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.