Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Healthy Fear - Healthy Church...

Today's Readings: OT - 2 Samuel 13:1-22 / NT - Acts 4:32-5:16

"And great fear came upon the whole church and upon all who heard of these things." -- Acts 5:11
Over time the church of Jesus Christ has become a comfortable place to gather. It is seen by many believers as a club to join, with varied benefits for members. Accountability for spiritual conduct and wholesome living isn't part of the package. We live in a day of Christian liberty gone amuck. There is no fear of God or his displeasure.

The early church began on sure footing. There was spiritual power and great life changes. God was working miracles in every corner. Then along came two believers that took accountability and Godly living lightly. They chose to be deceptive, having no thought of God or his church. The story is sobering to say the least and a healthy fear spread throughout the whole church.

Do you take church and Godly living seriously my friend? Are you aware that accountability before the Lord is of great importance? The Lord is not in the habit of overlooking unrepentant and unconfessed sin. The healthy church is a place where Godliness is expected and reverence for the Lord is required.

Tomorrow's Readings: OT - 2 Samuel 13:23-39 / NT - Acts 5:17-42

Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Beauty out of Ashes...

Today's Readings: OT - Psalm 86, 122  / NT - Acts 4:1-31

"Indeed Herod and Pontius Pilate met together with the Gentiles and the people of Israel in this city to conspire against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed. They did what your power and will had decided beforehand should happen. Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness"  - Acts 4:27-29 
When my father retired, he had no health insurance and my mother had a major stroke that left her partially paralyzed. At the time, I needed to set aside my academic pursuits and help my parents through a very discouraging process. But, as a result of my being with them during those days, I began ministering in our church with a lovely young lady, who eventually became my wife. From our marriage, came two fine young men who are both serving the Lord. God always has a way of bringing beauty out of ashes.

The events of our Lord's crucifixion  were devastating if left by themselves. The hours that followed the Lord's death were frightening and distressful for the disciples. But, in this passage we see a new boldness that found courage in the Sovereign work of God. As a result of Calvary, came the resurrection and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. God always has a way of bringing beauty out of ashes.

Are you in the midst of ashes today? Have the events of life left you discouraged and confused? Remember, the path of the cross was followed by resurrection, Pentecost and the power to serve.  David said it right in Psalm 30:5, "... weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning."  Pray for courage and walk in faith, believing that... God always has a way of bringing beauty out of ashes.

Tomorrow's Readings: OT - 2 Samuel 13:1-22 / NT - Acts 4:32-5:16

Monday, June 27, 2022

God grows the flower...

Today's Readings: OT - Psalm 51 / NT - Acts 3:11-26

"By faith in the name of Jesus, this man whom you see and know was made strong. It is Jesus’ name and the faith that comes through him that has given this complete healing to him, as you can all see." - Acts 3:16
Over the years my wife has thoroughly enjoyed planting flowers in the spring. She would make plans and then arrange everything in her garden to look a certain way. She would plant, fertilize and faithfully water the little guys. After a while our house would look like "Better Homes and Gardens". While Jayne did a lot of work and learned better gardening skills every year, the truth remained ... God grows the flower.

When Peter spoke to the man crippled from birth, he jumped to his feet and walked. People came from all around to see the miracle. Did Peter call attention to himself or the Lord as the healer? Peter was given the privilege to plant seeds of faith in the Lord's garden, but... God grows the flower.

As you venture into the Lord's garden today, keep in mind that you are serving with the Master. You will be given opportunities to plant seeds of truth and faith, and people will be greatly blessed. Some lives may be dramatically changed and blossom in beautiful ways, but after you've diligently labored, remember... God grows the flower.

Tomorrow's Readings: OT - Psalm 86, 122  / NT - Acts 4:1-31

Sunday, June 26, 2022

Press on...

Today's Readings: OT - 1 Chron. 20 / NT - Acts 2:42-3:10

"And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles." - Acts 2:42-43
I owned an ant farm when I was a kid. It was a great study of true devotion to a cause. These little guys were all about building tunnels and feeding the family. They never gave up, no matter how many times the "farm" fell over and destroyed their good work. The words of Solomon were on point when he wrote in Proverbs 6:6, "Go to the ant, O sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise."

The early believers were "devoted" to spiritual disciplines and God blessed with great power. The word for "devoted" speaks of endurance or steadfast faithfulness. No matter what happened to deter the people of God, they pressed on day by day with tenacious determination, just like the ant. Persecution came in waves, but perseverance brought divine wonders.

Stay the course my friend. With "devotion" to the cause of Christ will come awesome results. Such steadfastness will require an endurance that only God can provide, but He is able  "... to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us." (Ephesians 3:20) When your tunnels cave in, just build new ones and press on with renewed devotion.

Tomorrow's Readings: OT - Psalm 51 / NT - Acts 3:11-26

Saturday, June 25, 2022

Cut to the heart...

Today's Readings: OT - 2 Samuel 12:16-31 / NT - Acts 2:22-41

“Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.” When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?”" - Acts 2:36-37 

I cut my finger some time ago. Yes, I wasn't being careful and with a slip of the hand a very well sharpened knife sliced right into the little digit. I always make sure that my knives are sharp as razors and when they are properly used they are great tools. But this time, with a misguided flex of muscle, the blade literally "cut to the bone".

When Peter spoke the Word of God in the power and wisdom of the Holy Spirit, people responded. They were moved to conviction and knew a decision was needed. When the Scriptures are used with God empowered precision, they are "... living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword..." (Hebrews 4:12) With a well guided flex of the Spirit, the Word will literally "cut to the heart". 

Paul counseled Timothy in 2 Timothy 2:15 to do his best to rightly handle the Word of truth. Are you doing your best in the study of the Bible? Are you skilled in using it to bring truth to bear in your life and in the lives of others? Remember my friend, the Word of God is a sharp tool of spiritual value, intended to "cut to the heart". 

Tomorrow's Readings: OT - 1 Chron. 20 / NT - Acts 2:42-3:10

Friday, June 24, 2022

Glorify God...

Today's Readings: OT - 2 Samuel 12:1-15 / NT - Acts 2:1-21

"both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabians — we hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God." - Acts 2:11
I have a Mazda CX-5. It can serve as a luggage carrier, shelter from rain and snow, mini concert hall and small conference center. But at the end of the day, this mighty motor driven vehicle has one foremost purpose in life: transportation. It gets me from point A to point B, and it does this admirably.

God bestowed spiritual gifts in a similar way. While the giftedness of believers may differ in many ways and be used to accomplish many goals, God has given them to expand His kingdom. They may be desired and nurtured for various reasons, but after all is said and done, these supernatural abilities have one foremost purpose: to glorify God by proclaiming his mighty works.

Once again my friend it's not about us, it's all about HIM. The lesson is clear; identify your spiritual giftedness, regularly exercise your gifts and seek the one foremost goal: glorify God by proclaiming his mighty works.

Tomorrow's Readings: OT - 2 Samuel 12:16-31 / NT - Acts 2:22-41

Thursday, June 23, 2022

Be "Pray-pared"...

Today's Readings: OT - 2 Samuel 11 / NT - Acts 1

"They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers." - Acts 1:14
The first phrase I learned as a Scout was "Be Prepared". According to the Scout handbook, the idea is: "Be prepared for life - to live happily and without regret, knowing that you have done your best." Big moments in life come without warning and it's too late to prepare. So, the best plan of action is to always "Be Prepared".

One of those big moments was coming for the disciples. They had been through so much over the previous months, but they still needed to get ready. They were instructed to wait for power from on high and they did just that. But, how did they wait? They joined together constantly in prayer. What were they praying for and why did they pray constantly? Above all other considerations, they joined together in prayer to "Be Prepared".

Is your prayer life just a matter of asking for the needs of the moment? Do you just "put out fires" through prayer? Or do you spend time seeking spiritual wisdom and strength "to live happily and without regret, knowing that you have done your best."? The best plan of action is to "Be Pray-pared".

Tomorrow's Readings: OT - 2 Samuel 12:1-15 / NT - Acts 2:1-21