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What’s the Issue?

18 Jul

ScriptureActs 21:1-17

BEFORE MAKING PLANS, we decide why, where, and when.  Going on a vacation?  Theissue why is obvious but it is the where and when we must determine before proceeding.  Looking ahead we determine what we will do there. All these issues are taken into consideration before any concrete plans are made.  Would we plan a vacation in a war zone or a politically hot spot?  Probably not.  In this passage Paul planned a trip, knowing there would be trouble for him there.  The purpose of his trip was worth the risk.  

WE USUALLY AVOID trouble but sometimes we know we must face it head on.  Paul understood that more than most of us.  He had been warned that if he went to Jerusalem he could face arrest or murder.  He didn’t back down!  He said, “The issue is not what they may do to me, but what the Master Jesus does through my obedience.”  His worldview was not what he could get out of life but how he could advance the cause of Christ. 

THE ISSUE SHOULD drive our plans, not just what’s in it for us.  Christ died to deliver His message of love to the world.  He left us marching orders to share that message with the world—that’s the issue we face.  Not only did He leave us marching orders, but He gifted us each with interests and abilities that we can use to be a blessing to others.  Love cares more for the loved one than for oneself.  Jesus demonstrated that.  Our world has gotten sidetracked into a “what’s in it for me” society.  As believers our motto should be WHAT’S IN IT FOR THEE!    

  • Adoration: The stories in the Bible are such a blessing to our daily lives.
  • Confession: I’m sorry I don’t always consider issues by what’s in it for THEE.
  • Thanksgiving: Thank You for these reminders from Your Word to make your issues our issues.
  • Supplication: Help us to plan our lives around how we can best be Your ambassadors.

God’s Question for me: What will you do today, setting self aside, to share My love with others? Plan ahead or it won’t happen!

God’s Promise to me: As you draw near to Me through the stories in the Bible, I draw near to you and give you windows of understanding to expand your life and influence. 

 

 

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No Matter What

17 Jul

ScriptureActs 20:17-38

WHAT REALLY MATTERS most in our lives?  What can we say we will continue to do, No matter what the situation, you must continue to serve God in everything.no matter what?  Unfortunately, unexpected matters arrive that can change our earlier conviction.  In this passage Paul tells his friends he was willing to lay his life on the line, no matter what, to share the good news of Jesus with others.  What motivation is it that causes us to claim, “no matter what,” I will do—thus and so?  Look around!  Are there those who are sticking it out, no matter what?  You see, sticking it out with others, no matter what, is the same as sticking it out with God. 

GOD TAKES OUR treatment of others personally. Let that sink in—real deep. Paul was willing to suffer to keep on keeping on—teaching about Jesus.  He understood to the core that “as we do unto others, we are doing unto Jesus.”  He also understood the daily presence of God beside us giving us strength to “stick it out.”  We today have Paul to thank for our knowledge of Jesus as the Son of God.  He stuck it out on our behalf.  He taught others, who would teach others, who would teach others—and here we are today having received this teaching. 

NOW THE BATON is in our hands.  How are we passing on this good news of Jesus life, death and resurrection for our salvation?  Can we say with Paul, “What matters most to me is to finish what God started: the joy the Master Jesus gave me of letting everyone I meet know all about this incredibly extravagant generosity of God.” The way Paul fulfilled his calling will look different that how we do it.  What are our passions?  Are we using them to share the good news of Jesus in how we live out our passion?  Teaching, sewing, building, weeding, whatever—use it to bring glory to God.  No matter what—use our passions to bless others!

  • Adoration: Wow! Jesus passion was us!
  • Confession: So sorry that my passion often is directed in pleasing myself.
  • Thanksgiving: Thank You for Paul’s example of living out his passion for You.
  • Supplication: Help me to focus my passions on blessing others on your behalf.

God’s Question for me: Will you use the passions I gifted you with to be a blessing to others and pass on the good news of Jesus?

God’s Promise to me: I will not leave you on your own but will be with you each step of life’s journey as you devote your energies, no matter what, in serving others as unto Me. 

 

 

Measuring Value

16 Jul

ScriptureActs 20:1-16

WALKING THROUGH LIFE, what value do we leave in our wake? When a boat zooms bymeasure it creates quite a wake—some more, some less.  On our life’s journey, what value are we adding to the lives of those around us?  The value of our lives is measured by the number of other lives we have uplifted!  In this passage Paul’s constant purpose was to constantly encourage others in the faith. His words lifted their spirits and gave them fresh hope.  That is what he left in his wake.  We need to regularly look at our lives and evaluate what value we are sharing with others.   

JESUS GAVE ETERNAL value to those who believed and followed in His wake. His passion in life was to point us to the Father, give us practical advice for living the abundant life, and provide for our eternal salvation by the sacrifice of His life.  God has gifted us each with passions to fulfill His purpose for our lives.  Ephesians 2:10 explains this. “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

IF GOD PREPARED in advance good works for us to do, we can be sure he has filled us with the passion to do them.  We must be cautious to use our passions for the God-intended purpose, adding value to our lives by adding value to the lives of others.  The greatest value of all is to know Jesus Christ as Savior, follow Him, and use our passions to share His great love with others.  Bottom line—love others as though your life depended upon it.  Let everything we do encourage others in the faith, life their spirits and give them fresh hope.  Now that is a life of eternal value.

  • Adoration: We want to honor You and fulfill Your purpose for our lives.
  • Confession: We tend to get so involved in the pursuit of pleasure that we forget all about your call on our lives to uplift others in Your faith.
  • Thanksgiving: Thank You for gifting us and considering us worthy of serving You.
  • Supplication: Help us to focus our passions on passing on our faith in You.

God’s Question for me: Are you seeking to add value to the lives of others by sharing your faith in Jesus and encouraging, lifting spirits and giving fresh hope?

God’s Promise to me: I never ask you do to anything but what I have gifted you to do.  I have passed My value onto you and ask that you pass it on to others. 

 

 

Fresh Heart

13 Jul

ScriptureActs 18

EVER BEEN EXASPERATED?  As a Jew himself, Paul knew what it was like to  opposehardships followers of Jesus.  He held the robes of those who stoned Stephen.  He traveled throughout the land arresting Christians and trying to silence them.  After his experience of Jesus appearing to him in a bright light and blinding him for three days, he “saw the light.”  He was ashamed that he had opposed Jesus and doubled his efforts at convincing others that Jesus was truly the Messiah.  He confronted those who believed just like he had previously, yet they argued contentiously and contradicted him at every turn.  Exasperation motivated him to move on!   

WHETHER WE STAY or go, God’s best interests can be obtained.  In giving mankind free will God’s final word is “you’ve made your bed, now lay in it.”  Let’s don’t get exasperated but let that be a lesson to us, like it was to Paul—“a man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still.”  Don’t give up on delivering the “message” but change your location or method when needed.  There are people everywhere who need God’s message of salvation.  Keep on keeping on.

GOD ENCOURAGED PAUL, and us today, with these words, “Keep it up, and don’t let anyone intimidate or silence you.  No matter what happens, I’m with you and no one is going to be able to hurt you.  You have no idea how many people I have on my side in this city.”  That was just the encouragement he needed to stick it out.  Wherever Paul went he made disciples for Jesus.  His teaching put “fresh heart” into people.   Let us make that our goal to speak words that give people “fresh heart.” With “fresh heart” we can overcome tremendous challenges and help others grasp onto hope that will never disappoint.     

  • Adoration: You are always eager to give us “fresh heart.”
  • Confession: Our words far to often discourage instead of giving hope.
  • Thanksgiving: Thank You for being on our side come what may.
  • Supplication: Help us to be about the business of giving “fresh hope” in Christ.

God’s Question for me: When discouraged will you turn to Me for hope and direction?

God’s Promise to me: Wherever you go I will be with you.  Instead of chasing that illusive sweet spot for you, sweeten whatever spot you are in by giving others “fresh heart.”    

 

 

Using Anger for God

13 Jul

ScriptureActs 17:16-34

WHAT ANGERS YOU?  Crazy drivers?  Injustice?  Life isn’t fair? Liars?  Dishonesty?  The Positive-and-Productive-1-1024x1024list could go on and on.  What angered Paul in this passage was that the people of Athens, in his day, were searching for God in all the wrong places.  The city was rampant with idols of every sort.  The idol makers were growing rich.  They kept thinking up new idols to sell and the people bought them like hot-cakes.  Now consider our lives today.  Is our world that much different? 

HOW DID PAUL deal with his anger?  He simply got to know the people by hanging out in the streets and talking with them.  He listened to them and they listened to him.  They were happy to tell someone else about their latest “god.”  He listened patiently, he didn’t tell them they were wrong.  He found a creative way to introduce them to our God.  He did not parade down the street shouting our condemnation to these idol worshippers. 

FIND COMMON GROUND with people before you’ve a right to share your beliefs.  He spent time just getting to know the people.   Paul saw a shrine in Athens inscribed, “TO THE GOD NOBODY KNOWS.”  These Athenians wanted to cover all their bases with the gods.  Paul simply told them he wanted to introduce this God that nobody knows, the God who created the world and everything in it. They were all ears to hear something “new.”  Paul understood what we miss at times.  He knew he represented Christ Jesus wherever he went, and he created opportunities to share that good news.   He turned his anger into a positive outcome.  We can do the same. 

  • Adoration: Your Word is abundant with wisdom is we will read and heed.
  • Confession: We too often look for the problem instead of the solution.
  • Thanksgiving: Thank You for Your wisdom You are eager to give to us.
  • Supplication: Help us to remember we are Your ambassadors of good news, every bit as much as Paul was. 

God’s Question for me: Will the things you are investing your time, resources and energy into have value that will reach into eternity?

God’s Promise to me: For every challenge you face I have already provided multiple positive outcomes.  Simply ask for My wisdom and discover how these challenges hold the key to multiple blessings for you and others. 

 

 

Horizon of Hope

11 Jul

ScriptureActs 17:1-15

JEALOUSY BLINDS REASONING!  We all live within the boundaries of our own routines hopeand beliefs.  Jesus came through the Jewish line to rescue them from the confines of the old law that burdened down their lives while they were waiting for a Messiah to rescue them.  They had in mind a “knight in shining armor” type of Messiah that would give them victory over the Romans that ruled them.  Jesus’ rescue from their sins wasn’t what they had in mind.  They wanted physical rescue.  Because of their pre-conceived ideas, they refused to listen to Jesus or accept the miracles and signs He performed, showing He was from God.  Facts mean nothing when a person’s mind is made up.  Their only hope is their own agenda.  

IT’S STILL HAPPENING!  In this passage, the Jewish leaders didn’t just disagree, they were furious and mad with jealousy that people were believing and following this Jesus—instead of them.  (That’s where the rubber meets the road.)  The rounded up a bunch of brawlers off the street and soon had an ugly mob terrorizing the city, hunting for Paul and Silas.  Is this not what is happening today in many places around the world.  Jealousy motivates people to “hire” rioters to cause havoc—to try and turn the tide toward them and their agenda.  The fuel that fans this flame of jealousy is gossip.  People choose to believe one party or another’s lies, and reason flies out the window.  Is there any hope for mankind?

A HORIZON OF HOPE lies before us and is within our very hands to bring it about.  Whatever comes we have the hope of eternity with Jesus.  And until that begins, we have His very presence with us to guide our every decision and action—if we so choose.  (There again is where the rubber meets the road.)  If we so choose!  Instead, we often choose to listen to the gossip and make up our minds and get all riled up about things we have no control over.  Jesus way is simple—treat others as you wish to be treated!  Even if you are treated badly—do not respond in kind.  Do not let jealousy rile your emotions.  Rest in Jesus, love one another and enjoy the hope of heaven on the horizon!

  • Adoration: I love Your Word that is a beacon of hope in a dreary world.
  • Confession: It is so easy to get involved in matters of little significance.
  • Thanksgiving: Thank You that we know, without a doubt, hope in You is sure.
  • Supplication: Help us to simply obey Your Word come what may.

God’s Question for me: Will you stand up for Me regardless of who opposed you?

God’s Promise to me: Jesus lived, died, rose again and will return to take those who believe in and follow His path to heaven—eternity of bliss in My presence. 

 

 

Get Out of Jail Free

10 Jul

Scripture Acts 16:22-40

NOTHING IS IMPOSSIBLE if you put your trust in God!  In this passage Paul and SilasPaul and Silas had been beaten and were in jail, with their legs clamped in wooden stocks.  A miserable place to be!  About midnight, when all was dark, they were at prayer and singing a robust hymn to God.  What?  Is that what we would be doing?  Well it’s good advice!  In response, God caused a great earthquake that tottered the jailhouse and every door flung open.  The jailor realized this was in response to their praying and singing and was terrified.  Finding no one had escaped, he took Paul and Silas to his home where they spent the night teaching the good news of Jesus to him and his whole family. In early morning the jailor and his whole family were baptized. 

WAS THE EARTHQUAKE a fluke or God’s answer to their prayers and singing?  We wish that prayer had been recorded and we knew the name of the hymn.  Really, it doesn’t matter.  We know what was in the hearts of Paul and Silas—complete devotion to sharing God’s message of redemption through Jesus Christ.  Sometimes we feel deserted and discouraged and we’ve never been in jail with our legs clamped in stocks.  It appears to me that the antidote to distress and discouragement is prayer and singing.  I don’t think Paul’s prayer was pleading for release.  I think it was asking for more opportunities to share the good news. 

WE JAIL OURSELVES when we focus on self and our pleasures.  There is no end of our wanting of more, more, more.  Our prayers consist of asking God’s help in making our lives easier, healing our illnesses and providing all our wants.  When was the last time I prayed and sang robust songs of praise when in a hard spot?  I am convinced that we can get out of the jail we put ourselves in and be free of self-absorption when we turn our focus onto sharing God’s good news of Jesus.  We hold the key to unlock the jail we find ourselves in. 

  • Adoration: We are so blessed to know You as Savior and God.
  • Confession: I too am often a prisoner of my own selfishness.
  • Thanksgiving: Thank You for this reminder to live devoted to You.
  • Supplication: Help me to face difficulties with trust in Your power.

God’s Question for me: Are you willing to sacrifice self-pleasure to follow Jesus pathway of service to others? 

God’s Promise to me: Strength for the day, rest for the labor, light for the way, grace for the trials, help from above, unfailing sympathy, undying love. 

 

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