Vineyard Life Journal

An online forum for our church family to connect around our 2012 daily Bible reading plan using the S.O.A.P. method.

Archive for the month “October, 2012”

Day 304

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Welcome to Day 304 of our Life Journal!

Click here for today’s reading: Job 22; Mark 7; Mark 8 (2012 Daily Bible Reading Plan)

Before you comment or read what I have posted, please read the following passages for yourself and complete your own S.O.A.P. exercise… How does this work?

S.O.A.P =  Scripture, Observation, Application, Prayer

S cripture

Job 22, Eliphaz is now speaking to Job…

“Is not your wickedness great?
Are not your sins endless?
You demanded security from your relatives for no reason;
you stripped people of their clothing, leaving them naked.
You gave no water to the weary
and you withheld food from the hungry,
though you were a powerful man, owning land—
an honored man, living on it.
And you sent widows away empty-handed
and broke the strength of the fatherless.
10 That is why snares are all around you,
why sudden peril terrifies you,
11 why it is so dark you cannot see,
and why a flood of water covers you.

(I am wondering if all that is true?)

Mark 7:17, “After he had left the crowd and entered the house, his disciples asked him about this parable. 18 ‘Are you so dull?’ he asked. ‘Don’t you see that nothing that enters a person from the outside can defile them? 19 For it doesn’t go into their heart but into their stomach, and then out of the body.’

(In saying this, Jesus declared all foods clean.)”

Mark 8:14, “The disciples had forgotten to bring bread, except for one loaf they had with them in the boat. 15 ‘Be careful,’ Jesus warned them. “Watch out for the yeast of the Pharisees and that of Herod.” 16 They discussed this with one another and said, ‘It is because we have no bread.'”

O bservation

Jesus declared all foods clean!

A pplication

I’m wondering if that is true, why Peter had such a difficult time in Acts when he had the vision and proclaimed that he had never eaten anything unclean? Jesus had declared all foods clean…

in Acts 10:14, “Peter replied. “I have never eaten anything impure or unclean.” 15 The voice spoke to him a second time, “Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.” 16 This happened three times, and immediately the sheet was taken back to heaven.”

Granted this was to prepare Peter to go to the Gentiles with the Gospel message and the gift of the Holy Spirit…

I have been wondering about this one particular issue all year, after spending so much time in the Old Testament. Then, in Acts, just a few days ago we read that the leaders sent a letter to the believers elsewhere that they should avoid eating meat sacrificed to idols and meat with blood and avoid sexual immorality. (See Acts 15:20.)

Doesn’t that send a mixed message? Keep THIS part of the Law (meat) but not THAT part of the Law (circumcision).

It’s hard to shake tradition… especially when it’s 1,500 years and deeply engrained in their culture. And the punishment for breaking of the Law was death…

So here comes Jesus, eating with unwashed hands, picking grain on the Sabbath, breaking both the Law AND their traditions… Forgiving sin, performing miracles. Shaking up the system, undermining their leadership…

So I guess the bottom line is Jesus, on not one but two occasions declared all foods clean.

There you have it.

(Having said that, I still think there is something important about avoiding blood in meat… because “the life is in the blood?” Genesis 9, Leviticus 17. Perhaps that’s why they struggled with this issue? It’s not so clear cut, is it?)

It’s like, I hear what you’re saying… but… what about…

P rayer

Give me insight as to what is right in such matters…

 

Day 303

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Welcome to Day 303 of our Life Journal!

Click here for today’s reading: Job 21; Mark 5; Mark 6 (2012 Daily Bible Reading Plan)

Before you comment or read what I have posted, please read the following passages for yourself and complete your own S.O.A.P. exercise… How does this work?

S.O.A.P =  Scripture, Observation, Application, Prayer

S cripture

Job 21:3, “Bear with me while I speak, and after I have spoken, mock on.”

34 “So how can you console me with your nonsense? Nothing is left of your answers but falsehood!”

Mark 5:39, “‘Why all this commotion and wailing? The child is not dead but asleep.’ 40 But they laughed at him.”

Mark 6:2b, “‘Where did this man get these things?’ they asked. ‘What’s this wisdom that has been given him? What are these remarkable miracles he is performing? 3 Isn’t this the carpenter? Isn’t this Mary’s son and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas and Simon? Aren’t his sisters here with us?’ And they took offense at him.”

O bservation

The saying, “Familiarity breeds contempt.” comes to mind…

A pplication

The origin of that phrase comes from one of Aesop’s fables… the Fox and the Lion.

When first the Fox saw the Lion he was terribly frightened, and ran away and hid himself in the wood. Next time however he came near the King of Beasts he stopped at a safe distance and watched him pass by. The third time they came near one another the Fox went straight up to the Lion and passed the time of day with him, asking him how his family were, and when he should have the pleasure of seeing him again; then turning his tail, he parted from the Lion without much ceremony.

“Familiarity Breeds Contempt”

 

In the end, we are all just human… but especially now, in our society, everyone is out for the 15 minutes of fame (coined by Andy Warhol!), on YouTube or some reality show.

(Have you heard of Honey Boo Boo?)

Everyone had heard of Jesus, his teachings, the miracles he was performing. People everywhere were amazed!

Except those who knew him… They were like, “Wait a minute… isn’t this Jesus, the carpenter’s son?? We know his family!”

Scott translation: “Who does he think he is??”

Because of their lack of faith, (and their attitude toward him) he could only do a few miracles there.

I remember the first time I heard my daughter Natalie was learning to draw blood. (She was training as an EMT in the Air Force.) I thought, “She’s never going to draw blood from me…”

Then I had a friend tell me she had assisted him in surgery…

Huh?

Wait… My 20-year-old daughter is… assisting you in surgery??

Imagine being Jesus… the Son of God… the Messiah… with the ability to heal everyone around you…

But they won’t let you.

P rayer

Lord may my heart always set you apart as holy, as the Son of God, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords… who calls me friend.

Day 302

Monday, October 29, 2012

Welcome to Day 302 of our Life Journal!

Click here for today’s reading: Job 20; Mark 3; Mark 4 (2012 Daily Bible Reading Plan)

Before you comment or read what I have posted, please read the following passages for yourself and complete your own S.O.A.P. exercise… How does this work?

S.O.A.P =  Scripture, Observation, Application, Prayer

S cripture

Job 20:1, “Then Zophar the Naamathite replied: 2 “My troubled thoughts prompt me to answer because I am greatly disturbed. 3 I hear a rebuke that dishonors me, and my understanding inspires me to reply.”

Mark 3:16, “These are the twelve he appointed: Simon (to whom he gave the name Peter), 17 James son of Zebedee and his brother John (to them he gave the name Boanerges, which means “sons of thunder”), 18 Andrew, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James son of Alphaeus, Thaddaeus, Simon the Zealot 19 and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.”

Mark 4:37, “A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. 38 Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?” 39 He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm. 40 He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” 41 They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!”

O bservation

Wondering about this “furious squall” that came upon the disciples and Jesus…

A pplication

Writing this journal entry this morning, I hear the news reports on tv in the background about Hurricane Sandy, threatening the east coast of the United States… as far inland as where we live in Ohio, 700 miles from the coast! They are predicting blizzard conditions just 5 hours from here in West Virginia! Up to 2 feet of snow!

Does God cause these storms?

Is it “by His will” that they occur?

Should we view this storm as God’s judgment on Atlantic City, NJ or Manhattan?

Throughout the Old Testament, God was willing to spare entire cities for the sake of just a few believers…

But ever since the days of Sodom and Gomorrah, every hurricane, earthquake, tsunami, etc, is blamed on God… that He is passing judgment on that region or city or whatever.

Could that be true?

Perhaps…

But look at this verse in Jeremiah 5…

“Go up and down the streets of Jerusalem,
look around and consider,
search through her squares.
If you can find but one person
who deals honestly and seeks the truth,
I will forgive this city.”

Certainly, entire societies can be bankrupt and corrupt and ungodly… But I still lean toward God being merciful… “Mercy triumphs over judgment.” (James 2:13.)

1 Kings 19, “The Lord said [to Elijah], “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.”

Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. 12 After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. 13 When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave.

Then a voice said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”

This verse leads me to believe God is not “in” every storm (as in causing it to pass judgment.)

Now, when fire and brimstone or hail/fire starts falling from the sky as mentioned in Revelation…

P rayer

Lord, I pray that we would have wisdom in how we view these natural occurrences…

Day 301

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Welcome to Day 301 of our Life Journal!

Click here for today’s reading: Job 19; Mark 1; Mark 2 (2012 Daily Bible Reading Plan)

Before you comment or read what I have posted, please read the following passages for yourself and complete your own S.O.A.P. exercise… How does this work?

S.O.A.P =  Scripture, Observation, Application, Prayer

S cripture

Job 19:1, “Then Job replied: 2 ‘How long will you torment me and crush me with words? 3 Ten times now you have reproached me; shamelessly you attack me. 4 If it is true that I have gone astray, my error remains my concern alone.”

23 “Oh, that my words were recorded, that they were written on a scroll, 24 that they were inscribed with an iron tool on lead, or engraved in rock for ever!”

Mark 1 starts with John the Baptist and his ministry, baptizes Jesus, then is imprisoned. Then Jesus goes into the wilderness for 40 days. No genealogy or birth record. Just boom! The start of Jesus’ public ministry and the calling of Peter and Andrew, then Levi (Matthew).

27 “The people were all so amazed that they asked each other, ‘What is this? A new teaching—and with authority! He even gives orders to impure spirits and they obey him.'”

Mark 2:14, “As he walked along, he saw Levi son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax collector’s booth. ‘Follow me,’ Jesus told him, and Levi got up and followed him. 15 While Jesus was having dinner at Levi’s house, many tax collectors and sinners were eating with him and his disciples, for there were many who followed him. 16 When the teachers of the law who were Pharisees saw him eating with the sinners and tax collectors, they asked his disciples: ‘Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?’ 17 On hearing this, Jesus said to them, ‘It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but those who are ill. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.’”

O bservation

I like how Mark writes… cuts to the chase. Less detail, giving highlights and the gist of what Jesus taught.

A pplication

Seems I can never pass up the opportunity to comment on Jesus calling Levi (Matthew) and how Matthew left immediately with Jesus and invited him to dinner, along with his friends who were also tax collectors (and sinners.) It’s worth noting that Jesus invited his disciples to this dinner. (Not mentioned by name, but at this time he had only called Peter, Andrew and Matthew. Perhaps a few others not mentioned were there.)

This story stirs something in me every time I read it. I think because it just flies in the face of our more protective Christianity, separating ourselves from “the world” so as to avoid being drawn into sin, or being numbered with the sinners and thereby damaging our reputation.

The Pharisees and the teachers of the Law couldn’t fathom eating with those people.

Jesus eventually got a reputation of being, as it is called in the King James, a “winebibber.” Luke 7:33, “John the Baptist came neither eating bread nor drinking wine, and you say, ‘He has a demon.’ 34 The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Here is a glutton and a drunkard [winebibber], a friend of tax collectors and sinners.’”

Not that I want that reputation, but how are we going to be salt and light if we don’t spend time with people who need what we have? Jesus said, “It’s not the well that need a doctor, it’s the sick.” The tax collectors and sinners.

The Pharisees were too busy criticizing Jesus for breaking the Sabbath…

Throughout the New Testament, there are several accounts of Pharisees and teachers of the Law who were interested in Jesus and noted his teaching and miracles… Nicodemus, is one great example in John 3. Gamaliel in Acts 5.

How will they hear if we don’t tell them?

How will they believe in a God who loves them if WE don’t demonstrate that love to them?

How will they ever become part of the Body of Christ (the church) if we don’t accept them right where they are and help them over the hump of believing?

I know, I know… I sound like a broken record, but it’s our job to reach out to the lost, on their terms. Jesus accepted Matthew’s invitation to dinner at his house, with all his friends.

But Jesus was secure in who he was.

I’m wondering if Jesus gave his disciples a little pep talk beforehand? “Hey, guys, be careful around these tax collectors and their friends. They could easily cause you to stumble!”

Oh, wait… he warned them about the Pharisees, Sadducees and the teachers of the Law and what THEY taught, (“Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees…”)

Not about the tax collectors and sinners…

Hmmm…

P rayer

Lord, open doors for me in situations like this… to make a difference in the lives of people who don’t know you or go to church…

Day 300! Congratulations!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Welcome to Day 300 of our Life Journal!

Click here for today’s reading: Job 18; Psalms 114; Acts 27; Acts 28 (2012 Daily Bible Reading Plan)

Before you comment or read what I have posted, please read the following passages for yourself and complete your own S.O.A.P. exercise… How does this work?

S.O.A.P =  Scripture, Observation, Application, Prayer

Congratulations on making it thus far. We are now on the home stretch!

S cripture

Job 18:1, ” Then Bildad the Shuhite replied: 2 ‘When will you end these speeches? Be sensible, and then we can talk. 3 Why are we regarded as cattle and considered stupid in your sight? 4 You who tear yourself to pieces in your anger…'”

Psalm 114:7, “Tremble, earth, at the presence of the Lord…”

Acts 27:20, “When neither sun nor stars appeared for many days and the storm continued raging, we finally gave up all hope of being saved. 21 After they had gone a long time without food, Paul stood up before them and said:

‘Men, you should have taken my advice…

…not to sail from Crete; then you would have spared yourselves this damage and loss. 22 But now I urge you to keep up your courage, because not one of you will be lost; only the ship will be destroyed. 23 Last night an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I serve stood beside me 24 and said, “Do not be afraid, Paul. You must stand trial before Caesar; and God has graciously given you the lives of all who sail with you.” 25 So keep up your courage, men, for I have faith in God that it will happen just as he told me. 26 Nevertheless, we must run aground on some island.’”

Acts 28:7, “There was an estate near by that belonged to Publius, the chief official of the island. He welcomed us to his home and showed us generous hospitality for three days. 8 His father was ill in bed, suffering from fever and dysentery. Paul went in to see him and, after prayer, placed his hands on him and healed him. 9 When this had happened, the rest of those on the island who were ill came and were cured. 10 They honoured us in many ways; and when we were ready to sail, they furnished us with the supplies we needed.”

28 “‘Therefore I want you to know that God’s salvation has been sent to the Gentiles, and they will listen!’ 30 For two whole years Paul stayed there in his own rented house and welcomed all who came to see him. 31 He proclaimed the kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ – with all boldness and without hindrance!”

Then Acts just… ends, leaving us to wonder what happened before Caesar in Rome!

O bservation

Paul had some… exciting… journeys!

A pplication

Amazing how Paul was bitten by a Viper and had no ill effects… Yet he told his men to eat, because they needed it to survive the shipwreck. He walked in both the natural (eat!) and the supernatural (bitten but not ill.) They still had to swim for shore… after the guards toyed with the idea of killing all the prisoners…

What an up and down ride it was for Paul getting to Rome.

Then, after praying for the chief official of the island’s father, who was healed, all the sick were brought to him, he prayed and they all were healed!

The natives said, “He survived the shipwreck, but now he’s going to die from a snake bit. Justice prevails!” But when he didn’t die, they thought he must be a god!

Obviously, they knew their snakes… they knew he should have fallen down.

But he didn’t.

Then, once he finally made it to Rome, he was given freedom to come and go from his own rented home!

I posted Paul’s resume of hardships a few days ago… from 2 Corinthians 11.

It’s always interesting to me what he had to endure, and what he managed to escape. One might ask (and I often do…) Why if God is with him did he get beaten, imprisoned, shipwrecked, etc?

I believe it was to share in the sufferings and glory of Christ. They considered themselves “Heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.” Romans 8:17.

For some reason, because a few people in the Bible escaped death here and there (Daniel and the lion’s den, Peter and John, Paul and Silas from prison, that we should somehow escape hardship. That by worshiping in our cell will certainly cause an earthquake that will save us.

What about John the Baptist? Jesus said there was none greater among men… AND, he was Jesus’ cousin… doesn’t make sense, does it?

If we are going to share in his glory, we must first be prepared to share in his sufferings.

Paul was beaten and stoned within an inch of his life many times…

Why would I think I would have it any better than he?

The Bible doesn’t tell how Paul died… It is commonly believed that sometime in the mid 60’s AD under the reign of Nero that Paul was possibly… beheaded.

I really want to know why the Bible doesn’t tell us how Paul died…

However his life came to an end, we can be sure of this… he was teaching and proclaiming Christ and the Kingdom of God and writing letters to believers everywhere until the very end. (The books of Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians and Philemon were all written from prison.)

What am I saying today? I hope I don’t sound fatalistic. I’m just being realistic. We only hear about the ones raised from the dead, not the ones they prayed for that didn’t come back to life. We often hear how the Apostles escaped prison, not how they were martyred. (Except for Stephen.)

Just pondering this thought today, we are

“Heirs of God and

co-heirs with Christ”

(“If indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.”) Romans 8:17.

Emphasis is mine.

P rayer

Lord I believe that you will give me all that I need when I need it. I know it’s likely that I will never face death for what I believe… but if I do, I believe you will be with me and strengthen me to die well for your glory.

Day 299

Friday, October 26, 2012

Welcome to Day 299 of our Life Journal!

Click here for today’s reading: Job 17; Acts 24; Acts 25; Acts 26 (2012 Daily Bible Reading Plan)

Before you comment or read what I have posted, please read the following passages for yourself and complete your own S.O.A.P. exercise… How does this work?

S.O.A.P =  Scripture, Observation, Application, Prayer

S cripture

Job 17:1, “My spirit is broken, my days are cut short, the grave awaits me. 2 Surely mockers surround me; my eyes must dwell on their hostility.”

Acts 24:27, “When two years had passed, Felix was succeeded by Porcius Festus, but because Felix wanted to grant a favour to the Jews, he left Paul in prison.”

Acts 25:12, “After Festus had conferred with his council, he declared: ‘You have appealed to Caesar. To Caesar you will go!’”

Acts 26 Paul gives his testimony again, this time in front of King Agrippa.

24, “At this point Festus interrupted Paul’s defence. ‘You are out of your mind, Paul!’ he shouted. ‘Your great learning is driving you insane.’ 25 ‘I am not insane, most excellent Festus,’ Paul replied. ‘What I am saying is true and reasonable. 26 The king is familiar with these things, and I can speak freely to him. I am convinced that none of this has escaped his notice, because it was not done in a corner. 27 King Agrippa, do you believe the prophets? I know you do.’

28 Then Agrippa said to Paul, ‘Do you think that in such a short time you can persuade me to be a Christian?’”

O bservation

What a great question…

A pplication

I wonder how persuasive I am when I present the Gospel?

The Gospel, which means, “good news” is not primarily a “feel-good” message. It is a message of good news about the forgiveness of our sins, but there is a standard to which we are all then called. A calling to love and bless those who despise us. To live a life of generosity. A life of righteous, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit (Romans 14.)

We are called to say no to the “works of the flesh” and to “walk in the Spirit.” See Galatians 5.

I wonder what people see when they see me? What they think when they hear what I have to say about the Gospel, about my being a Christian…

I have been praying of late that I would be invited into situations to share the Gospel, as was Peter, when summoned by Cornelius, when they angel told him to send for Peter.

I just think that is so cool.

“Hey, Scott… an angel appeared to our friend. The angel said we should get you to talk to us.”

How cool would THAT be? I have experienced things close to that a few times. And I’ve gone places and done things I never thought I would. (Africa, England, Ukraine, etc.).

I love the Gospel message. I love presenting it.

I love telling my story how I prayed a simple prayer on an airplane that changed my life. “Lord, I don’t know you the way my friend Tom does… but I want to.”

I wasn’t on the road to Damascus, but I was on a flight home from New York!

I have never been the same since.

P rayer

Lord, I pray for open doors to present the Gospel message!

 

Day 298

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Welcome to Day 298 of our Life Journal!

Click here for today’s reading: Job 16; Acts 21; Acts 22; Acts 23 (2012 Daily Bible Reading Plan)

Before you comment or read what I have posted, please read the following passages for yourself and complete your own S.O.A.P. exercise… How does this work?

S.O.A.P =  Scripture, Observation, Application, Prayer

S cripture

Job 16:2, “You are miserable comforters, all of you! 3 Will your long-winded speeches never end?”

Acts 21:34, “Some in the crowd shouted one thing and some another, and since the commander could not get at the truth because of the uproar, he ordered that Paul be taken into the barracks. 35 When Paul reached the steps, the violence of the mob was so great he had to be carried by the soldiers. 36 The crowd that followed kept shouting, ‘Get rid of him!’”

Acts 22:30, “So the next day he released him and ordered the chief priests and all the members of the Sanhedrin to assemble. Then he brought Paul and set him before them.”

Acts 23:9 [Paul before the Sanhedrin] “There was a great uproar, and some of the teachers of the law who were Pharisees stood up and argued vigorously. ‘We find nothing wrong with this man,’ they said. ‘What if a spirit or an angel has spoken to him?’ 10 The dispute became so violent that the commander was afraid Paul would be torn to pieces by them. He ordered the troops to go down and take him away from them by force and bring him into the barracks.”

23 “Then he called two of his centurions and ordered them, ‘Get ready a detachment of two hundred soldiers, seventy horsemen and two hundred spearmen to go to Caesarea at nine tonight. 24 Provide horses for Paul so that he may be taken safely to Governor Felix.’”

O bservation

“Two hundred soldiers, seventy horsemen and two hundred spearmen?” Just to transport Paul??

A pplication

Funny how the tables are now turned on Paul… He even admits to the crowd in Jerusalem that he stood by while Stephen was killed. 22:20, “And when the blood of your martyr Stephen was shed, I stood there giving my approval and guarding the clothes of those who were killing him.”

Paul let them know that he was a Pharisee descending from Pharisees. A Jew. A Roman citizen… He spoke to them in Aramaic.

Paul was real. He pleaded and reasoned with the crowd, quoting scripture and giving his testimony about his experience on the road to Damascus.

And they threatened to kill him.

When he mentioned that Jesus told him to go to the Gentiles, that really pushed their collective button and nearly incited a riot!

Then they beat him until he was rescued by soldiers… whom he asked to allow him to address the crowd.

It’s likely that I’ll never face a beating such as Paul received, or be escorted by TWO HUNDRED soldiers to another city, because of the Gospel.

I am called to what I am called. So are you. We are called to follow Christ. To “take up our cross daily” and follow him.

I wonder how I would react in similar circumstances to Paul’s?

P rayer

Lord may I stay faithful to you… Thank you that we can draw on the experiences of those who have gone before us.

Day 297

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Welcome to Day 297 of our Life Journal!

Click here for today’s reading: Job 15; Acts 19; Acts 20 (2012 Daily Bible Reading Plan)

Before you comment or read what I have posted, please read the following passages for yourself and complete your own S.O.A.P. exercise… How does this work?

S.O.A.P =  Scripture, Observation, Application, Prayer

S cripture

Job 15:4, “You even undermine piety and hinder devotion to God. 17 Listen to me and I will explain to you…” [Eliphaz to Job]

Acts 19:2, “‘Did you receive the Holy Spirit whenyou believed?’ They answered, ‘No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.'”

34 “They all shouted in unison for about two hours: ‘Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!'”

Acts 20:22, “And now, compelled by the Spirit, I [Paul] am going to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there. 23 I only know that in every city the Holy Spirit warns me that prison and hardships are facing me. 24 However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.”

25 “Now I know that none of you among whom I have gone about preaching the kingdom will ever see me again.”

O bservation

I wonder what it was like for Paul, knowing that prison and hardship faced him everywhere he went.

A pplication

Comparatively, I live a pretty cushy life… I work some long hours, but I am not facing death or hardship.

People will often say things like, “I could never do your job.”

To which I reply, “It’s not like I’m working a jack hammer.” 🙂

I once heard someone say that giving a 30 minute public presentation is the equivalent to working an 8 hour day. Not sure I buy it, but I can say that both speaking and leading worship can be emotionally and physically exhausting. And amazingly rewarding!

I love what I do. Leading worship, speaking, staff meetings, meeting with new people, hurting people, feeding the hungry, weddings, funerals, conferences… all of it.

Paul was compelled to travel about and share the good news. He was well suited to his calling. Well educated, driven, and he had a personal conversion on the road to Damascus. He understood persecution, because early on, he persecuted the believers himself.

There was so much opposition to Paul’s message… by the Jews, and by those who profited from cranking out idols of Artemis.

Paul’s resume includes:

“I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. 24 Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was pelted with stones, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, 26 I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my fellow Jews, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false believers. 27 I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. 28 Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches. 29 Who is weak, and I do not feel weak? Who is led into sin, and I do not inwardly burn?” 2 Corinthians 11

When I think I have it hard, I read the above paragraph about all that Paul endured for the sake of the Gospel.

It keeps things in proper perspective for me.

Oh, yea… and Job needs to lose his condescending friends who are trying to blame his situation on him!

P rayer

Thank you Lord for what you have called me to.

2 Timothy 1:12, “That is why I am suffering as I am. Yet this is no cause for shame, because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him until that day.”

 

 

 

 

Day 296

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Welcome to Day 296 of our Life Journal!

Click here for today’s reading: Job 13; Job 14; Acts 17; Acts 18 (2012 Daily Bible Reading Plan)

Before you comment or read what I have posted, please read the following passages for yourself and complete your own S.O.A.P. exercise… How does this work?

S.O.A.P =  Scripture, Observation, Application, Prayer

S cripture

Job 13:3, “But I desire to speak to the Almighty and to argue my case with God.4 You, however, smear me with lies;

you are worthless physicians, all of you!

5 If only you would be altogether silent! For you, that would be wisdom.”

(Ouch!)

15 “Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him.”

Job 14:15, “You will call and I will answer you; you will long for the creature your hands have made. Surely then you will count my steps but not keep track of my sin.17 My offenses will be sealed up in a bag; you will cover over my sin.”

Acts 17:28, “‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’ As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.'”

(Paul quoting some of their own philosophers, a Cretan philosopher Epimenides and a Cilician Stoic philosopher Aratus.)

Acts 18:9, “One night the Lord spoke to Paul in a vision: ‘Do not be afraid; keep on speaking, do not be silent. 10 For I am with you, and no one is going to attack and harm you, because I have many people in this city.’ 11 So Paul stayed in Corinth for a year and a half, teaching them the word of God.”

O bservation

I love how God spoke to Paul in a vision in the night to encourage him in his work!

A pplication

The Lord has never appeared to me in a vision, but that doesn’t bother me…

I don’t need for him to show up to validate what I believe. Just as Paul wrote to Timothy, “I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him until that day.”

I don’t need to raise the dead to feel validated as a believer or to prove whatever power I have or don’t have. Most people don’t have the Lord appear to them or raise the dead. Some do, and that’s great… all I’m saying is, Jesus himself said to Thomas, “You believe because you have seen, blessed are those who have NOT seen and yet believe.” John 20:29, after the resurrection when Jesus appeared to the disciples.

And I am not necessarily satisfied in my “having not seen” either…

I have seen more than enough though… I know people who know people who have raised the dead. I heard a woman speak one time who was dead FOUR DAYS and she was then raised from the dead. Mama Domitila

But I don’t need to hear her testimony to validate my belief in heaven or eternal life. Or a book written by a young boy who visited heaven “Heaven is Real.” to get others to believe what I have believed all along.

The scriptures are clear on all these matters already.

Some say, “The Bible says it. I believe it. And that settles it.

I say, “The Bible says it. That settles it. And I believe it.”

P rayer

Thank you Lord for your word that is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. Lord, I believe… help my unbelief. Mark 9:24

Day 295

Monday, October 22, 2012

Welcome to Day 295 of our Life Journal!

Click here for today’s reading: Job 11; Job 12; Acts 15; Acts 16 (2012 Daily Bible Reading Plan)

Before you comment or read what I have posted, please read the following passages for yourself and complete your own S.O.A.P. exercise… How does this work?

S.O.A.P =  Scripture, Observation, Application, Prayer

S cripture

Job 11:5, [Zophar] “Oh, how I wish that God would speak, that he would open his lips against you 6 and disclose to you the secrets of wisdom, for true wisdom has two sides.

Know this: God has even forgotten some of your sin.”

Job 12:1, “Then Job replied:2 ‘Doubtless you are the only people who matter, and wisdom will die with you!'”

(Ouch!)

Acts 15:1, “Certain people came down from Judea to Antioch and were teaching the believers: ‘Unless you are circumcised, according to the custom taught by Moses, you cannot be saved.'”

19, “It is my judgment, therefore, that we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God. 20 “We should write to them, telling them to abstain from food polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from the meat of strangled animals and from blood.”

39 “They [Paul and Barnabas] had such a sharp disagreement that they parted company.”

Acts 16:3, “Paul wanted to take him along on the journey, so he circumcised him because of the Jews who lived in that area, for they all knew that his father was a Greek.”

O bservation

Funny how in chapter 16 they wrestled with the issue of Gentile believers and circumcision, then in the next chapter, Paul circumcised Timothy.

A pplication

Paul understood that this issue wasn’t an issue of righteousness or a fulfilling of the Law of Moses. It was to make their lives easier… actually, to make their message more able to be received by the hearers.

One of my favorite statements from Paul is from 1 Corinthians 9.

“Though I am free and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. 20 To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. 21 To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. 22 To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some. 23 I do all this for the sake of the gospel.”

Paul knew he wasn’t under the Law, but under grace. That in order for some to be able to hear the message (the Jewish believers) that it would be better for Timothy to be circumcised.

This is not “compromising” their beliefs, but removing a stumbling block so that others may receive their message. “To the Jews I became like a Jew.”

(What I wonder is how Timothy’s father felt about him being circumcised… without his knowledge or permission?) (His father’s reaction is not recorded in scripture.) His father was Greek (and uncircumcised) but his mother and grandmother were God-fearing Jewish believers.

Some may call this compromise… especially after the letter that was written in response to the question about the Gentile believers, whether they should be circumcised or not.

My other question is what about eating meat with blood? Isn’t that just as much a part of the Law of Moses as circumcision? My guess is they held very tightly to the verse that says,

“I will set my face against any Israelite or any foreigner residing among them who eats blood, and I will cut them off from the people. 11 For the life of a creature is in the blood, and I have given it to you to make atonement for yourselves on the altar; it is the blood that makes atonement for one’s life.12 Therefore I say to the Israelites, ‘None of you may eat blood, nor may any foreigner residing among you eat blood.'” Leviticus 17:10-12

That is a pretty powerful statement… especially when you also consider that without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness or remission of sin, Hebrews 9:22.

I wonder how God feels about Outback Steakhouse? (Not being facetious…)

Remember Peter’s vision of the sheet with all the animals and creatures, and that he had never eaten anything impure. God’s response was, “What I have called pure, don’t you call it impure.” (This was in preparation for Peter’s meeting with the Cornelius the Gentile Centurion…) That God gave the gifts of repentance and the Holy Spirit, even to the Gentiles!

That’s good news for us!

P rayer

Thank you Lord that you offered the gifts of repentance and the Holy Spirit to Gentiles… like me!

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