Tag Archives: Acts

Ruth 1,2; Acts 3

Do you believe in coincidences? Many times in our lives what look like chance encounters end up being life-changing events. There’s an interesting movie entitled, “Sliding Doors”. It has to do with two alternative outcomes depending on whether a woman gets on a train or has to wait for the next one. This simple choice — and the movie plays out both options — shows what happens by just that one tiny choice.

Ruth 2 has an interesting “throw away” line, “3 So she set out and went and gleaned in the field after the reapers, and she happened to come to the part of the field belonging to Boaz, who was of the clan of Elimelech.” The author of this short book treats this chance encounter as a coincidence. Yet, it starts of a chain of events that results in the unbroken lineage in the ancestry of Jesus. What seemed like a chance decision or happenstance ended up being one of the most important events in human history.

Have you had something like this happen in your life? I can see in mine events that seemed unrelated being life-changing and subsequently life changing for millions of people. Not because of my choices, but because of what God has done in the circumstances of my life. Look back over the history of your life. Can you find at least one of these sliding door moments that has changed your path or those of others that has made an eternal difference in God’s kingdom?

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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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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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