Thursday, July 31, 2014

Trust His Heart

"Now the son of Paul's sister heard of their ambush, so he went and entered the barracks and told Paul. Paul called one of the centurions and said, “Take this young man to the tribune, for he has something to tell him.”" -- Acts 23:16-17
When the Lord directs our steps, he carefully arranges the details. Paul was informed in verse 11, "... you must testify also in Rome.” but the way was not specified. An ambush, a nephew, and a wise tribune were all pieces of the puzzle to bring Paul to his destination. 
Have you ever wondered what details are at work to bring you to the next step in your journey for Jesus? Never minimize the importance of the small things in your life. When the Lord is in charge curious moments are often critical elements in fulfilling God's plan.
Take courage my friend and stay close to the Lord every day. Allow him to guide the events of your life and follow him each step of the way. While you may not be able to trace his hand... just trust his heart.

Think about this: "It is not our trust that keeps us, but the God in whom we trust who keeps us."
               - Oswald Chambers

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Take Courage

"The dispute became so violent that the commander was afraid Paul would be torn to pieces by them. He ordered the troops to go down and take him away from them by force and bring him into the barracks. The following night the Lord stood near Paul and said, “Take courage! As you have testified about me in Jerusalem, so you must also testify in Rome.”" - Acts 23:10-11
Of the 102 passengers that boarded the Mayflower in 1620, 37 were members of the separatist Leiden congregation seeking freedom of worship in the new world. They were willing to take a most dangerous journey for the hope of religious freedom. For those believers, seeking and serving God freely was worth any sacrifice, so they chose to set sail and... Take courage!
Paul was faced with opposition and persecution time and again. There were times when his very life was endangered. Yet, the Lord was always faithful to come along side to encourage him as needed. Paul knew that God had much for him to accomplish and the path would not be easy, but he pressed on with the Lord's message ringing in his heart... Take Courage!
The Lord has a purpose and plan for every believer, but it may not be easy. Paul wrote Timothy in 2 Timothy 3:12... "In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted".  Your path may be difficult at times but the Lord will stand near to encourage you. The Pilgrims found freedom and you will achieve God's task if you will just press on and... Take Courage! 

Think about this: "Only he who can say, 'The Lord is the strength of my life' can say, 'Of whom shall I be afraid?'
                                                                     - Alexander MacLare

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Called by God

"Then he said: ‘The God of our fathers has chosen you to know his will and to see the Righteous One and to hear words from his mouth. You will be his witness to all men of what you have seen and heard." - Acts 22:14-15
Who are you? Many people would answer that question by stating their profession. Their career is their identity. There are bankers, lawyers, physicians, contractors, hairdressers and then there are ministers. But, should the minister be listed in the same way as other careers? The minister is a calling, and it runs deeper and wider than any career. When careers have come and gone, those who have been chosen to "witness to all men of what they have seen and heard" continue to be ministers... called by God.
Paul was chosen to know God's will, see the Lord and hear his words. He was set apart to bear witness of these things for a lifetime. His calling was quite simple; listen, learn, live and light the way for others as a minister of Christ. Paul might have said that his profession, career or identity was being a tent-maker. But, when Paul put aside the tools of his daily trade, he continued to be a minister... called by God.
Who are you? Are you a policeman, fireman, soldier, designer or software programmer? After you have answered that question, who are you in light of God's calling and giftedness? "But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses..." (Acts 1:8) Every believer is chosen of God to listen, learn, live and light the way for others. To a certain degree every believer is a minister... called by God.

Think about this:"He who disregards his calling will never keep the straight path in the duties of his work."
                                                                       - John Calvin

Monday, July 28, 2014

A glad reception

"When we had come to Jerusalem, the brothers received us gladly." - Acts 21:17
I like dogs. I own a dog. I don't own a cat. All this to emphasise the major difference between the two and why I choose one over the other. When I am away from the house more than ten minutes and return, my dog JoJo, unlike any cat, jumps around with such excitement it's insane. There's just something special about coming back home and having a glad reception.
Christian fellowship runs far deeper and is of great significance than the companionship of a dog. But, having stated the obvious may I say that when Luke recorded the events before us today he was blessed and grateful for warm Christian fellowship. He considered it just something special to come back home and have a glad reception.
When other believers saunter into your church or Bible study, how are they received? How do the brethren respond to you when you arrive, after being away for vacation? Along with everything that makes up Christian fellowship, the first quality is the special blessing of receiving a glad reception.

Think about this:  "Keep company with the more cheerful sort of the godly; there is no mirth like the mirth of believers."
                                                                        - Richard Baxter

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Without Question

"Then Paul answered, “Why are you weeping and breaking my heart? I am ready not only to be bound, but also to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.” When he would not be dissuaded, we gave up and said, “The Lord’s will be done.”" - Acts 21:13-14 
We have had  a number of young men from our church who have spent numerous tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. Every time they left for a new tour we had great concern for their safety. The truth is; no one wanted to see their loved ones go to war. But our young men and women who choose to serve their country go where they are called... without question.
The Christian life to which we are called is warfare. There are some battles that are more demanding than others, but Paul was ready to serve the Lord, anywhere at any cost. He was deeply loved and no one wanted to see him exposed to danger, but when his Commander and Chief called Paul obeyed... without question.
Has the Lord been calling you to new challenges lately? Have there been dear loved ones that are worried for your "welfare"? Have they expressed emotional concern and tried to discourage you? Take a lesson from Paul and obey your Masters call. May "The Lord's will be done."... without question. 

Think about this: "Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me.  Yet not as I will, but as you will.”" 
                                                                                                                     - Matthew 26:39

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Be on guard

"I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock. Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them. So be on your guard! Remember that for three years I never stopped warning each of you night and day with tears." - Acts 20:29-31 
We have a neighborhood full of squirrels. Usually they are cute little creatures who scurry up and down the trees. On one occasion though, we had a rogue squirrel that chased people, jumped onto their backs and would bite them. Someone eventually got hold of the little guy and put an end to his reign of terror. While this little "nut case" is gone and things are back to normal, we never know what may suddenly jump up, so we are always on our guard.
Paul was far more concerned about "savagery of the soul" than "terror from the trees". He knew that people would come into the church with ulterior motives and lead believers astray. Some would come "into" the assembly and some would jump up from "within". His words of caution directed the Ephesians back to three long years of consistent teaching and warning from God's Word. He called on them to remember and be on their guard.
The church seems to be a quiet neighborhood where we should feel spiritually safe. But, there will always be those who will sneak in without warning and "distort the truth". We need to be well versed in God's Word and always alert to those who "will not spare the flock". Read the Word daily, study faithfully, listen carefully and be on your guard.

Think about this: "The best way to be safe and secure from all Satan's assaults is, with Nehemiah and the Jews, to watch and pray, and pray and watch.  By this means they became too hard for their enemies, and the work of the Lord did prosper sweetly in their hands..."
                                                                                                         - Thomas Brooks

Friday, July 25, 2014

Others

"After the uproar ceased, Paul sent for the disciples, and after encouraging them, he said farewell and departed for Macedonia. When he had gone through those regions and had given them much encouragement, he came to Greece." - Acts 20:1-2
I have a missionary friend who was called to the ministry at an early age and appreciated great blessing. But, as the first few years passed he was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. His physical condition reached the point that he could no long return to the field. Yet, in all his rainy days he has been ever diligent to encourage others in every way possible and continue in the ministry of reaching others for Jesus. He welcomes each day with thoughts on the Lord and spreads the good word.
Paul set us a living and lasting example of how to deal with hardships and trials of life. In the face of violent opposition and personal danger, his mind was focused on encouraging the disciples. He made this his intention where he was located and his goal wherever he traveled. Paul was true to his exhortation as written in Philippians 2:4 "Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others."
The best way to rise above the clouds in your life is to reach out to others. When you are involved in the welfare of someone else to encourage and bless them, your own struggles will fade into the background. Take time to redirect your efforts today my friend. Encourage someone in whatever way possible and love them like Jesus.

Think about this: "The faintest whisper of support and encouragement uttered by a Christian in the ears of his fellow believer is heard in heaven."
                                                               John J. Murray