Sunday, November 30, 2008

A Stumbling Block

November 30: 1 Corinthians 5-8

7 However, not all possess this knowledge. But some, through former association with idols, eat food as really offered to an idol, and their conscience, being weak, is defiled. 8 Food will not commend us to God. We are no worse off if we do not eat, and no better off if we do. 9 But take care that this right of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak. 10 For if anyone sees you who have knowledge eating in an idol's temple, will he not be encouraged, if his conscience is weak, to eat food offered to idols? 11 And so by your knowledge this weak person is destroyed, the brother for whom Christ died. 12 Thus, sinning against your brothers and wounding their conscience when it is weak, you sin against Christ. 13 Therefore, if food makes my brother stumble, I will never eat meat, lest I make my brother stumble.
1 Corinthians 8:7-13, ESV

A Stumbling Block

How are we to view differences in thought as to what is or is not a sin? The Bible is very clear in many areas, but there are some things that are not directly approached. This was exactly the case when Paul spoke about eating food offered to idols.

Food will not commend us to God. We are no worse off if we do not eat, and no better off if we do.

The chief concern, however, is the reaction of our fellow believer. We must be so careful that we do not use our liberty in areas that may prove to be a stumbling block for our fellow believer(s).

How relevant is this principle for us today? Believers seem to have varying views of what is or is not a sin. For example, some groups may believe that mixed swimming (girls and guys) should be forbidden, while others see no problem with it. I sometimes wonder if there are two believers anywhere in the world who actually agree with one another!

Each day, we must cry out to the Lord to give us patience with our fellow believers. If God convicts us that something we do is a sin, it is not right for us to go out and find every Christian we know who is participating in that same activity, so that we might point out their sin. Remember, I am not talking about areas that are specifically addressed in the Word. I am speaking, rather, of areas that are a part of our liberty as a Christian.

Here are some of the issues that I have noted.

*Is it right for women to wear pants?
*Should all women wear their hair long?
*Is it wrong for men to wear their hair long?
*Is it all right to watch movies or television?

The list just goes on and on, does it not? According to the principles taught by Paul, we must be sensitive to the differing beliefs among our fellow Christians. We do not want to find ourselves in the position of being a stumbling block to someone who is considering the Gospel.

Also, consider the fact that churches are often split over issues such as these! Let it not be at our hands!

Pray that God will guide you so that your life may be a shining example of Christ working in your life, and that you will not be a stumbling block to others.

God Bless You,
Linda

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Divisions in the Church

November 29: 1 Corinthians 1-4

10 I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment. 11 For it has been reported to me by Chloe's people that there is quarreling among you, my brothers. 12 What I mean is that each one of you says, “I follow Paul,” or “I follow Apollos,” or “I follow Cephas,” or “I follow Christ.” 13 Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?
1 Corinthians 1:10-13, ESV

5 What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, as the Lord assigned to each. 6 I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. 7 So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. 8 He who plants and he who waters are one, and each will receive his wages according to his labor. 9 For we are God's fellow workers. You are God's field, God's building.
1 Corinthians 2:5-9, ESV

Divisions in the Church

Sometimes I get so frustrated! Why must each generation relearn the same lessons over and over? Why did my children have to fall into the same pitfalls as my husband and I? Why could they not learn from our mistakes and go on from there?

The same can be said for the church. Are our churches less divisive today than they were in the time of Paul? The answer to that is quite obvious. Just look at the number of denominations that exist today--all of them claiming to preach the truth of the Bible. Sometimes I say, jokingly, that the real miracle in heaven will be that all Christians will agree!

It is easy to see why this happens; it is good to be zealous for the truth. When one church seems to be casting aside the true teachings of the Word, we must seek a more faithful church. However, we must always remember that the Lord Jesus Christ has only one church!

How I pray that, as Christians, our focus would be on serving others and reaching out to the unbelievers all around us, rather than dividing the church through our constant bickering.

How we long to be separated from our own sins which constantly war against us. How sweet heaven will be!

Pray today that God would give you a spirit of humility, patience, and love toward all those around you, believers and unbelievers alike.

God Bless You,
Linda

Friday, November 28, 2008

Business As Usual

November 28: Acts 18-19

23 About that time there arose no little disturbance concerning the Way. 24 For a man named Demetrius, a silversmith, who made silver shrines of Artemis, brought no little business to the craftsmen. 25 These he gathered together, with the workmen in similar trades, and said, “Men, you know that from this business we have our wealth. 26 And you see and hear that not only in Ephesus but in almost all of Asia this Paul has persuaded and turned away a great many people, saying that gods made with hands are not gods. 27 And there is danger not only that this trade of ours may come into disrepute but also that the temple of the great goddess Artemis may be counted as nothing, and that she may even be deposed from her magnificence, she whom all Asia and the world worship.”
Acts 19:23-27, ESV

Business As Usual

There is nothing more clear than in our Bible passage today as to what motivates the decisions people make. Unfortunately, it seems to be easier to live in the reality of what we see around us, rather than to take the spiritual life seriously. That is exactly where we find the men at Ephesus.

Demetrius was a silversmith who made a great deal of money selling shrines of the goddess, Artemis. Paul and his friends were causing a serious threat to his business. As more and more people became Christians, his business was dropping off. Gathering a group together of men in a similar trade as his, he persuaded them that not only were their businesses at stake, but even the temple built for Artemis was in danger of being neglected.

Citing the people to riot, Demetrius was hoping to get rid of the new Christians. Demetrius cared nothing about the people or who they worshiped; instead, he was motivated by greed.

We must be very careful, in our daily lives, to take an account of what truly motivates our thinking. It is so subtle, yet so prevalent for even Christians to use money as their motivation for making their decisions.

Why not just compromise a little here and a little there? Not only will we fit in better with the current way of thinking, but it is good for business.

As Christians, compromise is not an option! No matter how unpopular our belief in God's Word may be, it is imperative that we live a life in faithful obedience to God's commandments. For Paul, it almost cost him his life on several occasions, and yet he never wavered in his allegiance to the Lord.

Pray today that your chief motivation in life will be the purity of God's Word rather than amassing a huge fortune. Seek to reap the riches of eternal rewards rather than the riches of this world.

God Bless You,
Linda

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Comfort and Peace

November 27: 1 & 2 Thessalonians

16 Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace, 17 comfort your hearts and establish them in every good work and word.
2 Thessalonians 2:16, ESV


For not all have faith. 3 But the Lord is faithful. . . . 5 May the Lord direct your hearts to the love of God and to the steadfastness of Christ.

16 Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times in every way. The Lord be with you all.
2 Thessalonians 3:2b-3a, 5 & 16, ESV

Comfort and Peace

The Apostle Paul certainly knew how to challenge the early Christians when he believed they were wrong, and yet, he also spoke some of the most comforting words of encouragement to the new believers.

In the United States this is the Thanksgiving holiday season; as we ponder our lives as Christians, we truly have much for which we are thankful. But what of unbelievers? Thankfulness should characterize all people, for God's blessings come upon unbelievers as well as believers.

For not all have faith. But the Lord is faithful.

There is one major difference, however; it is impossible for unbelievers to know true comfort and peace! Why is that?

All mankind are sinners from conception! That sin separates them from God. As long as that great gulf between man and God exists, no true comfort or peace is possible. However, when a sinner comes to Christ, the Bible tells us that he is a new creature; old things have passed away and all things have become new.

One of those "new" things is peace with God; comfort and peace are gifts from God to His children.

Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace, comfort your hearts and establish them in every good work and word.

As I think of this Thanksgiving season, my prayer to you is expressed by Paul in 2 Thessalonians 3:16.

Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times in every way. The Lord be with you all.

If you are not a Christian, go to Christ. He will save you now and give you peace at all times and in every way.

God Bless You,
Linda

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The Unknown God

November 26: Acts 17:1-18:18

22 So Paul, standing in the midst of the Areopagus, said: “Men of Athens, I perceive that in every way you are very religious. 23 For as I passed along and observed the objects of your worship, I found also an altar with this inscription, ‘To the unknown god.’ What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you. 24 The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, 25 nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything.
Acts 17:22-25

The Unknown God

Paul's spirit was troubled; as he walked through the streets of Athens, he saw idol after idol. Imagine his surprise when he found an altar with this inscription, "To the unknown god." When you think about it, the Greeks were very perceptive; though they worshipped idol after idol, they still had a sense that there was a "god" they were missing.

As you look all around you, you will notice that the unbelievers are always pursuing dreams that never satisfy. They never fill the empty void within. Most often, like the Greeks, they have no idea what or whom they are really seeking.

Paul used this altar as a stepping stone to declare the Lord Jesus Christ to the Greeks. Look at what he said, What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you.

We are prone to think that because we do not have an in-depth knowledge of the Scriptures, we should not even try to explain the Gospel of Christ to people. We are too worried that they will ask a question that we cannot answer, or worse yet, that they will ridicule us.

But, the person most able to reach a person for Christ is the one who lives and/or works around them. First, we share the Gospel by our life which is wholly devoted to God and obedient to Him. Then, as they make comments about our Christ-like character, we use these opportunities to share Christ. Often the most antagonistic person is the one who will, in time, become a Christian.

I have never been one to force myself upon people; in my experience, God actually brings people to me.

Pray that God would use your life as a testimony to declare "The Unknown God" to those around you, and pray for their salvation. Our God answers prayer!

God Bless You,
Linda

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

A New Creation

November 25: Galatians 4-6

11 See with what large letters I am writing to you with my own hand. 12 It is those who want to make a good showing in the flesh who would force you to be circumcised, and only in order that they may not be persecuted for the cross of Christ. 13 For even those who are circumcised do not themselves keep the law, but they desire to have you circumcised that they may boast in your flesh. 14 But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. 15 For neither circumcision counts for anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation. 16 And as for all who walk by this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, and upon the Israel of God.
Galatians 6:11-16

A New Creation

As we continue on in the book of Galatians, Paul sums up his "treatise" against the requirement of circumcision. I noted two things that are also vices we need to avoid in our day. First, we must not be motivated by fear of man, and second we must be crucified to the world, for in Christ, we are a new creation.

It is those who want to make a good showing in the flesh who would force you to be circumcised, and only in order that they may not be persecuted for the cross of Christ.

What motivates us as Christians? Who do we fear? What is the basis for our decision making? These three questions are at the heart of Paul's letter to the Galatians. We would do well to think long and hard as we answer these questions. As our world continues to escalate away from God at an alarming rate, we will be forced more and more to hold forth our faith in the Lord, even in the face of persecution. These Jewish Christians were seeking a compromise so that they could avoid persecution. Of course, we would all prefer to avoid persecution, but not at the cost of the Gospel of Christ!

But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.

Tell me, of what can we boast? Is there anything in us that allows us to lift ourselves up before those around us? By the grace of God, we must pray daily that God will help us to be crucified to the world. It is not easy to let go of all of those things that were so important to us before we became Christians, but as believers, we can only boast in the cross of Christ. It is Christ who has made us a new creation, and it is God who has granted to us all of the abilities we have. We are absolutely nothing before Him.

And as for all who walk by this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, and upon the Israel of God.

As Christians, we are a new creation; we are the Israel of God!

Praise God, from Whom all blessings flow!

God Bless You,
Linda

Monday, November 24, 2008

Hypocrites!

November 24: Galatians 1-3

11 But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. 12 For before certain men came from James, he was eating with the Gentiles; but when they came he drew back and separated himself, fearing the circumcision party. 13 And the rest of the Jews acted hypocritically along with him, so that even Barnabas was led astray by their hypocrisy. 14 But when I saw that their conduct was not in step with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas before them all, “If you, though a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you force the Gentiles to live like Jews?”
Galatians 2:11-14, ESV

Hypocrites!

Much of the New Testament is filled with letters written by Paul to the churches in Asia. Paul was not one to mince words; when he perceived sin in the hearts of other believers he was not afraid to call them on it. That is exactly what we see in chapter 2 of Galatians.

Observing the actions of Peter, Paul was dismayed when Peter acted hypocritically when some Jewish visitors arrived. Before that time, Peter ate freely with the Gentiles, but when the visitors arrived, he separated himself from the Gentiles and ate only with the Jews. Seeing his actions, the other Jews, even Barnabas, began to follow his example.

One of the great conflicts of that time was caused by Jewish Christians thinking that the new Gentile believers should adopt Jewish customs, including circumcision. Yet, in this example, Peter and the other Jews had lived with the Gentiles as brothers until other Jews arrived.

Who are we to obey? That really is the question at the heart of this matter. Are we to be more concerned about our actions before men or before God? As Christians, like the Gentile believers of that day, we have the freedom to live before God alone, and not to be driven under the yoke of men.

Sadly, this lesson is largely forgotten among many Christians of our day. We tend to focus more on outward actions and appearances while ignoring our heart relationship with the Lord. The Bible tells us that our outward actions spring from our heart!

I think often of my children who are prone to disobey as soon as my back is turned. How I pray that their actions would spring from a heart of love toward God, knowing that He sees everything that they do.

When our hearts yearn for Christ, and our desire is to please Him alone, we are suddenly freed from the yokes of men. Pray, today, that you would not live as hypocrites, but would seek to please God alone, rather than live under the do's and dont's of well-meaning Christians around you.

When we live under the yoke of Christ, we are freed from the yoke of men!

God Bless You,
Linda

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Escaped!

November 23: Acts 15-16

25 About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them, 26 and suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken. And immediately all the doors were opened, and everyone's bonds were unfastened. 27 When the jailer woke and saw that the prison doors were open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself, supposing that the prisoners had escaped. 28 But Paul cried with a loud voice, “Do not harm yourself, for we are all here.” 29 And the jailer called for lights and rushed in, and trembling with fear he fell down before Paul and Silas. 30 Then he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”
Acts 16:25-30, ESV

Escaped

Paul and Silas were in prison. What had they done now?

As they were moving throughout the city of Philippi, they came upon a slave girl "filled with the spirit of divination" who made a lot of money for her masters. She followed Paul and Silas for days proclaiming, “These men are servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to you the way of salvation.”

After days of this, Paul became annoyed and cast the evil spirit out of her. Her owners were furious. They cared nothing about the girl, but only the money she made for them, and that income was gone!

But, look at Paul and Silas. At midnight we find them entertaining all of the other prisoners by praying to God and singing hymns! Suddenly the earth trembled; all of the chains were loosened from the prisoners hands and feet, and the doors swung open. The Philippian jailer, assuming the prisoners had all escaped was ready to kill himself.

But Paul cried with a loud voice, “Do not harm yourself, for we are all here.”

Trembling with fear, the jailer fell down before Paul and Silas crying, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”

Nothing happens by accident! How often do we find ourselves questioning our circumstances, crying out, "Why is God doing this to me?" God is gradually turning this world, and completing his plan that began right at the creation!

Thinking the prisoners had escaped the Philippian jailer was ready to take his own life, but God prevented that. Why? Earlier, when Peter escaped prison, the jailers were executed. Why did that not happen here? The Philippian jailer had an appointment with God! Not only that, later we find that his entire household believed in God!

What an amazing God we have? Nothing is more important than the salvation of new believers.

God Bless You,
Linda

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Taming the Tongue

November 22: James 1-5

6 And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell. 7 For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, 8 but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. 9 With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. 10 From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so.
James 3:6-9

Taming the Tongue

The Apostle James was the first of the twelve apostles to be executed for his faith. Yet, in the short time he lived, he wrote one of the most powerful books of the New Testament. It does not take long to read the entire book (only five chapters); it is well worth the time spent reading it.

For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.

Who among us has not been the subject of a sharp, vindictive tongue? As a child we used to chant the rhyme:

Sticks and stones may break my bones,
But names will never hurt me!

Unfortunately, quite the opposite is true! Our body will mend much more quickly from broken bones than from a broken spirit crushed by some one's inflamed tongue.

I wish I could say that we only see this happening among unbelievers, but the acidity of an untamed tongue permeates the church as well. James is speaking to believers when he says of the tongue,

With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God.

Dear friends, we are called by the Lord to spread the Gospel and to help build up the kingdom of Christ. If we find ourselves tearing that kingdom down by harsh and thoughtless words, we must go before Christ, confess our sins, and cry out for grace that God would tame our tongue.

It is not easy to change, but what is impossible with man is always possible with God. As we enter this holiday season when we often find ourselves surrounded by family and friends we do not often see, we must pray that God will be gracious to us and would keep us from speaking evil of others (even if it is true!).

Taming the tongue can only be the work of God!

I leave you with this final thought from James 3:6,

The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell.

God Bless You,
Linda

Friday, November 21, 2008

Paul and Barnabas

November 21: Acts 13-14

15 “Men, why are you doing these things? We also are men, of like nature with you, and we bring you good news, that you should turn from these vain things to a living God, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and all that is in them. 16 In past generations he allowed all the nations to walk in their own ways. 17 Yet he did not leave himself without witness, for he did good by giving you rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, satisfying your hearts with food and gladness.” 18 Even with these words they scarcely restrained the people from offering sacrifice to them.
Acts 14:15-18, ESV

Paul and Barnabas

Now there were in the church at Antioch prophets and teachers . . . 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.”
Acts 13:1-2, ESV

The church was growing as hundreds and thousands came to know the Lord Jesus Christ. God chose to spread the Word to the gentiles as well as the Jews. Therefor, in the beginning of Acts 13, we have the account of the Jewish leaders appointing Saul and Barnabas for the work of going throughout Asia, presenting the Gospel.

Typically, as they entered each new town and city, Paul and Barnabas first went to the Jewish synagogue and proclaimed the Gospel of Christ. Their reception was overwhelming, until the unbelieving Jews incited the people against them. This seemed to be the normal pattern as they traveled to Cyprus, Antioch, Iconium, and Lystra.

In Lystra, however, when the crowds saw a lame man healed by the hand of Paul, they believed that the gods had come down to them.

And when the crowds saw what Paul had done, they lifted up their voices, saying in Lycaonian, “The gods have come down to us in the likeness of men!”

As the people were ready to sacrifice to Paul and Barnabas, Paul quickly restrained the people.

“Men, why are you doing these things? We also are men, of like nature with you, and we bring you good news, that you should turn from these vain things to a living God, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and all that is in them."

Yet, how quickly the hearts of the people changed when Jews from Iconium and Lystra came to Lystra and persuaded the people to stone Paul, leaving him for dead.

The message of Christ's sacrifice on the cross to save a people for himself is not a popular message. As a matter of fact, in most circles today you can talk about just about any topic except the Gospel. Nothing will bring the hatred of unbelievers upon a person more quickly than discovering that he is a Christian.

Unfortunately, that often serves as a deterrent to the Christian. I have always found it difficult to speak with fellow employees about Christ. I did learn, however, that if by the grace of God I lived my faith, many times people would ask questions or comment about my behavior. It was much easier at that point to give glory to God alone, making it clear that it was not I who was good, but it was God working in me.

I do believe we are headed for a time of great persecution, not only around the world, but here in the United States as well. We need to pray that, like Paul and Barnabas, we Christians would be willing and ready to suffer for Christ, even unto death!

How important is your faith to you? That is a good thought to ponder this day!

God Bless You,
Linda

Thursday, November 20, 2008

It Is His Angel!

November 20: Acts 11-12

11 When Peter came to himself, he said, “Now I am sure that the Lord has sent his angel and rescued me from the hand of Herod and from all that the Jewish people were expecting.”

12 When he realized this, he went to the house of Mary, the mother of John whose other name was Mark, where many were gathered together and were praying. 13 And when he knocked at the door of the gateway, a servant girl named Rhoda came to answer. 14 Recognizing Peter's voice, in her joy she did not open the gate but ran in and reported that Peter was standing at the gate. 15 They said to her, “You are out of your mind.” But she kept insisting that it was so, and they kept saying, “It is his angel!” 16 But Peter continued knocking, and when they opened, they saw him and were amazed.

Acts 12:11-16, ESV

It Is His Angel!

This is perhaps my favorite account of the events of the early Christian church recorded in Acts, because I see myself in those who were praying for Peter.

Herod was on the attack! When he saw that the people were pleased with the execution of the Apostle James, he arrested Peter and threw him in prison. Peter, however, did not stay in prison for very long; in the middle of the night an angel came and brought him safely out of the prison. When the guards awoke, he was gone! (Read the full account of Peter's release from prison in Acts 12:7-10.)

The amazing thing to me were the Christians who had gathered together in the house of Mary, praying for Peter's release from prison. When Peter realized that he was not having a vision, but really had been released from prison, he went to the house of Mary and knocked at the door. Rhoda, the servant girl, came to the door; recognizing the voice of Peter she ran in to tell the others. How did they react?

They told Rhoda that she was out of her mind; Peter could not be there, because he was in prison. "It is his angel," they responded. At her insistence, they opened the door and saw Peter standing there.

We, Christians, know that God answers prayer. As a matter of fact, we do not have to live very long to see many examples of God's faithfulness to the prayers of His people. Yet, how often do we respond just like Peter's friends? We pray for our unsaved relatives, knowing in our heart that they will never accept the Lord. When God turns their heart to Him, we are amazed.

Do not think that this kind of event only happened to the Christians in the early church! Has our God changed? Is His arm shortened that He cannot hear and answer our prayers?

Go to Christ today and confess your unbelief before Him. Then, pray without ceasing, knowing that prayer is the most powerful weapon you have against unbelief!

God Bless You,
Linda

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Cornelius

November 19: Acts 9-10

1 At Caesarea there was a man named Cornelius, a centurion of what was known as the Italian Cohort, 2 a devout man who feared God with all his household, gave alms generously to the people, and prayed continually to God. 3 About the ninth hour of the day he saw clearly in a vision an angel of God come in and say to him, “Cornelius.” 4 And he stared at him in terror and said, “What is it, Lord?” And he said to him, “Your prayers and your alms have ascended as a memorial before God. 5 And now send men to Joppa and bring one Simon who is called Peter. 6 He is lodging with one Simon, a tanner, whose house is by the sea.” 7 When the angel who spoke to him had departed, he called two of his servants and a devout soldier from among those who attended him, 8 and having related everything to them, he sent them to Joppa.
Acts 10:1-8, ESV

Cornelius

God knows everything! In our Bible reading today we learn of a Roman centurion, in charge of 100 soldiers, who feared God. Though this was totally unheard of by the Jews of that day, God knew that Cornelius, the centurion, was his child. Convincing the Jewish Christians of this was another matter; they believed that Jesus Christ came only for them.

God heard Cornelius' prayers and sent an angel to him, telling him to send for the Apostle Peter, who was staying in Joppa. Then, before Cornelius' men arrived at Joppa, God sent a vision to Peter.

9 The next day, as they were on their journey and approaching the city, Peter went up on the housetop about the sixth hour to pray. 10 And he became hungry and wanted something to eat, but while they were preparing it, he fell into a trance 11 and saw the heavens opened and something like a great sheet descending, being let down by its four corners upon the earth. 12 In it were all kinds of animals and reptiles and birds of the air. 13 And there came a voice to him: “Rise, Peter; kill and eat.” 14 But Peter said, “By no means, Lord; for I have never eaten anything that is common or unclean.” 15 And the voice came to him again a second time, “What God has made clean, do not call common.” 16 This happened three times, and the thing was taken up at once to heaven.
Acts 10:9-16, ESV

While Peter was pondering this vision, Cornelius' men arrived at his gate. When Peter spoke with the men, he understood the meaning of his vision. The Jewish people considered all Gentiles unclean, but God was showing Peter that Christ died for more than just the Jews.

Why is this so significant to us in the 21st century? Do you realize, that if Christ only came for the Jews, most of us would have no opportunity to become Christians. I hope that thought is extremely disturbing to you! And, I hope, too, that it causes you to fall on your knees before Christ and thank Him again for the salvation that He has granted to you!

It is good for Christians to ponder what it would mean to have a life without Christ followed by eternity without Him. How quickly we tend to take our relationship to Christ for granted. There is nothing in all of the world more important than our relationship to Christ, and there is no duty we perform that is more important than our service to Him.

Ponder the story of the conversion of Cornelius as you go about your duties of this day, and thank God for His grace in granting you salvation through the blood of Christ.

God Bless You,
Linda

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The Face of a An Angel

November 18: Acts 7-8

54 Now when they heard these things they were enraged, and they ground their teeth at him. 55 But he, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. 56 And he said, “Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” 57 But they cried out with a loud voice and stopped their ears and rushed together at him. 58 Then they cast him out of the city and stoned him. And the witnesses laid down their garments at the feet of a young man named Saul. 59 And as they were stoning Stephen, he called out, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” 60 And falling to his knees he cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep.
Acts 7:54-60

The Face of An Angel

The church of Jesus Christ was growing by the thousands, sending the Jewish council into a panic. What were they going to do to stop it? It seemed that everything they did just caused the church to grow even more! Such was the case with Stephan in Acts 6 & 7.

When brought before the council, Stephen boldly proclaimed the Word of God. Acts 6 ends with the words,

And gazing at him, all who sat in the council saw that his face was like the face of an angel.
Acts 6:15
When false accusations were made against him, Stephen had the opportunity to preach the Gospel to the council. Beginning with Abraham, he proclaimed both the hand of God working through the historic events, as well as the Jewish "church" opposing the prophets God sent, ending with the killing of the Lord Jesus Christ.
54 Now when they heard these things they were enraged, and they ground their teeth at him. 55 But he, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. 56 And he said, “Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.”
Stopping their ears at his words, the men of the council drug him out of the council chambers and took him outside of the city and stoned him.
One of the most striking characteristics of the early church was their total dedication to their duty of spreading the Gospel. I am not referring to just the apostles. As the Jewish people became Christians, they sold all they had and brought it to the church and lived together in one community.
I am not suggesting we follow that example today, but we must seriously take a look at their total dedication to the Lord. Do we owe the Lord any less?
How important is our faith in Christ? What impact does our faith have on our lives, especially our "every day" life?
No matter where God has put us, He demands, and rightly so, our all! Stephen was so filled with the Spirit of God that when he stood before the council his face was as the face of an angel, and he saw Jesus at the right hand of God. How would our life be different today if, by the grace of God, we focused our thoughts on our Lord, sitting at the right hand of God?
That does not exempt us from the normal daily duties of our life, but when we are doing the dishes, cleaning the house, folding the laundry, or walking from one place to another in our place of employment, we can take those moments to reflect upon the Lord. We can also, as encouraged by Paul, pray without ceasing; bringing up those quick prayers of thanks, pleas for help, etc. throughout our day.
Christ walks right along with us, no matter where we go. Think about that as you seek to live for Him this day.
God Bless You,
Linda
All Scriptures are from the English Standard Version of the Bible.

Monday, November 17, 2008

But Peter

November 17: Acts 4-6

27 And when they had brought them, they set them before the council. And the high priest questioned them, 28 saying, “We strictly charged you not to teach in this name, yet here you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching, and you intend to bring this man's blood upon us.” 29 But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men. 30 The God of our fathers raised Jesus, whom you killed by hanging him on a tree. 31 God exalted him at his right hand as Leader and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. 32 And we are witnesses to these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.”
Acts 5:27-32

But Peter

Because we have just finished reading the Gospels, Peter's denial of Christ is still fresh in our minds. When Christ was resurrected He sought Peter out to let Him know that he was forgiven, and to give him (and the other apostles) the charge to spread the Gospel. Here in Acts 5, we find that they have been very effective; God has certainly blessed their ministry.

Here, in the book of Acts, it is hard to believe that this is the same Peter. When the religious council imprisoned some of the apostles because of their teaching, we find that it was Peter who spoke for the rest of the apostles.

“We must obey God rather than men. The God of our fathers raised Jesus, whom you killed by hanging him on a tree. God exalted him at his right hand as Leader and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. And we are witnesses to these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.”

In my country, the United States, we have not seen Christians being imprisoned for their faith, but the tide is turning. As more and more ungodly actions become legalized, the Christian is finding himself more and more at odds with new laws. Where will it end?

The time is coming, indeed, is already here in many countries, when Biblical teaching will no longer be tolerated. Pastors will be restricted from teaching principles that are in disagreement with the laws of the land. Christians will not be allowed to share their faith in public; we really already see this in the public school system where all religions are taught except Christianity.

What will you do? How important is your faith? Will you deny Christ, or will your answer be the same as that given by Peter?

Why are we here? Why does God not just take us to heaven immediately when we become Christians? Remember, for the Christian, there is only ONE purpose, and that is to share the Gospel of Christ wherever God has placed us.

But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men."

Is that your answer as well?

God Bless You,
Linda

All Scriptures are from the English Standard Version of the Bible.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

The Ascension

November 16: Acts 1-3

6 So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” 7 He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” 9 And when he had said these things, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. 10 And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, 11 and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.”
Acts 1:6-11

The Ascension

So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?”

What question would you have asked Jesus after the resurrection, especially now that you really knew that He was not just a man, but truly the Son of God? Our questions would have probably been very similar to that of the disciples. Their question was not surprising; they expected that Jesus would now restore the promised land back to the Jews and set up His earthly kingdom. His answer was probably a great disappointment to them.

He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority."

Instead of the answer they desired, He gave them a charge.

"But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

Though this may have been a disappointment to them, His answer meant life to us! Before Christ would return to set up His kingdom, all of His children must be gathered in. Looking down through the portals of time, Christ already knew about His children who still needed to be saved (including Christians today and in the future).

Then, right before their eyes, the Lord Jesus Christ ascended up into heaven. The disciples continued looking up even after a cloud took Him out of their view.

And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.”

Now, we have the rest of the story; as promised by two angels sent by God, Jesus Christ would return in the same manner. It has been over 2000 years since that time. Is Christ still going to return?

Christians today have the same charge which Christ gave to His disciples. We are here to spread the Gospel to the uttermost parts of the earth (which also means right in our own corner of the world where we have been placed by God).

Though we do not know the times or the seasons of Christ's return, the ascension of Christ gives us the basis for our hope and expectations as Christians. Christ ascended into heaven, and yes, He will return in the same manner! Could it be today? Yes!

By the grace of God call out to Him to help you keep your focus on Him and not on the things of the world all around you.

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!

God Bless You,
Linda

All Scriptures are from the English Standard Version of the Bible.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

On the Emmaus road

November 15: Luke 24 & John 20-21

13 That very day two of them were going to a village named Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, 14 and they were talking with each other about all these things that had happened. 15 While they were talking and discussing together, Jesus himself drew near and went with them. 16 But their eyes were kept from recognizing him. 17 And he said to them, “What is this conversation that you are holding with each other as you walk?” And they stood still, looking sad. 18 Then one of them, named Cleopas, answered him, “Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?” 19 And he said to them, “What things?” And they said to him, “Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, a man who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, 20 and how our chief priests and rulers delivered him up to be condemned to death, and crucified him. 21 But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things happened. 22 Moreover, some women of our company amazed us. They were at the tomb early in the morning, 23 and when they did not find his body, they came back saying that they had even seen a vision of angels, who said that he was alive. 24 Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but him they did not see.” 25 And he said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! 26 Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” 27 And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.

28 So they drew near to the village to which they were going. He acted as if he were going farther, 29 but they urged him strongly, saying, “Stay with us, for it is toward evening and the day is now far spent.” So he went in to stay with them. 30 When he was at table with them, he took the bread and blessed and broke it and gave it to them. 31 And their eyes were opened, and they recognized him.
Luke 24:13-31

On the Emmaus Road

All of Jerusalem was in a stir over the events of the last few days. That is why the two men walking on the Emmaus Road were shocked to know that this stranger they met did not seem to know of the recent events. We are told, But their eyes were kept from recognizing him. Even when the stranger (who was actually Christ) explained in great detail, beginning with the law and the prophets, all of the things foretold about Jesus Christ, they did not know they were talking to the Lord.

And he said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.

Finally, when they reached the village and invited Him into their home, their eyes were opened when he took bread, blessed it, and gave some to each of them.

It is often amazing how blind even believers can be about the teachings of the Word of God. This also brings up another very interesting point. The men were kept from recognizing Christ until their eyes were opened when Christ prayed.

As we have seen in so many Scriptures, there is no room for pride in the heart of a Christian because they are "smart" enough to accept Christ as their Savior and Lord. Look at the pitiful reaction of all of the disciples when Jesus was put on trial! Then, look at the extent of their unbelief when they heard news that He had risen from the dead.

Do you desire a closer relationship with Christ? How about a better understanding of the Word of God and how it applies directly to your daily life? Go to the Lord; cry out to Him for help and He will answer your prayer. Your growth and sanctification as a Christian comes directly from the Lord Jesus Christ.

What an amazing time it was in Jerusalem! Can you imagine the great joy of the Jewish Christians when Christ came and stood right where they were meeting? If you are a true believer, then yes, you can understand, as it is just like the joy you experienced when you first believed.

The songwriter calls it, Joy unspeakable and full of glory.

Maybe it is time for you to take a walk on the Emmaus Road!

God Bless You,
Linda

All Scriptures are from the English Standard Version of the Bible.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Trembling and Astonishment

November 14: Matthew 28 & Mark 16

1 When the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him. 2 And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb. 3 And they were saying to one another, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance of the tomb?” 4 And looking up, they saw that the stone had been rolled back—it was very large. 5 And entering the tomb, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, dressed in a white robe, and they were alarmed. 6 And he said to them, “Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen; he is not here. See the place where they laid him. 7 But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going before you to Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.” 8 And they went out and fled from the tomb, for trembling and astonishment had seized them, and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.
Mark 16:1-8

Trembling and Astonishment

Try to put yourself in the place of Mary Magdalene and Mary, the mother of Jesus. You are on the way to the tomb to put spices on the body of Jesus, and are wondering how you will get the huge stone rolled away from the opening of the cave. When you arrive, what do you find?

And looking up, they saw that the stone had been rolled back—it was very large. And entering the tomb, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, dressed in a white robe, and they were alarmed.

It is certainly not a surprise that they were alarmed, but even more surprising were the words the young man (angel) spoke.

“Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen; he is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going before you to Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.”

How did the two Marys respond?

And they went out and fled from the tomb, for trembling and astonishment had seized them, and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.

Though Jesus had foretold all of these things, including His resurrection, the Jewish Christians did not understand Him. It is only after all of these events had taken place that they realized what He had been trying to tell them.

Why do you think that Peter was singled out in the angel's words? Our God is a personal God, who has a personal relationship with each of His children. He is not somewhere out of reach. Peter had denied Christ three times, just as Christ said he would. The angel wanted Peter to know that Christ had truly forgiven Him and he was still part of the inner circle of disciples.

Oh that we would come to the Lord Jesus Christ in trembling and astonishment! These events have lost some of their effectiveness because we are so familiar with the story of Christ's crucifixion, death, and resurrection. It is good to put ourselves in the places of the two Marys and consider what our reaction would have been.

This same Jesus is sitting at the right hand of God, the Father, right now making intercession for us! Without Christ, we have no standing before God. When you come to God in prayer, I challenge you to come before Him in trembling and astonishment!

God Bless You,
Linda

All Scriptures are from the English Standard Version of the Bible.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

In Paradise

November 13: Luke 23 & John 18-19

32 Two others, who were criminals, were led away to be put to death with him. 33 And when they came to the place that is called The Skull, there they crucified him, and the criminals, one on his right and one on his left. 34 And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” And they cast lots to divide his garments. 35 And the people stood by, watching, but the rulers scoffed at him, saying, “He saved others; let him save himself, if he is the Christ of God, his Chosen One!” 36 The soldiers also mocked him, coming up and offering him sour wine 37 and saying, “If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!”
38 There was also an inscription over him, “This is the King of the Jews.”

39 One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!” 40 But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? 41 And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” 42 And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” 43 And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”

Luke 23:32-43

In Paradise

Luke, the physician, often brought more detail into his account of the events taking place. Such is the case here with the two thieves who were also being crucified, one on the right and the other on the left of Christ.

It must have looked like to end to most people; Christ, who claimed to be the Son of God, was not able to save Himself from this cruel death on the cross. It was a busy place! Many, including the soldiers, mocked Him, while others cast lots for his garments.

Seeing all of this, one of the thieves railed at Him, saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!” How did the other thief respond?

But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”

Two thieves--two responses; both were viewing the same events, yet each reacted in a different way. One would be cast into hell while the other would be with Christ in Paradise that very day!

Before God, there are only two classes of people: the believers and the unbelievers. The Gospel is revealed to both, yet their responses are entirely different. When all is said and done, that should be the only true concern for Christians; that is why we are here!

Christ said He came to divide--indeed, He came to divide the sheep from the goats. Which group are you in?

Only through Christ can you be assured that you, too, will be with Christ in Paradise.

God Bless You,
Linda

All Scriptures are from the English Standard Version of the Bible.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Forsaken!

November 12: Matthew 27 & Mark 15

45 Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land until the ninth hour. 46 And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” 47 And some of the bystanders, hearing it, said, “This man is calling Elijah.” 48 And one of them at once ran and took a sponge, filled it with sour wine, and put it on a reed and gave it to him to drink. 49 But the others said, “Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to save him.” 50 And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice and yielded up his spirit.

51 And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. And the earth shook, and the rocks were split. 52 The tombs also were opened. And many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised, 53 and coming out of the tombs after his resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many. 54 When the centurion and those who were with him, keeping watch over Jesus, saw the earthquake and what took place, they were filled with awe and said, “Truly this was the Son of God!”
Matthew 27:45-54

Forsaken!

And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

As we consider the crucifixion of our Lord Jesus, what do you think was the hardest part for our Lord to bear? He knew exactly what was going to happen when He was in the garden praying to God asking to "let this cup pass from me." But, then He responded, "Nevertheless, not my will, but thine be done." What was the "cup" that was so difficult to bear?

Was it the time He spent before Pilate? Or, what about the mocking and flogging He received from the Roman soldiers? Was it the physical pain that He was going to experience?

No, it was none of these, though they were difficult in and of themselves. The thing Christ feared the most was that moment when He was forsaken by God! As the sins of all His children were cast upon Him, even God could not look upon Him.

When we think of eternal punishment, what will be the most difficult thing for the ungodly to bear? Will it be the pain, the fire, or knowing they missed the opportunity to accept Christ? No, again, it will be the total separation from God that will be the most difficult thing to bear.

You see, even though they may reject God on this earth, God is still present blessing all of mankind. No one can rightly imagine what this world would be like with God totally removed.

I can not even come close to imagining the great love of Christ for His people that He would go through such utter torment for such unworthy people. Yet, He did this willingly; He chose this path, knowing that it was the only hope of saving a people for Himself. No one killed Jesus! He willingly gave up His life for His sheep.

What is our response?

What is your response?

My husband, David, has written a beautiful poem that expresses what I cannot. To read the entire poem, He Bore Our Sins, you can go to my website. The third stanza says,

He who in very nature God
Despised not to condescend
Oh magnify His name and laud
Who drank the cup and purchased men
Eternity's too short a day
To glorify His holy name
Dear saint but lightly chastened here
Rejoice in hope O mortal frame

Forsaken! Forsaken for us!

God Bless You,
Linda

All Scriptures are from the English Standard Version of the Bible.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Jesus Prays

November 11: John 14-17

“Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you, 2 since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. 3 And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. 4 I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do. 5 And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.

20 “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, 21 that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, 23 I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me. 24 Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world. 25 O righteous Father, even though the world does not know you, I know you, and these know that you have sent me. 26 I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.”
John 17:1b-26

Jesus Prays

Jesus' final discourse with his disciples was finished; He has just expanded on the lesson He had begun by washing their feet. Yet, in many ways, the disciples had very little understanding of what Christ was saying. As Jesus prays to God the Father, John has recorded the words He spoke which were not only for the disciples in that room, but also to all believers of all ages.

The whole "secret" of our life in Christ is revealed in these words!

The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.

Christ ends the prayer with these words, I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.

Right there we find our true purpose in this life! Just as Christ made Himself known to us in the name of God, so must we, because of our deep love for God, make Christ known to others. Christ has blessed our country greatly, but that does not give us a reason to be distracted by "things" which hamper the ministry of Christ.

No matter who you are, and no matter where in this world you live, your purpose is the same! God has not given each of us the same gifts; rather, we must each use the gifts that are unique to us to honor and glorify our great God in Heaven.

The amazing thing to remember, too, is that no one is greater than another; God uses all of His children, often the weak things of this world, to confound the wise. As you go about your duties of this day, think of the words that Jesus prays in this passage, and ask God to help you fulfill your purpose for being here.

God Bless You,
Linda

All Scriptures are from the English Standard Version of the Bible.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Servant and Master

November 10: Luke 22 & John 13

12 When he had washed their feet and put on his outer garments and resumed his place, he said to them, “Do you understand what I have done to you? 13 You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. 14 If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet. 15 For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you. 16 Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. 17 If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them. 18 I am not speaking of all of you; I know whom I have chosen. But the Scripture will be fulfilled, ‘He who ate my bread has lifted his heel against me.’ 19 I am telling you this now, before it takes place, that when it does take place you may believe that I am he. 20 Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever receives the one I send receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me.”
John 13:12-20

Servant and Master

The hour was approaching when Jesus would be arrested. He had just finished eating the Last Supper with His disciples, but before leaving He wanted to do one more thing. Getting out a basin of water he went around the room and washed the feet of each disciple. Why did He do this? What lesson was he trying to teach them?

When He finished, He asked them, Do you understand what I have done to you?

No one answered, so He continued, For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you. Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him.

Of all the things Jesus could have said, I find it interesting that this is His final lesson for them. What sin is He addressing? Jesus is addressing the sin of pride; how He hates a proud, self-righteous heart! In a short time, after Jesus' resurrection and return to heaven, He knows that the disciples will need to carry on His ministry. It is so important that they do so with a humble spirit.

In the kingdom of heaven there is no room for pride and arrogance. Of what do we have to be proud? Did we save ourselves? Not one person will reach heaven by their own power. As we bow before our God of heaven and earth, so must we also bow before each other. What is the relationship between the servant and master? Neither is greater than the other, but all equally bow the knee before Christ.

Christ concluded with these words, Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever receives the one I send receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me.

Pray, that as you go about the duties of this day, that God would give you a spirit of humility to all of those around you, including those over you in authority and those under you.

God Bless You,
Linda

All Scriptures are from the English Standard Version of the Bible.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Peter Wept

November 9: Matthew 26 & Mark 14

26 And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives. 27 And Jesus said to them, “You will all fall away, for it is written, ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered.’ 28 But after I am raised up, I will go before you to Galilee.” 29 Peter said to him, “Even though they all fall away, I will not.” 30 And Jesus said to him, “Truly, I tell you, this very night, before the rooster crows twice, you will deny me three times.” 31 But he said emphatically, “If I must die with you, I will not deny you.” And they all said the same.

66 And as Peter was below in the courtyard, one of the servant girls of the high priest came, 67 and seeing Peter warming himself, she looked at him and said, “You also were with the Nazarene, Jesus.” 68 But he denied it, saying, “I neither know nor understand what you mean.” And he went out into the gateway and the rooster crowed. 69 And the servant girl saw him and began again to say to the bystanders, “This man is one of them.” 70 But again he denied it. And after a little while the bystanders again said to Peter, “Certainly you are one of them, for you are a Galilean.” 71 But he began to invoke a curse on himself and to swear, “I do not know this man of whom you speak.” 72 And immediately the rooster crowed a second time. And Peter remembered how Jesus had said to him, “Before the rooster crows twice, you will deny me three times.” And he broke down and wept.
Mark 14:26-31 & 66-72

Peter Wept

For Christians, the most bitter tears we weep are those over our own sins! We see this very thing in the example of Peter, standing with the bystanders while observing the trial of Jesus. It is easy to be critical of Peter, but we must be very careful because, to do so means that we do not understand the sin nature that battles within ourselves.

The Bible tells us that the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak. We see that in Peter; look how emphatically he proclaims to Christ, “If I must die with you, I will not deny you.”

Yet, just a few hours later he fulfills the prophecy spoken by Christ, “Truly, I tell you, this very night, before the rooster crows twice, you will deny me three times.”

It is important for we Christians to understand the depths of our own sin nature. Pride often restricts us from seeing who we really are, and oh how God hates pride. We must understand that every good thing we say or do is because of the Holy Spirit within us, and the blood of Christ shed for us.

This is a sad portion of Scripture, but remember what Christ said? He came to save sinners! If we do not understand our own sin, we will not understand the necessity of Christ's death for us.

Later we find that Christ, when He appeared after His resurrection, restored Peter. So, too, Christ forgives and restores us as we fall before Him grieving and confessing our own sins.

Peter wept over his own sins. Do you?

God Bless You,
Linda

All Scriptures are from the English Standard Version of the Bible.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Final Judgment

November 8: Matthew 25

31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. 34 Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38 And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39 And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ 40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’

41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ 44 Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ 45 Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ 46 And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”
Matthew 25:31-46

Final Judgment

I must admit that this is not a subject I prefer writing about, but to neglect to do so would be to neglect the very words of Christ, Himself. I know of no other passage that paints such a stark difference between the Children of Christ and the unbelievers with such finality. It is the end; there is no more to be written!

In verses 31-40, shown above, Christ tells of the time when He will return with all of His angels and shall sit on the throne of judgment over mankind. No man from the beginning of time until that moment at the end of time will be exempt from this judgment; all will be there. As Christ peers over the multitudes, He will separate everyone into two classes just as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. There will be no mistakes, for Christ's judgment will be perfect!

On His right He will place His own dear children with the words of comfort, "Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world."

To those on His left He speaks terrifying words of truth, "Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels."

The jokes about heaven and hell do abound, do they not? You have all seen pictures--even in cartoons--of the devil with his red suit and long pitchfork dwelling among the flames. Who has not heard a person exclaim, "I do not care if I am going to hell; that is where all of my friends will be."

However, on the day of judgment, no one will be laughing. Neither will anyone doubt the reality of God and His supreme rule over all. Even the ungodly will bow the knee before Christ on that day!

As Christians, we truly need to wake up! We know these things, but have often been lulled to sleep by complacency. Tell me, what things in this life could ever be more important than living and sharing the Gospel with all of those around us? Are we reluctant because we do not want to face their taunting, their jeering, and their contempt? But, on that last day, will they still hold you in contempt?

Our purpose, from the moment we become a Christian, is to live every single day to the honor and glory of God. That does not mean that everyone must become a pastor, a missionary, or an evangelist; it does mean that wherever God has placed us, we are to be a beacon for Christ.

Where will you be on the day of final judgment? Will you be among the sheep, or among the goats? What about your friends and your family--where will they be?

Yes, these are sobering questions, because this is a sobering time!

God Bless You,
Linda

All Scriptures are from the English Standard Version of the Bible.