Friday, August 29, 2008
I don't know about you, but when I'm rejected by a person or a group, (let alone have them yelling "do away with her") I usually become very insecure and throw myself into the nearest pity party. In light of this, I doubt that I would have the courage to say anything to the crowd.
I also wondered if I would be so frightened about what terrible things they may do to me, that I would try to state my case. Would I try to convince them that they should set me free? I would like to say that I wouldn't, but would I compromise my beliefs in order to live?
In Acts chapter 22, Paul does neither. He speaks in Hebrew which makes the crowd silence and GIVES HIS TESTIMONY! He tells them what God has done in his life. He tells them how God brought him from killing and imprisoning Christians, to being one. He shares his God-given mission. What faith - what boldness - what courage! You go, Paul!!!
Their response - "Away with such a fellow from the earth! For he should not be allowed to live!"
Even in Paul's boldness, their hearts were still hard. They tied him down and prepared for his flogging when he informed them that he was a Roman citizen and it was unlawful for them to do so. They withdrew immediately and on the next day, they unbound him and set him before the chief priests and the council to find out why he was being accused by the Jews.
This was a great reminder to me that when we are obeying God, it doesn't mean that others are going to "get it". Paul's faith and perserverance is amazing but it still didn't change the hearts of the crowd. He didn't fail, he didn't do anything wrong - it was their choice to reject the message.
We shouldn't take other's reactions so personally - we must have the courage to obey God's calling and be well content with just pleasing Him, irregardless, of the responses around us.
Have a great day and a great Labor Day weekend
Thursday, August 28, 2008
Who wanted these dogs, again?????
The 21st chapter of Acts brings more action into Paul's life. Others attempt to convince Paul that he should not return to Jerusalem because of their fear for what will happen to him. Again, just like in the previous chapter, he tells them that he is willing to endure anything for the sake of Christ.
You go, Paul!!!
In verses 27-36, Paul is in Jerusalem and causes a great uproar among the people who wanted him dead. He was apprehended and due to the violence of the crowd, had to be carried by the soldiers.
Coming into the barracks, he asked the soldier if he could speak to the people. He was given permission, stood on the steps to address the people and began speaking in the Hebrew he said:......
Oh no! We have to wait until chapter 22 to find out what he said to these people who were shouting "Away with him!!"
Think about what your response might be - what would you want to say to these people who want you dead - we'll see tomorrow if it is the same as Paul's.
Have a great day
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
My heartbeat rose as he told me that the night before, he woke up at 2 am and felt God telling him that it was time! He agreed and accepted Jesus as his Lord and Savior - by himself, without his mom - isn't he supposed to need his mom for everything??!!
I dropped off my daughter at practice and he and I sat in the car to discuss all that had happened. Our daughter's love language is words of affirmation so I'm used to her always wanting to discuss everything and be told how proud we are of her and we were able to pray together for her salvation but Nathan's love language is quality time and doesn't need all the discussion and praise. He takes things very personally and is private about big issues. He had asked my husband and I previously about accepting Christ and thought he was almost ready, but needed more time. Since then he hadn't brought it up much and we didn't want to push him.
As I bubbled over sitting in the car with him, I asked him if he had confessed his sin and asked for forgiveness in his salvation prayer. He had not, and I asked to pray with him, he refused and feeling that it was very personal to him, he wanted to do it, himself. Alone, without his mother!!
My heart overflowed as I watched my baby making the biggest, most important decision of his entire life.
Praise God! Praise God! We now have the assurance that our family will spend eternity in heaven together.
O.K. now that I shared our very exciting news with you, let's move on with our study in Acts. As I read chapter 20, I was encouraged. Check out what Paul says to the church elders in Ephesus in verses 22-24: "And now, behold, I am going to Jerusalem, constrained by the Spirit, not knowing what will happen to me there, except that the Holy Spirit testifies to me in every city that imprisonment and afflictions await me. But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God."
Wow! I want to be as bold and selfless as Paul. Knowing the pain and affliction that faced him in the future, he didn't quit. He was willing to sacrifice everything in order to obey his calling. His words show me how faithless I am to try and avoid pain in this life by not obeying God's promptings.
When in the midst of it, I hate pain, heartache and trouble but God puts me in the middle of it or allows me to put myself in the middle of it for a reason. There are many things in my life that I thought I would never make it out of, only to be able to look back now and see all the good that came out of it.
We must remember that God knows best - even when we think we know better or can do it in better timing or can do it with less or no hurting.
In verses 29-30 "I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock, and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them."
BE CAREFUL! BE WATCHFUL! Satan's twisted lies can speak in your head through many avenues. Yourself and others. Stand firm in your faith and in your calling. Keep satan behind you. Do not be drawn away!
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
Now, back to our study of Acts. Chapter 19:11&12 "And God was doing extraordinary miracles by the hands of Paul, so that even handkerchiefs or aprons that had touched his skin were carried away to the sick, and their diseases left them and the evil spirits came out of them."
Wow! As I read the first portion of the sentance, I thought "could I put my name in where Paul's is?" Could God do extraordinary miracles through my hands? Through yours? Instantly, I was reminded that nothing is impossible with God. He has worked miracles through you and I - some we may know about, and some we don't and won't.
If you are a parent, your child is a miracle that God created through you. I also thought of friends and family that I honestly thought would never come to Christ that have after years of prayer - miracle.
We serve an extraordinary God, so be prepared for Him to do extraordinary things through you.
Will you let Him?
Monday, August 25, 2008
WRONG!! Jesus paid the ultimate price to make us beautiful in the sight of God. Shouldn't we expect to have to pay a price in order to get rid of our own uglies?
We sang, I Surrender All in our worship service yesterday. In order to surrender my life and myself to God, I have had to pay a price. Some sins have been very difficult to give up and I have to fight each day in order to do so, others haven't been as much of a struggle, but the price still had to be paid.
As I have shared with you many times before, fear is one of my biggest struggles. I have the opportunity to teach 2 break-out sessions at an upcoming women's retreat. I struggled the last time I spoke and wondered if I should ever do it again. I had convinced myself that I'm not good enough - that no one gets anything from what I say. What if I speak and then these women ask for a refund. Talk about an ultimate pity party and satan was having the best time!!!
I almost said no to the request to speak, until God reassured me that it was His will and He would be with me like He always has been before.
I took a break today from our Acts study to share with you about how God spoke so clearly to me through our worship service yesterday. We worshipped at a park in Pontiac - the weather was beautiful - the music was powerful and then God's Word soaked into the depths of my heart.
Here's the message by our pastor, Brian Bill http://www.pontiacbible.org/index.php?/sermons/more/god_uses_ordinary_people_caleb/
I encourage you to read the whole thing, but here's a few snipets:
Whenever you hear yourself saying in response to one of God’s promises, “But…” you are probably being controlled by fear not faith.
I would come to church more, but…
I would give more, but…
I want to go through that open door, but…
I know I should forgive that person, but…
I know God is with me, but…
Instead of going forward, all the people grumble against Moses and Aaron and start weeping aloud. They then talk about wanting to go back to Egypt. Imagine that! They’d rather go back to bondage than to take God at His Word. They chose instant gratification instead of the cultivation of their character. That still happens today. Even though sin and bondage and disobedience is not a place to be, for some it’s comfortable and predictable and they’d rather stay there than move into the unknown.
What great challenge are you facing right now? Is there an open door? What new ministry is God calling you to this fall? What giants are in your land today? What is it that you’re afraid of? You have a choice to make. What conjunction will you choose? Will you choose fear or faith? Will you do what you can do and will you trust Him to do what only He can do? Will you say, “But the problems are powerful” or will you say, “But the Lord is with me?”
AMEN AMEN!! Ashamed of how fear and uncomfortableness has held me back from so much in my life, I was a blubbering fool by the end of the service. Praise God for how He reminds us of His truths - praise Him for never giving up on us - praise Him for loving us even when we are so stubborn and close-minded - praise Him for helping us to overcome satan's lies!
Friday, August 22, 2008
Words that we speak, whetherd good or bad, definitely have an impact on others around us, whether we see it or not.
In Acts 18, Paul continues to tell others about Jesus and some believe and some do not. Specifically, in verses 5&6, Paul has some people oppose all he is telling them and he walks away shaking his garments and telling them "your blood be on your own heads!"
I know how Paul must have felt. Many times the words I have spoke have been rejected. Whether it's a one-on-one conversation or in front of a group of people, it still hurts the same. It is very frustrating to know Jesus and want to share Him and have others who don't understand. In fact, I have been so hurt and frustrated at times, that I give up for a short while, sitting in my pity party and feeling sorry for myself. Thinking that it must of been my fault that I couldn't make them understand.
In verses 9&10, Paul has a vision in which the Lord says, "Do not be afraid, but go on speaking and do not be silent, for I am with you, and no one will attack you to harm you, for I have many in this city who are My people."
I have to say, that these words from the Lord, brought alot of encouragement to me! I want to mark this scripture and read it over and over again so that the next time I'm knocked down, I can get back up without spending precious time in my pity party.
Paul also is encouraged by it and stays another year and a half teaching the word of God. Good for him! Perserverance is a must as a Christian. Jesus set an incredible example of it and we must follow in His footsteps.
I want to encourage you to speak the words that our Lord gives you, never apologize for speaking His truths, and never be silent. For I AM is with you.
Have a great day and a great weekend
Thursday, August 21, 2008
What are your greatest expectations in life? As I read Acts chapter 17 today, I thought about how we make so many things into idols today. Maybe not intentionally, but we do.
In vs. 22-34, Paul is in Athens and speaking about the idols he has noticed around him. He finds an altar with "unknown god" printed on it. He explains that he wants to tell them about this "unknown god" that they have been worshipping. "The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything. And He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, in the hope that they might feel their way toward Him and find Him. Yet He is actually not far from each one of us, for 'In him we live and move and have our being' as even some of your own poets have said, 'for we are indeed his offspring.' Being then God's offspring, we ought not to think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of man." (vs.24-29)
As I read these verses, I thought - yeah! that's the God I know, that's the God I serve. The maker of everything, the giver of everything, the One who needs nothing because He has created everything. Why were these people worshipping other idols?
Then it hit me, why do I? Why am I in search of more? Why am I searching for perfection for myself in all I do? Why do I worry about what others think of me? Why do I make other things into idols when I have the God that was just described?
I so easily forget that He is enough. Let me repeat myself, HE IS ENOUGH! He has been and continues to be my all in all - my everything. I allow satan to use this world around me to take my eyes and focus them on other things.
What idols are you worshipping? What is more important to you than spending time with God, than spending time with your spouse, your children, your family? Is it your job - your climb up the ladder? Is it making more money, having a better car and nicer home? Is it looking good in the eyes of others - shining for them instead of God?
God is enough - don't waste your time searching for something else
Have a great day
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
Our pastor did an excellent job as he taught on portions of Acts 16 on Sunday http://www.pontiacbible.org/index.php?/sermons/more/god_uses_ordinary_people_lydia/
One thing that stood out to me in chapter 16 was verses 25-34 when the jailer was converted. Paul and Silas were in prison. Even though they were, they were singing and praying to God. At about midnight, there was an earthquake and the doors to the prison were opened. When the guard thought that everyone had escaped, he drew his sword to kill himself. Paul assured him that they were all still there. The guard immediately asks how he can be saved. They said "Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household." They told him and everyone of his household about Jesus and they were baptized. They went back to his house and rejoiced.
This reconfirms to me how each action and each word that comes from me, makes a difference in the life of someone else. If Paul and Silas would have been sitting in the midst of a pity party in the prison cell, wallowing in their own sorrow, the jailer would not have been changed. They stood out to him, he noticed Jesus in them.
I cannot say that this is always true for me but I want it to be. I want to be better at overcoming satan's attacks and schemes that throw me instantly into my own pity party. I want to challenge myself and you to think of who may be watching before you take any action or let any word slip from your lips.
Have a great day
Monday, August 18, 2008
Friday, August 15, 2008
How do I know that it was worth it? Because in verses 19-23 it tells of Paul being stoned. Some Jews stoned him until they thought he was dead and then drug him out of the city. But get this - he wasn't dead and was able to get up and go back into the city. Not only did he just go back into the city, but he left the next day on another journey to share Jesus with more people!!
Now I don't know about you, but I can tell you that this wimpy, self-pitying girl, would have laid in bed for many days to recover not only my physical body but my hurt heart. But Paul wouldn't hear of such a thing - God had changed his life and he wasn't about to stop telling people about it.
I want to be more like Paul. I want the strength to never be shaken from my mission. I know that you and I hold that strength within us because we have the Holy Spirit within us. It is our choice - are we going to keep on when our body hurts, when our heart is broken, when our mind is weary?
I guess this would be a good time to ask - what would Jesus do?
Have a great day
Thursday, August 14, 2008
In Chapter 13 of Acts, Paul and his companions, filled with the Holy Spirit, continue to take opportunities to share the Gospel and many are coming to believing faith. Paul is teaching in the synagogue at Antioch and among much other, he states "Let it be known to you therefore, brothers, that through this Man forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you, and by Him everyone who believes is freed from everything from which you could not be freed by the law of Moses." (vs. 38-39)
As I read those verses, the words "freed from everything" jumped off the page at me. God used this to remind me of my freedom in Him. All the time wasted wondering if I should or shouldn't do something, trying to earn my salvation, wondering what others would think of me, etc. etc. etc. - I have freedom in Christ.
I don't have to earn my salvation, He freely gave it to me. I don't have to worry if others are going to love me - He loves me unconditionally. I don't have to wonder if I am making the right decision because if I seek Him, He will show me what to do.
You and I are free when we accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior because He died on the cross to take away everything. All the fear, all the guilt, all the sin - everything.
Enjoy your freedom
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
In Matthew 21:22 Jesus says "And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith"
Are you in a situation that you feel is impossible to overcome? Do you feel like God isn't hearing your prayers or that He isn't answering? Pray, pray, pray - never stop, never give up - just pray. He may answer your prayers in a way you do not expect, He may say no to what you are asking for, He may be prepared to answer yes but we must be patient for His timing. He is the only One who knows the future and what is truly best for us. Pray and be patient. We will be following in the steps of Jesus when we pray and be patient.
I have seen answers to prayers that I have prayed for years - God is faithful - be patient
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
Here's a related post from my friend LuAnn Prater:
"Make a plate of pure gold and engrave on it as on a seal: holy to the LORD.”
Exodus 28:36 (NIV)
Recently I received a license plate with my company’s logo on it. They strongly encouraged us to place it on the front of our car so that everyone can see who I work with at a glance. I was pretty excited and proud to do it - at first. However, when someone cut me off in traffic and heat rushed up my spine, sending my morning smile into a scowl, I remembered the plate that identified me! I forced the grimmace to leave my face and replaced it with numbness. Arghh! The realization hit me, I can’t just react now without thinking of the impression it will leave on others. I must admit at times I’ve wanted to intentionally drive through a mud hole to mask the name on that plate.
My girlfriend won’t let her husband put a fish symbol on their car, a symbol of their faith, because she knows that car can sometime reflect a little “road rage”. She is afraid it might reflect poorly on her Savior. What if we had to wear the seal of God on our forehead for everyone to see? Would we act any differently? Would we be nicer to the store clerk, the grumpy boss or the bratty child? If at a glance the world could see who we were with, would it alter our behavior?
In Ephesians 1:13 it says, “… Having believed, you were marked in Him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit.” So we ARE marked with a seal, and it is not just on our foreheads, it should be oozing from every part of our being! When we are filled with the Holy Spirit, it is as powerfully evident to others as an engraved nameplate welded to our face that we belong to Christ. How? Matthew 5:16 tells us, “In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.”
Surprisingly, I have become accustom to to the nameplate on my car. I think now before I react. I consider the consequences of my driving. It has seriously made me a better driver and less stressed. Isn’t that amazing? It no longer makes me anxious or afraid that I will discredit my company. People recognize me coming now and wave.
So who is reading your nameplate? Do they recognize the light of Christ in your actions?
Father, we often try to blend in with the world. Give us freedom today to proudly display the righteousness You have given us by reflecting your light onto others. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Dear Jesus: Seeking His Light in Your Life by Sarah Young
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Do You Know Him?
Make a sticky note name-tag that states, like our key verse, “Holy to the Lord” and wear it today. Allow God to work through you and in you as others notice Who you are with.
What makes me hide the fact that I am a Christian?
How can I purposely shine on others today?
Why do I act as if no one is watching? God not only sees, His Holy Spirit is with you…during the good and bad reactions.
Matthew 28:20b, “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (NIV)
Col. 4:6, “Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” (NIV)
1 Peter 3:15, “But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.” (NIV)
Monday, August 11, 2008
As I continue to study in the book of Acts, I think about how the disciples desired to tell others about Jesus - they enjoyed telling others about Jesus. I'm sure they did not enjoy the ridicule, mocking, abuse, threats and stonings that went along with it but with their minds focused on God, they continued on with open hearts and minds. I'm not sure that I would have done the same.
In chapter 10, God gives Peter a vision that he doesn't understand at first. He see something like a big sheet coming down from heaven and on it were animals, reptiles and birds. A voice from heaven said "Rise, Peter, kill and eat." Peter replies by telling God that he has never eaten anything unclean." God says "What God has made clean, do not call common."
Luckily, God gives him understanding that it is about people. As Jews, they were not to associate with any one of another nation, but God was showing him that no one was unclean - His love and salvation was for everyone. In verse 34, Peter says "Truly I understand that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears Him and does what is right is acceptable to Him."
Praise God! How encouraging those words were for me! God is for everyone! His love, His forgiveness, His compassion - it's for us all! How often do we choose who we think should hear the Gospel? How often do we think that there's no sense in trying because their never going to get it? Or avoid someone who is not like you? God says HE'S FOR EVERYONE - let's do our part to share Him through ourselves to EVERYONE.
Who have you avoided? Who have I avoided? God not only gave Peter the mission to tell everyone he could get in front of, but us also. Let's make the choice today -
Have a great day
Friday, August 8, 2008
My son, building a stick house on the beach
Just us girls, hanging out - I can't believe how white I am next to my daughter!
Our kids with their cousin, Chase. Nathan was pretending that he was meditating to show his dad that he wasn't going fast enough.
I've continued on my study of the book of Acts without you - so sorry, but I would still like to share with you some things that I've learned over the past week. First of all, I just have to say that our God is so amazing! I read in chapter 9 about the conversion of Saul - o.k., this is big, listen or should I say, read carefully - Saul's mission in life was to kill or at least imprison all followers of Christ and he was very good at what he did. On his was to Damascus, a light from heaven appeared, God asked him why he was persecuting Him, made him blind and told him to enter the city. Because of the drastic experience, he was able to realize that the God he had been persecuting was real. At the same time, God told His disciple Annanias that Saul would be coming and to meet him. Ananias immediately questions God because he knows of Saul's background. This is the really cool part!!! God responds "Go, for he is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel. For I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of My Name." Did God just say that a hateful murderer of His own children is His chosen instrument??!! This gave me such hope and encouragement! I sometimes wonder how God could ever love me or use me because of all the mistakes I have made in my life but He does and He can! You and I have been chosen as instruments to carry the name of Jesus! What a humbling privelege!
Saul goes crazy telling everyone he comes in contact with about God. He makes a greater impact because people know his past and are amazed at his transformation. We too, can make a greater impact when we are open about our past mistakes. Make it real to others and they will be much more apt to believe what you are telling them.
Have a great day!