Posts Tagged With: paul

“Shipwrecked” with Guest Writer Mark Trietsch

Word of the DayActs 25:13-28:31

Good morning all! So yesterday I finished the post, Take a Break! And then headed off to church and lo and behold wouldn’t you know it that the message God had waiting there for me to receive was that I should…take a break! Imagine that! LOL. So, just as THE doctor has directed I am taking this week off from posting. I will still be reading all the readings and writing about them, just none of you will ever get to see them. Instead, we will all be blessed to receive offerings from several friends of mine that have so graciously agreed to submit a story, or picture or video, whatever God leads them to share with us.

So without further ado, I present to you today’s guest writer, Mark Trietsch! Let’s give him a warm welcome.

*round of thunderous applause*

At our church Sunday, we had a very interesting guest speaker. His name is Douglas Carmel, (I hope I have his last name spelled correctly), and he is a Christ believing Jew. We have been studying the Passion of the Christ in my Sunday school class of middle-schoolers. So, I had Doug come in to speak to the class, as clearly, he would have more knowledge of Jewish history than I would.

One of the topics I asked Doug to address was the Roman-Jewish relationship. It struck me, the dynamic that presents itself so clearly, in both the case of Jesus and why Paul was sent to Agrippa. Doug explained to the class that the Romans didn’t really have a problem with Christianity, at least early on. They didn’t have a problem, because they didn’t really care. As explained by Doug, the Romans had their own gods, the gods of Olympus, so another religion wasn’t a huge concern for them. They were more interested in taxes. Worship anything you want, just keep the tax money rolling in. Sounds a lot like our government today, but that is another story.

The similarity in both cases is uncanny. The Jewish leaders, who knew the Old Testament, and therefore should have recognized the truth in the ministries of Jesus and Paul wanted them to be shut up by any means possible. This meant appealing to the very Romans, which they themselves hated, to do the dirty work for them. Meanwhile, the Romans, who knew little to nothing about Moses and the prophets, in both cases found the accused guilty of nothing.

Makes me think about how often times it is the people who should know better that are the hardest to reach with the Gospel. People who perhaps went to church as a child, attended vacation Bible school and heard all the stories, yet that is all they are to them, stories, People who can recite the Christmas story front to back, sing about the Silent Night but deny the very words they are singing. They may be the very definition of a “good person”, but ultimately they refuse to live for Jesus. They have head knowledge, but not heart knowledge. I marvel at the stories and testimonies of the drug addict or the alcoholic, with very little going for them, that they will receive the message of Christ openly, while the “normal” person shuts out the truth.

The other main thought I had while reading these chapters was that Paul never lost sight of his goal, his mission. Whether standing before a Roman ruler or an island dweller, Paul continued to present the Gospel message. He never let his circumstances change his mission.

It makes me cringe to think how often I let my daily surroundings determine my mood. If things are going bad at work, does that give me a valid reason to blow up, lose my cool, and act like a loon? Sitting in my living room, the answer is a very clear “of course not”. Yet how often do we let small things take us away from our ultimate mission. How many times do we let work situations, or the behavior of our kids, determine whether we publically show Christ’s love to others today? Or, will we get mad at our temporary hardship and focus on our need, and how we are being “cheated”? Through chains, prison, house arrest and shipwrecks, Paul saw every situation not as reason to throw up his hands and quit, but as a new stage to present the Word of God. Paul looked to make the best of every situation and circumstance.

Makes one want to lower their heads a little. Most likely we will never find ourselves lost at sea, or shipwrecked, or stand in chains before those which could kill us. Yet we can almost look for reasons not to be a witness for Jesus, to decide to “turn it off” if we feel like it. May we strive to be more like Paul, to see the opportunity in whatever God presents us with and to carry our witness for Him wherever we find ourselves.

Categories: 365 Life, Acts, Writing Through the Bible in a Year | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

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!?!

Categories: 365 Life, Acts, Writing Through the Bible in a Year | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Thorns

Judges 8:22 – 10:18

Word of the Day: “Who is the man who will begin to fight against the Ammonites?” Judges 10:18

Who will fight for us against our enemies?

2 Corinthians 5:4-5 says, “For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened – not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.” I want my mortality to be swallowed up like Jonah in the whale that brings us onto the shores of LIFE! In the garden of Eden Adam and Eve hid from the presence of God because of their nakedness. Jonah heard God calling to him in the night and ran from Him in fear that God would do what He always does, forgive. We run and hide from God, why? Because of His forgiveness, His love for us is so intense that we struggle to fathom it; we wrestle with His goodness and His impossible plans for us because we can’t do them! We can’t’ understand them. We can’t help but be scared of them. But there is nowhere where we can run that He can not follow. There is nowhere where we can hide that He can not find us. There is nothing that we can do that He can’t forgive and fix! He is so immaculate that we cover our eyes at the very sound of His coming! And yet He comes for us and finds us all the same.

On the day of the cross, when Jesus took all our sins upon Himself and took our punishment for us, He wore a crown of thorns upon His precious head. Those thorns were no ordinary thorns, well physically they were, but spiritually they were so much more than the mockery they were intended to be. Look at Genesis chapter 3 for a moment and you will find the curse that God pronounced upon all mankind.

The LORD God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, cursed are you above all livestock and above all beasts of the field; on your belly you shall go, and dust you shall eat all the days of your life. I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring (or seed, depending on which translation you read) and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” To the woman he said, “I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children. Your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.” And to Adam he said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, ‘You shall not eat of it,’ cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life; thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” (verses 14-19)

Did you see them? There were several things in that curse that called back to what we’ve been reading this week. Let’s start at the beginning. The offspring of the woman will bruise her enemy’s head. Judges chapter 4, the woman drove a tent spike through her enemy’s skull!!! Judges chapter 9 verse 53 another woman threw an upper millstone on Abimelech’s head and crushed his skull. These girls have got moxy!

The next one, well, I don’t know how much it applies to you, but I certainly know how it applies to me! In the parable of the Sower we learned that seed is a symbol of words. In this curse it mentions the seed of the serpent and the seed of the woman. The ESV uses the word offspring, but the original Hebrew word literally means the sowing of seed, as in offspring. I find it interesting that the sowing of seed is mentioned in the serpent’s curse, and then the bearing of children is mentioned in the woman’s curse. Perhaps, just perhaps, they are connected somehow. As a writer, I am constantly sowing seeds and praying that they fall on the fertile soil in your heart. But I can tell you from personal experience that the birthing of those seeds is painful in ways that you would never expect. I certainly never expected it when I agreed that I would do this! But God has promised that when we sow in tears we will reap in laughter, and I’m counting on that!!! The truths that I pour out to you through these pages have caused me great pain in the finding of them. Now, like any mother, I’m not complaining of the pain of this child birthing… but I will certainly not discount it either! Simply because my pain is for your benefit, and mine! My toiling to learn these truths is for His glory and pleasure as it builds a bridge that spans the gap between Him and us! And any pain is worth that. (I may regret having just said that…)

And now we come to the man’s part of the curse, it begins with an outward nod to the words that were cloaked in symbolic meaning through the first two curses, it is revealed fully here. “Because you have listened to the voice (or the words that voice spoke) of your wife.” While some may not agree with me, I believe this phrase to be much less about who spoke the words and more about the fact that it was not the voice of God that the man listened to, but someone else’s. The entire Bible is a testimony, a plea from God Almighty for us to believe His word to us. To trust in what He says instead of trusting the things our eyes see around us, the other voices hissing in our ears trying to get us to do anything BUT what God has said to do, or not do as the case may be. So while many would love to put the emphasis of this verse on the woman’s part of the whole ordeal, in my womanly opinion, it’s about where Adam’s belief ended up. He chose to follow someone other than God. And because of that the ground itself was cursed. The very dust that Adam came from was no longer going to bear much fruit, but rather it would bear thorns and thistles. By the sweat of his face he would eat bread until he returned from where he came… dust.

Oh my friends, we can’t look at this as a curse for us today! Why? Because today for us, it is a BLESSING! If we were still in the book of Adam we would look at this and mourn, but we are no longer a page in the book of Adam. In the moment we chose to follow Christ we were ripped from that book and placed within the covers of the Book of Life. Jesus did many prophetic things on the day He died; one of those things was to wear a crown of thorns. Those thorns represented that first curse pronounced onto mankind… and its reversal! Jesus, who knew no sin, became sin for us. So that we who knew much sin, could become like Him. He was cursed for our transgressions, crushed for our sin; the punishment that was for us was upon HIM and by His wounds we are HEALED! He took THAT punishment for us! That first curse and every one of them after that He poured them out upon Himself for us! Hallelujah! And because of Jesus we can look at words like “He will crown our efforts with success” and realize that they are the truth!

That day on the cross Jesus took upon Himself the curse of thorns and it died with Him. Look at some verses that speak of this:

Isaiah 55:13 “Instead of the thorn shall come up the cypress tree and instead of the briar shall come up the myrtle tree; and it shall be to the Lord for a name for an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.”

Isaiah 10:17 “the Light of Israel will be for a fire, and his Holy One for a flame; it will burn and devour His thorns and His briars in one day.”

OK, I have to admit, I am especially fond of that last verse, the image of the curse of thorns burning up in the bright flame of Jesus’ love for us on the cross is so breathtakingly beautiful isn’t it?!?

Categories: 365 Life, Judges, Waiting, Writing Through the Bible in a Year | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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