Acts

Take a Break

Acts 21:37-25:12

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TRUST in the LORD with all your heart and lean not in your own understanding!

“What shall I do LORD?” Acts 22:10

Is that not the question of the century or what! What’s shall I do Lord? For many of us true rest and stillness is a very difficult concept to master. For me, it is because I love feeling productive. I love the feeling of having accomplished something, or better yet many things. It makes me feel useful, valuable… important. If I’m not DOING something i feel less valuable.
Did I seriously just say that? Just looking at that sentence make me shake my head! How! How in the world can my physical activity affect my value? I mean, if a car isn’t driving me somewhere does that decrease it’s a value or ability to do so later? No. Actually, most cars are worth more if they haven’t been driven extensively and essentially worn out. Or my children. If they’re sitting and watching TV or sleeping rather than cleaning does that make them less valuable to me? What about my coffee maker? It’s job is to make coffee when I want it. I did does just that. So during those times when it’s not making coffee does it lose its value? Nope. So where in the world do we get the idea that if we’re talking a break of any length that we lose our value? Or that we’re not useful? If my coffee maker is not being used at the moment does that mean it has ceased to be a useful tool for my kitchen? If my car isn’t being driven at the moment has its ceast from being a useful way for me to get to the grocery store? Oh! Or what if it even ran out of gas which is totally happened! Has it ceased to be useful to me? By no means! Was it the car’s fault it ran out of gas, or mine?
Why do we feel so guilty about running out of gas physically or spiritually or emotionally? Why is it so hard to allow ourselves to be humans in need of a break? Why do we refuse to rest? Why do neglect to fill up our gas tanks or our water reservoir and then get angry when they run out and we’re forced to stop our movement and take a break and pray?
Prayer is our fuel and time in the word is our living water. The Lord is my strength, an ever present help in times of trouble.

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Wake Up!

Acts 19:1-21:36

“Be alert” Acts 20:27

Yesterday, as I was driving home from the vet’s office with the kids and dog in the backseat I had a strange thought run through my head, “Since you’re such an important person in the kingdom of God you should drive your car off the road into that tree and prove it.” Now, at the time I was driving at no slow speed so of COURSE the thought frightened me and I immediately pushed it aside. So while I didn’t obey it, I didn’t stop to think where a thought like that could be coming from either. I simply pushed it out of my mind and kept driving. And I didn’t think about it again until this morning at 3:22am when I woke up from a dream with a start. I can’t remember any of the dream except driving my car off the road into a tree!

Now while some may say a dream like that is straight from the devil I will strongly disagree with them, because that dream woke me up! It alerted me to the demonic activity that had been so surrounding me during the day that I had ceased to realize their efforts to destroy me. I had failed to remain alert to their ploys. I had not been taking EVERY thought CAPTIVE.

“For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete.” 2 Corinthians 10:3-6

You see, those thoughts of running my car into a tree, they weren’t my thoughts. Yet I was still allowing them to tromp their way through my head instead of capturing them and punishing them for invading my space. Our minds are the battlefield of spiritual warfare because as a man thinks, so he is. And out of the overflow of his heart a man speaks, (Matthew 12:34, Luke 6:45) and those words contain the power of life and death (James 3) to all who hear them including the speaker.

When I awoke from my dream I simultaneously awoke from my spiritual slumber as well. I had been renting out space in my head to the Liar himself and it was high-time I kicked him out! So right then and there I opened my mouth and spoke, “Spirit of Suicide, in Jesus’ name, report to Jesus immediately for sentencing.” On and on I went, Self-harm, Self-destruction, Indifference, Lack, Depression, Fear, Self-reliance… capturing them by the ear by calling our their name and punishing them the best way I know how. I sent them to The Judge for eternal punishment. For an HOUR I lay in bed quietly and calmly calling out the names of my former tormentors, telling them where to go and then asking the Holy Spirit to come and fill the space they had occupied with His beautiful fruity self: “Come Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Goodness, Gentleness, Kindness, Faithfulness and Self-Control!” I praised God for opening my eyes to the bonds that had been hindering me from fully praising Him and fully appreciating His love for me.

In that very car on the way TO the vet’s office I had been sobbing for God to help me, to free me from this unknown and un-named prison I seemed to be in. A prison I knew I couldn’t get out of on my own. Right then the scale tipped back toward my favor and the Enemy knew he had been defeated because I had run into THE tree!

THANK YOU JESUS!

I feel like a completely different person today without all those “cling-ons”!

HALLELUJAH!

See what just one short week of daily Bible reading can do for you!?! I certainly have missed it! Oh my friends, the best is yet to come, won’t you join me!?!

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Closed Doors Opened

Acts 15:36-18:28

“About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God and the prisoners were listening to them, and suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken. And immediately all the doors were opened, and everyone’s bonds were unfastened.” Acts 16:25-26

Many of us are in different spiritual prisons. Sometimes more than one at a time! However, that is where I pray this blog comes into play. When I write I usually write from or about a prison I’ve been in whether Fear, or Doubt, Uncertainty, Condemnation, Complacency, Confusion, you name it! And I pray that my prayers and “songs” shake the foundations of your prisons!

If we look at this scripture we find what happens when foundations are shaken; doors open and bonds are unfastened! That’s the power of the Word of God!

Earlier in Acts 16 we find Paul, Silas and Timothy facing closed door (verse 6: Asia) after closed door (verse 7: Bithynia). I can only imagine how frustrated they were at this. Here the Spirit of God has empowered them with boldness and a passion to spread the gospel but He keeps telling them, “not here”.

I’ve been in that hallway of locked doors with God before and it’s frustrating and discouraging as you knock on door after door and they simply remain closed to you. So you walk farther down the hall and knock on more doors and they stay closed causing more feelings of rejection and disappointment and doubt of your calling. But these doors are not a rejection of you nor are they a confirmation of your doubts; they’re arrows pointing you in the direction God wants you to go. They’re like those signs in the bank when a teller window is closed, “next teller please”.

God,

Please infuse us with the patience of Your Spirit as we continue down our hall of closed doors in search of the door of opportunity that was made just for us. Heal our knuckles that have been bruised and bloodied from knocking. There are so many hurts that accompany closed doors; we give those hurts to You our great and mighty healer. Lord, we give You our prison-stays. And we will praise Your name in every circumstance that shakes us because we know that we have been given an unshakable kingdom (Hebrews 12:18-29) where Christ is our unbreakable foundation. We pray that we may be deeply rooted and grounded in Your love for us and that we may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that we may be FILLED with ALL the fullness of God. (Ephesians 3:17-19)

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Letter from God

Acts 13:1-15:35

Beloved,

I can’t fit in a box and neither can you. You have to be who I made you to be or you’ll never be happy with yourself. You’ve got to do what I made you to do. Say what I made you to say. Look the way I made you to look. Live the way I made you to live. Act the way I made you to act. I made you to be you, a unique and special individual unlike anyone else in all of creation, why would you want to be just like someone else? Just be yourself, it’s who I made you to be. And I think you’re pretty spectacular if I do say so myself! 😉 I love you. The you I made you to be. Stop trying to copy other people, it’s not worth your time and effort, because no matter how hard you try, you can’t be them and they can’t be you. My world doesn’t work that way. It only works if you be you and let them be them. They’re a foot and you’re an eye. They can’t see and you can’t walk so get over it and move on to do the function I created you to perform. Be an “I”, the most beautiful “I” you can be, the “I”, I made you to be. You’ll never be sorry you did.

Love ALWAYS,

God

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Beautiful YOU


Acts 9:23-12:25

Yesterday I posted a picture of my disheveled little self and challenged you to share pictures of your beautiful selves with me. (TamarKnochel@gmail.com – let me know if I can share them, I won’t unless I have permission.) When the first one came in I was so struck by the Spirit at how beautiful He feels we are. And then He started singing:

“You are so beautiful, to Me.

Can’t you see?

You’re everything I hoped for,

You’re everything I need.

You are so beautiful, to Me!”

He wasn’t just singing to me in my brokenness or even to the beauty whose picture I was beholding, it was, no IS, His song to all of us. To YOU personally. In today’s scripture God told Peter, “What God has made clean, do not call common.” Acts 10:15

In the early days of the Bible God pulled Abram aside and told him he was special, that God wanted to make a holy nation through Abram. And Abram believed Him. That very nation grew rapidly and became more numerous than the sand at the sea or the stars in the sky. When Christ died on the cross He died for ALL mankind. His blood cleanses EVERY heart that believes; which brings them into the family of God.

God has made you clean. He has declared you as holy and set apart for His good purposes, don’t you dare consider yourself common! You have the blood of JESUS covering your nakedness, cleansing your wounded-ness, filling in your imperfections, declaring you pure, righteous and beautiful in His sight. And there is NOTHING common or ordinary about that!

You are so beautiful to Him.

Receive this gift of Truth from Him today.

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Who am I Living to Please?

Word of the Day: Acts 7:1-9:22

So, I had a whole other post half-heartedly written in my head and when I started writing it down and it just didn’t feel right.  I put down my pen, picked up my Bible and said through tears,  “LORD, what is Your message for ME today?”
I have spent so much time taking down and delivering messages for other people lately. And right now I’m the one hurting.  Much more than I expected I would.  My Grandpa just died yesterday and it’s hitting me with more force than I expected.  Every little thing seems to bring me to tears right now. And the people asking me, “how are you doing?” is annoying me. They may not intend it, but they all seem to be asking me if I’m staying strong and holding it all together.  Well, I guess the answer is, “no I’m not”. But really, should I be?  Should I be holding the sadness in so that it can swallow me whole later? Should I stay strong so that others aren’t made uncomfortable?
For so long I’ve lived my life for others, for their pleasure and satisfaction. Why? What good does that do me? And even though I’ve tried living for Christ (in the way others told me I should) that didn’t seem to ever work out either. So I wonder if perhaps I should start living for me instead. Start living to please His Holy Spirit inside me so that when I stand in heaven and look back on my life I can say I loved me. So that I can say I loved seeing Him in me coming out in ways I never expected or could have hoped.
This morning when I asked God what His message for ME was today He pointed to Acts 7:20 “Beautiful in God’s sight”.
Today, right now, when I’m trying so hard to write and be faithful and do His will.  Right now when I’m stinky and frumpy with my trusty Purdue sweatshirt from college, yoga pants,  crazy hair, no make up and even unbrushed teeth. Right now when I’m broken to bits and hurting and weeping constantly. That’s when I am truly beautiful in His sight. When I’m leaning on Him with everything I have because I recognize how weak I really am, how desperately I need His help because I simply can’t do this on my own. That is when I’m the most beautiful to Him.

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(He made me take and post this picture)

Ok, I shared mine, what was your personal message from God through His Word today? If you’re brave enough, take a picture of your beautiful self and share it with us!

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In This Name

Word of the Day: Acts 4:1-6:15
“In this name” Acts 5:28

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I admit that much of today’s reading felt like a haze. But through that haze a pattern began to emerge. A name.

The Sadducees were “greatly annoyed because they were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection from the dead.” Acts 4:2

“let it be known to all of you and all the people of Israel that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead by him this man is standing before you well.” Acts 4:10

This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone.” Acts 4:11

“And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” Acts 4:12

“But in order that it may spread no farther among the people, let us warn them to speak no more to anyone in this name.” Acts 4:17

I could go on and on, but just by this short passage it is evident that there is tremendous power in the name of Jesus of Nazareth! Power that filled the Sadducees with jealous fear and the disciples with power and boldness through His Holy Spirit. There is power in the name of Jesus because it speaks of the person of Jesus, in whom all power resides. When we have Jesus, we have everything we need. He is the cornerstone the builders rejected. Will you reject him today? Will I? I almost did. But “if this plan or this undertaking is of man, it will fail; but if it is of God, nothing will be able to overthrow it.” Acts 5:38-39
As unfaithful as I have already fully proven myself to be, God still won’t let me fail. You know why? Because of you. Because He cares about you. And it’s my job to remind (myself and) you every day how much He loves you. He loves you enough to send you power and strength through a simple name – JESUS! A name that saves to the fullest and most extreme extent. A name above all names. A name that means everything to me because He gave everything for me while I was yet a sinner. Although I sinned and fell oh so short of the glory of God, He justified me by His grace as a gift through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus whom God put forward as a propitiation for my sins and yours! (Romans 3:23-25)
Hallelujah! We are justified through Grace!

Thank you Jesus!

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We Will Never Be Lost

Word of the Day: Acts 1:1-3:26

” this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God,” (Acts 2:23)

Last night as I was sleeping, without ceremony or fanfare, May died and June was born. A new season of life has begun for me and I could not be more excited. Today is a fresh start, a new beginning, a new trip around the globe. It even rained last night making the world greener and more lush. The birds even seem to be singing with more gusto this morning.
I have spent the last two days flipping through my Bible marking out the landmarks for our year-long journey through the word.

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I studied the road map of life and pinpointed our rest-stops and our resting days taking into account breaks in the stories and the need for some day’s journeys to be a bit shorter or longer than others in order to reach the best rest-stop possible. Together I believe God and I have marked out a definite reading plan for this next cycle around the Sun.

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Now it’s up to us to follow it to the best of our abilities.
Yesterday God brought a slinky to my attention. He pointed out to me the shape of the coils, how they circle around a fixed point in a continual upward motion. He pointed out to me how even when the slinky appears to have no motion, the shape of the slinky itself emits motion.
So many times in life it seems like we’re not getting anywhere. It feels like nothing is happening. But that’s not true. We are constantly moving. We are always in motion through time and space in eternal clock work around the Earth’s axis, the Sun and around the universe. This place we call home is full of circles and cycles that spin us upward toward Home.
With every cycle we are one level closer to Him – even if it doesn’t feel like it. In today’s reading we find Peter quoting David prophesying about Jesus:

I saw the Lord always before me, for He is at my right hand that I may not be shaken;  therefore my heart was glad, and my tongue rejoiced; my flesh also will dwell in Hope. For you will not abandon my soul to Hades, or let your Holy One see corruption. You have made known to me the paths of life; you will make me full of gladness with your presence.

” (Acts 2:25-28)

In our walk through life, Jesus is ever before us, guiding us in the way we should go through His Holy Spirit. He remains always present through His Spirit, the comforter, so that we will not be shaken by life’s trials and tribulations. Because of Jesus no matter what troubles befall us our hearts can be glad our tongues can rejoice because the One who goes before us has overcome this world and cleared a path for us to follow, a Way through which to go. Because of Jesus we can live in Hope and not fear. How can we do this? We remember His promise. For He will not abandon us to Hell or let those of us in Christ see corruption! Now that, my friends, is a promise! It’s the truth, a whole truth and nothing but the truth! Jesus has made known this path of life to us, the truth that once we accept His gift of salvation He is faithful to guard and protect our souls from the corruption around us. We have been given an incorruptable life through Christ! There is no greater gift, there is no better joy than to live that life! While our bodies may be wasting away, our souls grow ever stronger, healthier, more lovely with age. The presence of God in our lives makes us glad when we could be sad. He makes us prosper when all around us fails. He strengthens our hearts through this cyclical journey we call life. A cycle where we often find ourselves back in pits we were once pulled out of… But He is with us, teaching us all the while how to avoid falling deeper into those pits. And even how to avoid them altogether by leaning on his power and strength to do so.
So. Let’s hitch up those wagons and set out on this next leg of our journey through life together. The Bible is our roadmap, His Holy Spirit is our guide, and 365 Life is our travel plan.

With God as our guide we will never be lost!

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Prisoners

Come Holy Spirit, fill me with Your fire, so that I can be more like You; help me, I trust You. Father, open my eyes so that I may see You clearly, open my ears so that I may hear You soundly, open my mind so that I may understand You more, open my heart so that I may love You more, open my hands so that I may give generously and receive humbly, in Jesus name, Amen.

Todays reading: Acts 26:1-28:30

And Agrippa said to Festus, This man could have been set free if he had not appealed to Caesar. Acts 26:32

Paul didnt have to stay in custody, he didnt have to remain a prisoner, yet he did anyway. Yesterday, in Acts 23:11 the Lord stood by Paul and told him that He wanted Paul to testify about Jesus in Rome, so in Acts 25:10-12 Paul lets the court know that he wants to go before Caesar and appeal to him about his innocence, which is granted him. Then today in Acts 26:32 we discover that had Paul not asked to go before Caesar he would have been set free! Paul could have been free from those chains that bound him… if he had not done what the Lord suggested. But because he obeyed Jesus he also remained in the chains that bound him to his quest.

As Christians we see chains and imprisonment as the opposite of the goal of our faith. We see them as a hindrance and a lack of freedom. But sometimes, the things that we think are hindering us are the very things that are allowing us to do Gods will. Paul didnt have to stay where he was, he didnt have to continue on the journey he was on, but he did. And he did it willingly.

Im reminded of Acts 16 where Paul and his companion, Silas, were in jail. They were placed in captivity because they had freed a slave girl from the evil spirit that bound her. While in prison they were praying and praising God in the night and an earthquake came and broke open the prison doors! But even then they didnt leave; they stayed where they were until the jailer came and found them. Most people would run at the first chance they got, but not Paul, in his spirit he must have known that God had him there for a reason. Kind of like todays story. Huh! Paul had one of the very first prison ministries! Because Paul stayed where he was in those jails the people in them and the people who ran them were all exposed to the story of Jesus and the fact that He forgives us for our sins and desires a relationship with Him.

I have to wonder if Paul felt a bit like Joseph in these jails. He just adopted the attitude of Hey, if Im going to be a prisoner and slave, then Im going to be a really good one! Joseph made the best of every situation he was placed in, whether it was being sold into slavery by his own brothers or being wrongfully accused of rape and sent to prison, he took it all in stride and trusted that God had his life in His hands. God had told Joseph through a dream that he would be in a place of authority over his brothers, and Joseph believed that dream. And we have to understand that even through the slavery and imprisonment Joseph continued to believe that somehow God would still fulfill the dream that He had given Joseph so long ago. Surely Joseph had his moments of doubt, we all do dont we!?! But overall, Joseph chose to trust God and His goodness and His plan for Josephs life. You can guarantee that Joseph never would have planned slavery and imprisonment as a way to get to the end result that God had promised, but God doesnt follow our plans does He?

I have learned that Gods plan rarely looks like my plan… but I simply have to TRUST that its the right plan, because its Gods. His ways are not our ways; theyre better and much more effective in the long run. Would I have chosen the kind of rain and storms that God chose for my life in order to water little ole me and make me grow? Probably not, but without the strong storms of life that bring with them powerful winds of opposition, my tree trunk weak and I would uproot easily. And without the cleansing water of life that those storms bring I would dry up and die. Do I like them? Not usually. Are they good for my spirit like spinach is good for my body? Yes. And so I will take the unpleasant with the pleasant things in life. I will choose to praise God through the storms of my life and thank Him for being with me in the fire, because He certainly doesnt have to be there with me through them. But thats where He chooses to be, right next to me. And right next to you my friend. All because He loves us.

I have to share this story with you that I just received from a family member. Before grandma went home to be with Jesus she was very sick. She had Parkinsons and several strokes which caused paralysis in both sides of her body. She was completely incapacitated for a very long time. During that time Grandpa was right by her side. He spoon fed her. He took her to the restroom. He went to every doctors appointment, every therapy session, he was right there for all of it. He didnt have to do that; he easily could have put her into a nursing home and let the professionals take care of her. He could have dropped her off at the doctors visits or the therapy sessions and gone to do something else, but he didnt. He stayed right there with her, right by her side. And when asked WHY he would spend all his time taking care of his wife like this he said:

When I stood in front of two preachers years ago with this little cutie by my side and said in sickness and in health, I meant it.

Jesus has promised to never leave you or forsake you, and he meant it. He doesnt have to take care of us like a flock of helpless sheep, but He wants to because He loves us that much. And as His sheep, we have to trust that He is taking care of us the best way that He knows how, His way.







 

 


 

Categories: Acts, Writing Through the Bible in a Year

Immortal

Come Holy Spirit, fill me with Your fire so that I can be more like You; help me, I trust You. Father open my eyes so that I may see You clearly, open my ears so that I may hear You soundly, open my mind so that I may understand You more, open my heart so that I may love You more, open my hands so that I may give generously and receive humbly, In Jesus name, Amen!

Todays reading: Acts 22:22-25:27

The following night the Lord stood by him (Paul) and said, Take courage for as you have testified to the facts about me in Jerusalem, so you must testify also in Rome. Acts 23:11

I have to admit to you, I wasnt really sure how this Bible in a year challenge was going to go… I get excited about things easily, start them, and then burn out about as quickly as I start them. But already I can tell that this is different. For the last ten days Ive gotten up at five in the morning, stumbled sleepily out to my kitchen to pour myself a cup of hot water for tea and then trudged to my faithful rocking chair in my library where the daisy blanket my Mommy made for me when I was little, my Bible and a pen are waiting for me to join them. I set down my steaming cup of tea to allow it to cool off a bit before I drink it; one morning I learned that lesson as I took a big gulp right away and was forced to spit the scalding liquid back out of my mouth, thankfully I was still next to the sink in the kitchen when that happened! My tongue was numb for three days after that! Anyway, I set my drink aside momentarily while I pray the prayer above in preparation for what God has in store for me today. Then I kid you not, every day as I crack my Bible open to read my heart gets titillated with excitement as I anticipate what God is going to say to me through His word today. I read those words with joy as I wonder how He will apply them to my life in some way, how He will use them for the blog today, how He will weave them into my existence and yours. When that feeling first started I really expected it to wane quickly, it is still five am after all. But as my nights have managed to get shorter throughout the last week, making me even more drowsy in the morning, it hasnt mattered how tired I am when I crack open that Beloved book, it happens every time; the excitement, the anticipation, the joy, the love, He is there, waiting for me between those pages! Its nothing short of awesome.

This morning, I noticed something new, something that I havent felt before. At least not like this anyway. Love. But not just any love, its an overwhelming sense of love. When my husband woke up and got around to go for his morning run, the moment his face appeared at the door and our eyes connected my heart was filled to overflowing with a love for him that was not my own. And honestly, I didnt think too terribly much about it because I passed it off as a little bit of sympathy for him in his current state of mourning for his grandmother. But then later it happened again! As I was sitting in that same rocking chair holding my daughter in her pajamas and crazy bed-head hair I wrapped my arms around her and again my heart was just overflowing with a love for her that wasnt my own, it was Gods!

His word is doing something to me, something that Im pretty sure it will do for others too, its filling me with love and compassion for the people around me that is not my own. Sure, Id love to pass it off as my love for them, except, its not. It feels completely different! Its deeper, and wider, longer and higher than anything I have for these people. Its an all encompassing love for them that I simply cant explain or understand, and yet its there all the same!

In ten days I have read twenty-five short chapters of one book of the Bible, thats it! And yet already the change in me is intense and obvious, at least to me anyway. You see, I spend the vast majority of my day telling God what I want, what I think He should do, whats going on in my little corner of His universe. But in that hour from five to six, when the birds are singing their praises and the sun isnt even up yet, thats His time to talk to me uninterrupted. Thats His time to pour His living water into my pitcher and tell me, OK, youre all filled up, now go fill them up. With them being whoever Hes chosen to interact with me today, mainly my family and friends. Yes, I have been amazed in one short week how God has used this challenge in my life… and if this is what the first week has looked like, well, it just makes you wonder what He will do with the rest of the year!

This weekend was my nieces birthday party, while we there my brother told the story of a guy who traded a red paperclip for a house! No, it wasnt right away, there were several trades in-between, but still! The guy started with one red paperclip and fourteen trades later had a house! In todays reading I was reminded of this story. I know, it seems like a bit of a stretch, but hear me out for a minute. In all of todays reading Paul is under arrest, he is in legal custody because back in chapter 21 he created such a riot with the local Jews that theyve all sworn to fast from food and drink until he is dead! Now, if you will remember this came as no shock to Paul as the Holy Spirit (in chapter 21, verse 11) had a prophet, Agabus, come and show Paul how he would be bound hand and foot and turned over to the Gentiles by the Jews. So because Paul was forewarned, I dont think hes too panicked about the death threat at the moment. Im sure hes taking it seriously, dont get me wrong, but at the same time, Im pretty sure that hes taking it all in stride. I say that simply because of the manner in which he handles each successive trade-up in the courts.

He starts in Jerusalem with the Jews when he is arrested by them in the temple because they have supposed that he brought a non-Jew into the temple and defiled it. The mob carried him out and were beating him when the town sheriff (so-to-speak) came along with some of his deputies and arrested Paul simply because he couldnt understand the charges that the mob was holding against him.

As the soldiers were carrying him away, Paul mentions that he is a citizen of no obscure city, meaning Im someone important, and then he asked if he could speak to the people. He is granted permission and then turns around, holds his hand up and they all quiet down to listen to him. Then he starts sharing his testimony with them of how Jesus appeared to him and saved him; the very people who were just beating the pulp out of him!!! If thats not Gods love pouring out of someone I dont know what is! I mean, talk about using every opportunity that God gives you to witness to someone right??? Wow! So then after that, for the next four chapters (and more, were just not that far yet) Pauls situation escalates. The Jews plot his death; while Paul appears before higher and higher judges with larger and larger audiences until by the end of todays reading he was sent on to speak before Caesar himself! But this didnt come as a complete surprise either because in chapter 23 verse 11 Jesus (also known as the Word) comes to Paul and says Take courage for as you have testified to the facts about me in Jerusalem, so you must testify also in Rome, again Paul is forewarned about what is to happen before it happens.

Paul might not have known that he would speak to Caesar himself, but he did know that he was headed to Rome in all this fiasco. Paul knew a few bits of information and he knew the end destination, and that was enough for him to take courage and continue on in his fight for not only his innocence, but his mission. And the beauty of it was that because he was in captivity, he was also heavily guarded from the enemy trying to take his life, all of his travel costs and room and board were paid for by the government. All his speaking engagements were booked for him with packed seats because of all the attention that he was gaining through all the turmoil and chaos. Ive heard it said before that even bad press is still press. Its still free advertising. And thats what Paul was getting, free advertising for him to go and preach to these unsaved Gentiles and tell them the good news that Jesus saves! And he did it all through his own personal testimony… his own story.

Funny how we seem to so often come back to that isnt it my friends? Did you know that the Enemy will do anything to keep you from sharing your own personal testimonies with the people around you? He will send people to beat and attack you, to tear you to shreds all to keep you silent. But if God is for us, then who can be against us? Satan may try to knock you down, but you have to allow Gods soldiers to lift you back up so that you can turn around to the crowd that beat you and tell them who Jesus is. Dont let fear scare you away from the opportunities that God gives you to proclaim His love to His people. Ive lost count of how many opportunities Ive lost because I was scared. We cant let the fear of even death scare us out of preaching the good news, from doing whats right in a situation where everything is wrong. Sure, there may be some punches that hit their mark and some stones that get thrown, but you know what, we have to live like were immortal… because we are.





 


 

Categories: Acts, Writing Through the Bible in a Year

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