Thursday 11/21 ~ Too small to matter

The scripture for today, November 21 (11/21), is Acts 11:21 as found in the New Testament of the Bible:

00-PAUL COVER-Thumbnail-“The Lord’s hand was with them, and a great number of people believed and turned to the Lord.”

What had just happened? A few Christians in Phoenecia (today’s Lebanon), Cyprus (the Mediterranean Island) and Cyrene (in today’s North Africa), went to Antioch, a city in Northern Syria near the southern border of today’s Turkey. There they established a congregation.

This little congregation ended up being the home congregation of Paul and Barnabas for many years. It started small; we don’t know the size it grew to. Regardless of the size, it had foresight and eventually did great things.

Perhaps you live in a town full of churches, but you’ve compared them with the New Testament, and none of them follows the original pattern. Perhaps you have even given up going to church because of this problem. What is stopping you from beginning a little congregation after the New Testament pattern in your home?  

New Testament churches were simple ~ not elaborate like those mega-churches out there. And those simple churches have always been dynamic in their simplicity. Who knows but that your new little congregation will someday produce a Paul or a Barnabas. Who knows?

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00-PAUL COVER-Thumbnail-PAUL: THE UNSTOPPABLE had everything against him when he headed into pagan territory.  No priest was going to let a stranger come in and ruin his income, his power, his prestige.  He went anyway. He preached in this city and was beaten. He preached in that city and was stoned. He preached in other cities and was whipped, imprisoned, starved, lied about, scorned.  But in each city, he left behind a little congregation that grew and flourished.  He never let smallness matter.  To BUY NOW, click a book cover or paste this:  https://amzn.to/333nV6c

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Tuesday 11/19 ~ A little self-reflection

The scripture for today, November 19 (11/19), is Ezekiel 11:19 as found in the Old Testament of the Bible:

00- Worship Changes KC COVER-thumbnail“I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them; I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh. Then they will follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. They will be my people, and I will be their God.”

Although the 600+ commandments in the Old Testament /Covenant Law of Moses were nailed to the cross (Colossians 2:14; Hebrews 8:10-13), God has always had laws to keep us safe. In the New Testament/Covenant era, he does not have a lot of laws, but he still has them.

What is our worship like? Is it full of things God never asked us to do? Does our worship elevate God or ourselves? When we’re done worshiping, do we say, “We were so great!” or “God is so great!”?  Do we worship to make ourselves feel good or to make God feel good?

We add all kinds of things to our worship that were commanded only under the Old Testament/Covenant Law of Moses, or things we think would “add to the effectiveness” of our worship. If, for example, it’s okay to add things to our singing and praying because then they would sound better, then it is okay to add lemon pie to the Lord’s Supper because then it would taste better.

Again, the question: Who are we worshiping and trying to please? God or ourselves? Do we deep down have a heart of stone, but put on our halo and say, “Surely not me”?

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Monday 11/18 ~ Perhaps someday they will listen

The scripture for today, November 18 (11/18), is Deuteronomy 11:18f as found in the Old Testament of the Bible:

03-Naaman'sMaid-ThumbnailCover“Then the Lord’s anger will burn against you, and he will shut the heavens so that it will not rain and the ground will yield no produce, and you will soon perish from the good land the Lord is giving you. Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.”

Sometimes the country you live in goes through very bad times. You pray for the bad times to end, but they do not. What is going on? The above warning was to the Israelites just before they entered their promised land. God had just said through Moses, don’t worship idols.

Perhaps your country is going through bad times because of idol worship. Probably not like the hand-made idols of ancient times, but idols of money and power and lack of morality and ethics.

You may feel all alone in trying to get the people you know to do better. They may laugh at you, scorn you, fire you from your job. There have been times in the Bible when a good man prayed, “God, I am the only one left who worships you.” God would reply there were others trying to do right too. But he never replied he was going to stop the punishing. The country hadn’t turned back to God yet.

Therefore, when you are suffering unjustly for what a majority of your countrymen have been doing, you must do it bravely. And while you wait it out, continue to remind yourself, your family, your neighbors, your countrymen of the righteous ways they should be acting.

In bad times, this is your assignment. Be brave and spread the news. Keep reminding and being as patient with them as God is with you. Perhaps someday, they will listen.

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03-Naaman'sMaid-ThumbnailCoverBIBLE KIDS:  NAAMAN’S MAID was kidnapped when people in Israel were not acting right. The girl was turned into a slave in Syria without hope of ever being freed.  She accepted it and was as good as she knew how.  Because of this little girl, a big, important general met a prophet and learned about the true God. To BUY NOW, click a book cover or paste this:  https://amzn.to/340Cc4L

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Saturday 11/9 ~ A little bit of physical, a whole lot of spiritual

Silver Cover-KINDLE-thumbnailThe scripture for today, November 9 (11/9), is Luke 11:9 as found in the New Testament of the Bible:

” ‘So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.’ “

Does this mean that, if you ask for your favorite team to win, they will win? Does this mean that, if you ask for a particular job, you will get that job? Or, if you have your eyes on a particular young man or young woman, you will marry that person?

In the context that Jesus said this, he had just taught his disciples what many call the Lord’s prayer. In that prayer, Jesus instructed us to ask for a little bit of the physical and a whole lot of the spiritual.

You might say, “Well, that doesn’t leave me much to pray for.” Oh, yes it does. Shift your focus from yourself. It leaves the rest of the world to pray for. What about their little bit of physical and their whole lot of spiritual? How many people do you pray for? Not as a group, but by name? Not occasionally, but every day?

Well then, will God give you every one of the souls you pray for? God gives everyone free will. He does not force people to follow him. God provides opportunities for people you pray for, and he even moves their hearts. But he does not force them. You must still, keep on praying, even when you feel like someone is hopeless. Maybe they are hopeless during your lifetime. But sometimes someone’s soul is saved after your death.

So, pray for others and never tire of it ~ a little bit of the physical and whole lot of the spiritual. Seek and you will find. God will answer in his own way. And that’s a promise.

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Wednesday 11/6 ~ Out of the ashes

The scripture for today, November 6 (11/6), is Nehemiah 11:6 as found in the Old Testament of the Bible:

00-Hero Alone-COVER-KINDLE-Thumbnail“The descendants of Perez who lived in Jerusalem totaled 468 able men.”

Just who was Perez, and why was this even mentioned in the Bible? Perez was a son of Judah, and an ancestor of Jesus (Matthew 1:3).

Why was living in Jerusalem a big deal at that time? Because Jerusalem had been attacked and destroyed. It was nothing but rubble and ashes. Earlier, other Jews had returned to Jerusalem and rebuilt the temple. Now it was time to rebuild the walls.

These 468 brave people had to agree to move into a burned-out city and rebuild on the ashes of previous homes. In the process of moving building stones out of the way to reuse in the city wall, they surely found skeletons of those who had been slaughtered in the attack decades before. It took grit.

At first, the Jews had blamed the Babylonians for destroying their city and temple. But eventually, they began re-reading the prophets who had warned them about their own sins. Finally, they turned inward and placed the blame where it really belonged: Themselves. Their own pride had destroyed their temple and their city, now crumbled ashes.

Following repentance, they acted. Was it easy rebuilding a broken city? Not any easier than rebuilding a broken home, a broken congregation, a broken life. You must look at your own part in your own destruction and begin building yourself anew.

Are there any skeletons or ashes in your life?  Is there anything that needs rebuilt? It takes grit.  Do you have the grit?

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