Tag Archives: gospel

Daniel 3-4; Psalm 81 & 1 Peter 3

We all know the story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. How they would not bow down to the gold statue that King  Nebuchadnezzar had built for all to worship. I’m wondering if the Apostle Peter had them in mind when he wrote part of 1 Peter 3…

15 but in your hearts regard Christ the Lord as holy, ready at any time to give a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you. 16 Yet do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that when you are accused, those who disparage your good conduct in Christ will be put to shame. (1 Peter 3:15&16 [CSB])

Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were not confrontational, but with gentleness and confidence defended our faith and were ready to die for it and many have died for the sake of the gospel over the millennia. In the 1 Peter 3 context it’s not death his readers were facing, but punishment and perhaps prison. For us it would be discrimination and ridicule. A far cry from burning alive in a fiery furnace. How do you give an answer for the hope of the gospel you have? It does beg another question doesn’t it? The Apostle Peter is assuming we know enough of the gospel to be able to share it when the opportunity comes our way. How are you at being able to share the hope you have? Can you share the hope of the gospel with others when asked? Today may be a good one to start learning.

Holy Father when the time comes please give us boldness with gentleness to be able to share the gospel with those that ask. We pray for our brothers and sisters in other parts of the world who when doing so will face prison or even death. Help us to think of them when the opportunity comes for us to share. We love you Lord.

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Exodus 35-37; Acts 3

One thing I love about this reading plan is that we alternate OT & NT. So many times one will shine a light on the other and illuminate the passage in a way I’ve not considered before. Today was no different!

Exodus 35:5, 10 ESV

Whoever is of a generous heart, let him bring the Lord’s contribution: gold, silver, and bronze…

Let every skillful craftsman among you come and make all that the Lord has commanded:

Exodus 36:3b-5 ESV

They still kept bringing him freewill offerings every morning, so that all the craftsmen who were doing every sort of task on the sanctuary came, each from the task that he was doing, and said to Moses, “The people bring much more than enough for doing the work that the Lord has commanded us to do.”

What a simple but impacting passage! I find it interesting that God appealed to their generous hearts, rather than just demanding; and how He asked them to donate not just possessions, but also their time and talents. While God asked for different things from different people, He asked for one purpose: Building His Tabernacle. What I love most is how the Israelites responded with intense generosity! In fact, they gave so much that Moses had to actually STOP them from giving any more!

The same generosity is seen in Acts 3. A lame man was begging at the temple gates when he asked Peter for money:

Acts 3:5-8 ESV

And he fixed his attention on them, expecting to receive something from them. But Peter said, “I have no silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk!” And he took him by the right hand and raised him up, and immediately his feet and ankles were made strong. And leaping up, he stood and began to walk, and entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God.

Peter had a generous heart. What the lame man needed in that moment wasn’t money. It wasn’t a sermon. It was healing. So Peter gave him Jesus. And it changed this man’s life.

I love the line, “I have no silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you.” Sometimes it’s hard to feel generous because we don’t have much. But generosity isn’t limited to finances – many times our generosity is more effectively seen in our time and talents. It’s when I stop to encourage someone who is having a bad day, or when I give someone a ride when their car breaks down. It’s when I offer to help someone figure out their financial issues, or I when I take the time to explain a passage to a new believer.

When I recognize that my giving is not so much about the “what” as it is the “why,” it makes it easier to be generous with the things that cost me the most – things like my time, skills, and abilities, which are often harder to give than money itself.

I may not have a lot of money, but I do have time. I do have talents. And ultimately, I have Jesus. May I be as generous with Him as He’s been to me.

Father, thank you for showing me these examples of generosity in Scripture. Cultivate in me a generous heart that is quick to give to those in need, regardless of the cost or time that it requires. Help me to give generously, with great joy, in order to further Your Kingdom. In Jesus’ name, Amen.  

Bethany Harris (drgnfly1010)

 

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Filed under Acts, Exodus, New Testament, Old Testament

Ezekiel 10-12; Psalm 83; John 4

I recently got results from a DNA ancestry/health test I took. I was unprepared for the depth of feelings I’d feel as I looked at the results and saw a profile of my ancestry–such a gasp of wonder and joy, a glimpse into a past. It was really exciting, and more than that, I felt a connection and belonging to a greater history. There were fun findings–that I’m likely to drink more caffeine than average (true) and that I am likely to be more afraid of heights than others (also true). And it fell short in a couple of places suggesting that I don’t have a widow’s peak (I do), and that I’m likely to dislike cilantro (I buy it weekly–love!).

Jesus meets the Samaritan woman at the well. They talk, and he tells her things about herself she already knew–things about her choices and past. It’s stuff the people in her life might know, that she might even be known for, but that a stranger wouldn’t know. Instead of feeling shame or embarrassment or apathy, she has a kind of wonder, and perhaps relief.

39 Many Samaritans from the village believed in Jesus because the woman had said, “He told me everything I ever did!” (John 4:39, NLT, emphasis added)

She comes to the well every day to fill a very real need (and perhaps much of her life was spent trying to fill a need for acceptance, provision, love, belonging, purpose, fulfillment), and he promises her an everlasting satisfaction. Living water.

I think of my ancestors and I want to know more–their names, their stories, and what they were searching for. What were they leaving, and what were they pursuing that moved a lineage from place to place, and finally here to my doorstep in the woods?

Father God, you will stop at nothing. No distance. No desperation. You already know I love cilantro and coffee. You know the depth of my weaknesses. You know my struggles and my strengths. You know every thought I’ve ever had, every word I’ve ever spoken, and every feeling I’ve ever felt (even the ones I try to keep from myself)–and you don’t flinch. You don’t turn away. You meet me in the place of my need, and I feel like you’re telling me, ‘You can keep coming back to (this place) looking for (understanding, satisfaction, answers, fulfillment, love), but even if it meets your need today, you’ll be back here again tomorrow. I can meet that need once and for all time so that you don’t need to keep returning to (a place) that can’t (heal you).” Lord, I believe you because … you know everything about me, you keep your promises, you are able.

Courtney (66books365)

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1 Samuel 18-19; 1 Chronicles 3; Psalm 59; Acts 13

Now there were in the church at Antioch prophets and teachers, Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen a lifelong friend of Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” Then after fasting and praying they laid their hands on them and sent them off. d(Acts 13:1-3 [ESV])

Again this morning we have a passage of the Bible that notes the change of human history. This time it’s the sending off of the first missionaries Saul (later to be named Paul) & Barnabas. The church in Antioch was the first sending church on purpose. Obviously earlier we see the church in Jerusalem sending out many, but that was because of persecution that happened. This was the first time missionaries were sent out on purpose. And it was under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. He set Saul and Barnabas aside for this important history changing work.

Where are you involved in this important work of the Church and consequently the Holy Spirit? Can you point to one place outside of your immediate context where you are being used by the Holy Spirit to reach people with the Gospel?

There are presently 3,200 people groups in the world where there is no Gospel witness. Some of these groups number in the thousands and some in the millions. They have never heard the name of Jesus and there is no church they could go to and hear about Jesus. In my city alone there must be a dozen.

Begin today searching where you can join others in reaching the world with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

 

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Numbers 19-21; Colossians 4

She was a mom of three. She devoted herself to home tasks, which later left her feeling helpless after his trespass and abandonment. The home, a prison. Her children, shackles. Outside her window, a perceived freedom of women climbing corporate ladders–she faced having the electricity shut off; broke and broken. It was too much. She felt hopeless.

***

Another woman was recovering during a time that felt like a life sentence. The nurses were wardens and the rules were constricting, restricting punishments. She felt all freedoms had been stripped away. Every day was punctuated by offense, oppression, complaint. The days ticked past. She praised the Lord for what he’d done in the past, but she was unable to praise him in the present for the meal, the care, the provision. She felt trapped, like she was in prison.

***

I was tasked with duties without warning. A lifelong obligation. A tethering, and sometimes too heavy–the bombardment of negativity, of opposition, of uncertainty. I fought against my own complaint, but sometimes, and sometimes often, I still complained. I fought against bitterness, and when I felt its squeeze, I cried out–oh, not this heart, Lord.  I remembered Paul. I thought of his chains.

Remember my chains. (Colossians 4:18b, NLT)

If he could find understanding and purpose in the worst of circumstances, could I find them in mine?

If I let him, could God use my circumstance to speak the Gospel? Could he use this circumstance to demonstrate his glory and goodness and sovereignty? What the enemy uses to break and beat down, could my God use to build upon and make new? Where an enemy declares an end, could God pronounce a beginning?

Devote yourselves to prayer with an alert mind and a thankful heart. Pray for us, too, that God will give us many opportunities to speak about his mysterious plan concerning Christ. That is why I am here in chains. Pray that I will proclaim this message as clearly as I should.

Live wisely among those who are not believers, and make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be gracious and attractive so that you will have the right response for everyone. (Colossians 4:2-6, NLT)

Nothing is a surprise to my God, however it may surprise me. These things he knew before time. Tasks prepared in advance. Yes. Don’t let me miss it–that sometimes ministry is in the middle of mess and misery. For Paul, he was literally a prisoner in a prison, but for others, it’s circumstance that feels hopeless, punitive, imprisoning, endless.

17 And say to Archippus, “Be sure to carry out the ministry the Lord gave you.” (Colossians 4:17, NLT)

Archippus, did you? Did you carry out the ministry the Lord gave you?

Lord Jesus, you have been with me every step of this journey, and you know how hard it’s been. You know how desperately I begged to quit from the pressure. And whether the job was heaped upon, handed over, appointed–you knew. And you intend(ed) it for my good and your glory. May it be so. Fixing my eyes on you, author and perfecter of faith. You can bring beauty from ashes.

May God’s grace be with you.

Courtney (66books365)

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2 Kings 18-19, 2 Chronicles 32, Psalm 67, 1 Corinthians 9

Hezekiah and Paul. At first glance two completely different and opposite people separated by hundreds of years. One, a king over an established nation of people and the other a servant and preacher at the infancy of Christianity. Their differences make their similarities stand out to me.

 

Though he was raised by his King father who did not follow God’s commandments, Hezekiah led his people in the way of the Lord and in turn received blessings and protection. His purpose in the serving the Lord:

“And every work that he undertook in the service of the house of God and in accordance with the law and the commandments, seeking his God, he did with all his heart and prospered.” 2 Chronicles: 31:21

And even in the face of trial and potential death for his entire kingdom, Hezekiah remained faithful and encouraged his people to do the same. He pointed them back to the one who had remained faithful to them and he encouraged his people:

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or dismayed before the king of Assyria ad all the horde that is with him, for there are more with us than with them. With him is an arm of flesh, but with us is the Lord our God, to help us and to fight our battles.” 2 chronicles 32:7-8

 

Paul’s story was similar in nature. Raised as a devout Jew and after years of living as a self- described highest of all Pharisees and judging others, Paul, through the Holy Spirit came to believe in Jesus Christ as Lord of all. His incredible conversion experience led him to have a heart of complete and utter service to the Lord. Paul’s purpose was to spread the good news of the gospel no matter the cost. He wanted to make sure his life was never a hindrance to others faith.

“For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all that I might win more of them”. 1 Corinthians 9:19

Paul’s encouragement to his fellow believers was to never give up hope, pushing forward for the eternal prize of glory.

“I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with the min its blessings. Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only can receive the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So, I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others, I myself should be disqualified.” 1 Corinthians 9:22-27

 

May our hearts’ cry and prayer be, “In all things may God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face to shine upon us, so that His way may be known on earth, and His saving power among all nations. Let the people praise you, O God!” Psalm 67.

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I Samuel 30-31; Luke 17:20-37

Taken.  Left behind. The popular idea is that the righteous will be taken and the unredeemed will be left behind. But what if the unrighteous are taken to a quick, eternal judgment and God’s elect are left in the field, at their work station, or in the bed that was once shared with a loved one (Luke 17:17:34-36).

I have often wondered about this.  How will I be able to stand myself knowing that the people I loved or associated with, or those who counted on me, or looked up to me…are gone…dead in their sins, literally, eternally? I’m not saying that I am judging others around me as if I know their eternal future; yet by their own admission, I am aware of many who do not call Jesus Christ their Lord.

When David, Israel’s king, was yet to be given that title, he commanded a military.  They obeyed all that he said and were willing to sacrifice their own lives for him. When he said to follow him into battle, they left children and wives and families behind.  On one occasion, they returned to the city to find that all their families, goods, and livestock had been taken.  The first thought that popped into their heads was to stone David. He could have tried to save himself, but he chose to pursue the enemy and take back all that was stolen.

During this same time in history, David’s enemy, King Saul, sought to kill David.  Yet Saul’s army was attacked, and because he feared being taken, he fell upon his own sword. His body was still taken by the Philistines, and he was beheaded and his body fastened to the wall.  We learn later that David mourned for Saul.

Like David, I mourn for those who may be taken.  There will be a resurrection, and I fear what their souls will experience in the darkness that awaits them.  I just finished watching The Passion, and one theme in the movie is that the multitudes who screamed for His crucifixion knew  little about Jesus Christ.  Jesus says, “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.”  These words bring hope, comfort, and most importantly forgiveness to all.

The obvious question to ask myself is , “What excuse will I tell myself when I am asked why did I not tell a sister, a neighbor, or a coworker about Jesus?” Besides not wanting to stand out, jeopardize my position at work, or state my position for the umpteenth time, I fear that I have not listened to the Holy Spirit leading. And He is leading me to stand up and to say:

We are all sinners in need of a Savior.  Our Savior came as a baby born to a virgin; he began his ministry at age 30, teaching that the kingdom of God was at hand; he suffered beatings at the hands of Pontius Pilot and was crucified and buried.  On the third day, He rose again and appeared to many for many days before ascending into heaven.  He lives forever, making intercession for us with God, the Father, and fulfilling His promises to us.  To live forever with Him we must confess that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, ask Him to be Lord of our life, and believe in Him.  If we do this, we will not be left behind as orphans.  We will have the Holy Spirit living inside, teaching us all we need to know to love God and love one another.

No excuses. No fear.  No sorrow.  Only dancing and singing “Alleluia!” with the angels for everyone who comes to the Father by the Son. Happy Resurrection Day!

 

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Filed under 1 Samuel, 66 Books, Luke, New Testament, Old Testament