Sometimes God graciously allows us to see what He saw in the past, what He sees now and what He sees in the future. An example of this is Paul’s life as we saw his stoning in Acts as his calling Timothy to join him in Acts 16 and read about his mentoring Timothy in his further letters.

Having been stoned and left for dead in Lystra, the “resurrected,” Paul had left that city and moved on. The young Timothy, most likely having witnessed this, was radically transformed and embraced the faith of his grandmother Lois and his mother Eunice who had laid the foundation for his faith. Was the stoning a test for Timothy? We don’t know, but we do know that Timothy was not only transformed but his faith is now proclaimed not only there but also in Iconium.

As Paul arrived back in Lystra after a 5 yr. hiatus, we find that the disciples he had left had formed a church and Timothy has been busy these churches. This was a gift to Paul from God. But, now it was  God’s perfect timing for Timothy to take the next step to join the mission team to take the gospel to the next generation.

Are you only satisfied to minister to your own generation or are you ready to take the challenge and disciple the next generation?

Remember, God doesn’t waste our experiences….unless we choose to not allow Him to do so.  He expects you and me to be discipling the next generation.

Pray and ask God who that would be for you.   

There is a difference between being a “God-fearer” and a “God-believer”. In Acts 10 we read that Cornelius falls into the first category. He fears God and in the only way he knows, he is seeking this God that he knows about but does not know personally. We meet the Cornelius’ as we wander through our day to day activities. If asked they say, yes I “believe” but they do not “know” the God of the universe in a personal way. Thus this story about Cornelius is significant for us.

For us, it means we must recognize that God has called them for he is not willing that any should perish. Then it takes a step out of our comfort zone to share our faith. This is where Peter, like us, is being nudged by the Spirit to take this step towards a Gentile whom he does not know and one that he considers to be apart from God’s blessings. God’s ways are mysterious but deliberate when He knows that one is hungering but they do not know God’s love and salvation.

It is also significant that God calls Cornelius by name for this is our assurance that God knows us by name whether we are a “God-fearer” or a “God-believer.” We are told that his prayers have been heard and God has the answer and it will come through Simon Peter. Cornelius’ hunger to know this God of the Jews is relevant for this is our world as well. In addition, Peter is much like us in so many ways. We know God, believe God, but often are hesitant to share our faith because of any number of reasons. But God’s ways are not our ways. God sees and hears the hearts of the lost and he uses us to “go and tell the good news” of his love and His forgiveness.

Do you know of someone who is a “God-fearer” but not a “God-believer?” Let God move you and use you!

The Bible contains rich word pictures/imagery for how God would reveal Himself and His Character as well as Jesus Christ through the Mishkan:

(Hebrew: מִשְׁכַּן‎, mishkan, “residence” or “dwelling place”), according to the Hebrew Bible, was the portable earthly dwelling place of God amongst the children of Israel from the time of the Exodus from Egypt through the conquering of the land of Canaan.) or as we call it the Tabernacle.

Monday nights I have had the privilege of teaching using the technology of “zoom.” We gather together using a link I send out and according to your time zone. You are welcome to join us. A little preparation for our next lesson follows.

In this lesson we will cover:

The Workers—who were they? What was special about them? Exodus 31:1-6 tells us much about them. Read that passage and reflect on how this mirrors what Jesus did with the disciples in Mark 6. (Whenever we read in Exodus “he made” the parts for the Tabernacle we should recall that this refers to Bezalel)

What do you learn about these two “supervisors” chosen by God?  Relate their character to Stephen in Acts 6. How are they similar? https://www.biblestudytools.com/dictionary/bezalel/

The Beginning of the Mishkan – the Tabernacle.  Exodus 27:9-19; 35: 1-20 preparation for the materials needed.

The Fence of the Tabernacle: Ex 35:17-18; Ex 38:20; (What materials were used?)

The Gate – Why only one gate? What does that symbolize? Ex 3:1-6 and Is 59:2; John 14:6-

The Brazen Altar –Ex 27:1-8; What is its purpose? Ex 29:38-46

The Laver – We don’t know much about this piece of “furniture” but we do know the materials used: Ex 38:8;  Exo 30:17-21. We do know the purpose of it: Ex 40:30-32

If you don’t know already let me clue you in, February 14th is my most favorite of all holidays! (smile ) This is a day when I can offer gifts of love freely and of my choosing just because of love! I love that day, not because the world has chosen it as a Hallmark Day, but because it reminds me of why I love God and why He loves me! Further, it is on that day we use word pictures to reveal our love for another.  For example; King David begins I love you, Lord! But why? Better yet, why do you and I love God?

He writes: I love you Lord because you are my source of strength when I am in the pit.  I love you Lord because I can trust you to be my strength when my human strength is failing. I love you Lord because when I call unto you I am delivered emotionally, spiritually and sometimes, yes physically. When life is just too hard to bear I can know that you, God, are there. You are there in the chaos and you are there in the calm. I love you Lord because you may be in heaven but I am here on earth, therefore, may my words be few but offer a sweet aroma of my love to You. You are my rescuer, my vindicator, my deliverer and for that I am thankful.

Just sayin’ ahead of time…Valentine’s Day is my favorite, so now my question to you is this: If King David could join us this day he might say, so what would your early Valentine message say?

As we read this story in Acts 3, we recall of the story of the Good Samaritan because in both we meet those who cannot help themselves. In our 21st century culture as in the 1st-century culture, there is a caste system. There are those who are “touchable” and those who are “untouchable.”  We easily ask WWJD (what would Jesus do) but how about WWYD (what would you do?) or to make it more personable; WWID (what would I do)?

Do we cross the street and avert our gaze? Do we walk in haste so we can be on time for _____you fill in the blank? We save our pennies that we might enrich the church offering plate, but, what about those whose lives need agape compassion so that they might have enough to purchase a meal with dignity?

Jesus, Peter and John had obviously walked by this beggar for many a day yet no healing had occurred. Why now? Why only him? This was God’s timing and God’s lesson book being opened. We better not miss what He is teaching us about agape compassion for those in need, and what gifts the Holy Spirit has bestowed upon us to share.

Dr. Luke wants us to see a man who needs God’s loving touch and how we can be God’s instrument of God’s agape compassion. But more importantly, he wants us to leap, walk, and praise God for what only God can do! May God get the glory and not we ourselves. May we step into the situation as the Good Samaritan and say if more is needed I will fill it when I return.

So here’s the deal; when was the last time you or I have showered God’s agape compassion upon an “untouchable” a.k.a. the homeless person God has put in our path?

We have the best gift of all, the gospel. Are we not only offering our pennies but the good news of salvation to the “untouchables” in our society?

In Luke, we read about the scoundrels of then and we can relate to them in our day. Scoundrels and scoffers have this motto: “God won’t hold me accountable; He doesn’t care.” But, one day, like the rich man in Luke 16 and here in Psalm 10, when they do care–it is far too late. The lesson for us is to remember that God is patient but ultimately He will call for justice. The psalmist is saying there will be a day when there will be no avenue to seek God’s patient lovingkindness.

Scoundrels and scoffers have fallen for the lie that God is love and He will overlook what they do now. One day the books will be opened and the deeds of men will be revealed.  “each of us will give an account of himself to God.”  Truly,“[we] will face a reckoning before Jesus Christ who stands ready to judge the living and the dead.” [1Peter 4:5]

Whether you are the most moral person on the planet or you are a scoundrel, know this truth; God knows your situation and your heart.  God’s question is if you knew that you would stand before Him today would you be ready to give an accounting of your life?

 

Luke 18: Jesus wants us to realize that the world that we know it will soon come to a screeching halt when the Savior returns. In the meantime, like the widow, we meet scoundrels. In this parable, Jesus shows us two of them: the unjust judge and the scam artist who has bilked the widow out of her savings. As before with the parable of the unjust steward, the principle is to be shrewd when dealing with those who can and should assist us because the world is full of these unsavory characters. The judge understands his own character yet sees no need or desire to change and the scam artist thinks he has gotten away with the widow’s pension. But, it is her persistence that wins out in the end. She gets her reprieve and the scam artist gets his due.  The judge never changes his character.

So what is the point? The last line in the parable sums it up: will the Son of Man find faith when He returns. We say “huh?” God is looking for those who will use shrewdness but ultimately He wants us to come to Him who can change circumstances and people to help His chosen ones. The key is faith.  God is looking for those who will be like Joseph, faithful in and out of circumstances, EVEN when the answer is no, sometimes wait, and sometimes yes.

Beloved, you may be facing scoundrels. First be shrewd and patient. Secondly, persist in prayer. Thirdly, trust God even if God’s answering machine seems to be cluttered! He will answer in His perfect time with His perfect response.

As you read scripture try to put yourself in the 1st century. Presume for a minute that you are listening to Jesus teach and then try to understand why much of what He taught was so very difficult for them to hear. For example, it was common in that day for the Pharisees to keep a record of offenses. To illustrate his point Jesus reminded the disciples and us as well that offenses will come, [that is others will offend us] but WOE to the one that is the cause or is the offender. Jesus wanted his listeners to recognize that we are to obey this principle:  “if you forgive others their sins, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. [Mat 6:14]  Sometimes it is not a two-way street. You offend but another does not forgive you. Jesus said it doesn’t matter. Your job as a believer is to not only seek another’s forgiveness but offer forgiveness. Why? Because you have been forgiven by God.

Jesus was emphatic: “you MUST forgive him” even if one has repeatedly sinned against you for this is God’s way. God does not forgive just once but many times as we err often. The reason is because that is part of God’s character!  God is a God of forgiveness; He is merciful and compassionate, slow to get angry and unfailing in His loyal love.

Today are we keeping a record of offenses? Are we harboring an unforgiving spirit and not obeying the teaching of Christ to forgive as he forgave?

 Now all the tax collectors and sinners were coming to hear him. But the Pharisees and the experts in the law were complaining, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.” (Luke 15:1)

Which group do you find yourself in? Jesus told us to judge ourselves first. Our motives are revealed by what we say or do. We complain or murmur and God sees it all while those whose hearts are yearning for God’s touch are coming to hear. The sight is not pretty.

Stop and look at this group of tax collectors such as Matthew and Zacchaeus and the sinners such as the Samaritan woman at the well. They sit on one side of the aisle or church and on the other side are you and I.  Jesus sat and ate with the tax collectors and sinners. Do you and I? If truth be known, we play favorites; we choose to sit either alone or apart from those whose touch might rub off on us.

The tax collectors and sinners came to hear Jesus but the religious leaders only came to judge and complain.

Yes, I am a Pharisee and you probably are too. God’s mirror is pretty clear; we do not love others as God did. He proved it by sending His Son. What do my actions reveal to God about my heart?

As we read Luke 12 and 13 we come face to face with the hypocrisy of the religious leaders but also the populace. All are guilty of what we are guilty of–condemnation of other’s level of spirituality. We love to stand righteously before others failing to look within our own hearts to see what Jesus sees.

Take for example the barn builder. He sees himself as one who has completed all that is needed for a righteous life. He can sit and smugly say all is well when indeed God sees him as a fool. Then there are those who come to Jesus to tell him of the tragic deaths of some Galileans. Their faulty hypothesis comes across as well as they make a judgment call based on one’s birthplace.  Jesus correctly reminds them that as a Jerusalemite, they too are in the same boat.

The truth is bad things happen to ALL people regardless of where they are from or who they are. The important thing is to look within your own heart and judge yourself first before making assumptions about another’s person’s salvation.

So what are we to learn? Bad things happen to both good and bad people. The most important thing is if something bad were to happen to you this very day you are ready to meet God. You may not know that today may be your very last day to wake up and smell the roses. In fact, it may be your name is on God’s calendar to leave this earthly domain.

Do you qualify as a hypocrite?