Introduction

Hi there. Thanks for reading. I have a story to tell. It is the story of me, and my relationship with my best friend, who is awesome. It includes my hopes for my loved ones, family and friends.

I have knowledge and lessons to share. I have Biblical wisdom and practical applications. I have learned many of life’s big lessons flat on my face and maybe I can help you avoid them.

God is: Elohim (Isa.40:1), El Shaddai (Prov. 3:27), Jehovah-Jireh (Gen. 22:14), my redeemer (Isa. 41:14), my way, my truth, my life (John 14:6), and my beginning and my end (Rev. 22:13). The bible says it, I believe it – its good enough for me.

If you read these posts and want to develop your own relationship with God through Christ Jesus, it is easy to do. He wants to have a relationship with you. At the end of this post is a prayer, you can pray.

“If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.”

Romans 10:9-10 NIV

Here is a prayer for you to pray:
Jesus,
I believe you are who you said you are: the way, the truth, the life, and the only way to the Father. I believe you are the son of God, you came to Earth and lived. That you died on the cross as a sacrifice for my sins, and rose again so that I may be saved from my sins and and be able to get to know you. I declare: Jesus, you are Lord!

Therefore, I confess that I am a sinner and I ask that you forgive me of my sins and come into my life. Help me to turn away from my sins and transform me into what you have lovingly created me to be.
Please walk with me, and talk with me – I accept a relationship with you and with our Father God, through you. Please reveal yourself and your ways to me and in my life.
In the name of Jesus I pray ~ Amen

I pray you find a good church near you and let them help you grow after you decide to follow Him. I hope you are blessed. Thank you for reading. Have a wonderful day.

Grace and Peace

“Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
I thank my God always concerning you for the grace of God which was given to you by Christ Jesus, that you were enriched in everything by Him in all utterance and all knowledge, even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you, so that you come short in no gift, eagerly waiting for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will also confirm you to the end, that you may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.”
1 Corinthians 1:3-9 NKJV

Dear Heavenly Father – As always, please open eye to see and our ears to hear what you are saying! Lord – open our understanding that we may know you and give us wisdom. Please do not let us miss out on what you want and need from us today. Lord, I pray that your word prepares us and not scares us! We forbid the works and influences of fear over your word. And please keep us and bless us and shine your face upon us and pour out grace over us and give us peace! Thank you! – In Jesus name we pray, Amen

Today’s reading is from the book of First Corinthians, chapters 1 through 4 (embedded below the image below for your convenience).  

So as we saw, the church in Corinthian was formed while Paul had his moment of grace and was also being strengthened in Christ.  This church seems to have a strong foundation because he was able to give them the time at the beginning.  BUT division crept in and this is why Paul is writing to them.

Back then it was fashionable and a privilege to have traveled and met other Apostles. And in pride, as is human nature, some of these people spoke of their understanding of the teachings they heard elsewhere and used it as a point of: “well I am better than you.”  And if it wasn’t the pride of the person who experienced it, then (knowing human behavior) it was jealousy of the other who responds in pride and contentions saying they are of another teacher.  An old old strategy, devil – to play off of human frailty and susceptibility to pride – I mean, isn’t that the original sin?! Isn’t that the same pride and jealousy that caused Cain to kill Able?

That rebuke is sandwiched between all the things the church is doing right.  The second, about them hungering after God, is presented with a solution of seeking wisdom – not wisdom of man, but wisdom of God on how to get past the division. Remember Paul knows first-hand about divisions as He and Barnabas had separated ways. He understood that it takes God to change hearts of all involved and in this church it was more than just two people. All the more, God is needed to change hearts and reveal in wisdom. 
Wisdom, in this godly revelation, should be sought by us daily – in the secret place – in spirit.  AND that is exactly where Paul goes with this passage:

“But as it is written: “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, Nor have entered into the heart of man The things which God has prepared for those who love Him.”
But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God.
These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. But he who is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is rightly judged by no one. For “who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct Him?” But we have the mind of Christ.”
1 Cor. 2:9-16

February 1st this year, I woke up having heard verse 9 recited over and over in my head all night. At that point I studied it. In context. Because this verse is easily taken out of context. It starts in seeking wisdom – spiritual wisdom.  The verse, eyes have not seen – is about spirit. SPIRIT! And it is followed with this incredible direction about how God is Spirit, the Spirit of God, and receiving the Spirit of God! 

Maybe instead of chatting us up about getting into the secret place, I should be discussing getting out of the flesh and into the spirit as Paul worded it over and over! They are one and the same for us, except Moses who wrote “the secret place” did not have access to the resurrected Christ and the baptism in fire of the Holy Spirit, or at least he did not have the words and experience to use those words. 

God needs an army of people who are willing to be used by him – but they need to be submitted to walking in the spirit. We need to understand this significantly and in experience.

But, the Corinthians were not ready to walk in spirit. Are we, ready or are these things for people who are much more mature than us? Chapter 3 says they aren’t ready, but probably should be. Ya see the divisions distracted them from going deep, from seeking God, from that tender time in the secret place with lessons on dwelling there. It prevents 5 fold ministries. It offers a form of godliness but denies the power thereof. It is time to STOP being fat babies and so easily distracted.  Focus your eyes on God and press forward.

Obey the Holy Spirit. Do not do more or do less. Just do as He says. <- how do you know?  You must walk in the spirit to know.

God wants a real relationship with you and I. we must read, pray and spend time with Him. Get hungry for Him. Repent, and humble and cry out for Him!

RELATIONSHIP:
Do you already have a relationship with a powerful God who cares about your every need because He loves you? Did you know my God can communicate with you and protect you – He has a plan for you to prosper if you just submit to His will and let His plan play out in your life!!! God wants a relationship with you and has already made a plan for your life. He loves you so much He sent His son to this world, to die as a sacrifice for your sins and rise from death with victory over sin and the ability to have a personal relationship with you.
“If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.” Romans 10:9-10 NIV
Here is a prayer for you to pray:
Jesus, I believe you are the way, the truth, the life, and the only way to the Father. I believe you are the son of God, you came to Earth and lived. That you died on the cross as a sacrifice for my sins, and rose again so that I may be saved from my sins and be able to get to know you. I declare: Jesus, you are Lord!
Therefore, I confess that I am a sinner and I ask that you forgive me of my sins and come into my life. Help me to turn away from my sins and transform me into what you have lovingly created me to be. Help me through a real personal relationship grow and accept your will for my life – that I may live in your blessings. Please walk with me, and talk with me – I accept a relationship with you and with our Father God, through you. In the name of Jesus I pray ~ Amen

MEMORY WORK: This month we have another powerful verse to pick up and swing when you need a sword in your hand! Knowing the Word is our Sword and Jesus is the Word! Jesus accomplishes what He set out to do. Quoting this verse is therefore the very act of walking in the victory!  

Isaiah 55:11

NKJV – “So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, But it shall accomplish what I please, And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.”
NAS – “So will My word be which goes out of My mouth; It will not return to Me empty, Without accomplishing what I desire, And without succeeding in the purpose for which I sent it.”
ESV – “so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.”
AMP – “So will My word be which goes out of My mouth; It will not return to Me void (useless, without result), Without accomplishing what I desire, And without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it.”
NIV – “so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.”

Thank you for reading.
May the God of peace keep you and bless you. May you stay focused on Christ and covered in grace.
Maranatha ~ Come Lord Jesus!

BIBLE READING: 1 Corinthians 1-4 NKJV

Greeting

Paul, called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God, and Sosthenes our brother,

To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who are [a]sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all who in every place call on the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours:

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Spiritual Gifts at Corinth

I thank my God always concerning you for the grace of God which was given to you by Christ Jesus, that you were enriched in everything by Him in all [b]utterance and all knowledge, even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed [c]in you, so that you come short in no gift, eagerly waiting for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will also confirm you to the end, that you may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

Sectarianism Is Sin

10 Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all [d]speak the same thing, and that there be no [e]divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment. 11 For it has been declared to me concerning you, my brethren, by those of Chloe’s household, that there are [f]contentions among you. 12 Now I say this, that each of you says, “I am of Paul,” or “I am of Apollos,” or “I am of Cephas,” or “I am of Christ.” 13 Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?

14 I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius, 15 lest anyone should say that I had baptized in my own name. 16 Yes, I also baptized the household of Stephanas. Besides, I do not know whether I baptized any other. 17 For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of no effect.

Christ the Power and Wisdom of God

18 For the [g]message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written:

“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise,
And bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.”

20 Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the [h]disputer of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? 21 For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. 22 For Jews request a sign, and Greeks seek after wisdom; 23 but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a [i]stumbling block and to the [j]Greeks foolishness, 24 but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.

Glory Only in the Lord

26 For [k]you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many [l]noble, are called. 27 But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; 28 and the [m]base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, 29 that no flesh should glory in His presence. 30 But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God—and righteousness and sanctification and redemption— 31 that, as it is written, “He who glories, let him glory in the Lord.”

Christ Crucified

And I, brethren, when I came to you, did not come with excellence of speech or of wisdom declaring to you the [n]testimony of God. For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. I was with you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling. And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of [o]human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.

Spiritual Wisdom

However, we speak wisdom among those who are mature, yet not the wisdom of this age, nor of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God [p]ordained before the ages for our glory, which none of the rulers of this age knew; for had they known, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.

But as it is written:

“Eye has not seen, nor ear heard,
Nor have entered into the heart of man
The things which God has prepared for those who love Him.”

10 But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. 11 For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. 12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God.

13 These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the [q]Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual. 14 But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. 15 But he who is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is rightly judged by no one. 16 For “who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct Him?” But we have the mind of Christ.

Sectarianism Is Carnal

And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual people but as to carnal, as to babes in Christ. I fed you with milk and not with solid food; for until now you were not able to receive it, and even now you are still not able; for you are still carnal. For where there are envy, strife, and divisions among you, are you not carnal and [r]behaving like mere men? For when one says, “I am of Paul,” and another, “I am of Apollos,” are you not carnal?

Watering, Working, Warning

Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers through whom you believed, as the Lord gave to each one? I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase. So then neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but God who gives the increase. Now he who plants and he who waters are one, and each one will receive his own reward according to his own labor.

For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, you are God’s building. 10 According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation, and another builds on it. But let each one take heed how he builds on it. 11 For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, 13 each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is. 14 If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. 15 If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.

16 Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? 17 If anyone [s]defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him. For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are.

Avoid Worldly Wisdom

18 Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you seems to be wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise. 19 For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, “He catches the wise in their own craftiness”; 20 and again, “The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise, that they are futile.” 21 Therefore let no one boast in men. For all things are yours: 22 whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas, or the world or life or death, or things present or things to come—all are yours. 23 And you are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s.

Stewards of the Mysteries of God

Let a man so consider us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover it is required in stewards that one be found faithful. But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by a human [t]court. In fact, I do not even judge myself. For I know of nothing against myself, yet I am not justified by this; but He who judges me is the Lord. Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord comes, who will both bring to light the hidden things of darkness and reveal the [u]counsels of the hearts. Then each one’s praise will come from God.

Fools for Christ’s Sake

Now these things, brethren, I have figuratively transferred to myself and Apollos for your sakes, that you may learn in us not to think beyond what is written, that none of you may be [v]puffed up on behalf of one against the other. For who [w]makes you differ from another? And what do you have that you did not receive? Now if you did indeed receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it?

You are already full! You are already rich! You have reigned as kings without us—and indeed I could wish you did reign, that we also might reign with you! For I think that God has displayed us, the apostles, last, as men condemned to death; for we have been made a spectacle [x]to the world, both to angels and to men. 10 We are fools for Christ’s sake, but you are wise in Christ! We are weak, but you are strong! You are distinguished, but we are dishonored! 11 To the present hour we both hunger and thirst, and we are poorly clothed, and beaten, and homeless. 12 And we labor, working with our own hands. Being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we endure; 13 being defamed, we [y]entreat. We have been made as the filth of the world, the offscouring of all things until now.

Paul’s Paternal Care

14 I do not write these things to shame you, but as my beloved children I warn you. 15 For though you might have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet you do not have many fathers; for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel. 16 Therefore I urge you, imitate me. 17 For this reason I have sent Timothy to you, who is my beloved and faithful son in the Lord, who will remind you of my ways in Christ, as I teach everywhere in every church.

18 Now some are [z]puffed up, as though I were not coming to you. 19 But I will come to you shortly, if the Lord wills, and I will know, not the word of those who are puffed up, but the power. 20 For the kingdom of God is not in word but in power. 21 What do you want? Shall I come to you with a rod, or in love and a spirit of gentleness?

Footnotes

  1. 1 Corinthians 1:2 set apart
  2. 1 Corinthians 1:5 speech
  3. 1 Corinthians 1:6 Or among
  4. 1 Corinthians 1:10 Have a uniform testimony
  5. 1 Corinthians 1:10 schisms or dissensions
  6. 1 Corinthians 1:11 quarrels
  7. 1 Corinthians 1:18 Lit. word
  8. 1 Corinthians 1:20 debater
  9. 1 Corinthians 1:23 Gr. skandalon, offense
  10. 1 Corinthians 1:23 NU Gentiles
  11. 1 Corinthians 1:26 consider
  12. 1 Corinthians 1:26 well-born
  13. 1 Corinthians 1:28 insignificant or lowly
  14. 1 Corinthians 2:1 NU mystery
  15. 1 Corinthians 2:4 NU omits human
  16. 1 Corinthians 2:7 predetermined
  17. 1 Corinthians 2:13 NU omits Holy
  18. 1 Corinthians 3:3 Lit. walking according to man
  19. 1 Corinthians 3:17 destroys
  20. 1 Corinthians 4:3 Lit. day
  21. 1 Corinthians 4:5 motives
  22. 1 Corinthians 4:6 arrogant
  23. 1 Corinthians 4:7 distinguishes you
  24. 1 Corinthians 4:9 Lit. theater
  25. 1 Corinthians 4:13 exhort, encourage
  26. 1 Corinthians 4:18 arrogant

Weekend Reading (November 28)

Dear Heavenly Father – As always, please open eye to see and our ears to hear what you are saying! Lord – open our understanding that we may know you and give us wisdom. Please do not let us miss out on what you want and need from us today. Lord, I pray that your word prepares us and not scares us! We forbid the works and influences of fear over your word. And please keep us and bless us and shine your face upon us and pour out grace over us and give us peace! Thank you! – In Jesus name we pray, Amen

RELATIONSHIP:
Do you already have a relationship with a powerful God who cares about your every need because He loves you? Did you know my God can communicate with you and protect you – He has a plan for you to prosper if you just submit to His will and let His plan play out in your life!!! God wants a relationship with you and has already made a plan for your life. He loves you so much He sent His son to this world, to die as a sacrifice for your sins and rise from death with victory over sin and the ability to have a personal relationship with you.
“If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.” Romans 10:9-10 NIV
Here is a prayer for you to pray:
Jesus, I believe you are the way, the truth, the life, and the only way to the Father. I believe you are the son of God, you came to Earth and lived. That you died on the cross as a sacrifice for my sins, and rose again so that I may be saved from my sins and be able to get to know you. I declare: Jesus, you are Lord!
Therefore, I confess that I am a sinner and I ask that you forgive me of my sins and come into my life. Help me to turn away from my sins and transform me into what you have lovingly created me to be. Help me through a real personal relationship grow and accept your will for my life – that I may live in your blessings. Please walk with me, and talk with me – I accept a relationship with you and with our Father God, through you. In the name of Jesus I pray ~ Amen

MEMORY WORK: This month we have another powerful verse to pick up and swing when you need a sword in your hand! Knowing the Word is our Sword and Jesus is the Word! Jesus accomplishes what He set out to do. Quoting this verse is therefore the very act of walking in the victory! 

Isaiah 55:11

NKJV – “So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, But it shall accomplish what I please, And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.”
NAS – “So will My word be which goes out of My mouth; It will not return to Me empty, Without accomplishing what I desire, And without succeeding in the purpose for which I sent it.”
ESV – “so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.”
AMP – “So will My word be which goes out of My mouth; It will not return to Me void (useless, without result), Without accomplishing what I desire, And without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it.”
NIV – “so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.”

Thank you for reading.
May the God of peace keep you and bless you. May you stay focused on Christ and covered in grace.
Maranatha ~ Come Lord Jesus!

BIBLE READING: Acts 18:19-19:41 NKJV

19 And he came to Ephesus, and left them there; but he himself entered the synagogue and reasoned with the Jews. 20 When they asked him to stay a longer time with them, he did not consent, 21 but took leave of them, saying, “I[a] must by all means keep this coming feast in Jerusalem; but I will return again to you, God willing.” And he sailed from Ephesus.

22 And when he had landed at Caesarea, and [b]gone up and greeted the church, he went down to Antioch. 23 After he had spent some time there, he departed and went over the region of Galatia and Phrygia [c]in order, strengthening all the disciples.

Ministry of Apollos

24 Now a certain Jew named Apollos, born at Alexandria, an eloquent man and mighty in the Scriptures, came to Ephesus. 25 This man had been instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in spirit, he spoke and taught accurately the things of the Lord, though he knew only the baptism of John. 26 So he began to speak boldly in the synagogue. When Aquila and Priscilla heard him, they took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately. 27 And when he desired to cross to Achaia, the brethren wrote, exhorting the disciples to receive him; and when he arrived, he greatly helped those who had believed through grace; 28 for he vigorously refuted the Jews publicly, showing from the Scriptures that Jesus is the Christ.

Paul at Ephesus

19 And it happened, while Apollos was at Corinth, that Paul, having passed through the upper regions, came to Ephesus. And finding some disciples he said to them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?”

So they said to him, “We have not so much as heard whether there is a Holy Spirit.”

And he said to them, “Into what then were you baptized?”

So they said, “Into John’s baptism.”

Then Paul said, “John indeed baptized with a baptism of repentance, saying to the people that they should believe on Him who would come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus.”

When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke with tongues and prophesied. Now the men were about twelve in all.

And he went into the synagogue and spoke boldly for three months, reasoning and persuading concerning the things of the kingdom of God. But when some were hardened and did not believe, but spoke evil of the Way before the multitude, he departed from them and withdrew the disciples, reasoning daily in the school of Tyrannus. 10 And this continued for two years, so that all who dwelt in Asia heard the word of the Lord Jesus, both Jews and Greeks.

Miracles Glorify Christ

11 Now God worked unusual miracles by the hands of Paul, 12 so that even handkerchiefs or aprons were brought from his body to the sick, and the diseases left them and the evil spirits went out of them. 13 Then some of the itinerant Jewish exorcists took it upon themselves to call the name of the Lord Jesus over those who had evil spirits, saying, [d]“We [e]exorcise you by the Jesus whom Paul preaches.” 14 Also there were seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, who did so.

15 And the evil spirit answered and said, “Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are you?”

16 Then the man in whom the evil spirit was leaped on them, [f]overpowered them, and prevailed against [g]them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded. 17 This became known both to all Jews and Greeks dwelling in Ephesus; and fear fell on them all, and the name of the Lord Jesus was magnified. 18 And many who had believed came confessing and telling their deeds. 19 Also, many of those who had practiced magic brought their books together and burned them in the sight of all. And they counted up the value of them, and it totaled fifty thousand pieces of silver. 20 So the word of the Lord grew mightily and prevailed.

The Riot at Ephesus

21 When these things were accomplished, Paul purposed in the Spirit, when he had passed through Macedonia and Achaia, to go to Jerusalem, saying, “After I have been there, I must also see Rome.” 22 So he sent into Macedonia two of those who ministered to him, Timothy and Erastus, but he himself stayed in Asia for a time.

23 And about that time there arose a great commotion about the Way. 24 For a certain man named Demetrius, a silversmith, who made silver shrines of [h]Diana, brought no small profit to the craftsmen. 25 He called them together with the workers of similar occupation, and said: “Men, you know that we have our prosperity by this trade. 26 Moreover you see and hear that not only at Ephesus, but throughout almost all Asia, this Paul has persuaded and turned away many people, saying that they are not gods which are made with hands. 27 So not only is this trade of ours in danger of falling into disrepute, but also the temple of the great goddess Diana may be despised and [i]her magnificence destroyed, whom all Asia and the world worship.”

28 Now when they heard this, they were full of wrath and cried out, saying, “Great is Diana of the Ephesians!” 29 So the whole city was filled with confusion, and rushed into the theater with one accord, having seized Gaius and Aristarchus, Macedonians, Paul’s travel companions. 30 And when Paul wanted to go in to the people, the disciples would not allow him. 31 Then some of the [j]officials of Asia, who were his friends, sent to him pleading that he would not venture into the theater. 32 Some therefore cried one thing and some another, for the assembly was confused, and most of them did not know why they had come together. 33 And they drew Alexander out of the multitude, the Jews putting him forward. And Alexander motioned with his hand, and wanted to make his defense to the people. 34 But when they found out that he was a Jew, all with one voice cried out for about two hours, “Great is Diana of the Ephesians!”

35 And when the city clerk had quieted the crowd, he said: “Men of Ephesus, what man is there who does not know that the city of the Ephesians is temple guardian of the great goddess [k]Diana, and of the image which fell down from [l]Zeus? 36 Therefore, since these things cannot be denied, you ought to be quiet and do nothing rashly. 37 For you have brought these men here who are neither robbers of temples nor blasphemers of [m]your goddess. 38 Therefore, if Demetrius and his fellow craftsmen have a [n]case against anyone, the courts are open and there are proconsuls. Let them bring charges against one another. 39 But if you have any other inquiry to make, it shall be determined in the lawful assembly. 40 For we are in danger of being [o]called in question for today’s uproar, there being no reason which we may give to account for this disorderly gathering.” 41 And when he had said these things, he dismissed the assembly.

Footnotes

  1. Acts 18:21 NU omits I must by all means keep this coming feast in Jerusalem
  2. Acts 18:22 To Jerusalem
  3. Acts 18:23 successively
  4. Acts 19:13 NU I
  5. Acts 19:13 adjure, solemnly command
  6. Acts 19:16 M and they overpowered them
  7. Acts 19:16 NU both of them
  8. Acts 19:24 Gr. Artemis
  9. Acts 19:27 NU she be deposed from her magnificence
  10. Acts 19:31 Asiarchs, rulers of Asia, the province
  11. Acts 19:35 Gr. Artemis
  12. Acts 19:35 heaven
  13. Acts 19:37 NU our
  14. Acts 19:38 Lit. matter
  15. Acts 19:40 Or charged with rebellion concerning today

Weekend Reading (November 27)

Dear Heavenly Father – As always, please open eye to see and our ears to hear what you are saying! Lord – open our understanding that we may know you and give us wisdom. Please do not let us miss out on what you want and need from us today. Lord, I pray that your word prepares us and not scares us! We forbid the works and influences of fear over your word. And please keep us and bless us and shine your face upon us and pour out grace over us and give us peace! Thank you! – In Jesus name we pray, Amen

RELATIONSHIP:
Do you already have a relationship with a powerful God who cares about your every need because He loves you? Did you know my God can communicate with you and protect you – He has a plan for you to prosper if you just submit to His will and let His plan play out in your life!!! God wants a relationship with you and has already made a plan for your life. He loves you so much He sent His son to this world, to die as a sacrifice for your sins and rise from death with victory over sin and the ability to have a personal relationship with you.
“If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.” Romans 10:9-10 NIV
Here is a prayer for you to pray:
Jesus, I believe you are the way, the truth, the life, and the only way to the Father. I believe you are the son of God, you came to Earth and lived. That you died on the cross as a sacrifice for my sins, and rose again so that I may be saved from my sins and be able to get to know you. I declare: Jesus, you are Lord!
Therefore, I confess that I am a sinner and I ask that you forgive me of my sins and come into my life. Help me to turn away from my sins and transform me into what you have lovingly created me to be. Help me through a real personal relationship grow and accept your will for my life – that I may live in your blessings. Please walk with me, and talk with me – I accept a relationship with you and with our Father God, through you. In the name of Jesus I pray ~ Amen

MEMORY WORK: This month we have another powerful verse to pick up and swing when you need a sword in your hand! Knowing the Word is our Sword and Jesus is the Word! Jesus accomplishes what He set out to do. Quoting this verse is therefore the very act of walking in the victory! 

Isaiah 55:11

NKJV – “So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, But it shall accomplish what I please, And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.”
NAS – “So will My word be which goes out of My mouth; It will not return to Me empty, Without accomplishing what I desire, And without succeeding in the purpose for which I sent it.”
ESV – “so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.”
AMP – “So will My word be which goes out of My mouth; It will not return to Me void (useless, without result), Without accomplishing what I desire, And without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it.”
NIV – “so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.”

Thank you for reading.
May the God of peace keep you and bless you. May you stay focused on Christ and covered in grace.
Maranatha ~ Come Lord Jesus!

BIBLE READING: ALL OF 1 Thessalonians and 2 Thessalonians NKJV

Greeting

Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy,

To the church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ:

Grace to you and peace [a]from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Their Good Example

We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers, remembering without ceasing your work of faith, labor of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ in the sight of our God and Father, knowing, beloved brethren, your election by God. For our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Spirit and in much assurance, as you know what kind of men we were among you for your sake.

And you became followers of us and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Spirit, so that you became examples to all in Macedonia and Achaia who believe. For from you the word of the Lord has sounded forth, not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place. Your faith toward God has gone out, so that we do not need to say anything. For they themselves declare concerning us what manner of entry we had to you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, 10 and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, even Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come.

Paul’s Conduct

For you yourselves know, brethren, that our coming to you was not in vain. But [b]even after we had suffered before and were spitefully treated at Philippi, as you know, we were bold in our God to speak to you the gospel of God in much conflict. For our exhortation did not come from error or uncleanness, nor was it in deceit.

But as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, even so we speak, not as pleasing men, but God who tests our hearts. For neither at any time did we use flattering words, as you know, nor a [c]cloak for covetousness—God is witness. Nor did we seek glory from men, either from you or from others, when we might have made demands as apostles of Christ. But we were gentle among you, just as a nursing mother cherishes her own children. So, affectionately longing for you, we were well pleased to impart to you not only the gospel of God, but also our own lives, because you had become dear to us. For you remember, brethren, our labor and toil; for laboring night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you, we preached to you the gospel of God.

10 You are witnesses, and God also, how devoutly and justly and blamelessly we behaved ourselves among you who believe; 11 as you know how we exhorted, and comforted, and [d]charged every one of you, as a father does his own children, 12 that you would walk worthy of God who calls you into His own kingdom and glory.

Their Conversion

13 For this reason we also thank God without ceasing, because when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you welcomed it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which also effectively works in you who believe. 14 For you, brethren, became imitators of the churches of God which are in Judea in Christ Jesus. For you also suffered the same things from your own countrymen, just as they did from the Judeans, 15 who killed both the Lord Jesus and their own prophets, and have persecuted us; and they do not please God and are [e]contrary to all men, 16 forbidding us to speak to the Gentiles that they may be saved, so as always to fill up the measure of their sins; but wrath has come upon them to the uttermost.

Longing to See Them

17 But we, brethren, having been taken away from you for a short time in presence, not in heart, endeavored more eagerly to see your face with great desire. 18 Therefore we wanted to come to you—even I, Paul, time and again—but Satan hindered us. 19 For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Is it not even you in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at His coming? 20 For you are our glory and joy.

Concern for Their Faith

Therefore, when we could no longer endure it, we thought it good to be left in Athens alone, and sent Timothy, our brother and minister of God, and our fellow laborer in the gospel of Christ, to establish you and encourage you concerning your faith, that no one should be shaken by these afflictions; for you yourselves know that we are appointed to this. For, in fact, we told you before when we were with you that we would suffer tribulation, just as it happened, and you know. For this reason, when I could no longer endure it, I sent to know your faith, lest by some means the tempter had tempted you, and our labor might be in vain.

Encouraged by Timothy

But now that Timothy has come to us from you, and brought us good news of your faith and love, and that you always have good remembrance of us, greatly desiring to see us, as we also to see you— therefore, brethren, in all our affliction and distress we were comforted concerning you by your faith. For now we live, if you stand fast in the Lord.

For what thanks can we render to God for you, for all the joy with which we rejoice for your sake before our God, 10 night and day praying exceedingly that we may see your face and perfect what is lacking in your faith?

Prayer for the Church

11 Now may our God and Father Himself, and our Lord Jesus Christ, direct our way to you. 12 And may the Lord make you increase and abound in love to one another and to all, just as we do to you, 13 so that He may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all His saints.

Plea for Purity

Finally then, brethren, we urge and exhort in the Lord Jesus that you should abound more and more, just as you received from us how you ought to walk and to please God; for you know what commandments we gave you through the Lord Jesus.

For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you should abstain from sexual immorality; that each of you should know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, not in passion of lust, like the Gentiles who do not know God; that no one should take advantage of and defraud his brother in this matter, because the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also forewarned you and testified. For God did not call us to uncleanness, but in holiness. Therefore he who rejects this does not reject man, but God, who[f] has also given us His Holy Spirit.

A Brotherly and Orderly Life

But concerning brotherly love you have no need that I should write to you, for you yourselves are taught by God to love one another; 10 and indeed you do so toward all the brethren who are in all Macedonia. But we urge you, brethren, that you increase more and more; 11 that you also aspire to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you, 12 that you may walk properly toward those who are outside, and that you may lack nothing.

The Comfort of Christ’s Coming

13 But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen [g]asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. 14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who [h]sleep in Jesus.

15 For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are [i]asleep. 16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore comfort one another with these words.

The Day of the Lord

But concerning the times and the seasons, brethren, you have no need that I should write to you. For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. For when they say, “Peace and safety!” then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape. But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief. You are all sons of light and sons of the day. We are not of the night nor of darkness. Therefore let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be [j]sober. For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk are drunk at night. But let us who are of the day be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet the hope of salvation. For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, 10 who died for us, that whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with Him.

11 Therefore [k]comfort each other and [l]edify one another, just as you also are doing.

Various Exhortations

12 And we urge you, brethren, to recognize those who labor among you, and are over you in the Lord and [m]admonish you, 13 and to esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake. Be at peace among yourselves.

14 Now we [n]exhort you, brethren, warn those who are [o]unruly, comfort the fainthearted, uphold the weak, be patient with all. 15 See that no one renders evil for evil to anyone, but always pursue what is good both for yourselves and for all.

16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

19 Do not quench the Spirit. 20 Do not despise prophecies. 21 Test all things; hold fast what is good. 22 Abstain from every form of evil.

Blessing and Admonition

23 Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify[p] you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24 He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it.

25 Brethren, pray for us.

26 Greet all the brethren with a holy kiss.

27 I charge you by the Lord that this [q]epistle be read to all the [r]holy brethren.

28 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen.

Footnotes

  1. 1 Thessalonians 1:1 NU omits from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ
  2. 1 Thessalonians 2:2 NU, M omit even
  3. 1 Thessalonians 2:5 pretext for greed
  4. 1 Thessalonians 2:11 NU, M implored
  5. 1 Thessalonians 2:15 hostile
  6. 1 Thessalonians 4:8 NU who also gives
  7. 1 Thessalonians 4:13 Died
  8. 1 Thessalonians 4:14 Or through Jesus sleep
  9. 1 Thessalonians 4:15 Dead
  10. 1 Thessalonians 5:6 self-controlled
  11. 1 Thessalonians 5:11 Or encourage
  12. 1 Thessalonians 5:11 build one another up
  13. 1 Thessalonians 5:12 instruct or warn
  14. 1 Thessalonians 5:14 encourage
  15. 1 Thessalonians 5:14 insubordinate or idle
  16. 1 Thessalonians 5:23 set you apart
  17. 1 Thessalonians 5:27 letter
  18. 1 Thessalonians 5:27 NU omits holy

Greeting

Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy,

To the church of the Thessalonians in God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ:

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

God’s Final Judgment and Glory

We are bound to thank God always for you, brethren, as it is fitting, because your faith grows exceedingly, and the love of every one of you all abounds toward each other, so that we ourselves boast of you among the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and [a]tribulations that you endure, which is manifest[b] evidence of the righteous judgment of God, that you may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you also suffer; since it is a righteous thing with God to repay with [c]tribulation those who trouble you, and to give you who are troubled rest with us when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power, 10 when He comes, in that Day, to be glorified in His saints and to be admired among all those who [d]believe, because our testimony among you was believed.

11 Therefore we also pray always for you that our God would count you worthy of this calling, and fulfill all the good pleasure of His goodness and the work of faith with power, 12 that the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you, and you in Him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.

The Great Apostasy

Now, brethren, concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, we ask you, not to be soon shaken in mind or troubled, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as if from us, as though the day of [e]Christ had come. Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of [f]sin is revealed, the son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits [g]as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.

Do you not remember that when I was still with you I told you these things? And now you know what is restraining, that he may be revealed in his own time. For the [h]mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only [i]He who now restrains will do so until He is taken out of the way. And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord will consume with the breath of His mouth and destroy with the brightness of His coming. The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, 10 and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. 11 And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie, 12 that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.

Stand Fast

13 But we are [j]bound to give thanks to God always for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God from the beginning chose you for salvation through [k]sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth, 14 to which He called you by our gospel, for the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. 15 Therefore, brethren, stand fast and hold the traditions which you were taught, whether by word or our [l]epistle.

16 Now may our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, and our God and Father, who has loved us and given us everlasting consolation and good hope by grace, 17 comfort your hearts and [m]establish you in every good word and work.

Pray for Us

Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may run swiftly and be glorified, just as it is with you, and that we may be delivered from unreasonable and wicked men; for not all have faith.

But the Lord is faithful, who will establish you and guard you from the evil one. And we have confidence in the Lord concerning you, both that you do and will do the things we command you.

Now may the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God and into the patience of Christ.

Warning Against Idleness

But we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you withdraw from every brother who walks disorderly and not according to the tradition which [n]he received from us. For you yourselves know how you ought to follow us, for we were not disorderly among you; nor did we eat anyone’s bread [o]free of charge, but worked with labor and toil night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you, not because we do not have authority, but to make ourselves an example of how you should follow us.

10 For even when we were with you, we commanded you this: If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat. 11 For we hear that there are some who walk among you in a disorderly manner, not working at all, but are busybodies. 12 Now those who are such we command and [p]exhort through our Lord Jesus Christ that they work in quietness and eat their own bread.

13 But as for you, brethren, do not grow weary in doing good. 14 And if anyone does not obey our word in this [q]epistle, note that person and do not keep company with him, that he may be ashamed. 15 Yet do not count him as an enemy, but [r]admonish him as a brother.

Benediction

16 Now may the Lord of peace Himself give you peace always in every way. The Lord be with you all.

17 The salutation of Paul with my own hand, which is a sign in every [s]epistle; so I write.

18 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.

Footnotes

  1. 2 Thessalonians 1:4 afflictions
  2. 2 Thessalonians 1:5 plain
  3. 2 Thessalonians 1:6 affliction
  4. 2 Thessalonians 1:10 NU, M have believed
  5. 2 Thessalonians 2:2 NU the Lord
  6. 2 Thessalonians 2:3 NU lawlessness
  7. 2 Thessalonians 2:4 NU omits as God
  8. 2 Thessalonians 2:7 hidden truth
  9. 2 Thessalonians 2:7 Or he
  10. 2 Thessalonians 2:13 under obligation
  11. 2 Thessalonians 2:13 being set apart by
  12. 2 Thessalonians 2:15 letter
  13. 2 Thessalonians 2:17 strengthen
  14. 2 Thessalonians 3:6 NU, M they
  15. 2 Thessalonians 3:8 Lit. for nothing
  16. 2 Thessalonians 3:12 encourage
  17. 2 Thessalonians 3:14 letter
  18. 2 Thessalonians 3:15 warn
  19. 2 Thessalonians 3:17 letter

When your having a Bad Day

“Now the Lord spoke to Paul in the night by a vision, “Do not be afraid, but speak, and do not keep silent; for I am with you, and no one will attack you to hurt you; for I have many people in this city.” And he continued there a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them.” Acts 18:9-11 NKJV

Oh who am I kidding – Paul did not have a bad day, he was having a long difficult time here. We watch as Paul, new to ministry and zealous for God, burn himself out and struggle with doing the work of God in the flesh verses doing it in the spirit.

Dear Heavenly Father – As always, please open eye to see and our ears to hear what you are saying! Lord – open our understanding that we may know you and give us wisdom. Please do not let us miss out on what you want and need from us today. Lord, I pray that your word prepares us and not scares us! We forbid the works and influences of fear over your word. And please keep us and bless us and shine your face upon us and pour out grace over us and give us peace! Thank you! – In Jesus name we pray, Amen

Today’s reading is from the book of Acts, chapter 17 through chapter 18, verse 18 (embedded below the image below for your convenience).  

As we read through chronologically, we must remember we are reading events in order – but Paul wrote to the Corinthians first and we read Galatians first. It is because we are following the event path where Paul and his team went from place to place preaching first to the Jews and then the gentiles and then the unbelievers got mad and they fled to the next city. Over and over. In rapid fire succession. It was literally exhausting.

Sometimes we read that they were having a problem and they went to sleep – what it because their faith was so great they had peace enough to sleep? Or was it just complete exhaustion? Eventually the attacks on the ministry were so bad and focusing on Paul – that he separated from the team and went to the next city.  I lovely Greek cultural center with thoughtful poets, artist and scholars contemplating God and religion.  

This moves Paul. These people have an abundance of time and ability to contemplate God – think of all the glory to God that could happen if they knew the real God. In frustration and flesh, Paul preaches to them and because they were so hip and modern, Paul switches His approach and tries to use modern poets to support his arguments instead of preaching the word. Paul had little result there and was again chased out. Nothing Paul did seemed to work in the since of both saving others and not fleeing for his life!

Paul finds himself in Corinth. He shuts up. He is spiritually exhausted, frustrated, and he knows he makes followers but flees while they are persecuted and doesn’t even know if any of all of this was making any lasting impact. Paul doesn’t know if ANY of these people are still followers. Paul was a trained tent maker (canvas and leather work) and he found other in his trade and joined them. During this time in history tradesmen often followed the work and stayed together in foreign towns. Basically, Paul gave up and waited for his team.

Has seen the mighty power of God, has a first-hand personal relationship with God, is running for his life, is isolated and alone (from people) – who does this sound like? Elijah in the cave?!?!

“And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.” Galatians 6:9 NKJV

As we read yesterday – do not grow weary in doing good. Paul learned this first hand. Paul learned that when he labored in his fleshly man and not with dwelling in the spirit, that he became fearful and exhausted.  Often times in our modern world a slightly disconnected preacher who puts on a front of peace and perfection calmly reads the words of Paul we forget that Paul learned these things in literal blood sweat and tears. That we can either learn from Paul or shed our own blood, sweat and tears.

This marks the end of the first part of Paul’s ministry. This is what we now call a “New Leader”. ALL of the church leaders in many churches that I know of have zealously ran out of the starting gate and into their first beating, just like Paul. Then they run headlong into it again. So they begin to get a little trigger shy, and they change things, and get the same result, so they change again and get the same result and their effectiveness in the kingdom, the lives being transformed by grace are diminishing and he is having less and less of an effect. Until eventually they find themselves on a stage, acting like “they” want him to act and mixing in whatever is popular there… and the leader is no longer focused on the lost but on himself and is prepared to flee again…. Into a cave and ready to just give up like Elijah.

This is why many churches do not want to release people into ministry until they are “ready” because they think this will prevent it from happening. There are many more examples than just Paul and Elijah – it seems to be human nature and lesson we must go through. How else do we learn to live focused on Kingdom things and trusting God, while moving in The Spirit? I mean, I can sit here and type it out and you can read it and potential avoid it… but even those NOT in leadership go through it. It isn’t as dramatic when the followers and others aren’t watching, but it seems like a right of passage almost. We all grow tired in doing the work and must learn to let God do the work so we aren’t tired.

Good news – when you hit that point: God shows up and ministers to you. Gave Elijah food and sleep and in a still small voice – not loud and yelling at him. The rebuke was gentle, living, and gave life and strength.  The problem is, many times, since we aren’t in the public eye and it is less dramatic we miss the still small voice, and the food stops coming, and we try to stay in the cave too long and then in our disobedience to God we blame God for not showing up! DUDE – WALK OUT OF THE CAVE!

God showed up for Paul with a dream and a promise, Paul joined this promise and made covenant with God by growing out his hair while God was giving Him the grace period. We do not need an actual dream (but if you get one, that is nice). We have an entire book of the WORDS of God. Find the promise for your situation. Pray and ask God to reveal it.

I recently ask God for a word on something in my life and for a week I heard preachers say not to be distracted and focus on the thing I am working on – then this past week I heard, accidently happened upon, at least one sermon on Nehemiah a day – focus on the work, with a sword in one hand to defend your work, but keep working. God speaks. God answers us.

So, like Paul – are we going to enter into the promise? God spoke. We cannot let that go by without the utmost thanks, honor and respect! Find a way to honor God and enter into the promise, the plan, the word that He has for you. Paul did it by not cutting his hair.

During this time of protection, Paul could preach again, re-find HIS OWN voice and method of preaching and not try to please people (they cannot all be pleased anyway). Enter into the time of grace and ask God to help you be who He created you to be.

This is where those lessons on the secret place and growing a relationship with God come into action. We can no longer be a baby Christian running around in the flesh making Christians look bad and not liking being a Christian.  If we keep trying to give people the “Lite” version of Jesus so we do not offend – we have offended God (Oh Lord, forgive us) and people do not want a weak God.  It is time to move in under His wing and then people see His wing, His power, His strength – they cannot see us, we are under the wing – they see HIM! We need to be this close – we need to develop a relationship that is even closer yet (so if you are close, it is time to get closer)!

Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand! Get humble and bathed in grace.

RELATIONSHIP:
Do you already have a relationship with a powerful God who cares about your every need because He loves you? Did you know my God can communicate with you and protect you – He has a plan for you to prosper if you just submit to His will and let His plan play out in your life!!! God wants a relationship with you and has already made a plan for your life. He loves you so much He sent His son to this world, to die as a sacrifice for your sins and rise from death with victory over sin and the ability to have a personal relationship with you.
“If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.” Romans 10:9-10 NIV
Here is a prayer for you to pray:
Jesus, I believe you are the way, the truth, the life, and the only way to the Father. I believe you are the son of God, you came to Earth and lived. That you died on the cross as a sacrifice for my sins, and rose again so that I may be saved from my sins and be able to get to know you. I declare: Jesus, you are Lord!
Therefore, I confess that I am a sinner and I ask that you forgive me of my sins and come into my life. Help me to turn away from my sins and transform me into what you have lovingly created me to be. Help me through a real personal relationship grow and accept your will for my life – that I may live in your blessings. Please walk with me, and talk with me – I accept a relationship with you and with our Father God, through you. In the name of Jesus I pray ~ Amen

MEMORY WORK: This month we have another powerful verse to pick up and swing when you need a sword in your hand! Knowing the Word is our Sword and Jesus is the Word! Jesus accomplishes what He set out to do. Quoting this verse is therefore the very act of walking in the victory!  

Isaiah 55:11

NKJV – “So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, But it shall accomplish what I please, And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.”
NAS – “So will My word be which goes out of My mouth; It will not return to Me empty, Without accomplishing what I desire, And without succeeding in the purpose for which I sent it.”
ESV – “so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.”
AMP – “So will My word be which goes out of My mouth; It will not return to Me void (useless, without result), Without accomplishing what I desire, And without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it.”
NIV – “so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.”

Thank you for reading.
May the God of peace keep you and bless you. May you stay focused on Christ and covered in grace.
Maranatha ~ Come Lord Jesus!

BIBLE READING: Acts 17-18:18 NKJV

Preaching Christ at Thessalonica

17 Now when they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where there was a synagogue of the Jews. Then Paul, as his custom was, went in to them, and for three Sabbaths reasoned with them from the Scriptures, explaining and demonstrating that the Christ had to suffer and rise again from the dead, and saying, “This Jesus whom I preach to you is the Christ.” And some of them were persuaded; and a great multitude of the devout Greeks, and not a few of the leading women, joined Paul and Silas.

Assault on Jason’s House

But the Jews [a]who were not persuaded, [b]becoming envious, took some of the evil men from the marketplace, and gathering a mob, set all the city in an uproar and attacked the house of Jason, and sought to bring them out to the people. But when they did not find them, they dragged Jason and some brethren to the rulers of the city, crying out, “These who have turned the world upside down have come here too. Jason has [c]harbored them, and these are all acting contrary to the decrees of Caesar, saying there is another king—Jesus.” And they troubled the crowd and the rulers of the city when they heard these things. So when they had taken security from Jason and the rest, they let them go.

Ministering at Berea

10 Then the brethren immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea. When they arrived, they went into the synagogue of the Jews. 11 These were more [d]fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so. 12 Therefore many of them believed, and also not a few of the Greeks, prominent women as well as men. 13 But when the Jews from Thessalonica learned that the word of God was preached by Paul at Berea, they came there also and stirred up the crowds. 14 Then immediately the brethren sent Paul away, to go to the sea; but both Silas and Timothy remained there. 15 So those who conducted Paul brought him to Athens; and receiving a command for Silas and Timothy to come to him with all speed, they departed.

The Philosophers at Athens

16 Now while Paul waited for them at Athens, his spirit was provoked within him when he saw that the city was [e]given over to idols. 17 Therefore he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and with the Gentile worshipers, and in the marketplace daily with those who happened to be there. 18 [f]Then certain Epicurean and Stoic philosophers encountered him. And some said, “What does this [g]babbler want to say?”

Others said, “He seems to be a proclaimer of foreign gods,” because he preached to them Jesus and the resurrection.

19 And they took him and brought him to the [h]Areopagus, saying, “May we know what this new doctrine is of which you speak? 20 For you are bringing some strange things to our ears. Therefore we want to know what these things mean.” 21 For all the Athenians and the foreigners who were there spent their time in nothing else but either to tell or to hear some new thing.

Addressing the Areopagus

22 Then Paul stood in the midst of the [i]Areopagus and said, “Men of Athens, I perceive that in all things you are very religious; 23 for as I was passing through and considering the objects of your worship, I even found an altar with this inscription:

TO THE UNKNOWN GOD.

Therefore, the One whom you worship without knowing, Him I proclaim to you: 24 God, who made the world and everything in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands. 25 Nor is He worshiped with men’s hands, as though He needed anything, since He gives to all life, breath, and all things. 26 And He has made from one [j]blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings, 27 so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; 28 for in Him we live and move and have our being, as also some of your own poets have said, ‘For we are also His offspring.’ 29 Therefore, since we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, something shaped by art and man’s devising. 30 Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, 31 because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead.”

32 And when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked, while others said, “We will hear you again on this matter.” 33 So Paul departed from among them. 34 However, some men joined him and believed, among them Dionysius the Areopagite, a woman named Damaris, and others with them.

Ministering at Corinth

18 After these things Paul departed from Athens and went to Corinth. And he found a certain Jew named Aquila, born in Pontus, who had recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla (because Claudius had commanded all the Jews to depart from Rome); and he came to them. So, because he was of the same trade, he stayed with them and worked; for by occupation they were tentmakers. And he reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath, and persuaded both Jews and Greeks.

When Silas and Timothy had come from Macedonia, Paul was compelled [k]by the Spirit, and testified to the Jews that Jesus is the Christ. But when they opposed him and blasphemed, he shook his garments and said to them, “Your blood be upon your own heads; I am clean. From now on I will go to the Gentiles.” And he departed from there and entered the house of a certain man named [l]Justus, one who worshiped God, whose house was next door to the synagogue. Then Crispus, the ruler of the synagogue, believed on the Lord with all his household. And many of the Corinthians, hearing, believed and were baptized.

Now the Lord spoke to Paul in the night by a vision, “Do not be afraid, but speak, and do not keep silent; 10 for I am with you, and no one will attack you to hurt you; for I have many people in this city.” 11 And he continued there a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them.

12 When Gallio was proconsul of Achaia, the Jews with one accord rose up against Paul and brought him to the [m]judgment seat, 13 saying, “This fellow persuades men to worship God contrary to the law.”

14 And when Paul was about to open his mouth, Gallio said to the Jews, “If it were a matter of wrongdoing or wicked crimes, O Jews, there would be reason why I should bear with you. 15 But if it is a question of words and names and your own law, look to it yourselves; for I do not want to be a judge of such matters.” 16 And he drove them from the judgment seat. 17 Then [n]all the Greeks took Sosthenes, the ruler of the synagogue, and beat him before the judgment seat. But Gallio took no notice of these things.

Paul Returns to Antioch

18 So Paul still remained [o]a good while. Then he took leave of the brethren and sailed for Syria, and Priscilla and Aquila were with him. He had his hair cut off at Cenchrea, for he had taken a vow.

Footnotes

  1. Acts 17:5 NU omits who were not persuaded
  2. Acts 17:5 M omits becoming envious
  3. Acts 17:7 welcomed
  4. Acts 17:11 Lit. noble
  5. Acts 17:16 full of idols
  6. Acts 17:18 NU, M add also
  7. Acts 17:18 Lit. seed picker, an idler who makes a living picking up scraps
  8. Acts 17:19 Lit. Hill of Ares, or Mars’ Hill
  9. Acts 17:22 Lit. Hill of Ares, or Mars’ Hill
  10. Acts 17:26 NU omits blood
  11. Acts 18:5 Or in his spirit or in the Spirit
  12. Acts 18:7 NU Titius Justus
  13. Acts 18:12 Gr. bema
  14. Acts 18:17 NU they all
  15. Acts 18:18 Lit. many days

Thankful in Spirit

“Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.” Galatians 5:1 NKJV

As we read and pray, hopefully you and I are growing and realizing some of the false teaching we were handed and accepted before we got to those parts of scripture for ourselves. I love my mom and the church in which I grew up – but they handed me a bunch of stinkin thinkin!! It starts by mudding the water – a little poison in the water poisons all the water. But one slight misstep and suddenly a generation later I find myself in bondage to a corrupted doctrinal mindset of a limited God instead of free as Christ intended. This evil strategy started with the birth of the church as we see in this book and continues today. What if, What if we lived in the freedom wherewith Christ made us free?

Dear Heavenly Father – As always, please open eye to see and our ears to hear what you are saying! Lord – open our understanding that we may know you and give us wisdom. Please do not let us miss out on what you want and need from us today. Lord, I pray that your word prepares us and not scares us! We forbid the works and influences of fear over your word. And please keep us and bless us and shine your face upon us and pour out grace over us and give us peace! Thank you! – In Jesus name we pray, Amen

Today’s reading is from the book of Galatians, chapters 4-6 (embedded below the image below for your convenience).  

Yesterday’s thoughts cover the overview of this entire book.

Quickly, let me remind you to keep some of this in historical context. When we repent we are to get low – be humble in front of our father and brethren. We are to maintain this state and daily REPENT FOR THE KINGDOM OF GOD IS AT HAND!  So it may sound like we start today’s reading proud of our adopted state. BE WARNED! Do not be proud. Especially of something we did not do and cannot effect. God did it, God adopted us AND GOD GETS ALL THE GLORY.
Paul is writing to a church with slaves in it. People who are owned by others, some are sex slaves.  They are poor and cannot buy their own freedom. Some are forced to sin regardless of their own desire. This population and some verses for them apply to us loosely but unless you were owned by someone else – you honestly cannot fathom what they experienced. Go ahead and try for empathy sake. Being in bondage to sin is NOT the same. Because sin was destroyed so you have the power to overcome it. Being POSSESSED (fully or if they just possess a strong hold) by a demonic spirit, like addiction is more closely related – but still not the same. I know when I tried to overcome addiction there were times I participated while sobbing and crying out to God to help me, to stop it, because I was unable to control my own body and stop myself. Similar. Something else ruled regardless of my wishes.
These brothers and sister NEEDED the encouragement and to be built up… they were so low that humility was higher than them. I am not saying to not take joy in your salvation, like when you were first saved and riding high, drunk in the spirit, telling everyone of Jesus… these are good and humble traits. But watch the line where you puff up your chest and boast of your salvation as that is the quickest way to lose it. Be thankful and joyful for our adoption – let it stimulate worship and thanksgiving in humility.

BUT today I want to focus on chapter 5. I want to share so many things – but I will try not to pack in too much.

Quickly I want to clear up a passage which is commonly taken out of context and becomes muddy to the next generation – the section called: Love Fulfills the Law. (Galatians 5:7-15) It would seem by the title as well as the content (if taken out of literal context as well as historic context) that we have a hippie love’n free for all, grace covered sin (so we may continue to sin), and love replaces law kind of Christianity and I tell you that is swapping one lie for another lie. That is taking the very verses meant to stop the bondage to sacrificial law to atone from sin and putting you in bondage to sin. You see, LOVE DOES NOT REPLACE LAW! NOR do I want you to fall into some legalism trap. There is a fine line here which is hidden to the unjust. May God open your understanding. Grace and love do not replace law, but they complete it. God ALWAYS intended the law be handled in LOVE and mankind fail. It took the HOLY LOVE of Him sending us the Christ for LOVE to be revealed in the true way.

But more important to us today in our devotional is chapter 5 verses 16 through 26. I hope you examine them and see them in a new, fresh way. Because for months we have been saying repent, get humble and walk in the spirit. Get into the secret place as described in Psalm 91 and dwell there. And how do we dwell there? Paul gives us some help, in relations to not becoming legalistic and not permitting sin to separate us from that secret place.
You see NOTHING can separate us from God’s love – but SIN, unrepented of and unforgiven, WILL separate us from His presence, and from the secret place we were told to dwell in.  AND remember, Moses wrote Psalm 91. This is a pre-Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost concept. It is easier with the Holy Spirit – But it can be done under the atonement system before sins were washed away, so it is all the easier for us to obtain. We can walk in the spirit.

“I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.” Gal. 5:16-18 nkjv

I like Paul’s definition of waling in the spirit. I do not know if I have a better way to describe it.  BUT I can tell you when I am in the spirit I can immediately recognize others who are also. Did you see those words there? “When I am in the spirit”. Honestly, I say it too often and I hear it too often! Same on all of us! We are to STAY there in the spirit. Dwell there and walk there. There we can see and discern angles and demons, and we can participate fully in the kingdom of heaven as well as earth.

“Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.” Gal 5:19-21 NKJV

“Now the practices of the sinful [fleshly] nature are clearly evident: they are sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality (total irresponsibility, lack of self-control), idolatry [including prostitution and sexuality associated with pagan rituals], sorcery [including such things as occult practices, horoscopes, witchcraft, worship of evil powers, drugs, manipulation, and the like], hostility, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions [that promote heresies], envy, drunkenness, riotous behavior, and other things like these. I warn you beforehand, just as I did previously, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.” Gal 5:19-21 AMP

I do not think the word “evident” is any longer applicable. Evil is called “good” in our world. So I added the Amplified Classic version of the Bible to help us understand these better. I could literally write a book of ALL the things covered by that list. It becomes evident when you are in the spirit and it becomes easy to avoid. But the transition from this flesh to spirit is an ugly and brutal fight – as you see Paul compare it to the Crucifixion of Christ. ALSO, keep in mind, never before, or again after, Christ was there a crucifixion that was as gory and violent and gruesome as when they killed our Lord. The form of death was terrible enough as it was, but Jesus’s physical body fought a fight against being turned to hamburger and being weak and destroyed before the exact appointed moment when God said it is time! Us – transitioning, killing off our sin nature is described as this same ugly brutal fight.

The fight leads us into the spirit, where the fruits are love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self control… let’s read Paul’s words:

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.” Gal. 5:22-25 nkjv

How do we know which fight to fight, what to whip and what to beat out of us? Jesus did not kill His flesh literally – spiritually we die to flesh, like Jesus, submitting to God’s will and God working the sin nature from us. Again – it is not our fight. Again we do nothing but submit and obey, God does the rest and God gets the glory.

So like every day – let me remind you again today: it all boils down to us seeking God. He wants a relationship with us, but we have to seek it in return. Look and you will find Him. Just read, pray for understanding. Pray all day. Recall the memory verses and the passages we read each day throughout the day. Talk to God about them. Bring Him with you to work, school or throughout your day. Bring him into meetings. Bring him in your car. Take time in these moments, in your head (or out loud if possible), to acknowledge him, thank him and listen for his guidance.

In the United States it is Thanksgiving Day (Happy Thanksgiving). When we walk in the spirit, dwell with God in the secret place under His wing – have a real relationship with the one true living God… then every day is Thanksgiving!

RELATIONSHIP:
Do you already have a relationship with a powerful God who cares about your every need because He loves you? Did you know my God can communicate with you and protect you – He has a plan for you to prosper if you just submit to His will and let His plan play out in your life!!! God wants a relationship with you and has already made a plan for your life. He loves you so much He sent His son to this world, to die as a sacrifice for your sins and rise from death with victory over sin and the ability to have a personal relationship with you.
“If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.” Romans 10:9-10 NIV
Here is a prayer for you to pray:
Jesus, I believe you are the way, the truth, the life, and the only way to the Father. I believe you are the son of God, you came to Earth and lived. That you died on the cross as a sacrifice for my sins, and rose again so that I may be saved from my sins and be able to get to know you. I declare: Jesus, you are Lord!
Therefore, I confess that I am a sinner and I ask that you forgive me of my sins and come into my life. Help me to turn away from my sins and transform me into what you have lovingly created me to be. Help me through a real personal relationship grow and accept your will for my life – that I may live in your blessings. Please walk with me, and talk with me – I accept a relationship with you and with our Father God, through you. In the name of Jesus I pray ~ Amen

MEMORY WORK: This month we have another powerful verse to pick up and swing when you need a sword in your hand! Knowing the Word is our Sword and Jesus is the Word! Jesus accomplishes what He set out to do. Quoting this verse is therefore the very act of walking in the victory!  

Isaiah 55:11

NKJV – “So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, But it shall accomplish what I please, And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.”
NAS – “So will My word be which goes out of My mouth; It will not return to Me empty, Without accomplishing what I desire, And without succeeding in the purpose for which I sent it.”
ESV – “so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.”
AMP – “So will My word be which goes out of My mouth; It will not return to Me void (useless, without result), Without accomplishing what I desire, And without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it.”
NIV – “so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.”

Thank you for reading.
May the God of peace keep you and bless you. May you stay focused on Christ and covered in grace.
Maranatha ~ Come Lord Jesus!

BIBLE READING: Galatians 4-6 NKJV

Sons and Heirs Through Christ

Now I say that the heir, as long as he is a child, does not differ at all from a slave, though he is master of all, but is under guardians and stewards until the time appointed by the father. Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world. But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born[a] of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.

And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, [b]“Abba, Father!” Therefore you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir [c]of God [d]through Christ.

Fears for the Church

But then, indeed, when you did not know God, you served those which by nature are not gods. But now after you have known God, or rather are known by God, how is it that you turn again to the weak and beggarly elements, to which you desire again to be in bondage? 10 You observe days and months and seasons and years. 11 I am afraid for you, lest I have labored for you in vain.

12 Brethren, I urge you to become like me, for I became like you. You have not injured me at all. 13 You know that because of physical infirmity I preached the gospel to you at the first. 14 And my trial which was in my flesh you did not despise or reject, but you received me as an [e]angel of God, even as Christ Jesus. 15 [f]What then was the blessing you enjoyed? For I bear you witness that, if possible, you would have plucked out your own eyes and given them to me. 16 Have I therefore become your enemy because I tell you the truth?

17 They zealously court you, but for no good; yes, they want to exclude you, that you may be zealous for them. 18 But it is good to be zealous in a good thing always, and not only when I am present with you. 19 My little children, for whom I labor in birth again until Christ is formed in you, 20 I would like to be present with you now and to change my tone; for I have doubts about you.

Two Covenants

21 Tell me, you who desire to be under the law, do you not hear the law? 22 For it is written that Abraham had two sons: the one by a bondwoman, the other by a freewoman. 23 But he who was of the bondwoman was born according to the flesh, and he of the freewoman through promise, 24 which things are symbolic. For these are [g]the two covenants: the one from Mount Sinai which gives birth to bondage, which is Hagar— 25 for this Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia, and corresponds to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children— 26 but the Jerusalem above is free, which is the mother of us all. 27 For it is written:

“Rejoice, O barren,
You who do not bear!
Break forth and shout,
You who are not in labor!
For the desolate has many more children
Than she who has a husband.”

28 Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are children of promise. 29 But, as he who was born according to the flesh then persecuted him who was born according to the Spirit, even so it is now. 30 Nevertheless what does the Scripture say? “Cast out the bondwoman and her son, for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman.” 31 So then, brethren, we are not children of the bondwoman but of the free.

Christian Liberty

Stand[h] fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage. Indeed I, Paul, say to you that if you become circumcised, Christ will profit you nothing. And I testify again to every man who becomes circumcised that he is [i]a debtor to keep the whole law. You have become estranged from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace. For we through the Spirit eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness by faith. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but faith working through love.

Love Fulfills the Law

You ran well. Who hindered you from obeying the truth? This persuasion does not come from Him who calls you. A little leaven leavens the whole lump. 10 I have confidence in you, in the Lord, that you will have no other mind; but he who troubles you shall bear his judgment, whoever he is.

11 And I, brethren, if I still preach circumcision, why do I still suffer persecution? Then the offense of the cross has ceased. 12 I could wish that those who trouble you would even [j]cut themselves off!

13 For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. 14 For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 15 But if you bite and devour one another, beware lest you be consumed by one another!

Walking in the Spirit

16 I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. 17 For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.

19 Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: [k]adultery, [l]fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, 20 idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, 21 envy, [m]murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 [n]gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. 24 And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.

Bear and Share Burdens

Brethren, if a man is [o]overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. But let each one examine his own work, and then he will have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another. For each one shall bear his own load.

Be Generous and Do Good

Let him who is taught the word share in all good things with him who teaches.

Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life. And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. 10 Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.

Glory Only in the Cross

11 See with what large letters I have written to you with my own hand! 12 As many as desire to make a good showing in the flesh, these would compel you to be circumcised, only that they may not suffer persecution for the cross of Christ. 13 For not even those who are circumcised keep the law, but they desire to have you circumcised that they may boast in your flesh. 14 But God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by [p]whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. 15 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but a new creation.

Blessing and a Plea

16 And as many as walk according to this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, and upon the Israel of God.

17 From now on let no one trouble me, for I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus.

18 Brethren, the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen.

Footnotes

  1. Galatians 4:4 Or made
  2. Galatians 4:6 Lit., in Aram., Father
  3. Galatians 4:7 NU through God
  4. Galatians 4:7 NU omits through Christ
  5. Galatians 4:14 Or messenger
  6. Galatians 4:15 NU Where
  7. Galatians 4:24 NU, M omit the
  8. Galatians 5:1 NU For freedom Christ has made us free; stand fast therefore, and
  9. Galatians 5:3 obligated
  10. Galatians 5:12 mutilate themselves
  11. Galatians 5:19 NU omits adultery
  12. Galatians 5:19 sexual immorality
  13. Galatians 5:21 NU omits murders
  14. Galatians 5:23 meekness
  15. Galatians 6:1 caught
  16. Galatians 6:14 Or which, the cross

Grace and Law

“Grace to you and peace from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.” Galatians 1:3-5 NKJV

Every day, I struggle with if I should focus done on one good things or overview the passage or give you the historical origins with modern application. Unlike the Old Testament – there is a lot more packed into fewer verses.  But we have times and formatting constraint in the format. And you all are not looking for a 3 hour lesson each day. I pray and seek God and hope I give you the part he wants you to have and understand. Today is more of an overview of the book as well as today’s chapters.  

Dear Heavenly Father – As always, please open eye to see and our ears to hear what you are saying! Lord – open our understanding that we may know you and give us wisdom. Please do not let us miss out on what you want and need from us today. Lord, I pray that your word prepares us and not scares us! We forbid the works and influences of fear over your word. And please keep us and bless us and shine your face upon us and pour out grace over us and give us peace! Thank you! – In Jesus name we pray, Amen

Today’s reading is from the book of Galatians, chapters 1-3 (embedded below the image below for your convenience).  Welcome to the letter to the church in Galatia written by Paul, who we know is a Pharisee, Jew, and expert on ‘The Law’. Each letter written to different churches was written to address different points, which in most cases could also be called problems.  To sum up the problems in the Galatian church, was the question of if the gentiles had to come under Jewish law. We will revisit this in other letters as well – it keeps popping up.  We just read in Acts where the elders all came together to discuss this and all agreed on how to proceed and sent out news – Paul explains this in this letter as well.  But on the chronological time line, that event, was a couple years ago and Galatia is not on board yet. NOT only that, but people have come from Jerusalem to that church and are encouraging the gentiles to come under the law. (These people are not named but Paul implies some name calling on them: “Who has bewitched you” chapter 3, verse 1). But Let’s stay on track.

In their time period the Jews understood what was meant by the words: The Law. People and Rabbi’s study for years before they truly understand it. There is the mosaic 10 commandments – obviously we should all be under that law (or maybe so full of God that it comes natural and should go without saying).  There are the covenant laws that are constitutional in nature, like keeping the Sabbath and eating certain foods.  There are the penal laws (often call criminal law) having to do with sacrifice and atonement of sin. Atonement is a person with a repentant heart and God covers the sin. 

The problems occur when we do not have the knowledge of the law, learn it in a simplified manner and think we understand. I myself am guilty of teaching a simplified message in order to get to the point and IRONICALLY, the only way to address this book is if I do it again! Luckily we have Paul, who basically has a doctorate in the law to help us and the Galatians through this.  

So here is my OVERLY simplified summary, if it is worth anything: Jesus fulfilled the law. Jews must be circumcised in order to have access to the sacrificial atonements.  But Jesus was the final sacrifice so that sin is no longer atoned and covered – but forgiven and washed away. We no longer need a sheep at an altar. THAT was the law that was fulfilled – the penal law. The sacrificial laws. You see, you have to go to a temple to make sacrifice – and how was a human living in the Americas or in northern Europe (or any other distant place) supposed to repent and be atoned – so they can through a priest reach God?! The curse of the law is you MUST always be near the temple and the entire world cannot live near it and you must always continue – if you stop sacrifices, then you no longer have atonement. If you get taken to Babylon – how is sin handled? If you live in 2021 and the temple doesn’t exist – where and how is sacrifice and atonement obtained?!

Jesus fixed it. Now we can all have a restored relationship with the Holy Father through Jesus, through the FORGIVENESS and WASHING away of our sins. Jesus wasn’t a sacrifice in our place but HE ACTUALLY took our sins upon Himself and killed them! WE CAN BE FREE. This. They no longer hold possession of us.

Grace.

So when people say they are under grace they should read Galatians – they both wanted to get under Jewish law (which honestly was a political power play at that time) and they wanted to live outside of the law saying they were not subject to it but grace and that gave them license to sin freely. (facepalm)

Under grace doesn’t mean free from the law of sin – sin still leads to death. Under grace means the law is fulfilled (in Jesus) and we have the opportunity to be free from it if we choose to repent and NOT sin any more. Under grace means sin can’t control you, addiction can’t control you, demonic influences cannot own you – the anointing of the grace of the cross transforms! Changes. Pushes you higher on this foundation. It doesn’t say this no longer matters because it is the foundation we built on.

Let’s get more confused.  Gentiles do not need to participate in much of the Jewish stuff because they are not the promised people. Gentiles do not have the Noah Covenant (although we benefit) we do not have the Abraham Covenant (although we again benefit) nor the one with Isaac, Jacob, Moses, David, etc… and again we benefit.  Gentiles were never told not to eat pig. Gentiles were never told to keep the Sabbath. So here is the confusing part – gentiles ARE adopted children of God. So, as adopted children shouldn’t we participate? Well, if our home is, it would be peaceable if we did… so the early church was told not to offend the Jewish brothers by bringing a pig roast to the Sunday fellowship dinner.  But those promises are not mine. There are enough that are mine. I am adopted by God not Abraham. Let that sink in.  So yes, when God calls for a day of atonement – you better bet I am honoring God. Not necessarily the way my Jewish brothers and sister do. But I am repenting and reflecting and humbling myself – because God said to and called for it. I apply the blood of Jesus and my sins are washed – I am not atoned.

So yes, I keep the Lord’s holidays and the Lord’s guidance – I have a new covenant with Him, through grace and the blood of Jesus. This is the gospel. Do not accept another.

Like these Galatians struggled with someone presenting them with a corrupted gospel, and Peter often had trouble separating what was rabbinical law and what was covenant law – our modern “Christianity” has been corrupted. Do not accept another gospel. Do not fall into the name it claim it – but also do not fall into poverty. These apostles had struggles but the early church and the followers were provided for in abundance; enough to share and care for the apostles and poor, as God said.  And Paul might not have been so poor, except he gave to His own depletion and then accumulated legal bills from being jailed so many times. Peter had a much more stable financial situation. So do not buy a different message. God did not promise you a fancy car – but He will provide a way for you to get around.  (That is just one example of many corruptions that have confused the minds of believers.)

As always, read and ask for understanding. Get your eyes fixed on God and be hungry to understand Him. If you focus first on God, everything else comes together. This is all about you building a relationship with God through Jesus in the Holy Spirit. So get alone with Him and learn His ways.

RELATIONSHIP:
Do you already have a relationship with a powerful God who cares about your every need because He loves you? Did you know my God can communicate with you and protect you – He has a plan for you to prosper if you just submit to His will and let His plan play out in your life!!! God wants a relationship with you and has already made a plan for your life. He loves you so much He sent His son to this world, to die as a sacrifice for your sins and rise from death with victory over sin and the ability to have a personal relationship with you.
“If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.” Romans 10:9-10 NIV
Here is a prayer for you to pray:
Jesus, I believe you are the way, the truth, the life, and the only way to the Father. I believe you are the son of God, you came to Earth and lived. That you died on the cross as a sacrifice for my sins, and rose again so that I may be saved from my sins and be able to get to know you. I declare: Jesus, you are Lord!
Therefore, I confess that I am a sinner and I ask that you forgive me of my sins and come into my life. Help me to turn away from my sins and transform me into what you have lovingly created me to be. Help me through a real personal relationship grow and accept your will for my life – that I may live in your blessings. Please walk with me, and talk with me – I accept a relationship with you and with our Father God, through you. In the name of Jesus I pray ~ Amen

MEMORY WORK: This month we have another powerful verse to pick up and swing when you need a sword in your hand! Knowing the Word is our Sword and Jesus is the Word! Jesus accomplishes what He set out to do. Quoting this verse is therefore the very act of walking in the victory!  

Isaiah 55:11

NKJV – “So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, But it shall accomplish what I please, And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.”
NAS – “So will My word be which goes out of My mouth; It will not return to Me empty, Without accomplishing what I desire, And without succeeding in the purpose for which I sent it.”
ESV – “so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.”
AMP – “So will My word be which goes out of My mouth; It will not return to Me void (useless, without result), Without accomplishing what I desire, And without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it.”
NIV – “so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.”

Thank you for reading.
May the God of peace keep you and bless you. May you stay focused on Christ and covered in grace.
Maranatha ~ Come Lord Jesus!

BIBLE READING: Galatians 1-3 NKJV

Greeting

Paul, an apostle (not from men nor through man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father who raised Him from the dead), and all the brethren who are with me,

To the churches of Galatia:

Grace to you and peace from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.

Only One Gospel

I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert[a] the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be [b]accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed.

10 For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I still pleased men, I would not be a bondservant of Christ.

Call to Apostleship

11 But I make known to you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man. 12 For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but it came through the revelation of Jesus Christ.

13 For you have heard of my former conduct in Judaism, how I persecuted the church of God beyond measure and tried to destroy it. 14 And I advanced in Judaism beyond many of my contemporaries in my own nation, being more exceedingly zealous for the traditions of my fathers.

15 But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb and called me through His grace, 16 to reveal His Son in me, that I might preach Him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately confer with flesh and blood, 17 nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me; but I went to Arabia, and returned again to Damascus.

Contacts at Jerusalem

18 Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see [c]Peter, and remained with him fifteen days. 19 But I saw none of the other apostles except James, the Lord’s brother. 20 (Now concerning the things which I write to you, indeed, before God, I do not lie.)

21 Afterward I went into the regions of Syria and Cilicia. 22 And I was unknown by face to the churches of Judea which were in Christ. 23 But they were hearing only, “He who formerly persecuted us now preaches the faith which he once tried to destroy.” 24 And they glorified God in me.

Defending the Gospel

Then after fourteen years I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, and also took Titus with me. And I went up [d]by revelation, and communicated to them that gospel which I preach among the Gentiles, but privately to those who were of reputation, lest by any means I might run, or had run, in vain. Yet not even Titus who was with me, being a Greek, was compelled to be circumcised. And this occurred because of false brethren secretly brought in (who came in by stealth to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage), to whom we did not yield submission even for an hour, that the truth of the gospel might continue with you.

But from those who seemed to be something—whatever they were, it makes no difference to me; God [e]shows personal favoritism to no man—for those who seemed to be something added nothing to me. But on the contrary, when they saw that the gospel for the uncircumcised had been committed to me, as the gospel for the circumcised was to Peter (for He who worked effectively in Peter for the apostleship to the circumcised also worked effectively in me toward the Gentiles), and when James, [f]Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that had been given to me, they gave me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship, that we should go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised. 10 They desired only that we should remember the poor, the very thing which I also was eager to do.

No Return to the Law

11 Now when [g]Peter had come to Antioch, I [h]withstood him to his face, because he was to be blamed; 12 for before certain men came from James, he would eat with the Gentiles; but when they came, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing [i]those who were of the circumcision. 13 And the rest of the Jews also played the hypocrite with him, so that even Barnabas was carried away with their hypocrisy.

14 But when I saw that they were not straightforward about the truth of the gospel, I said to Peter before them all, “If you, being a Jew, live in the manner of Gentiles and not as the Jews, [j]why do you compel Gentiles to live as [k]Jews? 15 We who are Jews by nature, and not sinners of the Gentiles, 16 knowing that a man is not [l]justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified.

17 “But if, while we seek to be justified by Christ, we ourselves also are found sinners, is Christ therefore a minister of sin? Certainly not! 18 For if I build again those things which I destroyed, I make myself a transgressor. 19 For I through the law died to the law that I might live to God. 20 I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. 21 I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died [m]in vain.”

Justification by Faith

O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you [n]that you should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed [o]among you as crucified? This only I want to learn from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh? Have you suffered so [p]many things in vain—if indeed it was in vain?

Therefore He who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you, does He do it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?— just as Abraham “believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.” Therefore know that only those who are of faith are sons of Abraham. And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel to Abraham beforehand, saying, “In you all the nations shall be blessed.” So then those who are of faith are blessed with believing Abraham.

The Law Brings a Curse

10 For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse; for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who does not continue in all things which are written in the book of the law, to do them.” 11 But that no one is [q]justified by the law in the sight of God is evident, for “the just shall live by faith.” 12 Yet the law is not of faith, but “the man who does them shall live by them.”

13 Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”), 14 that the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles in Christ Jesus, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.

The Changeless Promise

15 Brethren, I speak in the manner of men: Though it is only a man’s covenant, yet if it is confirmed, no one annuls or adds to it. 16 Now to Abraham and his Seed were the promises made. He does not say, “And to seeds,” as of many, but as of one, “And to your Seed,” who is Christ. 17 And this I say, that the law, which was four hundred and thirty years later, cannot annul the covenant that was confirmed before by God [r]in Christ, that it should make the promise of no effect. 18 For if the inheritance is of the law, it is no longer of promise; but God gave it to Abraham by promise.

Purpose of the Law

19 What purpose then does the law serve? It was added because of transgressions, till the Seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was appointed through angels by the hand of a mediator. 20 Now a mediator does not mediate for one only, but God is one.

21 Is the law then against the promises of God? Certainly not! For if there had been a law given which could have given life, truly righteousness would have been by the law. 22 But the Scripture has confined all under sin, that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe. 23 But before faith came, we were kept under guard by the law, [s]kept for the faith which would afterward be revealed. 24 Therefore the law was our [t]tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith. 25 But after faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor.

Sons and Heirs

26 For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. 27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.

Footnotes

  1. Galatians 1:7 distort
  2. Galatians 1:8 Gr. anathema
  3. Galatians 1:18 NU Cephas
  4. Galatians 2:2 because of
  5. Galatians 2:6 Lit. does not receive the face of a man
  6. Galatians 2:9 Peter
  7. Galatians 2:11 NU Cephas
  8. Galatians 2:11 opposed
  9. Galatians 2:12 Jewish Christians
  10. Galatians 2:14 NU how can you
  11. Galatians 2:14 Some interpreters stop the quotation here.
  12. Galatians 2:16 declared righteous
  13. Galatians 2:21 for nothing
  14. Galatians 3:1 NU omits that you should not obey the truth
  15. Galatians 3:1 NU omits among you
  16. Galatians 3:4 Or great
  17. Galatians 3:11 declared righteous
  18. Galatians 3:17 NU omits in Christ
  19. Galatians 3:23 Lit. confined
  20. Galatians 3:24 In a household, the guardian responsible for the care and discipline of the children

Human Problems

“And he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”
So they said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.” 
Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house. And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their stripes. And immediately he and all his family were baptized. Now when he had brought them into his house, he set food before them; and he rejoiced, having believed in God with all his household.” Acts 16: 30-34 NKJV

This is a glorious passage about how one person was saved. There are many ways person come to the salvation knowledge and are transformed by God. For each of us the verse that spoke to us, the situation we were in – it is all unique and different. This jailer just had to believe and show that belief to his family and they all believed as well. We read in James yesterday that those believers had to be hearers and doers of the word in order to be saved, but we cannot earn salvation by doing (doing is a response to salvation). Below you see I use ‘The Romans Path to Salvation’ methodology leading to the “Salvation Prayer”.  This was created as an over simplified method to express some of the key points of ‘salvation’ and walk someone through a prayer. It is not bad. But I also know very few people who came into a real relationship with God through Jesus this way. They may have said the prayer once or a few times – but Jesus shows up for each of us differently. Just because the jailer and his family were changed by the jailer believing – doesn’t mean my son will be changed based on my belief. (Maybe by my prayers, but not just because I believe and bring home a few criminals in the middle of the night.)

Dear Heavenly Father – As always, please open eye to see and our ears to hear what you are saying! Lord – open our understanding that we may know you and give us wisdom. Please do not let us miss out on what you want and need from us today. Lord, I pray that your word prepares us and not scares us! We forbid the works and influences of fear over your word. And please keep us and bless us and shine your face upon us and pour out grace over us and give us peace! Thank you! – In Jesus name we pray, Amen

Today’s reading is from the book of Acts, chapters 15-16 (embedded below the image below for your convenience).  Today’s reading addresses some of the problems that arise from humans being human. God made us like this – complicated, messy, passionate, and clumsy.

It starts with the early church trying to figure out how the law and mosaic covenant apply to gentiles – cause those Pharisees (yes, those people) say the gentiles must be subject to the law…. Wait, did anyone catch that?! The glorious redemption! Some of the Pharisees became believers!!

Side note: it is so easy to simplify this as a story and make all scribes and Pharisees into the bad guys and Christians the good guys. Some of the Jews who persecuted the church honestly loved the Lord with all their hearts and thought they were obeying and serving Him, like Saul (aka Paul).  But many did it with the wrong hearts and that is why we tend to lump it all together, BUT these early writers wanted us to see the humanity and variations so it is included in the writings. God wants us to know something here.
So the religious persecution seems to be the only persecution when we are told the stories over and over and they simply and simplify.
As we see with one of the mix-ups here today, when they unlawfully beat Paul and threw him in jail, the persecution started crossing lines and becoming more and more political. And when Herod joined the Jews for favor a few chapters ago. And at this time the Jews are withholding the benevolence allowances to the poor and widows who believe in Jesus – and the church is broke from trying the socialism – so they begin building the same financial structure God ordained in Jewish customs and the church started collecting tithes and offerings. WHICH was illegal to be an unauthorized collector of funds under Roman law – they were not breaking the law, but the Jews told on them accusing, saying they did, and so political persecution also began and complicated by the apostles out there making people mad.

The truth is – today as you read, and as you believe, and as you try to walk out your relationship with Him in faith – it will get messy. We will have to figure things out as we go. God doesn’t wait until we are perfect to launch us into ministry or into being a good Christian who give testimony of how God changed them. Nope. God takes us in our mess and joins us to other messes and together we make more of a mess. – That is a very unpopular opinion, but please give me grace to explain. Humans left to their own devices makes things messier and God still intervenes and uses it.
The elders and Peter, Paul, Barnabas, Silas and Mark are all in agreement about the law and how it applies to the gentiles – but next thing you know Paul and Barnabas are having a irreconcilable differences and part ways (it is a fight over Mark, because Mark left and did not finish the first mission, so Paul doesn’t want him on the second). (Also, Mark ends up having wonderful missions to Egypt and is the first to write down the gospel, and later they all make up but never go on a mission together.) See – messy people, making messes and join together to make more of a mess,

In chapter 16 Timothy and Luke join Paul and Silas – Luke is the writer and we see ‘we’ statements starting to appear in the text along with more details.  Some people say the fall out between Paul and Barnabas had to happen to send Mark to Egypt eventually and to add Timothy and Luke to Paul’s team. But the truth is far more complicated.

It is the human condition – we are corruptible man on an incorruptible mission. We err and stumble and clumsily fulfill the Lords will.  No matter our mistakes God raises up the man power to complete His work. Restoration comes again someday – but what could have been with Paul, Barnabas, and Mark will never be known. God would have rose up another to go to Egypt, other than Mark.  And was Barnabas lost to us? We are messy. If you plan to serve God know you will develop a love for people because that is God’s nature and we slowing become like Him – but we are messy about it. And God uses it – actually requires it. Because these men cannot get the glory in the messed up state they are in. They cannot puff up in pride when repentance is a daily task. And only God can get the glory for using such messiness.

Are you a hot mess? No worries. That is exactly what God wants to use and the type of person He wants a relationship with.

RELATIONSHIP:
Do you already have a relationship with a powerful God who cares about your every need because He loves you? Did you know my God can communicate with you and protect you – He has a plan for you to prosper if you just submit to His will and let His plan play out in your life!!! God wants a relationship with you and has already made a plan for your life. He loves you so much He sent His son to this world, to die as a sacrifice for your sins and rise from death with victory over sin and the ability to have a personal relationship with you.
“If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.” Romans 10:9-10 NIV
Here is a prayer for you to pray:
Jesus, I believe you are the way, the truth, the life, and the only way to the Father. I believe you are the son of God, you came to Earth and lived. That you died on the cross as a sacrifice for my sins, and rose again so that I may be saved from my sins and be able to get to know you. I declare: Jesus, you are Lord!
Therefore, I confess that I am a sinner and I ask that you forgive me of my sins and come into my life. Help me to turn away from my sins and transform me into what you have lovingly created me to be. Help me through a real personal relationship grow and accept your will for my life – that I may live in your blessings. Please walk with me, and talk with me – I accept a relationship with you and with our Father God, through you. In the name of Jesus I pray ~ Amen

MEMORY WORK: This month we have another powerful verse to pick up and swing when you need a sword in your hand! Knowing the Word is our Sword and Jesus is the Word! Jesus accomplishes what He set out to do. Quoting this verse is therefore the very act of walking in the victory!  

Isaiah 55:11

NKJV – “So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, But it shall accomplish what I please, And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.”
NAS – “So will My word be which goes out of My mouth; It will not return to Me empty, Without accomplishing what I desire, And without succeeding in the purpose for which I sent it.”
ESV – “so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.”
AMP – “So will My word be which goes out of My mouth; It will not return to Me void (useless, without result), Without accomplishing what I desire, And without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it.”
NIV – “so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.”

Thank you for reading.
May the God of peace keep you and bless you. May you stay focused on Christ and covered in grace.
Maranatha ~ Come Lord Jesus!

BIBLE READING: Acts 15-16 NKJV

Conflict over Circumcision

15 And certain men came down from Judea and taught the brethren, “Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved.” Therefore, when Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and dispute with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas and certain others of them should go up to Jerusalem, to the apostles and elders, about this question.

So, being sent on their way by the church, they passed through Phoenicia and Samaria, describing the conversion of the Gentiles; and they caused great joy to all the brethren. And when they had come to Jerusalem, they were received by the church and the apostles and the elders; and they reported all things that God had done with them. But some of the sect of the Pharisees who believed rose up, saying, “It is necessary to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses.”

The Jerusalem Council

Now the apostles and elders came together to consider this matter. And when there had been much dispute, Peter rose up and said to them: “Men and brethren, you know that a good while ago God chose among us, that by my mouth the Gentiles should hear the word of the gospel and believe. So God, who knows the heart, [a]acknowledged them by giving them the Holy Spirit, just as He did to us, and made no distinction between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith. 10 Now therefore, why do you test God by putting a yoke on the neck of the disciples which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear? 11 But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus [b]Christ we shall be saved in the same manner as they.”

12 Then all the multitude kept silent and listened to Barnabas and Paul declaring how many miracles and wonders God had worked through them among the Gentiles. 13 And after they had [c]become silent, James answered, saying, “Men and brethren, listen to me: 14 Simon has declared how God at the first visited the Gentiles to take out of them a people for His name. 15 And with this the words of the prophets agree, just as it is written:

16 ‘After this I will return
And will rebuild the tabernacle of David, which has fallen down;
I will rebuild its ruins,
And I will set it up;
17 So that the rest of mankind may seek the Lord,
Even all the Gentiles who are called by My name,
Says the [d]Lord who does all these things.’

18 [e]“Known to God from eternity are all His works. 19 Therefore I judge that we should not trouble those from among the Gentiles who are turning to God, 20 but that we write to them to abstain from things polluted by idols, from [f]sexual immorality, from things strangled, and from blood. 21 For Moses has had throughout many generations those who preach him in every city, being read in the synagogues every Sabbath.”

The Jerusalem Decree

22 Then it pleased the apostles and elders, with the whole church, to send chosen men of their own company to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas, namely, Judas who was also named Barsabas,[g] and Silas, leading men among the brethren.

23 They wrote this letter by them:

The apostles, the elders, and the brethren,

To the brethren who are of the Gentiles in Antioch, Syria, and Cilicia:

Greetings.

24 Since we have heard that some who went out from us have troubled you with words, unsettling your souls, [h]saying, “You must be circumcised and keep the law”—to whom we gave no such commandment— 25 it seemed good to us, being assembled with one [i]accord, to send chosen men to you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, 26 men who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. 27 We have therefore sent Judas and Silas, who will also report the same things by word of mouth. 28 For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things: 29 that you abstain from things offered to idols, from blood, from things strangled, and from sexual[j] immorality. If you keep yourselves from these, you will do well.

Farewell.

Continuing Ministry in Syria

30 So when they were sent off, they came to Antioch; and when they had gathered the multitude together, they delivered the letter. 31 When they had read it, they rejoiced over its encouragement. 32 Now Judas and Silas, themselves being prophets also, exhorted and strengthened the brethren with many words. 33 And after they had stayed there for a time, they were sent back with greetings from the brethren to [k]the apostles.

34 [l]However, it seemed good to Silas to remain there. 35 Paul and Barnabas also remained in Antioch, teaching and preaching the word of the Lord, with many others also.

Division over John Mark

36 Then after some days Paul said to Barnabas, “Let us now go back and visit our brethren in every city where we have preached the word of the Lord, and see how they are doing.” 37 Now Barnabas [m]was determined to take with them John called Mark. 38 But Paul insisted that they should not take with them the one who had departed from them in Pamphylia, and had not gone with them to the work. 39 Then the contention became so sharp that they parted from one another. And so Barnabas took Mark and sailed to Cyprus; 40 but Paul chose Silas and departed, being [n]commended by the brethren to the grace of God. 41 And he went through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches.

Timothy Joins Paul and Silas

16 Then he came to Derbe and Lystra. And behold, a certain disciple was there, named Timothy, the son of a certain Jewish woman who believed, but his father was Greek. He was well spoken of by the brethren who were at Lystra and Iconium. Paul wanted to have him go on with him. And he took him and circumcised him because of the Jews who were in that region, for they all knew that his father was Greek. And as they went through the cities, they delivered to them the decrees to keep, which were determined by the apostles and elders at Jerusalem. So the churches were strengthened in the faith, and increased in number daily.

The Macedonian Call

Now when they had gone through Phrygia and the region of Galatia, they were forbidden by the Holy Spirit to preach the word in [o]Asia. After they had come to Mysia, they tried to go into Bithynia, but the [p]Spirit did not permit them. So passing by Mysia, they came down to Troas. And a vision appeared to Paul in the night. A man of Macedonia stood and pleaded with him, saying, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” 10 Now after he had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go to Macedonia, concluding that the Lord had called us to preach the gospel to them.

Lydia Baptized at Philippi

11 Therefore, sailing from Troas, we ran a straight course to Samothrace, and the next day came to Neapolis, 12 and from there to Philippi, which is the [q]foremost city of that part of Macedonia, a colony. And we were staying in that city for some days. 13 And on the Sabbath day we went out of the city to the riverside, where prayer was customarily made; and we sat down and spoke to the women who met there. 14 Now a certain woman named Lydia heard us. She was a seller of purple from the city of Thyatira, who worshiped God. The Lord opened her heart to heed the things spoken by Paul. 15 And when she and her household were baptized, she begged us, saying, “If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come to my house and stay.” So she persuaded us.

Paul and Silas Imprisoned

16 Now it happened, as we went to prayer, that a certain slave girl possessed with a spirit of divination met us, who brought her masters much profit by fortune-telling. 17 This girl followed Paul and us, and cried out, saying, “These men are the servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to us the way of salvation.” 18 And this she did for many days.

But Paul, greatly [r]annoyed, turned and said to the spirit, “I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.” And he came out that very hour. 19 But when her masters saw that their hope of profit was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace to the authorities.

20 And they brought them to the magistrates, and said, “These men, being Jews, exceedingly trouble our city; 21 and they teach customs which are not lawful for us, being Romans, to receive or observe.” 22 Then the multitude rose up together against them; and the magistrates tore off their clothes and commanded them to be beaten with rods. 23 And when they had laid many stripes on them, they threw them into prison, commanding the jailer to keep them securely. 24 Having received such a charge, he put them into the inner prison and fastened their feet in the stocks.

The Philippian Jailer Saved

25 But at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them. 26 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 chains were loosed. 27 And the keeper of the prison, awaking from sleep and seeing the prison doors open, supposing the prisoners had fled, drew his sword and was about to kill himself. 28 But Paul called with a loud voice, saying, “Do yourself no harm, for we are all here.”

29 Then he called for a light, ran in, and fell down trembling before Paul and Silas. 30 And he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”

31 So they said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.” 32 Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house. 33 And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their stripes. And immediately he and all his family were baptized. 34 Now when he had brought them into his house, he set food before them; and he rejoiced, having believed in God with all his household.

Paul Refuses to Depart Secretly

35 And when it was day, the magistrates sent the [s]officers, saying, “Let those men go.”

36 So the keeper of the prison reported these words to Paul, saying, “The magistrates have sent to let you go. Now therefore depart, and go in peace.”

37 But Paul said to them, “They have beaten us openly, uncondemned Romans, and have thrown us into prison. And now do they put us out secretly? No indeed! Let them come themselves and get us out.”

38 And the officers told these words to the magistrates, and they were afraid when they heard that they were Romans. 39 Then they came and pleaded with them and brought them out, and asked them to depart from the city. 40 So they went out of the prison and entered the house of Lydia; and when they had seen the brethren, they encouraged them and departed.

Footnotes

  1. Acts 15:8 bore witness to
  2. Acts 15:11 NU, M omit Christ
  3. Acts 15:13 stopped speaking
  4. Acts 15:17 NU Lordwho makes these things
  5. Acts 15:18 NU (continuing v. 17known from eternity (of old).
  6. Acts 15:20 Or fornication
  7. Acts 15:22 NU, M Barsabbas
  8. Acts 15:24 NU omits saying, “You must be circumcised and keep the law”
  9. Acts 15:25 purpose or mind
  10. Acts 15:29 Or fornication
  11. Acts 15:33 NU those who had sent them
  12. Acts 15:34 NU, M omit v. 34.
  13. Acts 15:37 resolved
  14. Acts 15:40 committed
  15. Acts 16:6 The Roman province of Asia
  16. Acts 16:7 NU adds of Jesus
  17. Acts 16:12 Lit. first
  18. Acts 16:18 distressed
  19. Acts 16:35 lictors, lit. rod bearers

Trials

“Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning. Of His own will He brought us forth by the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures.” James 1:16-18 NKJV

Dear Heavenly Father – As always, please open eye to see and our ears to hear what you are saying! Lord – open our understanding that we may know you and give us wisdom. Please do not let us miss out on what you want and need from us today. Lord, I pray that your word prepares us and not scares us! We forbid the works and influences of fear over your word. And please keep us and bless us and shine your face upon us and pour out grace over us and give us peace! Thank you! – In Jesus name we pray, Amen

Today’s reading is from the book of James, chapters 1-5 (embedded below the image below for your convenience).  James is the brother of Jesus (we just saw James the brother of John get murdered in acts). James is the head of a church of Jews who believe and the idea of a church is so new he uses terms like synagogue for the meeting place of the believers.  This is actually the first book written, of the New Testament.  James is writing to address a number of problems among the believers and some of these problems are difficult to really understand unless we first understand Jewish culture.

The book is only approximately 2,450 words long – yet I once took a 7 hour course on it and left ready to sit and learn more about it. So I sit here, having read the book again, looking at my notes from various sermons and that class – and I am asking God: How am I supposed to write up anything about ALL of this in this short format?  At this point, I do not even have a verse at the top to open with – I can’t choose. (Hopefully there is one there by the time you read this.) It is NOT that I have nothing to say – it is that I could give you a seven day course on the book, I have too much to say!

“James, a bondservant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, To the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad: Greetings.” James 1:1

I suppose I could start at the beginning. As this greeting we take for granted as meaning to the church – but it literally says to the 12 scattered tribes. The tribes were scattered when Assyria took the northern kingdom and Babylon took Judah. This was a past event. Although they were scattered a few times throughout history. At the time when James was writing – there was a scattering of the Jews in the sense that Rome often relocated the Jews throughout their kingdom. There was also a scattering of the Christians, themselves, after Stephan died. When Paul converted this did not die down, especially (our reading on the 20th) when the new Herod took over. He saw a way to gain the trust and loyalty of the Jewish population by joining them with persecuting the church.  James’ group of believers (his local church) was also scattered at this moment – which was why a letter was circulated instead of James preaching it to them directly. 

Then there were also scatterings happening in other areas of history. When Rome tore down the temple, the Jews scattered. When Hitler came for them, they scattered.

The root word is “the dispersement”.  James is not writing to the Jewish unbelievers, but writing to the believers.

James is also, in my opinion the book MOST taken out of context. Let us start with the first chapter as an example – trials. Many of these verses have been quoted outside of the context in which they are clearly tied to. Asking for wisdom, for example – is in relation to the trial. God is not going to give you wisdom to heap upon your pride. So be careful when you see a verse from this book quoted to support something else, that it also reflects back to what it was written about.

Then the opening verses (Look! I managed to put one there) – in that passage the first verse is not usually associated with trials nor is it associated with God’s will to make us a type of “firstfruits”. The firstfruit was the offering – the best of the best, the perfect and the sacrifice – which we have already learned that Obedience is better then, and that true obedience is a type of sacrifice. We are this firstfruit, perfected in Christ through trials and God’s goodness.
Chapter one is best understood if read alongside the book of Job. James walks us through the discourse.

As I write this I just got a text that Rittenhouse was found not guilty and the depth of the lies of the mainstream media’s narrative has been exposed. Many eyes are still blind to see and are enraged by the outcome.  As I write about trials – and hear this verdict I think I ought to speak to “justice” and legal trials.  (As we hold our breath wondering what the overall reaction in the nation will be.)

Trials – like when the enemy attacks – like here in James chapter one or in Job when, while one messenger spoke, another came in with bad news, and while he spoke, yet another, and so on… THAT is an attack. It comes from every angle and is meant to throw you off balance. This is why the armor of God concludes with JUST STAND (and having done all STAND).

And a trial is like a trial. Yes – there are false witnesses, or even true witnesses who accuse of things you have dealt with and are forgiven of but it is designed to blight your character. Trials also have prosecutor, accusers, defenders and evidence that is manipulated. There are people watching every detail and jurying your actions. Many times all of this makes you feel like it is all stacked against you – and it very much is. That is how a trial works. Sometimes the defendant is kept in chains during the trial – this is also the case sometimes in the spiritual trials.

BUT the judge is JESUS CHRIST!!! This is why I say to repent and get humble daily in front of Him! Because every day HE IS THE JUDGE! And His justice is true and honest and glorifies the Father. 
Does the trial goes on until verdict? Well kinda – like today’s verdict (where the judge ruled in an unfavorable way according to the narrative told to the mass population) there is going to be continued activity after the verdict. Young Rittenhouse has to face the backlash and God knows what else. (I hope you have been praying for Him since you are reading this 3 days later.) The prayers in a period of trials should not stop when the verdict is read, for yourself or for this boy. If you agree with this boy’s verdict or not – or in your own trials…. God is still in control and JESUS is the judge with PERFECT JUSTICE – bringing this back to the opening verses…. The verdict on this boy is good, therefore it is of God.  Do not wrestle God, but realize HE is good – ALWAYS GOOD.

Another thing to look at with today’s trial verdict. This young man can now sew the media and he probably will because it is a slam dunk win for him. He will be very wealthy.  You see. If you show up for your trial, you bear through it, you do not waver, you even wash your face and get dressed for it (as sometimes it is tempting to wallow while going through a trial), and you just trust God through it – the other side is blessed.
Now let me be very clear – the principle is doctrinally sound. But people’s understanding can be confusing. The word blessing ALWAYS refers to a spiritual thing! I once wrote here I was blessed by a dress for $1 – which ended up being free. It was NOT the dress that was the blessing – it was the spiritual events surrounding it. The part where God gave it to me and showed me His tender love and mercy.  Yes – this boy will see financial compensation for his trial. But do not be deceived, this is a spiritual blessing. Sometimes Blessings are accompanied by physical / tangible things – but look in the spirit for your true reward.

Let me encourage you to read this book slowly – in here are amazing gems to help you grow in wisdom and love. May God help you tuck it in your heart so you may use this information timely in your life.

Seek God, Repent and stay humble – this is how we must live now. The hour is late. So get alone with God and let Him guide you.

RELATIONSHIP:
Do you already have a relationship with a powerful God who cares about your every need because He loves you? Did you know my God can communicate with you and protect you – He has a plan for you to prosper if you just submit to His will and let His plan play out in your life!!! God wants a relationship with you and has already made a plan for your life. He loves you so much He sent His son to this world, to die as a sacrifice for your sins and rise from death with victory over sin and the ability to have a personal relationship with you.
“If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.” Romans 10:9-10 NIV
Here is a prayer for you to pray:
Jesus, I believe you are the way, the truth, the life, and the only way to the Father. I believe you are the son of God, you came to Earth and lived. That you died on the cross as a sacrifice for my sins, and rose again so that I may be saved from my sins and be able to get to know you. I declare: Jesus, you are Lord!
Therefore, I confess that I am a sinner and I ask that you forgive me of my sins and come into my life. Help me to turn away from my sins and transform me into what you have lovingly created me to be. Help me through a real personal relationship grow and accept your will for my life – that I may live in your blessings. Please walk with me, and talk with me – I accept a relationship with you and with our Father God, through you. In the name of Jesus I pray ~ Amen

MEMORY WORK: This month we have another powerful verse to pick up and swing when you need a sword in your hand! Knowing the Word is our Sword and Jesus is the Word! Jesus accomplishes what He set out to do. Quoting this verse is therefore the very act of walking in the victory!  

Isaiah 55:11

NKJV – “So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, But it shall accomplish what I please, And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.”
NAS – “So will My word be which goes out of My mouth; It will not return to Me empty, Without accomplishing what I desire, And without succeeding in the purpose for which I sent it.”
ESV – “so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.”
AMP – “So will My word be which goes out of My mouth; It will not return to Me void (useless, without result), Without accomplishing what I desire, And without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it.”
NIV – “so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.”

Thank you for reading.
May the God of peace keep you and bless you. May you stay focused on Christ and covered in grace.
Maranatha ~ Come Lord Jesus!

BIBLE READING: James 1-5 NKJV

Greeting to the Twelve Tribes

James, a bondservant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ,

To the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad:

Greetings.

Profiting from Trials

My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces [a]patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be [b]perfect and complete, lacking nothing. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.

The Perspective of Rich and Poor

Let the lowly brother glory in his exaltation, 10 but the rich in his humiliation, because as a flower of the field he will pass away. 11 For no sooner has the sun risen with a burning heat than it withers the grass; its flower falls, and its beautiful appearance perishes. So the rich man also will fade away in his pursuits.

Loving God Under Trials

12 Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. 13 Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. 14 But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. 15 Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.

16 Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren. 17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning. 18 Of His own will He brought us forth by the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures.

Qualities Needed in Trials

19 [c]So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; 20 for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God.

Doers—Not Hearers Only

21 Therefore lay aside all filthiness and [d]overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.

22 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. 23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; 24 for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. 25 But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does.

26 If anyone [e]among you thinks he is religious, and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this one’s religion is useless. 27 Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.

Beware of Personal Favoritism

My brethren, do not hold the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with partiality. For if there should come into your assembly a man with gold rings, in [f]fine apparel, and there should also come in a poor man in [g]filthy clothes, and you [h]pay attention to the one wearing the fine clothes and say to him, “You sit here in a good place,” and say to the poor man, “You stand there,” or, “Sit here at my footstool,” have you not [i]shown partiality among yourselves, and become judges with evil thoughts?

Listen, my beloved brethren: Has God not chosen the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him? But you have dishonored the poor man. Do not the rich oppress you and drag you into the courts? Do they not blaspheme that noble name by which you are called?

If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you do well; but if you [j]show partiality, you commit sin, and are convicted by the law as transgressors. 10 For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all. 11 For He who said, “Do not commit adultery,” also said, “Do not murder.” Now if you do not commit adultery, but you do murder, you have become a transgressor of the law. 12 So speak and so do as those who will be judged by the law of liberty. 13 For judgment is without mercy to the one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.

Faith Without Works Is Dead

14 What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? 17 Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.

18 But someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without [k]your works, and I will show you my faith by [l]my works. 19 You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble! 20 But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is [m]dead? 21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar? 22 Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made [n]perfect? 23 And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “Abraham believed God, and it was [o]accounted to him for righteousness.” And he was called the friend of God. 24 You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only.

25 Likewise, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out another way?

26 For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.

The Untamable Tongue

My brethren, let not many of you become teachers, knowing that we shall receive a stricter judgment. For we all stumble in many things. If anyone does not stumble in word, he is a [p]perfect man, able also to bridle the whole body. [q]Indeed, we put bits in horses’ mouths that they may obey us, and we turn their whole body. Look also at ships: although they are so large and are driven by fierce winds, they are turned by a very small rudder wherever the pilot desires. Even so the tongue is a little member and boasts great things.

See how great a forest a little fire kindles! And the tongue is a fire, a world of [r]iniquity. The tongue is so set among our members that it defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of [s]nature; and it is set on fire by [t]hell. For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and creature of the sea, is tamed and has been tamed by mankind. But no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our God and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the [u]similitude of God. 10 Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be so. 11 Does a spring send forth fresh water and bitter from the same opening? 12 Can a fig tree, my brethren, bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? [v]Thus no spring yields both salt water and fresh.

Heavenly Versus Demonic Wisdom

13 Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show by good conduct that his works are done in the meekness of wisdom. 14 But if you have bitter envy and [w]self-seeking in your hearts, do not boast and lie against the truth. 15 This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic. 16 For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there. 17 But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy. 18 Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.

Pride Promotes Strife

Where do [x]wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members? You lust and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and [y]war. [z]Yet you do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures. [aa]Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you think that the Scripture says in vain, “The Spirit who dwells in us yearns jealously”?

But He gives more grace. Therefore He says:

“God resists the proud,
But gives grace to the humble.”

Humility Cures Worldliness

Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Lament and mourn and weep! Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.

Do Not Judge a Brother

11 Do not speak evil of one another, brethren. He who speaks evil of a brother and judges his brother, speaks evil of the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge. 12 There is one [ab]Lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy. Who[ac] are you to judge [ad]another?

Do Not Boast About Tomorrow

13 Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow [ae]we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit”; 14 whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. 15 Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that.” 16 But now you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil.

17 Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin.

Rich Oppressors Will Be Judged

Come now, you rich, weep and howl for your miseries that are coming upon you! Your riches [af]are corrupted, and your garments are moth-eaten. Your gold and silver are corroded, and their corrosion will be a witness against you and will eat your flesh like fire. You have heaped up treasure in the last days. Indeed the wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, cry out; and the cries of the reapers have reached the ears of the Lord of [ag]Sabaoth. You have lived on the earth in pleasure and [ah]luxury; you have [ai]fattened your hearts [aj]as in a day of slaughter. You have condemned, you have murdered the just; he does not resist you.

Be Patient and Persevering

Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, waiting patiently for it until it receives the early and latter rain. You also be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord [ak]is at hand.

Do not [al]grumble against one another, brethren, lest you be [am]condemned. Behold, the Judge is standing at the door! 10 My brethren, take the prophets, who spoke in the name of the Lord, as an example of suffering and patience. 11 Indeed we count them blessed who endure. You have heard of the perseverance of Job and seen the end intended by the Lord—that the Lord is very compassionate and merciful.

12 But above all, my brethren, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or with any other oath. But let your “Yes” be “Yes,” and your “No,” “No,” lest you fall into [an]judgment.

Meeting Specific Needs

13 Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing psalms. 14 Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. 16 [ao]Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, [ap]fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much. 17 Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain; and it did not rain on the land for three years and six months. 18 And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth produced its fruit.

Bring Back the Erring One

19 Brethren, if anyone among you wanders from the truth, and someone turns him back, 20 let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save [aq]a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins.

Footnotes

  1. James 1:3 endurance or perseverance
  2. James 1:4 mature
  3. James 1:19 NU Know this or This you know
  4. James 1:21 abundance
  5. James 1:26 NU omits among you
  6. James 2:2 bright
  7. James 2:2 vile
  8. James 2:3 Lit. look upon
  9. James 2:4 differentiated
  10. James 2:9 Lit. receive the face
  11. James 2:18 NU omits your
  12. James 2:18 NU omits my
  13. James 2:20 NU useless
  14. James 2:22 complete
  15. James 2:23 credited
  16. James 3:2 mature
  17. James 3:3 NU Now if
  18. James 3:6 unrighteousness
  19. James 3:6 existence
  20. James 3:6 Gr. Gehenna
  21. James 3:9 likeness
  22. James 3:12 NU Neither can a salty spring produce fresh water.
  23. James 3:14 selfish ambition
  24. James 4:1 battles
  25. James 4:2 battle
  26. James 4:2 NU, M omit Yet
  27. James 4:4 NU omits Adulterers and
  28. James 4:12 NU adds and Judge
  29. James 4:12 NU, M But who
  30. James 4:12 NU a neighbor
  31. James 4:13 M let us
  32. James 5:2 have rotted
  33. James 5:4 Lit., in Heb., Hosts
  34. James 5:5 indulgence
  35. James 5:5 Lit. nourished
  36. James 5:5 NU omits as
  37. James 5:8 has drawn near
  38. James 5:9 Lit. groan
  39. James 5:9 NU, M judged
  40. James 5:12 M hypocrisy
  41. James 5:16 NU Therefore confess your sins
  42. James 5:16 supplication
  43. James 5:20 NU his soul

Weekend Reading (November 21)

Dear Heavenly Father – As always, please open eye to see and our ears to hear what you are saying! Lord – open our understanding that we may know you and give us wisdom. Please do not let us miss out on what you want and need from us today. Lord, I pray that your word prepares us and not scares us! We forbid the works and influences of fear over your word. And please keep us and bless us and shine your face upon us and pour out grace over us and give us peace! Thank you! – In Jesus name we pray, Amen

RELATIONSHIP:
Do you already have a relationship with a powerful God who cares about your every need because He loves you? Did you know my God can communicate with you and protect you – He has a plan for you to prosper if you just submit to His will and let His plan play out in your life!!! God wants a relationship with you and has already made a plan for your life. He loves you so much He sent His son to this world, to die as a sacrifice for your sins and rise from death with victory over sin and the ability to have a personal relationship with you.
“If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.” Romans 10:9-10 NIV
Here is a prayer for you to pray:
Jesus, I believe you are the way, the truth, the life, and the only way to the Father. I believe you are the son of God, you came to Earth and lived. That you died on the cross as a sacrifice for my sins, and rose again so that I may be saved from my sins and be able to get to know you. I declare: Jesus, you are Lord!
Therefore, I confess that I am a sinner and I ask that you forgive me of my sins and come into my life. Help me to turn away from my sins and transform me into what you have lovingly created me to be. Help me through a real personal relationship grow and accept your will for my life – that I may live in your blessings. Please walk with me, and talk with me – I accept a relationship with you and with our Father God, through you. In the name of Jesus I pray ~ Amen

MEMORY WORK: This month we have another powerful verse to pick up and swing when you need a sword in your hand! Knowing the Word is our Sword and Jesus is the Word! Jesus accomplishes what He set out to do. Quoting this verse is therefore the very act of walking in the victory! 

Isaiah 55:11

NKJV – “So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, But it shall accomplish what I please, And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.”
NAS – “So will My word be which goes out of My mouth; It will not return to Me empty, Without accomplishing what I desire, And without succeeding in the purpose for which I sent it.”
ESV – “so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.”
AMP – “So will My word be which goes out of My mouth; It will not return to Me void (useless, without result), Without accomplishing what I desire, And without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it.”
NIV – “so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.”

Thank you for reading.
May the God of peace keep you and bless you. May you stay focused on Christ and covered in grace.
Maranatha ~ Come Lord Jesus!

BIBLE READING: Acts 13-14 NKJV

Paul and Barnabas Are Sent to the Gentiles

13 Now in the church that was at Antioch there were certain prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. As they ministered to the Lord and fasted, the Holy Spirit said, “Now separate to Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” Then, having fasted and prayed, and laid hands on them, they sent them away.

Preaching in Cyprus

So, being sent out by the Holy Spirit, they went down to Seleucia, and from there they sailed to Cyprus. And when they arrived in Salamis, they preached the word of God in the synagogues of the Jews. They also had John as their assistant.

Now when they had gone through [a]the island to Paphos, they found a certain sorcerer, a false prophet, a Jew whose name was Bar-Jesus, who was with the proconsul, Sergius Paulus, an intelligent man. This man called for Barnabas and Saul and sought to hear the word of God. But Elymas the sorcerer (for so his name is translated) [b]withstood them, seeking to turn the proconsul away from the faith. Then Saul, who also is called Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked intently at him 10 and said, “O full of all deceit and all fraud, you son of the devil, you enemy of all righteousness, will you not cease perverting the straight ways of the Lord? 11 And now, indeed, the hand of the Lord is upon you, and you shall be blind, not seeing the sun for a time.”

And immediately a dark mist fell on him, and he went around seeking someone to lead him by the hand. 12 Then the proconsul believed, when he saw what had been done, being astonished at the teaching of the Lord.

At Antioch in Pisidia

13 Now when Paul and his party set sail from Paphos, they came to Perga in Pamphylia; and John, departing from them, returned to Jerusalem. 14 But when they departed from Perga, they came to Antioch in Pisidia, and went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day and sat down. 15 And after the reading of the Law and the Prophets, the rulers of the synagogue sent to them, saying, “Men and brethren, if you have any word of [c]exhortation for the people, say on.”

16 Then Paul stood up, and motioning with his hand said, “Men of Israel, and you who fear God, listen: 17 The God of this people [d]Israel chose our fathers, and exalted the people when they dwelt as strangers in the land of Egypt, and with [e]an uplifted arm He brought them out of it. 18 Now for a time of about forty years He put up with their ways in the wilderness. 19 And when He had destroyed seven nations in the land of Canaan, He distributed their land to them by allotment.

20 “After that He gave them judges for about four hundred and fifty years, until Samuel the prophet. 21 And afterward they asked for a king; so God gave them Saul the son of Kish, a man of the tribe of Benjamin, for forty years. 22 And when He had removed him, He raised up for them David as king, to whom also He gave testimony and said, ‘I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after My own heart, who will do all My will.’ 23 From this man’s seed, according to the promise, God raised up for Israel a[f] Savior—Jesus— 24 after John had first preached, before His coming, the baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel. 25 And as John was finishing his course, he said, ‘Who do you think I am? I am not He. But behold, there comes One after me, the sandals of whose feet I am not worthy to loose.’

26 “Men and brethren, sons of the [g]family of Abraham, and those among you who fear God, to you the [h]word of this salvation has been sent. 27 For those who dwell in Jerusalem, and their rulers, because they did not know Him, nor even the voices of the Prophets which are read every Sabbath, have fulfilled them in condemning Him. 28 And though they found no cause for death in Him, they asked Pilate that He should be put to death. 29 Now when they had fulfilled all that was written concerning Him, they took Him down from the tree and laid Him in a tomb. 30 But God raised Him from the dead. 31 He was seen for many days by those who came up with Him from Galilee to Jerusalem, who are His witnesses to the people. 32 And we declare to you glad tidings—that promise which was made to the fathers. 33 God has fulfilled this for us their children, in that He has raised up Jesus. As it is also written in the second Psalm:

‘You are My Son,
Today I have begotten You.’

34 And that He raised Him from the dead, no more to return to [i]corruption, He has spoken thus:

‘I will give you the sure [j]mercies of David.’

35 Therefore He also says in another Psalm:

‘You will not allow Your Holy One to see corruption.’

36 “For David, after he had served [k]his own generation by the will of God, fell asleep, was buried with his fathers, and [l]saw corruption; 37 but He whom God raised up [m]saw no corruption. 38 Therefore let it be known to you, brethren, that through this Man is preached to you the forgiveness of sins; 39 and by Him everyone who believes is justified from all things from which you could not be justified by the law of Moses. 40 Beware therefore, lest what has been spoken in the prophets come upon you:

41 ‘Behold, you despisers,
Marvel and perish!
For I work a work in your days,
A work which you will by no means believe,
Though one were to declare it to you.’ ”

Blessing and Conflict at Antioch

42 [n]So when the Jews went out of the synagogue, the Gentiles begged that these words might be preached to them the next Sabbath. 43 Now when the congregation had broken up, many of the Jews and devout proselytes followed Paul and Barnabas, who, speaking to them, persuaded them to continue in the grace of God.

44 On the next Sabbath almost the whole city came together to hear the word of God. 45 But when the Jews saw the multitudes, they were filled with envy; and contradicting and blaspheming, they opposed the things spoken by Paul. 46 Then Paul and Barnabas grew bold and said, “It was necessary that the word of God should be spoken to you first; but since you reject it, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, behold, we turn to the Gentiles. 47 For so the Lord has commanded us:

‘I have set you as a light to the Gentiles,
That you should be for salvation to the ends of the earth.’ ”

48 Now when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and glorified the word of the Lord. And as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed.

49 And the word of the Lord was being spread throughout all the region. 50 But the Jews stirred up the devout and prominent women and the chief men of the city, raised up persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them from their region. 51 But they shook off the dust from their feet against them, and came to Iconium. 52 And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.

At Iconium

14 Now it happened in Iconium that they went together to the synagogue of the Jews, and so spoke that a great multitude both of the Jews and of the Greeks believed. But the unbelieving Jews stirred up the Gentiles and [o]poisoned their [p]minds against the brethren. Therefore they stayed there a long time, speaking boldly in the Lord, who was bearing witness to the word of His grace, granting signs and wonders to be done by their hands.

But the multitude of the city was divided: part sided with the Jews, and part with the apostles. And when a violent attempt was made by both the Gentiles and Jews, with their rulers, to abuse and stone them, they became aware of it and fled to Lystra and Derbe, cities of Lycaonia, and to the surrounding region. And they were preaching the gospel there.

Idolatry at Lystra

And in Lystra a certain man without strength in his feet was sitting, a cripple from his mother’s womb, who had never walked. This man heard Paul speaking. [q]Paul, observing him intently and seeing that he had faith to be healed, 10 said with a loud voice, “Stand up straight on your feet!” And he leaped and walked. 11 Now when the people saw what Paul had done, they raised their voices, saying in the Lycaonian language, “The gods have come down to us in the likeness of men!” 12 And Barnabas they called [r]Zeus, and Paul, [s]Hermes, because he was the chief speaker. 13 Then the priest of Zeus, whose temple was in front of their city, brought oxen and garlands to the gates, intending to sacrifice with the multitudes.

14 But when the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard this, they tore their clothes and ran in among the multitude, crying out 15 and saying, “Men, why are you doing these things? We also are men with the same nature as you, and preach to you that you should turn from these useless things to the living God, who made the heaven, the earth, the sea, and all things that are in them, 16 who in bygone generations allowed all nations to walk in their own ways. 17 Nevertheless He did not leave Himself without witness, in that He did good, gave us rain from heaven and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness.” 18 And with these sayings they could scarcely restrain the multitudes from sacrificing to them.

Stoning, Escape to Derbe

19 Then Jews from Antioch and Iconium came there; and having persuaded the multitudes, they stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, supposing him to be dead. 20 However, when the disciples gathered around him, he rose up and went into the city. And the next day he departed with Barnabas to Derbe.

Strengthening the Converts

21 And when they had preached the gospel to that city and made many disciples, they returned to Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch, 22 strengthening the souls of the disciples, exhorting them to continue in the faith, and saying, “We must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God.” 23 So when they had appointed elders in every church, and prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord in whom they had believed. 24 And after they had passed through Pisidia, they came to Pamphylia. 25 Now when they had preached the word in Perga, they went down to Attalia. 26 From there they sailed to Antioch, where they had been commended to the grace of God for the work which they had completed.

27 Now when they had come and gathered the church together, they reported all that God had done with them, and that He had opened the door of faith to the Gentiles. 28 So they stayed there a long time with the disciples.

Footnotes

  1. Acts 13:6 NU the whole island
  2. Acts 13:8 opposed
  3. Acts 13:15 encouragement
  4. Acts 13:17 M omits Israel
  5. Acts 13:17 Mighty power
  6. Acts 13:23 M salvation, after
  7. Acts 13:26 stock
  8. Acts 13:26 message
  9. Acts 13:34 the state of decay
  10. Acts 13:34 blessings
  11. Acts 13:36 in his
  12. Acts 13:36 underwent decay
  13. Acts 13:37 underwent no decay
  14. Acts 13:42 Or And when they went out of the synagogue of the Jews; NU And when they went out, they begged
  15. Acts 14:2 embittered
  16. Acts 14:2 Lit. souls
  17. Acts 14:9 Lit. Who
  18. Acts 14:12 Jupiter
  19. Acts 14:12 Mercury

Weekend Reading (November 20)

Dear Heavenly Father – As always, please open eye to see and our ears to hear what you are saying! Lord – open our understanding that we may know you and give us wisdom. Please do not let us miss out on what you want and need from us today. Lord, I pray that your word prepares us and not scares us! We forbid the works and influences of fear over your word. And please keep us and bless us and shine your face upon us and pour out grace over us and give us peace! Thank you! – In Jesus name we pray, Amen

RELATIONSHIP:
Do you already have a relationship with a powerful God who cares about your every need because He loves you? Did you know my God can communicate with you and protect you – He has a plan for you to prosper if you just submit to His will and let His plan play out in your life!!! God wants a relationship with you and has already made a plan for your life. He loves you so much He sent His son to this world, to die as a sacrifice for your sins and rise from death with victory over sin and the ability to have a personal relationship with you.
“If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.” Romans 10:9-10 NIV
Here is a prayer for you to pray:
Jesus, I believe you are the way, the truth, the life, and the only way to the Father. I believe you are the son of God, you came to Earth and lived. That you died on the cross as a sacrifice for my sins, and rose again so that I may be saved from my sins and be able to get to know you. I declare: Jesus, you are Lord!
Therefore, I confess that I am a sinner and I ask that you forgive me of my sins and come into my life. Help me to turn away from my sins and transform me into what you have lovingly created me to be. Help me through a real personal relationship grow and accept your will for my life – that I may live in your blessings. Please walk with me, and talk with me – I accept a relationship with you and with our Father God, through you. In the name of Jesus I pray ~ Amen

MEMORY WORK: This month we have another powerful verse to pick up and swing when you need a sword in your hand! Knowing the Word is our Sword and Jesus is the Word! Jesus accomplishes what He set out to do. Quoting this verse is therefore the very act of walking in the victory! 

Isaiah 55:11

NKJV – “So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, But it shall accomplish what I please, And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.”
NAS – “So will My word be which goes out of My mouth; It will not return to Me empty, Without accomplishing what I desire, And without succeeding in the purpose for which I sent it.”
ESV – “so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.”
AMP – “So will My word be which goes out of My mouth; It will not return to Me void (useless, without result), Without accomplishing what I desire, And without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it.”
NIV – “so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.”

Thank you for reading.
May the God of peace keep you and bless you. May you stay focused on Christ and covered in grace.
Maranatha ~ Come Lord Jesus!

BIBLE READING: Acts 11-12 NKJV

Peter Defends God’s Grace

11 Now the apostles and brethren who were in Judea heard that the Gentiles had also received the word of God. And when Peter came up to Jerusalem, those of the circumcision contended with him, saying, “You went in to uncircumcised men and ate with them!”

But Peter explained it to them in order from the beginning, saying: “I was in the city of Joppa praying; and in a trance I saw a vision, an object descending like a great sheet, let down from heaven by four corners; and it came to me. When I observed it intently and considered, I saw four-footed animals of the earth, wild beasts, creeping things, and birds of the air. And I heard a voice saying to me, ‘Rise, Peter; kill and eat.’ But I said, ‘Not so, Lord! For nothing common or unclean has at any time entered my mouth.’ But the voice answered me again from heaven, ‘What God has cleansed you must not call common.’ 10 Now this was done three times, and all were drawn up again into heaven. 11 At that very moment, three men stood before the house where I was, having been sent to me from Caesarea. 12 Then the Spirit told me to go with them, doubting nothing. Moreover these six brethren accompanied me, and we entered the man’s house. 13 And he told us how he had seen an angel standing in his house, who said to him, ‘Send men to Joppa, and call for Simon whose surname is Peter, 14 who will tell you words by which you and all your household will be saved.’ 15 And as I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell upon them, as upon us at the beginning. 16 Then I remembered the word of the Lord, how He said, ‘John indeed baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’ 17 If therefore God gave them the same gift as He gave us when we believed on the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could withstand God?”

18 When they heard these things they became silent; and they glorified God, saying, “Then God has also granted to the Gentiles repentance to life.”

Barnabas and Saul at Antioch

19 Now those who were scattered after the persecution that arose over Stephen traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch, preaching the word to no one but the Jews only. 20 But some of them were men from Cyprus and Cyrene, who, when they had come to Antioch, spoke to the Hellenists, preaching the Lord Jesus. 21 And the hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number believed and turned to the Lord.

22 Then news of these things came to the ears of the church in Jerusalem, and they sent out Barnabas to go as far as Antioch. 23 When he came and had seen the grace of God, he was glad, and encouraged them all that with purpose of heart they should continue with the Lord. 24 For he was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith. And a great many people were added to the Lord.

25 Then Barnabas departed for Tarsus to seek Saul. 26 And when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. So it was that for a whole year they assembled with the church and taught a great many people. And the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch.

Relief to Judea

27 And in these days prophets came from Jerusalem to Antioch. 28 Then one of them, named Agabus, stood up and showed by the Spirit that there was going to be a great famine throughout all the world, which also happened in the days of Claudius Caesar. 29 Then the disciples, each according to his ability, determined to send relief to the brethren dwelling in Judea. 30 This they also did, and sent it to the elders by the hands of Barnabas and Saul.

Herod’s Violence to the Church

12 Now about that time Herod the king stretched out his hand to harass some from the church. Then he killed James the brother of John with the sword. And because he saw that it pleased the Jews, he proceeded further to seize Peter also. Now it was during the Days of Unleavened Bread. So when he had arrested him, he put him in prison, and delivered him to four [a]squads of soldiers to keep him, intending to bring him before the people after Passover.

Peter Freed from Prison

Peter was therefore kept in prison, but [b]constant prayer was offered to God for him by the church. And when Herod was about to bring him out, that night Peter was sleeping, bound with two chains between two soldiers; and the guards before the door were [c]keeping the prison. Now behold, an angel of the Lord stood by him, and a light shone in the prison; and he struck Peter on the side and raised him up, saying, “Arise quickly!” And his chains fell off his hands. Then the angel said to him, “Gird yourself and tie on your sandals”; and so he did. And he said to him, “Put on your garment and follow me.” So he went out and followed him, and did not know that what was done by the angel was real, but thought he was seeing a vision. 10 When they were past the first and the second guard posts, they came to the iron gate that leads to the city, which opened to them of its own accord; and they went out and went down one street, and immediately the angel departed from him.

11 And when Peter had come to himself, he said, “Now I know for certain that the Lord has sent His angel, and has delivered me from the hand of Herod and from all the expectation of the Jewish people.”

12 So, when he had considered this, he came to the house of Mary, the mother of John whose surname was Mark, where many were gathered together praying. 13 And as Peter knocked at the door of the gate, a girl named Rhoda came to answer. 14 When she recognized Peter’s voice, because of her gladness she did not open the gate, but ran in and announced that Peter stood before the gate. 15 But they said to her, “You are beside yourself!” Yet she kept insisting that it was so. So they said, “It is his angel.”

16 Now Peter continued knocking; and when they opened the door and saw him, they were astonished. 17 But motioning to them with his hand to keep silent, he declared to them how the Lord had brought him out of the prison. And he said, “Go, tell these things to James and to the brethren.” And he departed and went to another place.

18 Then, as soon as it was day, there was no small [d]stir among the soldiers about what had become of Peter. 19 But when Herod had searched for him and not found him, he examined the guards and commanded that they should be put to death.

And he went down from Judea to Caesarea, and stayed there.

Herod’s Violent Death

20 Now Herod had been very angry with the people of Tyre and Sidon; but they came to him with one accord, and having made Blastus [e]the king’s personal aide their friend, they asked for peace, because their country was [f]supplied with food by the king’s country.

21 So on a set day Herod, arrayed in royal apparel, sat on his throne and gave an oration to them. 22 And the people kept shouting, “The voice of a god and not of a man!” 23 Then immediately an angel of the Lord struck him, because he did not give glory to God. And he was eaten by worms and [g]died.

24 But the word of God grew and multiplied.

Barnabas and Saul Appointed

25 And Barnabas and Saul returned [h]from Jerusalem when they had fulfilled their ministry, and they also took with them John whose surname was Mark.

Footnotes

  1. Acts 12:4 Gr. tetrads, squads of four
  2. Acts 12:5 NU constantly or earnestly
  3. Acts 12:6 guarding
  4. Acts 12:18 disturbance
  5. Acts 12:20 who was in charge of the king’s bedchamber
  6. Acts 12:20 Lit. nourished
  7. Acts 12:23 breathed his last
  8. Acts 12:25 NU, M to