down their own pride and selfishness and do what they are called to do. I don’t believe I would have reacted the same way they did. David, anointed at 15 but not King until 37, chased by his beloved hero, Saul who sought his death. On several occasions he had the chance to take Saul out and take over as King. Instead he frequently stood by and either served or spared Saul. Paul, a roman citizen, a Jew and a believer, beaten and imprisoned. He endured more physical hardships and imprisonments for the name of Jesus than any other and yet continued traveling to bring the gospel to the unsaved. Both of these men were servants of the Lord. It was more important to them to remain faithful and obedient to their Lord than to seek their own comfort or justice.

In this day and age there are many uncertainties in the world around us. Religious rights and freedoms that we have taken for granted for many years are starting to slip away. Whether in big ways or small ways, we are all challenged on a daily basis; will we remain faithful, obedient and selfless or will we give in to selfishness? Will we seek our own justice or comfort or will we lay down our own pride and love others. Despite their struggles, David and Paul endured the hardships, pressed on and they both knew who it was that was guiding and protecting them.

“And David knew that the Lord had established him king over Israel, and that he had exalted his kingdom for the sake of his people Israel.” 2 Samuel 5:12

Gods’ hand of protection and even blessing remained on both of these men through many trials as long as they remained obedient to the One who called them. My hope and my prayer is that I will be able to do the same when, not if, persecution comes my way. The struggles that David and Paul endured are what made them who they are and strengthened their faith that their God would deliver them. Let us rest in that same assurance and hope.

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