Jesus, The One and Only

Posts tagged ‘Religion and Spirituality’

“Who Cares?”

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Read Acts 17:24-34

“Some began to ridicule him. But others said “We will hear you about this again.”  So Paul went out from their presence.” (Vs. 32-33 HCSB)

As I mentioned last time about no harm coming to Paul in Athens, Beth also points out that he “was not forced to leave the city”.  Acts 18:1 tells us he simply left.” (1)  In Athens, they wanted to hear from this “babbler”, they were into the latest and greatest, they were philosophers and could debate all day long.  Most of them could care less!

“They were too cold to care!  Paul’s experience in Athens is a perfect example of a situation in which people were open-minded to a fault.  Their motto was ‘anything goes’.  Everyone was welcome to his own philosophy.  Live and let live!  If it works for you, go for it!  Athens was the birthplace of the tolerance movement.” (2)

But let’s take a look at what Paul did tell them about “what you worship in ignorance, this I proclaim to you” (vs. 23)

  • The God who made the world and everything in it
  • He is Lord of heaven and earth
  • He does not live in shrines made by hands
  • Neither is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything
  • He Himself gives everyone life and breath and all things.
  • From one man, He has made every nation of men to live all over the earth and has determined their appointed times and the boundaries of where they live
  • So that they might seek God
  • Perhaps they might reach out and find Him
  • He is not far from each one of us
  • For in Him we live and move and exist,  as even some of your own poets have said, ‘For we are also His offspring’
  • Being God’s offspring, then, we shouldn’t think that the divine nature is like gold or silver or stone, an image fashioned by human art and imagination. (vs. 24-29)

How else could they, you, I know this God unless we get in His Word to learn more about him.  Read for yourself!  Don’t repeat what is simply told to you and/or get in debates over something that you’re not even sure about!

Today take some time and continue to read … read the scripture references each time, so that you become knowledgeable about our God and not be in the habit of worshiping an “unknown god!” 

Become the person who does care and not indifferent to the One “who made the world and everything in it!”

 Have a great weekend :)

Vicky

(1-2) Paul, 90 Days in His Life of Faith/Beth Moore/B & H Publishing

“Righteous Renegades”

Read Acts 11:19-26  “But there were some of them, Cypriot and Cyrenaic men, who came to Antioch and began speaking to the Hellenists, proclaiming the good news about the Lord Jesus.” (vs. 20)

“Persecution scattered the early Christians as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch.  But some gutsy believers who had traveled to Antioch broke the mold.  They began to share with Gentiles also.  As a result of their testimony in Antioch, ‘a large number who believed returned to the Lord.’ (vs. 21)”

“When God desires to do ‘a new thing’ (Isa. 43:19), He purposely seeks out a few righteous renegades who don’t have a problem breaking the mold!  Mold-breakers are usually people who don’t care much about popularity or tradition.”

“The report about them reached the ears of the church in Jerusalem.” (vs. 22).  Antioch was about 300 miles north of Jerusalem, but juicy news travels faster than a speeding bullet!  Barnabas was dispensed to Antioch immediately.  When he arrived, he ‘saw the evidence of the grace of God.’ (vs. 23)

“According to Vs. 23, Barnabas ‘encouraged all of them to remain true to the Lord with a firm resolve of the heart,’ to plan in advance to remain faithful to Him!  I cannot overemphasize the importance of this exhortation.’  ‘The most effective time to resolve to obey Christ is in advance of difficulty.  Planning to stay faithful can greatly enhance victory.” 

Eventually Barnabas and Saul connected and met with the church and taught large numbers of people.   “What a team, Saul the teacher and Barnabas the encourager.  One taught the principles of a godly life and the other assured them they could do it with God’s help.” 

“The disciples were first called Christians in Antioch (vs. 26)   The Greek word the believers were called was Christianos.  Not normally used by Christians themselves in the New Testament.  Christian was a label coined by unbelievers as a form of ridicule.  Once again, how beautifully God stole the victory from Satan.  The very word used as a mockery became the greatest privilege a man could boast.’  ‘If anyone suffers as a Christian, he should not be ashamed, but should glorify God with that name.’ (1 Peter 4:16)

  • “Those who took God’s Word to the streets remind us that adversity gives our faith a place to shine.  What can you do to keep your faith sharp in advance of its greatest challenges?
  • How can you ensure that struggles will not lead you to doubt but to daring deeds?”

Vicky

Paul, 90 Days of His Journey of Faith/Beth Moore/B & H Publishing

“Soul Strangulation”

Read Philippians 3:2-11

“A Hebrew born of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; as zeal, persecuting the church; as to the righteousness that is in the law, blameless” (vs. 5-6 NIV)

“I believe Saul had set sail to Jerusalem as a young adolescent with a pure heart; but somewhere along the way the negative influences outweighed the positive, and his purity began to erode.  The law became his god.  That’s what happens when you take the love out of obedience.  The result is the law.  Without love for God and His Word, we’re just trying to be good.  Nothing will wear you out faster.”(1)

“In Phil. 3:6, Saul said his zeal was so great that he persecuted the church, and that this legalistic righteousness was ‘blameless’”(2)  Blameless in that he thought he was so right that he couldn’t be wrong?

“His entire day was filled with ritual, and at night he took off his shoes and garments in the prescribed order.’ ‘These daily rituals paled in comparison to all the laws regarding the Sabbath.  Restrictions existed from almost everything’ … from cutting his fingernails to burning them, ‘avoiding spitting in a place where the wind could scatter the saliva so he would not break laws concerning sowing on the Sabbath. The first century Jew became so obsessed with identity boundaries that they forgot their purpose. They argued endlessly about washing hands or observing the Sabbath, but they forgot about loving God.’”(3)

“Saul was strangled by the letter of the law.  He tried to keep all the outward acts of obedience while his heart slowly eroded. Saul gradually became the model for Isaiah 29:13: ‘These people approach Me with their mouths to honor Me with lip-service, yet their hearts are far from Me, and their worship consists of man-made rules learned by rote.’ Inevitably, Saul’s faraway heart would turn to faraway actions.”(4)

Does this feel like freedom or bondage?  It sounds so much like some one who is trying so hard to do their very best to be the right person ALL THE TIME, to do the right thing ALL THE TIME, to be everything that you could be ALL THE TIME … but how can that even be possible? Sounds like the inevitable circle of “perfection” of trying to please with outward expressions but for what reason?  Where’s the heart?  Read the first paragraph again.

“If you could summarize your life in a few short lines and thoughts, what are some of the words you would use?  Assuming that some of your answers reveal a few mistakes and regrets, how do you wish your life could be summarized? (5)

Vicky

“Oh God forgive us when we act like modern-day Pharisees.  Convict us at the very moment of our departure from the law of love You have written on our hearts.  Give us hearts of devotion, not heads full of religion.” (6)

(1-6) Paul, 90 Days of His Journey of Faith/Beth Moore/B&H Publishing

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