Sunday, October 9, 2011

A Heart that is Humbled

      The kids and I are just loving this fall weather so much because we get to go on long walks pretty much everyday. One of my daughters favorite things to do is to pick flowers along the way so we can bring them home and put them in a vase on our table. So like any other day we set out for a long walk and right away she started spotting those pretty flowers. I thought I could avoid the frequent stops so I pulled a big bundle right away for her to hold. Before I knew it she had destroyed all but one of the flowers which she held so tightly in her fingers. When I looked at her the only words she said were, "show daddy."  She wanted to show her daddy the one perfect flower she had picked just for him.
      So many times we think that we have to do so much to please our Heavenly Father by being the best Christian. We think that if we know all the facts about the Bible or do all the charitable things that we will build up this bundle that we label a "perfect Christian."  The truth is that when we are in the presence of God we don't need all this extra stuff to make us perfect in His sight. When we stand before Him humbled and broken and get rid of all the rest He is pleased. In my eyes I thought that a lot of flowers would be perfect to show her daddy but in my daughters mind that one little wilted flower was the best. Her daddy was very pleased. 

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Daniel 1:1-21

*The story of Daniel is one of the most well known in the Bible but there is still so many who have never really studied it, myself included. I pray that my eyes will be open to new things that I never knew.

Chapter 1:1-7
    When king Nebuchadnezzar (I will refer to him as Nezzer from now on) took over Jerusalem he had several of the sacred vessels taken from the temple along with the best men sent to Babylon. The men were taken from royalty ad nobility, considered to be without defect and high intellect. They were the best of the best. These men were to be trained 3 years and then serve in the kings army. Among those men were Daniel (God is my judge), Hananiah (The Lord has been gracious), Mishael (Who is what God is), and Azariah (The Lord has helped). Once they were in Babylon they were given new names but not by choice. They were Belteshazzar, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego.
Chapter 1:8-16
    The king wanted the men to eat from his food which was a great honor. But Daniel and the three other men didn't want to go against their religious views in order to please the king. They asked that they only drink water and eat vegetables. But the commander was afraid that they would be weaker than the rest of the men. So a trial period was set up for 10 days. At the end of the test Daniel and the three men were healthier than all the rest so they were allowed to continue their diet. It is important to remember that these were young men who held firm to their faith even while they were on their own. Because of their faithfulness the Lord rewarded them with abundant knowledge.
Chapter 1:17-21 
     At the end of the three years the king had the men brought before him and of course Daniel and the other men were the top among all the rest. The King learned even more of all the things that the Lord had blessed them with. Daniel stayed there until the first year of Cyrus' reign.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Acts 28:1-31

Chapter 28: 1-10
      Once their ship had hit land they were greeted by the natives to the island along with a big fire. This was so nice for the men of the ship because the weather was cold and they were wet. Paul was helping pick up sticks when he was bitten by a poisonous snake on the hand. The natives began to say that it was his punishment from the gods for what he had done. But because God was protecting him he did not get ill in anyway. Instead he begins to minister and heal others. They stayed on this island for three months until the weather conditions were safe to travel.
Chapter 28:11-16
      They finally set sail for Rome again but not without a few more stops along the way. While in Puteoli Paul was allowed to go and stay with other believers but probably with a close watch by a guard. People were so excited about his visit that they travel several miles just to greet him. Both Paul and Luke were overwhelmed by the people's overall reaction to them. Once they were in Rome Paul was put back on house arrest but with some freedom.
Chapter 28:17-29
      After a few days of rest Paul calls several of the head leaders to meet with him in hopes of discussing his case with them. They wanted to hear all that he had to say so they made arrangements to meet up again. On that day Paul begins to preach and like in so many cases before some listened and received and some walked away. He began to speak on the things that the prophet Isaiah had spoken on about people's hearts growing dull. It did end with the promise that God would restore their hearts if they understood and returned.
Chapter 28:30-31
      For the next two years while he was still in prison he preached to whoever came to him along with writing his famous prison epistles. Other than that there is no definite description to what happens to him at the end of the two years in this book. Other books in the bible do shed a little light some of the events that happened.

* May we have boldness like Paul to preach even during the hard times and may our hearts never grow dull to His truths.

Acts 27:1-44

Chapter 27:1-12
       Paul along with a few other prisoners are being transported to Rome for their appeal to Caesar. They were guarded by a centurion named Julius. The first part of their voyage was spent on a small boat making frequent stops along the way and then they were find a larger boat to get on and finish there journey. It is said that they began this trip in the fall because of the wind conditions they were facing. Since Paul had had some experience in sailing he knew that this journey would be very dangerous if they continued on. The centurion didn't want to listen and kept them out at sea.
Chapter 27:13-20
      Once they were out to sea a terrible wind came out of no where and turned them from their original direction. They found shelter on an island called Clauda where they reinforced the boat with cables and lowered the anchor. The next day as they were in another storm they began to toss their cargo overboard to help lighten the boat. Many began to believe they were going to die.
Chapter 27:21-26
       The men on the ship had gone a long time without food and Paul knew why. He stood up and told them that if they had just listened to him then none of this would have happened. But he did have good news. He had a vision of an angel of the Lord standing before him. He was assured that there would be no lose of life because the Lord was not thought with them. Paul still had to meet with Caesar.
Chapter 27:27-44
      When I read this passage I was picturing a smallest boat like the size of a nice yacht, but that it was not. It says that there were 276 people on this ship. It also says that they cut ropes to another boat that was attached to the one they were on. Paul once again speaks out on what they should do and they decided to listen to him this time. They knew that they were going to wreck on the dry lad but they were trying to lessen the load anyways. The men had not eaten in 2 weeks and after they got their fill of the wheat they threw the rest overboard. In the end we see that the soldiers once again spare Paul's life by not killing him just because he was a prisoner.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Acts 26:1-32

Chapter 26:1-11
     Paul gets a chance to defend himself before the king, who was very knowledgeable of Jewish Laws and customs. He asks that they will be patient with him as he explains his story. He begins by talking about his youth and how it was spent in Jerusalem and then goes on to tell of how he was responsible for so many peoples death because of his vote.
Chapter 26:12-18
     In these verses we see again where Paul tells of when he became a follower of Christ and the events that lead up to his conversion. Each time this story is spoken about there are always new shades to it but the main points or theme is always consistent.
Chapter 26:19-23
     These verses are probably some of my favorite that Paul speaks. He simply tells the king that he has never done anything that would prove disobedient to his heavenly Father and that he obeys the laws of the prophets and Moses. Because of the way he lived many wanted to kill him but God always made a way for him.
Chapter 26:24-32
     The king could say nothing else than that Paul had lost his mind. Paul not wanting to stray from his topic turned it to the king. He knew that the king was aware of all the things that had been going on around the empire and even in his own kingdom. Paul's only desire in all this was that all the people there would be free from their sins and become believers. The king and his sister grew tired of what he had to say and they left the room. According to the king Paul had done nothing worthy of death and if he didn't have to appeal to Caesar he would have been set free.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Acts 25:1-27

Chapter 25:1-12
     Paul once again in being brought in front of the main leaders in order to be judged. This time it is the new governor, Porcius, who is heading this trial up. He called for a few other men to join him on a trip to Caesarea where Paul was still in custody. Once there the people brought all these very serious charges against Paul. In response Paul simple denies these accusations and said he has broken no laws. Porcius wanted to appeal to his new citizens and asked Paul if he was willing to go to Jerusalem in order to judged in front of the Sanhedrin. Paul knew his chances there would be slim if any to a fair trial. Paul answered that he appeal to Caesar. Porcius along with the other men decided to send Paul to Caesar.
Chapter 25:13-27
     After several days had passed the King Agrippa and his sister Bernice arrive in Caesarea with much celebration. Porcius fills them in o what is going on with Paul's case and simply says he see nothing wrong with this man. He is supposed to report to his thoughts and charges when he sends a prisoner to his lord but he is unable to write anything about Paul. This is why he has brought the king and his sister in on the trial.  

Monday, September 12, 2011

Acts 24:1-27

Chapter 24:1-23
      Five days after being put in the custody of Felix, Paul is brought before him again since Ananias finally arrived. He along with his elders accused Paul of being a disturbance and desecrating the temple. The crowd quickly agreed with them. Paul then gets the chance to respond to the accusers. He doesn't deny that he believes in the resurrection but he didn't desecrate the temple. He never started riots but he did stand and preach the gospel. Felix heard all that Paul had to say and knew he had done nothing wrong but knowing that a riot could happen if he handled the situation wrong. He ordered Paul to go back to the prison but he would have some freedom while there.
Chapter 24:24-27
     Felix and his wife would ask Paul several times to come and speak with them about the Gospel but they would become frightened and tell Paul to leave. This went on for two years but there was still no acceptance. Felix was succeeded by Porcius and when he left for Rome decided to leave Paul in prison, washing his hands of the situation.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Acts 23:1-35

Chapter 23:1-11
      Paul is standing in front of the high priest, Ananias and begins to speak exactly what he is thinking. He basically calls him a hypocrite. He then causes a division in the crowd because he speaks against the Sadducees and calls himself a Pharisee. Sadducees believed that there was no resurrection, no angel, and no spirit where as the Pharisees believed in them all. When the uproar happened the commander was afraid for Paul's life so he had his men go down and get him and put him back in jail. While in jail he had a vision from the Lord. I love how after we go through rough times the Lord reveals Himself to us so to encourage us.
Chapter 23:12-22
      Forty men began to conspire on a plot to kill Paul. They all made an oath not to eat anything until Paul was dead. Paul's nephew heard of what they were planning and immediately went to speak with him. He then goes before the commander and tells him all that would happen to Paul if he listened to the 40 men who were about to ask to men with him. The commander listened to him and had the boy leave and tell no one what he had heard.
Chapter 23: 23-31
     The commander called for two centurions and gave them strict orders as to what they should do to escort Paul safely out of the city. He also wrote a personal letter to the governor Felix who would be receiving Paul in his custody. In the letter he informs him on all the misdoings that had taken place against Paul. Once he arrived before Felix he was told that he would have a speedy trial but until then could rest comfortably in Herod's palace. He was being shown the respect that others had not given before.

Monday, September 5, 2011

A Heart That is Set Apart

"Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary."
                                                                                         Galatians 6:9

      I am hearing more and more of young ladies who are trying to live a godly life but finding out just how hard that life can be. First off you must know that you are not alone. There have been many girls/women, myself included, who have had struggles in this area. You feel like no other girls like you because you are different or that no guy will like you because you are considered a "good" girl. This is so not true and there are so many passages in Scripture that would disprove this lie that we all believed at one point. We are daughters of the King who are cherished more than precious jewels. Yes, it is sometimes very lonely when you don't go along with what the world says is right but we don't serve the world. We serve a King who knows the plans He has for us and He is faithful to complete them.
      It is important to know this, even those times when you feel alone and think that no one is taking notice of you that is probably not the case. When you are following Christ it IS evident in your life and people can see that. Especially when it comes to relationships you will be noticed if you are different. But this is ok, what a witness you have when you are holding to high standards in order to keep your name pure.
       This is my last little input for any girl who is anxious. God has not only set young women like yourself apart but also young men. There are strong godly men out there who are waiting and seeking for godly women like yourself. The more active I get in the youth ministry the more I see this to be true. I have met many young guys who are going to be wonderful husbands to you girls who remain strong in your faith. Don't let the world discourage you from doing what God has called you to do. It is very much worth the wait and the struggle. Continue to seek after Him and He will give you the desires of your heart.

*Pray Pray Pray!!!! Pray for godly friends to help hold you accountable and encourage you. Pray now for the guy who will one day be your husband. Pray for your heart, that it will be guarded from lies and worldly things.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Acts 22:1-30

Chapter 22: 1-21
     Paul stands before the crowd in his defense. He started to speak in his Jewish dialect and this quickly got their attention. The had distance themselves so much from him believing he was from a different region when in fact he was one of them. He began to tell his story of how he had persecuted those who followed the Way and had even stood there in agreement as Stephen was being stoned. But God is grace and had bestowed it on Paul. He was then able to tell the part of his story where God had revealed Himself to him through a donkey.  Paul was a perfect example of how a hard heart can be melted and molded by the Father.
Chapter 22:22-30
     When the people heard what he had to say they we outraged and wanted him taken away.  Paul was being stretched out in preparation to be scourged. It was then that he told the Centurion next to him who he really was. It was not lawful for a Roman to be sentenced without being properly condemned. Paul had purchased his citizenship when he joined the other four men in the temple rituals in the previous chapter. The truth was that he was born a citizen long before. When the soldiers heard this they immediately released him in fear that they would be sought out for even putting him in chains. They would instead present him before the chief priests and the Council for their verdict.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Acts 21:1-40

Chapter 21:1-6
     Paul and his men travel along making several little stops on their way to Tyre. Once they arrived there they unloaded their boat and settled there for seven days. Paul uses this time wisely and seeks out the disciples of the area.  I imagine that he encouraged them as they did him. When it was time to leave the men along with their whole families traveled with them to the edge of the city.They came together one more time on the beach to pray with each other.
Chapter 21:7-14
     After another few stops Paul ends up in Caesarea at the home of Philip. While there a prophet named Agabus came and told some important news to Paul. He removed Paul's belt and bound his feet with it. He wanted Paul and the people to have a visual of what would happen to him if he traveled to Jerusalem. But Paul already knew what was to be his outcome. He was prepared to be thrown in prison or even be killed for the Truth. The people at first were upset by this news but then their hearts were changed and they acknowledged God's will.
Chapter 21:15-26
      Once they had arrived in Jerusalem they gathered with James and all the elders and began to speak on what had taken place in Paul's ministry. God had done wonderful things and they couldn't help but rejoice. But there were some who once they found out that he was there would be out to get him for what he had taught. The elders told Paul of their plan for him. He would accompany four men who had taken the vow of purification, part of the Jewish custom. Paul would pay their temple fees and enter the temple with them. This would prove to the others that he had Jewish background and hopefully deflect some strife. Look at Numbers 6:14-15 to see exactly what the fees would be for each man to enter the temple.
Chapter 21:27-40
      After about seven days Paul was being noticed more and more by the people. They took hold of them and dragged him out of the temple to the streets where they began to beat him. Word reached a Roman commander who immediately went to the mob with a few of his soldiers. He then took control of the situation and had them bind Paul in chains. The problem was that the crowd was shouting two different things and the commander couldn't get the truth. He ordered that Paul be taken to the barracks but Paul pleaded with him to let him speak to the people before he was taken. After reading this does any other images come to your mind? All I could think about was how Jesus knew what was going to happen to Him and He still walked with the cross. Paul was told what would happen to him and he still willingly walked toward the prison. No struggle, just calmness.   

Even the young can be used for His Glory

      Lately I have been noticing some of God's truths more and more in my everyday life routine. But one of them has stuck out alot to me. My little boy in every way is a "mommas boy."  I catch him all the time just staring at me even when I am not giving him my attention at that moment. When I leave the house and he stays with his daddy he cries and cries as if he knows I am not there. As soon as I walk into the door and he sees me he immediately stops crying and a smile grows on his face. When I hold him he grabs my arm so tight and won't let go. At times I have found this hard because like most moms I need just a few minutes to myself where I am not needed and can just get away for a minute for some coffee.  
      Then one day while I was taking the kids on a walk the Lord showed me what he was trying to teach me through my son.  That relationship that my son wants with me is the same that we should have with the Lord. We should look to Him always in everything we do. We should not be content with any other but Him. We should smile and rejoice when God reveals His truths to us.We should cling to Him and His Words.
      But here is the cool thing...that is also how God views us. He watches us all the time even when we are distracted by other things. When we turn away He is still there waiting, calling out to us. When we return to Him He rejoices. He wraps us in the shadow of His wings and holds on to us. The nice thing is is that our Heavenly Father is constant and aways there for us. Even when we fail He never will.

Acts 20:1-38

Chapter 20:1-6
     Paul sets out for Macedonia after the riots had died down and stayed there for a few months. After leaving there he went to settle in Greece. It is thought that while he was there he wrote the book of Romans. He had planned a trip but soon learned that there was a plot to kill him once at sea so he instead headed back to Macedonia. Paul had gathered different me to join him on his journey and they went on ahead to Troas. Paul and Luke waited until after the days of Unleavened Bread (Passover) before they set out to join the others.
Chapter 20:7-12
     Paul was about to set out the next day but wanted to talk with the people a little longer so they sat around and listened to him late into the night. A young man named Eutychus was sitting on the window ledge and after falling into a deep sleep he falls out the window to his death from the third floor. Paul went down to look at the boy and brought him back to life. After returning back to where they were meeting they broke bread together and stayed up till sunrise.
Chapter 20:13-17
     Paul has his men go on the boat ahead of him and he walked until he met up with them at Assos. They made small stops along the way but were trying to make it to Jerusalem before the day of Pentecost. Paul had plan to stop in Ephesus but because of the time crunch he sent a message to them asking if the leaders would meet him in Miletus. There he would give them their farewell.
Chapter 20:18-38
     Paul wanted to prepare these people for what he knew that the Lord had told him. He starts of by saying that at no point had he slacked in giving them the gospel and that they were constantly with in his thoughts. Then came the warnings. He knew that there would be bondage for him in the future and that this was probably the last time they would see him. He also was told by the Lord that they too would see destruction and bondage for what they believed. The worse part was that men among them would rise up and speak perverse things and lead some disciples away. After hearing all this the people were sadden and began to embrace and weep over Paul knowing they would never see him again.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Acts 19:1-41

Chapter 19:1-7
     Paul returns to Ephesus keeping his promise to the people that he had made a few months earlier. After  arriving he meets a group of men. He asks them if they had received the Holy Spirit and they said they had not. They didn't know the whole story. They had been baptised in the name of John the Baptist and not Jesus. Paul is quick to tell them the truth and baptise them in their Savior's name.
Chapter 19:8-20
     Paul once again tries to preach in the synagogues and did so for three months but because their hearts were still harden to the truth he withdrew from them. He began to teach in a school like setting run by Tyrannus. Even though the Jews were not listening, the Gentiles were receiving the Truth.God was not only using Paul to reach the people but He was also using items of clothing to help heal the sick and possessed. This is like the time when the woman touched the hem of Christ robe and was healed instantly. God can use anything to bring His people to Him. This next part of the passage is very key to understand. Many of the people were saying prayers in order to heal like they using magic. The were expecting their empty prayers to heal the possessed without God's help. When we pray we need to let the Lord take control and understand that He might not answer it in the way we had thought. He knows what is best for us. The so called exorcists had tried to cast out demons from a man  using the Lord's name. The demon responded back to them that he knew Jesus and he knew Paul but he didn't know him. Even the demons know who is fighting against them. The people once seeing the truth collected all their magic books and burned them.
Chapter 19:21-22
     These verses are written in a way by Luke to almost summarize a lot of events that happened back to back.  Being guided by the Spirit, Paul sets out to Jerusalem but not before he stop off at a few other places. In other letters from Paul we find out more details about these stops.
Chapter 19:23-41
     There were many men who made a living off of making little idols or shrines for their false gods. Since Paul and other believers had been spreading the good news all over the need for these silversmiths had dwindled. One man that was outraged the most was a man named Demetrius. He gathered together other silversmiths and random people and formed a mob. It is important to notice that there were some people who had joined the mob and had no clue as to why. They were only doing so because everyone else was. During their rage they grabbed Gaius and Aristarchus who were traveling companions of Paul and put them in the middle of the mob. The people wanted a man named Alexander to speak against Paul but when the crowd realized that he was Jewish they dismissed him. It took a town clerk to quiet the crowd. He showed them how their actions would bring nothing but trouble for their free city. If they insisted on bringing charges against these men then they should do so in a lawful way. Either way the mob needed to disperse and get under control. The important thing to notice here is that even in that large crowd it only took one voice to quiet them. If something is wrong stand firm on what you believe and speak out when it is appropriate.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Acts 18:1-28

Chapter 18:1-3
     Paul arrives in Corinth where he meets a husband and wife named Aquila and Priscilla. Because the scriptures don't say anything about them being converted they probably were already believers. It was with this couple that Paul stayed with while he was in Corinth.
Chapter 18:4-11
     Paul was so passionate when it came to preaching that that is all he did. But when the people were shutting their hearts this was more than he could handle. I am sure he was growing tired of arguing with them over and over that he had to just walk away. The shaking of his garment was a ancient tradition basically saying he was finished. He left the synagogue and went to the house next door where many came and even the well known leader named Crispus came to know the truth. After hearing from the Lord Paul had peace to stay there for a 1 1/2.
Chapter 18:12-17
    The Jews wanted to get Paul and his new faith in trouble so they brought him in front of the judge. Gallio probably could see what was going on and put an end to the situation. The Jews didn't like this decision and started beating a man named Sosthenes, leader of the synagogue.
Chapter 18:18-23
     Paul needing to be refreshed and a time to relax headed back to Syria. It mentions that he cut his hair that he had grown out based on the Nazarite vow. During Paul's time the duration of this vow was changed. As long as the person didn't cut or trim their hair for atleast 30 days they were within the guidelines. Paul didn't stay there long before he was heading to Caesarea. It was not clear as to why he rushed there or to what he was going for.
Chapter 18:24-28
      We are introduced to a man named Apollos who was as scripture says mighty in the scriptures. His knowledge however was limited to as far as the baptism of John the Baptist. But what he knew he knew well. After hearing him speak Priscilla and Aquila talked with him and taught him about the way of God more accurately. How could he have been so far behind in knowledge about the Lord if he was speaking to people often? You would think that someone would have mentioned something new to him before this.  He took this new knowledge and began to share.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Acts 17:1-34

Chapter 17:1-4
     Once again Paul was traveling to neighboring and finding themselves in Thessalonica. Because of his Jewish customs he sought out the synagogues to spend the Sabbath. He would spend the next three weeks trying to preach to Jews and to show them that it was necessary for Jesus to suffer and die for them. Like other times many did change to follow the Way.
Chapter 17:5-9
     The Orthodox Jews became jealous of what was going in their synagogue. They couldn't understand how this Christian faith was a fulfillment to their ancient faith. They just thought it was a rival religion. How many times do we act like this? Don't we get jealous deep down when other Christians are doing great new things and we are still stuck in our old ways. We should be rejoicing at their new faith and not looking to ourselves.
With the Jews jealousy also came anger and they formed a mob and went to the house where Paul and his men were staying. When they found that Paul wasn't there they dragged the owner of the home, Jason and his family to the officials. They wanted Jason beaten for housing a man who was destroying their "world." Jason told them that Paul meant no harm and would be good. With that the officials released him and his family.
Chapter 17:10-13
     Paul and his men are once again secretly taken out of another city. Can you imagine someone preaching so much and so strongly that they had to leave a city in darkness so to escape safely. We are so lazy now!
They found themselves in a new town called Berea where the people where so set apart in their faith. They would study the Scriptures so thoroughly that they had a stronger foundation in the Faith than Thessalonica. Many came to know the truth. But once again the Jews from Thessaloniac found out what Paul was preaching and quickly headed to Berea to stir up trouble.
Chapter 17:14-16
      Paul's Berean friends helped him escape from the mob by sending him out to sea and throwing off the crowd. Once Paul arrived in Athens he began to walk around the city and saw all the idols that adorned the streets. Since the city was so old and full of history the people wanted to remember their great leaders by making statues of them. The problem was that they considered these people like god's. This was too much to handle for Paul and he began to grieve for them.
Chapter 17: 17-21
      Paul began to teach in the streets and it wasn't long before he was noticed by the people of leadership. They wanted to know more about what he was talking about so they invited him into their courts. This alone was a big honor for Paul to even be invited. The scholars probably had no intention of changing their religion but instead having a discussion about the latest theologies.
Chapter 17: 22-31
       This sermon from Paul must have been hard to preach. He was standing in front of people who were so set in their ways that they made statue after statue to remind them of what they believed. He tells them that the ONE true God is right here with them. He doesn't just dwell in one place or in a piece of marble. He is living and in power now. How awesome is that that we have a God is continuous forever and ever. Paul also pointed out to them that they are more concerned with sitting around having debates amongst themselves instead of reaching out to others. They need to get up and repent.
Chapter 17:32-34
     Many people after hearing Paul preach just turned away while others wanted to hear more. Among the crowd there were a few people who became followers, one being Dionysius. Hopefully he had a great influence to those around him.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Acts 16:1-40

*There is alot here but it is very beneficial to use to understand what Paul went through.
Chapter 16:1-5
    Paul returns to Lystra the city where he had been stoned at on his previous trip. I don't know about you but if I had almost been killed somewhere it would be very hard for me to return to that place so soon or ever. It was here that Paul meets a young new disciple named Timothy who was well spoken of by those around him. Paul wanted him to join him on his new journey but had heard that Timothy wasn't circumcised. Fearing this would be a problem down the road in the ministry he insisted that Timothy have the procedure done. After that was done they began on their journey and a new strong friendship was formed.
Chapter 16: 6-10
     In verse 6 and 7 we see Paul wanting to go to various cities but once they had approached them the Spirit of the Lord would tell them not to enter but to keep going. When I read this it really stuck out to me that Paul was truly following the Lord in everywhere he went because when the Spirit said no they listened ans continued somewhere else. It was in a vision while in Troas that Paul had a vision from a Macedonian man pleading that they come and help them. Paul awoke from his dream and immediately prepared for the journey that God was calling them on. In verse 10 we see the word "us" appear which would mean that the writer, Luke, was right there along side of Paul the whole time and not just viewing from afar.
Chapter 16:11-15
     The men soon set out first to other cities and then ending up in Philippi. When the Sabbath came around naturally Paul wanted to worship with believers but there wasn't a synagogue around. Outside the the gates there was a group of  women who had joined together and welcomed the disciples to join with them. After hearing what they had to say they received the Word of the Lord and were baptized. Among them was a woman named Lydia who sold fine linens in the city. She wanted the men to have a meeting place while they were in the city so she opened up her home to them. May I be like Lydia and have my home open to His disciples who need rest.
Chapter 16:16-24
     As Paul and the other men were traveling they were being followed by a demon possessed girl whose master used her for his own fortune. After a long time of her taunting them Paul turn and looked at her and in Jesus's name cast the demons out. She was freed and healed but the master wasn't happy because what made him money was gone. He had Paul and Silas dragged into the city and brought before the high officials. The officials had them beaten and then locked away in the inner prison with their feet bound in stocks.
Chapter 16:25-34
     Even though they were in a bad position they still had reason to praise God. The other prisoners listened as they sang and were happy. There was a great earthquake that came and shook the foundations of the jail along with all of the chains. The guard awoke and saw the doors open and was about to kill himself when Paul called out to him that they were all still there. In what circumstances other than in the Lord's presence would a group of inmates want to stay in jail when all the chains were off. The guard was overwhelmed by their actions and asked how he could be saved too. Paul simply said, "Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved, you and your household." He believed and him along with his household were baptized immediately. The guard not only took them into his home but he also fed them and cleaned their wounds.
Chapter 16: 35-40
    The next day the officials sent the guard to tell Paul and Silas that they had been warned and could leave the jail but they had to leave the city as well. Paul didn't like this and told the guard that the officials would have to escort them out personally. It was the law that no Roman citizen could be punished like they were unless they had just cause. Since they hadn't really sought out what had happened with the girl and her master the officials were in the wrong. They were afraid when they hear these men were Romans and did as they had requested. Paul and Silas did leave the jail but they did stop by Lydia's house so they could encourage those who were new to the faith.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

A Heart that is Seeking

    Tonight the Lord laid on my heart 1 Timothy 4:6-16 and I wanted to share what He was telling me. As a servant of Him I need to continue to nourish myself in His Word and aim to be living a life that it godly and not just a routine. Being a woman who loves schedules and plans it is sometimes hard for me just to live a life completely for Him and not one that is planned out in my mind. I must use the gifts that He has given to me because He wants me to praise Him with what He has hand picked out for me.  In verse 15 it says to be absorbed in these gifts so that through your progress it will be evident to all. If I am truly using the gifts He has giving me for His glory then others will see Him through me and He will be glorified not me. This is something that I have always struggled with because I want to do exactly what the Lord wants but I fear that I listen to myself and not Him and do what I want and not what He has planned for me. If that is the case then how many opportunities have I let out of my reach and how many blessings have I not witnessed because I was closed minded. My I seek Him in everything I do and listen intently to Him so that I may stay on the right path. May my life be used to bring Him glory.

Acts 15:1-41

Chapter 15:1-5
      The men encountered some people who were very stuck in the old laws and wouldn't budge. They believed they had to be circumcised according to the law of Moses. Paul and the other man were quick to explain how through the blood of Christ they were saved and nothing else. They were dismissed and told to go to the apostles in Jerusalem and see what they said. When they arrived there they were received by the church in a different way than usual. They listened to what the men had said but the Pharisees stood up and said that they still needed to be circumcised and follow the law of Moses. They were not supported in the way they should have been.
Chapter 15:6-12
      After waiting awhile Peter stands up and speaks what is on his heart. To put it simply he tells them that they as Jews have not done well in keeping the laws so why should the force strict principles on the Gentiles. They needed to look no farther than the truth of salvation and that was all they needed.
Chapter 15:13-35
      James, the brother of Jesus, stood before the people and stated that the old laws of Moses were holding them down and causing strife. They should be concerned with the eating and moral customs.This approach was almost like a compromise for the leaders so they would be quited.
Chapter 15:36-38
      After Paul had had some time to be refreshed in Antioch he approaches Barnabas and says they need to head out again. Barnabas was in full agreement but wanted to take Mark with them this time. I don't know if it was a clash of personalities or that he thought Mark wasn't ready but Paul kept insisting that he not join them. Both men being set in there ways decided it would be best if they separated. At first I thought it was sad that the two men couldn't agree and join together but the I thought of how these two strong men would be able to reach out to more people if they were split up.
Chapter 15:39-41
      Barnabas along with Mark sail to Cyprus and after this point are not mentioned again in Acts. Paul immediately sends out for Silas who had proven himself a faithful disciple. He accepted and they headed to Asia Minor. I studied where Silas was a Roman citizen and that this would help out in their travels to avoid trouble with authorities.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Acts 14:1-28

Chapter 14:1-7
     After leaving Antioch they went on to a city to the east called Incnium. As like so many of the other places they visited they immediately started preaching and many believed. And like everywhere else there were several who didn't want to believe and plotted against them. The Jews were seeing their towns divided and didn't like what Paul was doing. God is faithful to bless us in that when we speak boldly in His name we will witness the fruits from Him. This was very much the case for Paul and Barnabas because they were able to see countless come to know the Lord and turn away from their old ways. The men soon found out that their lives were in danger so in the darkness of the night they escaped from the city.
Chapter 14: 8-20
      Once they arrived in Lystra, Paul and Barnabas came to a lame man from birth. After Paul looked into his eyes and saw faith he spoke aloud for the man to stand and he immediately was healed. There is power in words that sometimes we can't understand. When the crowds saw what had happen they thought that gods had come to earth and were healing people right before them.  They were quick to correct them and give God the credit. Those against Paul and his preaching used this change of emotion in the crowd to their advantage. They would start a riot and throw the first stone at Paul. They left him for dead under a pile of rocks.
Chapter 14: 21-26
      Paul's friends gathered around him expecting to find him dead but he wasn't and stood up. He went straight into the city. The next day probably looking rough, he went to Derbe and started to preach again. How many of us would have that dedication to do that. If we have a headache we will stay home from church and here was Paul who was cut and bruised from being stoned  still teaching the Word.
Chapter 14: 27-28
      The end had come to Paul and Barnabas first official mission trip and what a trip it was. Every stop they had made people became Followers and churches were being planted. How blessed they were to see so much fruit.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Acts 13:1-52

Chapter 13:1-3
      This was Saul's first mission trip but it wasn't the first in history. There were several places he went where a few people had already heard about Jesus. The church was getting larger and larger and filled with strong men of God. When Saul and Barnabas heard the call from the Lord they were at church surrounded by other believers. The congregation celebrated with them and before they sent them off they laid hands on them and prayed over them for guidance and protection.
Chapter 13:4-12
    The men begin their journey in Cypress where they are quick to preach and shows the truths of the Lord.  When word got out to the governor, Sergius Paulus, he sent for them so to learn more about what they were teaching. While they were there a magician named Bar-Jesus wanted to disprove them and turn others away from the faith. Saul, now known as Paul, looked at him and with the power of the Lord spoke what was being revealed to him. He knew that this man was speaking lies and was full of deceit. Immediately the Lord used Paul to bring blindness to the man and he had to be helped out of the building. Because of all this the governor was quick to believe and became a follower of the Lord.
Chapter 13:13-52
    Here we have record of Paul's first sermon even though this wasn't really his first. He begins by recapping the history of Moses and the lives of many other lives that are so important because of how they help shape the line of followers. He tells the people that they are freed from their sin because of Jesus not because of the Law of Moses. There were many who heard but rejected due to their jealousy. Even though this probably came as a shock to the men they must go through those times in order to strengthen in Him. All they could really do was dust off their feet and move on.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Acts 12:1-25

Chapter 12:1-3
     In this verse there is mention of a king Herod in rule. This is not the same Herod that was on the throne when Jesus was born. This Herod was the grandson of the infamous Herod the Great. This new king had Jewish blood from his mother's side (Princess Mariamne) so this gave him a more trusted advantage with the Jewish people. When Herod heard of how Peter was socializing with the Gentiles, he took advantage of this opportunity to remain close with his people and had Peter arrested. The apostle James was killed probably during this arrest do to a sword wound.
Chapter 12:4-19
    The king had heard of how Peter had previously gotten out of prison so easily so he ordered 4x the amount of soldiers needed to guard him. Herod was no match to the power of prayer that the church was lifting up. The night before Peter was to be executed an angel appeared  to him and helped guide him out of the prison. This being so hard to imagine Peter thought that he was surely having a dream but in fact the Lord had delivered him once again.
     A little side note here to think about. If you were going to be executed the next morning would you be able to sleep that night? When the angel found Peter, he not only was asleep but he was asleep on the nasty floor between two powerful men. Peter's faith was so strong that he didn't fear what might happened to him but knew that the Lord's will would prevail.
     After being released Peter returned to the apostle's meeting place, the upper room. Once there the people were so shocked that they didn't  know how to react. All they knew was that their prayers had been answered. Once Herod found out about the prisoners escape he had all the guards on duty executed even though there was no way that any of them could have stopped the Lord from delivering His follower.
Chapter 12:20-23
     The cities of Tyre and Sidon were located close to Palestine and depended on them for their food supply. But after the two cities had offended the king they were cut off. One day when Herod was about to speak to these people he was struck dead. There is real uncertainty as to why he actually died. Some say that the Lord struck him down because he was considering himself a god because of how he looked. Others think that he was just eaten up with a disease that happened to kill him at that moment. Either his death was just a seal of proof that he wasn't a god but a mere man eaten up with conceit.
Chapter 12: 24-25
    Once Herod was dead the persecution of the church came to a stop for the time being. This break gave Barnabas, Saul, and another follower called John Mark a chance to return to the church of Antioch and begin preaparing for the first missionary journey.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

A Call to Motherhood

     From a young age I knew that my ministry in life would be to be a mother of how ever many children the Lord wanted to give me. My prayer was that I would be a good mom and that my kids would grow in the ways of the Lord. Well it is very easy to say what you want and to have big dreams of a big family but when that chapter of your life is upon you it is completely different. I have been bless with two beautiful children and both miracles in their own ways. Raising children is very different and much harder than what I ever thought it would be. Many woman have said that it is the hardest job you will have but it also the best job. How right they are.
     Being an only child most my life and never really got into the whole babysitting other peoples kids I didn't have much experience when it came to taking care of kids. I was very surprised at how easy I picked up on things when I had my first child. My husband and I had discussed a few things we knew for sure that we wanted to do when it came to raising children but there was still a lot we needed to learn. It has taken awhile to figure out routines but now that we have two children life is very interesting.
     We had a pretty calm life with just one but now that our second child is here and our first has entered the crazy two's life has taken a different turn. Many days I find myself getting so frustrated and usually over the smallest things. Neither one of my children are really bad they are usually just acting up at the same time and it is more then my laid back spirit can take sometimes. Over the past few weeks the Lord has been showing me different things that I have been doing when it comes to parenting and I thought I would pass it on to other moms in the same position as me.
     First would be that I am not lifting them up to Him enough. I do pray for them, usually about their futures, but I haven't been praying for them when there is a situation going on right now. So I have been trying to focus on this more when the tough times come. Lately my daughter has not wanted to take her naps and has started throwing more tantrums at random. It was these times that I would start to get so frustrated and raise my voice at her because I thought I had to be firm to get my point across. But lately I have been reminded of what the Lord has been teaching me and so when those times come I sit down with her and we pray out loud that she would sleep well or calm down. It is usually not long after that that she falls asleep or goes quietly and plays. Prayers work!
     The second thing would be the things I allow in the house, mainly through the TV. We don't watch bad things in fact it is usually set to cartoons but I found myself leaving them on longer and longer each day so that she would be happy. Who am I letting teach my children?! It should be me spending one on one time with them not some made up thing on the TV.  The TV is being turned off and we are spending more time playing even if it means that I am more worn out at the end of the day.
     The third thing would be to cherish even the tough times. I have a four month old who doesn't like to sleep all the way through the night yet and that means not much sleep for me. At first it is always easy to do the early morning feeding because you are still excited about this new little baby in your arms. But after night after night of getting up and not much sleep you start to get drained of that excitement. So I had to start thinking of that time as not a burden but as a blessing. There will come a day when I will miss sleeping next to that little face and feeling like he needs only ME his mom to help him. I have learned to laugh when he is wide awake at 3:30 in the morning and know that I get to spend that time with just him. The baby stage of life goes by so fast and I should cherish it and not wish it to speed up just so I can have more sleep.
      There are so many more things that I have been learning but these are the main ones for now. I hope this helps encourage any mother out there who is tired or frustrated. We are called to do this ministry and if we don't who else will raise up our children in the ways they should go.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Acts 11:1-30

Chapter 11:1-18
      Word had gotten around to the Jewish believers in Jerusalem about all that Peter had done with the Gentiles. So many of them were still stuck in their old ways that they couldn't see all that God was doing through Peter. What is sad is that there are still so many churches today that are still like this. Peter begins to explain to them the events as they unfolded starting with the visions and ending with the the Holy Spirit ascending on the crowd. After hearing this the people fell silent and then began to glorify God for what He had done.
Chapter 11:19-21
    In these verses we see that the people who had run from their homes when Saul was out to get them were preaching to all the Jews they came in contact with on their journey. Only a few of these people reached out to the Gentiles and because of that God blessed them and hundreds came to know the truth.
Chapter 11: 22-24
     News had reached to the church in Jerusalem all that was going on in Antioch. They once again being curious sent out Barnabas to investigate if it was all true. When he arrived he was pleased to see that the were in fact filled with the Spirit and he rejoiced with them. He could see all this and not be jealous of the fact that he had not had a part in their conversion or that the crowd of new believers were made up entirely of Gentiles.
Chapter 11: 25-26
     Barnabas wanted Saul to minister with him in Antioch so he traveled to Tarsus to get him. They spend the next year preaching and aiding in the growing church. The outsiders remembered when the apostles had been there and how they followed Christ. They began to call these believers Christ-peoples or Christians. This is where we get our term from.
Chapter 11: 27-30
     Many people began to see different prophets come out and begin to speak. One of these men was Agabus who said there would be a famine and indeed there was. The Gentiles who were now believers gathered up funds to help with the relief and sent it to Jerusalem. If they hadn't been taught the truths of the Lord they never would have been able to help out those people in need.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Acts 10:1-48

Chapter 10:1-2
      We are introduced to a centurion soldier named Cornelius. A centurion was usually in charge of 100 men and were considered the backbone to the Roman army. Being a devoted man of God, Cornelius was known for the charitable things he did around his city.
Chapter 10:3-8
       Cornelius had a vision where he saw an angel of the Lord. The Lord wanted him to send a message to Joppa to invite Peter to his house. Because Cornelius was devoted to the Lord he immediately sent three men out to get Peter. I am sure he was very anxious for Peter to arrive after all he had heard about him.
Chapter 10:9-16
     After a long morning of preaching Peter went to the roof of his host home to pray while the people prepared the food. He fell into a trance while he was up there. It could have been that he dozed off or was wide awake and saw everything with his eyes, either way the message was from God. In the vision he saw what looked like a sheet and in it were all kinds of animals clean and unclean based on the  Old Testament laws. Look at Lev. 11 for more description of these animals. To put it plainly the Lord told Peter, "you are hungry so here is some food." Peter didn't want to eat them because they were unclean and even the animals that were considered clean had been defiled by the others. God told him that what He had made clean was clean and not to dispute Him. The purpose behind this vision was to prepare Peter for his encounter with Cornelius. In these cities and neighboring countries there had been so many prejudices against  people just because where they were born. God wanted Peter to realize that man was never to be considered unclean because when He created man He looked at him and considered it good.  After Peter had seen this vision three times the objects returned back into the sky.
Chapter 10:17-22
      After having this vision there was a knock at Peter's door and there stood Gentile soldiers. Remembering what the Lord had told him he invited them in and gave them food and shelter for the night. Now you have to understand that Peter who was a Jew had been taught his whole life the Gentiles were "unclean" and were an abomination to the Lord. But by God's grace those barriers were being broken down and he was showing them love.
Chapter 10:23-33
       Peter leaves his home and sets out on his journey toward Cornelius' house. Based on the text it would seem that Peter didn't know why he was being summoned but he went anyways. Once he arrived he was greeted in a humble way by many of the people from the city. Cornelius wasted no time in telling him about the vision he had seen from the Lord and wanted Peter to tell them all he knew.
      Peter begins to preach to the Gentile crowd of how he serves a God who loves everyone. He tells them all that he had witnessed and how even those who were in Jewish leadership turned against Him and hung Him on a cross While he was preaching the Holy Spirit fell on the crowd because of their willingness to listen. Everyone was amazed and they decided that they also all needed to be baptized as well. Wanting to know more they asked Peter to stay longer and continue to preach to them.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Journal Entry: In Awe of Him

This is a page from my journal written back in March 2007.

    How can I stand in the midst of Your Glory and not give You credit? How can I proclaim Your name and not mean it? Why do I let myself get so far away before I realize I can't see You? Turn me around. I want to run to You with open arms, a broken heart, and a mindset to praise You. Why am I so selfish, I don't know. My heart already has eternity but others don't. Why can't I share openly with those who are so closed? Break the hearts of those around me. Bring them to their knees in adoration. I pray that I will have an obedient, submissive, and changed heart. Grow me in ways that are foreign to me. I want to be a true follower of Christ.

    I am so thankful to say that the Lord has answered so many of these prayers. I have witnessed so many turn to the Lord over the years and some being right in my own family. I am getting stronger with my boldness but it could still be stronger. Over the years the Lord has grown me through so many different experiences that I never would have imagined. May I continue to listen and follow Him daily.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Being a Martha and not a Mary

        Alright confession time. I have been a Martha way too much lately. I always think that my house has to be perfect and organized and I forget what my real job is. I am so caught up in cleaning and making stuff that I forget to just stop and sit at His feet. There is a time to be a Martha but if we can't take the time to worship then nothing else matters. As a mother I need to be a constant example to my kids, even now, as to how a Christian woman should act. I want my daughter to grow up to be a genuine servant of Him in everything that she does. Along the same lines I want my son to one day marry a woman who is bold and loving in her faith. If I am not the example to them then I can't expect anyone else to be. Mary knew the right time to stop and listen to her Master. My prayer is that I won't get caught up in what the world wants of me and focus on what God has already done for me. 

Acts 9:1-43

*From this chapter on we begin to see the life of Paul/Saul begin to unfold.
Chapter 9:1-2
    Saul gets permission from the high priest to go to Damascus and start arresting more followers. It is very evident that there is something wrong in his life.
Chapter 9:3-9
     He is quick to get there in hopes that the word doesn't get spread of his comings. On his way he was struck by a bright light that based on the Scriptures only he witnessed. I think it is very interesting that Saul knew exactly who was speaking to him and what he had done wrong. When the light was gone Saul was left on the ground blind and had to be helped to Damascus to wait on what was to come.
Chapter 9:10-17
     In these verses we are greeted with a man named Ananias. He played a very important role that he was given by the Lord in the conversion of Saul. I am sure that he must have had a little fear for his life when he went to meet the persecutor. God had His hand on the whole situation when He gave both men their visions that would tell them what would happen.
Chapter 9:18-25
      In verse 18 and 19 Saul receives his sight, kind of in a gross way, but immediately he wants to be baptized. This shows just how faithful he was being because he wanted to do this before he even ate which he had not done in three days. He spends next few days fellowshipping with those he once wanted to destroy. They must have been able to forgive him quickly because they would soon help his escape the city. Saul had been preaching so much that he angered some of the Jews and they plotted to kill him. Saul had to be lowered in a basket over the city wall to get away from them.
Chapter 9:26-30
      Barnabas spent time with Saul so he could get to know him and see just how genuine he really was. It wasn't long before he saw how much he had changed and presented him to the disciples as a true follower. Once again the more he preached the more people didn't like him and wanted to kill him. They had to prepare a way to transport him to safety once again. You know he must have been preaching the Word to be faced with all this trouble.
Chapter 9:31-35
     In verse 31 we see how when God has His hands on something or someone how well they will prosper. While Saul was dealing with all the heat Peter was in the Judean coast. He met a man who had been bedridden eight years. In the name of Jesus Peter told the man to stand up and he was instantly healed.
Chapter 9:36-43
     Then when Peter traveled to Joppa God used him in a mighty way. A woman of great respect named Tabitha had died and the mourners had begun the preparations to bury her. Word traveled from the disciples to Peter to go and meet the people. Peter sat next to the woman and asked her to open her eyes. She did so and walked out with Peter. What a thing to witness.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Act 8:1-40

*Sorry about the delay. I was spending time with my family while everyone was at home again.
Chapter 8:1-4
     After Saul witnessed Stephen's death he started to pursue other believers hoping to wipe out the movement that was starting. New believers didn't want to get caught so they spread out even to the lands that they had once rejected. Something that stands out is that the apostles stayed in Jerusalem. To me that shows that they weren't going to let one man run them out of their mission. In verse 2 we see that Stephen was buried by his friends and they mourned over him. This was against tradition of how a "criminal" was supposed to be buried. Even though the people were taken from their homes and treated poorly  they still preached wherever they went.
Chapter 8:5-8
     In these verses we begin to see Philip, one of the seven deacons, begin to preach in Samaria. He performed many signs and wonders for the people.
Chapter 8:9-13
     There was a man named Simon who was known as a magician and was able to captivate his crowds. When Phillip came to his town and he witnessed what he was doing Simon was baptized and followed with Phillip.
Chapter 8:14-25
      Many people just couldn't believe the fact that the Samaritans were now followers of Christ so they asked Peter to go down there and find out. When he got there he did find people who were genuine but they had only been baptized. The Holy Spirit hadn't come on them. I think this is a good example of how actions don't save you but repentance and having the Holy Spirit take control of your life. This all was probably do to the fact that no one had told them about how to receive the Spirit and how important it really was. In verse 18 we begin to see how shallow Simon's belief was. As he began to see the things Peter was able to do he himself wanted to do it so as to improve his magic act. He was missing the whole purpose. Peter wasn't happy with him and quickly corrected him and told him he needed to repent. There is not much more said about Simon here and now where else in the Scriptures.
Chapter 8:26-40
     It was important to include the story of the eunuch here because it was another important step to the expansion of the church. Luke recalls the story of how Philip approaches the high ranking ruler in his chariot and helps him understand the scripture he is reading. After they had read and traveled together they came to some water where the man quickly announced that he wanted to be baptized. Here we are given the clear imagine that baptism is supposed to be an immersion not a few sprinkles of water.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Acts 7:1-60

*This chapter doesn't have a lot that I an elaborate on but when you read about the different men presented, really think about what points Stephen is trying to bring out.
Chapter 7:1-53
      In the previous chapter we saw Stephen being accused in front of the council of speaking badly against Moses and God. These several verses are Stephen defending himself and pointing out some truths against the leaders. Probably being well educated on the Old Testament Septuagint, he begins to use examples of the men in the Scriptures who were wrongly accused when they were just delivering God's message. After he illustrates these examples he begins to focus on the leaders standing before him. They were wrongly accusing the messenger of the Lord and He was ready to judge them for it. They were responsible for the betrayal of Jesus and they had also become murderers.
Chapter 7:54-60
      Once the leaders had heard this they were not happy at all. Before any guards could be brought in the people had carried Stephen out of the city and began to stone him. Probably with baseball or basketball size stones. Even when he was being beaten to death he still was putting these people before himself. He truly want to see these souls saved. I believe that God gave him the vision so that he would be encourage and that he would be distracted from the pain. God never gives us more than we can handle. He was watching over Stephen and knew he could handle this. In verse 58 we are introduced to a man named Saul who will later on change his name to Paul.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

The Heart of a Minister's Wife

     If you were to ask a minister's wife what her life was like, I could almost guarantee it would sound alot like what I am about to write about. First off I am honored to consider myself a minister's wife even if it is not always easy. From a young age, like most girls, I thought I would marry a business man or even a military man but never a pastor.  After meeting my husband he tried his best to explain to me what his life was like and being the daughter of a now associate pastor I thought I knew everything. I was way off. After we were married I quickly learned that our life was going to be much different than I though, not bad but different.
   Many couples that are first married spend there days going to different places on dates or just staying at home enjoying a dinner for two. But for us we opened our doors to the neighborhood youth that needed a place to hang out or a meal to eat. It took me awhile to understand that this was the Lord's way of showing me my ministry. I thought I wanted a quite home where I would have other married couples over for dinner but instead was watching kids hang out in my living room playing video games. Over the years I have come to love these times because I think I would rather them be here than out on the streets doing who knows what.
     Many couples can come home after work and put away their phones and assignments and relax. As a minister it is key that my husband have his phone on him at all times. You never know when you will get a phone call with someone in need.  This too took sometime to adjust to but over the years I have not let it bother me as much. I realized that this was also an important part of his ministry to be available to council those who need a word of encouragement or to know where to pick up someone so they can come and worship at church. I am thankful that I have a husband who can put down the phone so he can help me when I need him or get down on the floor and play with our kids.
    Many couples can go places and not think about who is watching them. As a minister's wife I am called to be set apart not only because I am his wife but because I am to be an example to others. This is a hard thing for me and for several other women out there. Sometimes I would love to just go somewhere and not wonder if the clothes that I am wearing or the expression on my face will be judged later on just because I am a pastor's wife. Even if no one is looking at me I always feel like I am walking with a big sign around my neck that says "pastor's wife."  Please remember that we are sinners saved by grace and just like anyone else we will make mistakes.
     Many couples can spend alot of time as a family. This was the most important thing to me when I accepted my husband hand in marriage. I wanted a family and I wanted to spend alot of time with him. As a minister he sometimes has to spend alot of time away from home. I quickly learned that our family was going to function differently and that I was going to do everything I could to keep us close. We make it appoint to see each other and work together not only because I am his wife but because his ministry is my ministry. We have our own routine that works for us and keeps us connected as a family. Once we had our children some things had to be altered but I make it a point that he gets to spend enough time with them even if it means hold off a little longer on bedtime or staying longer at youth event.  You get out of a relationship what you put in.
     I pray that anyone out there who is also in the ministry won't let it wear you down but that it would be something that glorifies our God. It should be a blessing to serve not a burden. I am honored to be a minister's wife because I have witnessed first hand how God is using my husband to reach out to others and bring them closer to Him.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Acts 6:1-15

Chapter 6:1
    There is really no idea as to how much time passed from now and the previous chapter. The important thing to note is that many were hearing the gospel and becoming believers. This continuous outbreak of believers was starting to overwhelm the disciples. Some of the members of the church, the Hellenistic(Greek) Christians, were not used to the growing number either. The felt like their widows were being neglected because the disciples were so busy.There is no actual evidence to show that they really did suffer.
Chapter 6:2-7
    The twelve disciples seeing an issue arise they called the congregation together and explained the situation. They were not willing to take time out of there preaching to feed people. They wanted a group of men to do this job so they could do theirs. Don't view the disciples as being cold or non caring, they just had a mission from the Lord that came first. They had the congregation nominate men, not women, who the disciples would decide on. In verse 5 the seven men chosen are listed all with Greek names which probably meant they were apart of the Hellenistic Jews. There were hands laid on them and prayer was lifted up to God over them.
Chapter 6:8-15
   In these verses we begin to learn more about one of the men chosen to be the deacon under the disciples. Stephen was a man full of grace and power. He along with many others were performing wonders and healings that were capturing the eye of many. When Jesus commanded to go to all nations, Stephen took this to heart and started venturing out to the Gentiles. They were not happy with this and began to scheme against him. They set up witnesses who told lies against him and his ministry. In verse 15 it is stated that when he began to defend his actions that his face glowed like an angel. I believe that it is safe to say that the glory of the Lord was shining through him and not a coincidence that it would be at the time he was being accused.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

A Heart for One

      Many of you have heard my testimony when it came to how I met my husband but there is so much more to the story before that. This is for all the girls/women out there who are in the single hood chapter of their life and don't know what the future holds.
      Growing up I never had boyfriends unless you consider having boys who were my friends. I never sat at lunch with a boy or went to the movies on a date. There were a few guys over the years who were interested in me but after praying about them I knew that wasn't what the Lord wanted. Like ever other girl out there I had crushes and when those didn't work out my heart was "broken." Once in high school I thought surely that the Lord was going to give me a boyfriend cause I was a good Christian girl and I "deserved" it. As teenagers we don't know what we deserve. All along God had me in His hand and knew what was best.I never wanted to have a lot of relationships and even went so far as to ask the Lord that only the man who was supposed to be my husband would be the one who asked me out. After graduating from high school with still no dates to speak of I though college would be different. Once I was at college I was once again surrounded by good people and some who were interested but none were who the Lord wanted, except one. I had noticed him at the beginning of my freshman year but quickly dismissed him cause I thought he was out of my league. I went on with my life but I kept hearing things about this one guy. People would talk about how honest and set apart he was. He was one of the most genuine guy they knew. This didn't help my heart because he still didn't know who I was. Months went by and I was still in the same position. Finally I realized the  problem. I was trying to do everything myself instead of giving it to the Lord. He told me to sit and worship with Him everyday and I would be satisfied in Him. So that is what I did. Everyday I sat in our dorm and read my bible. Little did I know that this very act of worship was what made this guy notice me to begin with. Finally after many months of prayer and seeking the Lord, he began to pursue me. That guy is now my husband. He is still a man who is set apart from all the rest and he is the only one who ever asked me out. He is the only one who took the time to get to know me and where my heart was. I can't imagine my life without him.
      After we had been dating for several months we made a big decision about our relationship. We would not kiss until our wedding day. We thought that this would hold us accountable and bring honor to God. This was something that we didn't really share with many so when our wedding day came many were very surprised, especially when they found out it was my very first kiss. In a month we will have been married 3 years and our prayer is that the decisions that we have made and will make in the future will continue to honor God.
     If there is anyone out there who is wondering when their time will come just know that God has His perfect timing and if we let Him take control it will turn out better than we could imagine.

Acts 5:1-42

Chapter 5:1-11
    In the first verse it starts out with the word "but." In the previous chapters we had seen how the church was working together and sharing all they had with each other. But when Ananias and Sapphira are mentioned the mood of the book changes. They not acting like the rest of the church. They had wanted to be apart of the community when it came to giving in front of others but they still wanted some for themselves. When Ananias was in front of Peter, he knew somehow that the couple was lying. They had said they had given all but had really only given a part. The sin wasn't that they withheld some of the money but that they lied about it. No one knows why God decided to judge the man instantly but it sure shook up the people in the community. After dropping dead it wasn't much longer that Ananias wife Sapphira after being questioned the same as her husband also dropped dead. Even though she was being loyal to her husband to follow him she still was acting in sin against the Holy Spirit.
Chapter 5:12-16
     Because of the things that the apostles were doing many people admired them but didn't spend time with them personally. I imagine that it was a little had to be around people who were so on fire for the Lord and you weren't doing the same things as them. The people had such admiration for Peter that they would even put sticks in the road hoping that his shadow would be cast on it and heal people. No where in scripture does it say that his shadow actually healed.
Chapter 5:17-42
    The leaders of the main groups didn't like what they were hearing the disciples do among the people. So they quickly had all twelve arrested probably fast so word wouldn't spread. But that night an angel appeared to them and after telling them to go and preach he released them. The doors were never opened and the guards never knew that they had left. After finding out where they were the leaders had them called back in order to question them. They told the disciples again that they were not to preach an the name of Jesus  but all twelve of them agreed that they were to serve the Lord first before man.  The leaders didn't like this at all and if it weren't for the Pharisee named Gamaliel they probably all would have been killed right then. Gamaliel figured that if the movement wasn't anything big it would die off eventually and if it was something from God then he didn't want to receive wrath from God for it. The disciples were told once again not to preach anymore and then were beaten before getting released. The disciples didn't mind the beating because it meant they had suffered for the Lord. As to be expected they continued to preach everyday at the temple.  How often are we willing to suffer for Jesus because of our actions. Too many times we let our lives get too comfortable.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Acts 4:1-37

Chapter 4:1-31
     We see in these verses the very first arrest among the church. They had had a few months to get their minds and hearts ready but now things would get harder. The head leaders wanting to show their authority heard of two men (Peter and John) preaching and healing and thought they should be arrested. After spending the night in jail and probably surprised that it happened Peter began to preach to the men when they came the next day. The leaders couldn't understand how these followers would have more power then the "church."The church had forgotten who had given them their power to begin with. The Holy Spirit had filled these men and they wanted to tell everyone. Not acting out rashly the leaders decided to let the men go with a strict warning not to preach in the name of Jesus anymore. Peter and John quickly disagreed and said they would keep preaching. After being freed the Peter and John return to friends to report what happened. I believe they all started to realize more what they were in store for in their ministries to come.
Chapter 4:32-37
      These verse portray to us I think exactly what the church should be doing now. People were selling everything and donating it to the church for those in need. Many were doing it mainly so they would be free of worldly things and could move around as the Holy Spirit directed. If we weren't so wrapped up in possessions we would see these great things take place in our own communities.

Acts 3:1-26

Chapter 3:1-10
      In these verses where the first recorded healing by the apostles is listed I had always looked at it from Peter and John's perspective. But when I read it this morning I saw through the eyes of the lame man. Here was a man who from birth had never been able to use his legs but had gone and sat at the gates of the temple everyday to beg. Even though he probably went to that spot hoping for some generosity from the members he still sat by the temple everyday. Then one day two men which he probably saw regularly came up to him and instead of giving him what he wanted they gave him what God wanted.In the name of Jesus they told him to walk. Instantly he was healed.  Here he was hoping for a few pieces of silver but instead received a greater reward. God used those Peter to show that man how powerful He really was. I believe that the once lame man realized this or else he wouldn't have gone in the temple to worship.
Chapter 3:11-26
      Because people had gathered around to see the man who could now walk Peter took this time to now preach the reasons behind it. In verses 11-13 he gives the Old Testament foundations that support that Jesus is truly the Savior.Later on in the passage Peter basically accused the whole crowd of being responsible for the crucifixion of Jesus. He urges them to repent of there sins and be forgiven so that the time of refreshing could begin. In verse 25 the Jews realize that Jesus was the fulfillment of the messianic promise. Through Him they could have a personal relationship.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

The power of prayer

     I think for most of my life I have realized that prayer was an important thing in your walk with the Lord but it didn't really sink in till later on. The first time I really remember praying for something and immediately seeing the effects of it was when I was in 3rd or 4th grade. I was riding home with my mom after school and I had a bad headache. When I told her about it she said she didn't have any medicine with her but I could pray and see if it went away. Having faith like a child back then I truly believed He would take away the pain. Instantly after I prayed the pain was gone. That was the Lord showing me at that time that if I came to Him with the small things He would also bless me with the big things. Throughout my life He has revealed Himself more and more to me by His faithfulness. It has never failed that the times that I have gotten on my knees and humbled myself before Him that He has showed me His truths.
      With each of my pregnancies as soon as I find out I have prayed for their protection and growth. When I prayed for my first child I  asked the Lord if the baby was healthy and if I would go to full term. I guess in my mind if I knew that something would go wrong I wanted time to prepare. I clearly heard from the Lord that "Yes" the baby was healthy and I would go to full term. And full term it was. I was actually 3 days past my due date when I had her and even though the labor was very hard she was a healthy beautiful girl. So naturally when I found out I was pregnant for the second time I prayed the exact same prayer but this time I got a different answer. I heard that HE was healthy and that I can't wait for you to see My handy work.  I prayed this when I was only 5 weeks along, well before any doctor could tell me what the gender would be. The Lord never said that he would be a full term baby like my previous one was. I delivered my son a month early and he spent the first month of his life in the NICU. That was the hardest time that my husband and I as well as our families had ever been through. But through it all I saw God's "handy work" in the progress my son would go through and the fact that people all over the world were praying just for him. I was in our room one night trying to fight my emotions partially cause I was worried and partially cause I was just tired of hospitals and I prayed that the Lord would heal him soon. The next day I went to see him and he was off of all the machines and was improving drastically. I have so many other times that the Lord has provided when I called out but these are the ones on my heart today. We serve a God who listens and is faithful to complete the work in us that He has begun. If we aren't asking in selfishness He will answer in His timing.

Acts 2:1-47

Chapter 2:1-13
     Pentecost, also know as the Feast of Weeks was one of the feast of the ancient Judaism. In these verses we find that this had begun and the disciples were gathered together one again. Like nothing they had ever experienced a rush of wind comes through with a great noise and fills the house they were in. God had come to them in the form of the Holy Spirit. He rested on each of their head that were present in the form of  a tongue-like fire. No one flame was bigger than another. Everyone was given equal amounts of God's gifts, plan, and mandate. That wasn't all they were given, they also began to speak in tongues. In this context Luke describes this as different dialects that were understood by others. I am not by any means an expert on this topic so please read these passages to better understand what speaking in tongues is and what the boundaries are.(1 Corin 12 & 14) God did all of this in His own time and it is an interesting thing that He brought this about during a festival where all the faithful from the corners of the world would join together. They became excited and while some joined in with them others just thought that they had had to much to drink.
Chapter 2:14-40
    In verse 14 Peter gives the first apology(defense) in the history of the church. In verse 15-21 he quotes what the prophet Joel had spoke on about the day of the Lord was at hand. As Peter begins to preach more people come if not only to see what the commotion was about. He tells them that Jesus was the Messiah they had heard about for so many years and that David had written about. Jesus was the one who they had arrested and crucified. When the people heard this they were hurt and wondered what they should do. Some not wanting to know walked away but for those who stayed Peter quickly gave them an answer. Repent and be baptized in His name.
Chapter 2:41-47
     Those who received what Peter had to say were immediately baptized. That day 3,000 people joined the church. They began to truly fellowship with each other along with selling everything they had to share with others in need. When was the last time we had that same heart for others that we would give up everything for our brothers/sisters in Christ. We are such a selfish generation.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Acts 1:1-26

   Written by Luke, the book of Acts shows us the history of how Christianity spread following the resurrection of Christ. The first half of the book follows Peter and the latter part of the book is focused on Paul. Both men were missionaries spreading the Gospel to the neighboring nations. The book of Acts is considered a part 2 to the book of Luke because he wasn't finished with his story and Jesus wasn't finished after He resurrected.
Chapter 1:1-5
    In verse one Luke brings out the good point about our Lord. He not only taught but He also went about doing what He preached as well. By His actions He sealed His teachings with authority. He gives instructions to His apostles before He ascends to Heaven to wait until the Holy Spirit came upon them before they left Jerusalem to go off on their missions. The Holy Spirit would empower them to do the work they were commanded to do.
Chapter 1:6-11
     There isn't much detail as to what Jesus did the forty days after He was raised from the dead until now. He must have stayed in contact with His disciples because how else did they all know to meet on the Mount of Olives that day. After they asked Him questions about this being His time to prepare His kingdom Jesus didn't give a specific answer to them but reassured them that the Holy Spirit was coming. In verse 8 He tells them to preach to the nations even the ends of the earth. I had never really thought about it but the apostles had no idea just how big this world was. If Jesus wouldn't have told them to reach out they may have just stayed locally and the church wouldn't have spread at that time. After Jesus said all He needed to do He was taken up in the clouds to be seated at the right hand of God until the second coming. The disciples who had watched Him go were greeted by two men, probably angels, who told them He was gone but would return again the way He left. Only Luke talks about the ascension out of all the Gospels. He seemed to keep very detailed accounts of Jesus ministry from beginning to end.
Chapter 1:12-26
     The disciples along with over a hundred others return to the upper room after Jesus' ascension. The upper room was the central place to many of the disciples events previously so it makes sense that they would go there. It was here that Peter stands up and voices the fact that they needed to replace Judas, who had previously hung himself, with a new person. Judas was to be replaced not because he died but because he was defected.There still needed to be twelve disciples to parallel with the twelve tribes. Two men were mentioned, Joseph(Justus) and Mattias. Each of these men needed to be followers of Jesus from the time of John the baptist and must have witnessed the resurrection. After the other disciples had prayed about it and voted they announced it would be Mattias who would fulfill the remaining spot.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Joel 3:1-21

Chapter 3:1-3
     In these first few verses Joel refers back to what he spoke on in chapter 2 about the day of the Lord at hand and how He will would judge the nations around Judah (Israel). The nations are being judged because of how they treated God's chosen. They had divided up the land, casted lots against them, and turned them into slaves.
Chapter 3:4-8
     I love these verses because God is defending His people with a vengeance. He list in verse 4 the actual cities that have wronged His people and then goes into detail in the next verses about He will show judgement. The basic message that is portrayed is that if these people didn't repent and recompense what they had taken God was going to do worse on them. I am thankful that I serve a just God.
Chapter 3:9-17
     In verse 9 Joel is proclaiming to the people to be prepared for war. When things like this are proclaimed from God's messengers the people are to prepare by getting offerings and lifting up prayers. In verse 10, every available person, even the weak, along with anything that can be used as a weapon are called to action. All the people of the nations were then called to go to the valley of Jehoshaphat but while they were thinking it was for battle it really was so that they would all be together for judgement. Based on the how Joel describes all of these events would tell us that he was off in the distance watching all of the signs unfold. God wanted the people of Judah to see that He would protect and take care of them.
Chapter 3:18-21
    These verses are just reiterating the fact that God will replenish the land of Judah and they will be taken care of forever. However Egypt and Edom will be quite different, becoming like wilderness and a waste. In the last verse it concludes with the promise from God that He will avenge their blood which have yet to be avenged.

Joel 2:1-32

Chapter 2:1-11
       In the first two verses Joel speaks out again that the day of the Lord is near because of the massive locust plague. It says that there were so many locusts swarming that they blackened the light. Joel compares this cloud of blackness to an approaching army that would bring great destruction along with it. Joel writes out a picture of what it appears like to him in verses 5-10. But when it comes to verse 11 we see just how strong our God is. He utters His voices and they follow and carry out His word.
Chapter 2:12-17
      Even though all this has happened and it is late it isn't too late for the people to repent and turn to Him. It was a common thing  back then for people to tear their clothes when they were mourning or upset. But in verse 13 God doesn't want their garments, He wants their broken hearts. He is a forgiving, gracious, and a compassionate God. In verse 15 Joel says to blow the trumpet and make preparations for a fast. The priest were supposed to be in charge of getting the congregation together and heading up a group wide fast but back in chapter 1 we found out that the priest had abandoned their duties because of everything going on. In verse 17 all the nations around Judah were mocking them and God because they couldn't see how God could be a God who couldn't take care of His people during this rough time. They like so many didn't understand the ways of our God and just how merciful He was actually being toward them.
Chapter 2:18-27
     In these several verses the land of Judah are about to see just how gracious their God is. He is jealous for His land and has pity for them. He promises them that He will give them food, clear out the locusts, bring refreshing rain, and restore to them the protection over their land. Among many other things God restores to them what they have lost and reminds them that He is, was, and will always be there. His people will never be put to shame.
Chapter 2:28-32
    God would pour His Spirit on ALL the people of Judah to sustain them. Nothing in this contexts indicates that these people would proclaim anything or evangelize to the other nations but instead would have a close relationship with God. In the last verses we see that those who are faithful and call to God will be saved. There will be many signs around us to proclaim that the day of the Lord has come. It isn't a physical membership that brings us deliverance but only when we answer His call.