“God’s Storms and Men’s Hearts”

God uses storms

Acts 28 John Jacob Astor believed that the Titanic was unsinkable, yet he and his wealth are at the bottom of the ocean because of his stubborn pride and lack of foresight—the Titanic only carried enough lifeboats for half of the passengers—Astor was not saved. We hear the words of Paul “men, you should have listened to me.” [Acts 27:21]

On the Adriatic Sea God sent another storm tossing the ship Paul was on. Just like the Titanic, the ship’s captain did not heed the words of Paul to stay on the island of Crete. Yet, God can overrule men’s decisions so that they may come face to face with the God of the storms. In this case, He chose to preserve Roman soldiers, centurions, rowers, the captain and prisoners so they might hear Paul teach and preach the resurrection of Christ.  Did they respond because of the storm? Only in eternity will we know. Yet this is true:  “Consequently faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes through the preached word of Christ.” [Rom 10:17]

God does the same for us today; He uses ordinary people like you and me to carry out His divine appointed plans. We never know when we may experience a storm so men may hear the story of the resurrected Christ.

What storm are you facing?

Will you let God use you to share the resurrected Christ to others?

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Divine Opportunities

Go and Tell

Acts 25

You may be experiencing the pandemic in spades. You are stuck at home with little ones or your job is only using the technology of zoom, Google meet, or Whatsapp. No matter what, we can follow Paul’s example of using every available opportunity to present Christ.

Therefore, the question is, how are we using this down time?

God gave Paul multiple opportunities to present Christ and the resurrection. He courageously presented Christ before the Jews, Romans, Governors Felix and Festus, King Agrippa, Bernice, Drusilla, the Sadducees and Pharisees, the soldiers, the Roman Commander Lysias, the Jewish High Priest, and the crowd. Is this amazing, or what?

Paul knows that he is God’s chosen instrument to carry His name before Gentiles. [Acts 9:15] In chapter 23, the Lord came to Paul in the night and promised him that he would testify in Rome.  No matter where we find ourselves, we have His Word and a reminder to “go and make disciples.” [Matt 28]

Today as you go about your day, keep an eye out for divine opportunities to present Christ and the gospel message. It might be just a quick word of encouragement or a conversation. Wherever it may be, be alert and watchful lest these who will one day stand before a holy God have to hear “depart from Me, I never knew you” because we failed to present Him.

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“The People of the Cross”

Are you sharing about Jesus?

Acts 20 We are to be in a race of winning people to Christ and until He returns. We are the “people of the cross” with the message of truth: Jesus alone is The Way, The Truth, and The Life! [Jn 14:6]  Paul left the Ephesian elders for the last time: “testifying …about repentance toward God and faith in the Lord Jesus.” [Acts 20:21] Paul’s testimony was: “I do not consider my life worth anything to myself, so that I may finish my task and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the good news of God’s grace.” [Acts 20:24]. Later he would write: “I have competed well; I have finished the race; I have kept the faith!” [2Ti 4:7]

We are to be busy testifying about the gospel message even when the wolves rear up. Remember this promise:  “Indeed, the Lord who commands armies has a plan,” and it will be fulfilled. [Isa 14:27] “Obedience is better than crumbling to the fears of speaking out.” [O. Harris] Be faithful to pray that God releases his angelic army, miraculous signs and wonders so that the enemy’s mission of destruction is hindered. Pray that unbelievers may have dreams that will convict and turn them from unbelief to the true Messiah. 

Pray that we remain steadfast as the “people of the cross.”

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“Belief is More Than a Word”

Trust and Obey

Luke 1 to 3 The people of Israel waited four hundred years to hear from God and his prophets, but He had been silent. Now in a flash of a moment, God chooses a Gentile author to reveal that He is still at work. 

First, God sends an angel to tell Zachariah that he will be a father soon to one who will be like Elijah the Prophet to turn the children’s hearts. Then God sends the angel Gabriel to a peasant girl named Mary with the news that she was to be the mother of His earthly son, the Son of the Most High God, and God will give him the throne of His father, David. 

Hearing the angel’s pronouncement, Zacharias responded with, “How can I be sure of this?” Mary asked, “How will this be since I have not been intimate with a man.” Because Zechariah doubted he would be silent until the birth of John. Mary would submit but walk the road before her village as an unwed woman. Her courage came from the angel’s words: “nothing will be impossible with God.”  

How often do we stand amazed and wonder how I can be sure? Could it be that we need to assess if we are more like Zachariah or Mary? Remember this truth: “The steps of a person are ordained by the Lord” [Pro 20:24]

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“Listen, Hear and Do Immediately”

Listen, Hear and Do

Mark 1 Many feel that Mark’s ear heard the words of Jesus as Peter shared them with him. He wants us to walk, see and listen as Jesus moves from the river to the wilderness, from the wilderness to the city proper, from the city proper to the synagogue, from the synagogue to Simon’s house, from Simon’s house to a deserted place, and from the deserted place to a place in Galilee.

Hear Jesus say there is only a short time to accomplish the Father’s work and bring about the good news of salvation to all people. Jesus was about the Father’s business, whether by the river, in the wilderness being tempted, by the Sea of Galilee, or in a remote place in prayer.

With Jesus, we must be ready to see, hear, and repent, for we only have a short time to bring the good news to a lost and dying world. Whether we live in the countryside or in a bustling city, God has a divine appointment for you this day. Jesus was prepared to do the Father’s will; are you? He was always in communion with God so that he could say: “Let us go elsewhere, into the surrounding villages, so that I can preach.”  Let’s go and “immediately” begin the work He has prepared and called us to do, for that is what He came to do.” Are you prepared to step out and change your culture as He did?

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“What God Requires”

God's requirement

Micah 5 to 7 Micah was a simple peasant whom God chose to speak to His people because He had a complaint against them. Micah told them that God would contend with them because they followed Balaam, whose way was tainted by the love of money. God  told Micah to ask them this question: Have you forgotten how I redeemed you from bondage? That is a good question for us to ask ourselves as well. What drives us to be faithful? The author of Hebrews says: “Oh, that today you would listen as He speaks! Do not harden your heart.”[Heb 3:15]

Our gracious God has given us some simple tests to show that our heart is right. The psalmist says start here: “Create in me a pure heart” [Ps 51:10]  The prophet Micah tells the wayward Israelites that God has not made it hard! “He has told you, O man, what is good, and what the Lord really wants from you: He wants you to carry out justice, to love faithfulness, and to live obediently before your God.” [Mic 6:8NET]

Micah then extols the attributes of God! He pardons iniquity and He passes over the transgressions of the remnant of His heritage. He doesn’t retain His anger forever, He delights in mercy, and He will have compassion again.

That is the God who loves us; will we love Him in return?

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“Will you trust God?”

Will you choose to trust God

Ezekiel 22 – 24 If you are an enthusiast of old English movies, you know that servants obey without question. Ezekiel is known as the servant who obeys whether he understands or not. Are we? The Lord graciously prepared Ezekiel to be a sign to the exiles through his response to his wife’s untimely death. God told him, “I am about to take the delight of your eyes away from you with a jolt, but you must not mourn or weep or shed tears.” And it happened just as the Lord had said. In the evening, his wife died, and Ezekiel did just as the Lord commanded. Ezekiel did not question: “why, Lord?”

“The death of Ezekiel’s wife prefigured the loss of the temple, which was “the delight of [the Jews’] eyes.” God strove to make His intent clear so that the people would have no excuse. Despite the hardship in the loss of Ezekiel’s wife and Temple, all would be for Israel’s good (vv. 19–27). Through the trouble, the people would come to know that He is the Lord.” (Ligonier ministries)Li

Like the English servants, Ezekiel obeyed and did not mourn, and the exiles as well were not to mourn the tragic news of the loss of their Temple.  Ezekiel trusted God’s purpose even as he experienced this tragedy. 

How about us? Do we trust God enough to be obedient even when we don’t understand all of the reasons behind His request?  

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What Do You Want to Hear from Jesus?

The words of Jesus

Jeremiah 50 to 52 The tale of Zedekiah and Jehoiachin reveals a pointed lesson for us.  When God tells us what to do, there is a choice; surrender and live or reject and die. God says, surrender your life to me, and you will have everlasting life. But, just as then, many still think they can save themselves or wait or do many works in God’s Name. 

Both kings sought Jeremiah’s advice as the Babylonians were crouching at their doorstep.   Jehoiachin believed Jeremiah; surrendered and saved his family. Zedekiah tried to escape through a tunnel at night time but was captured and taken to King Nebuchadnezzar. In Riblah, he lost his family, the royal household, and his eyes. Both ended up in a Babylonian prison. But, after 37 yrs., Jehoiachin was released to sit at the king’s table. Blind Zedekiah would die in his bronze chains with the vision of his children’s faces as they were slaughtered. Neither would have a descendant to take their place on the throne.

What are the takeaways from these two men and their end?  One accepted God’s way and was released. The other rejected God’s way, and these words will ring in his ears: “I never knew you.” Remember these words from Jesus: “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No man comes to the Father but by me.” [Jn 14:6]

The lesson is clear: Surrender to God and be saved; reject and enter a Christ-less eternity.

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You must, You must not, You must, You must not

2 Kings 17 He loves me, He loves me not

Do you recall reciting this in your earlier years in a sing-song voice? We remember it when we see a daisy because of the rhythm. God has a sing-song pattern for us to remember what He says. It goes like this “you must worship Me, you must not worship other gods; you must worship Me, you must not worship other gods.” We don’t want to lessen God’s Word to a sing-song pattern but wonder if we said this over and over; it would remind us of what God’s Word says to do and not do.

One wonders if the children had that pattern would they have refrained from worshiping those idols from other pagan nations. They paid no attention to Yahweh; instead, they observed their earlier practices. They worshiped the Lord, and for an added benefit, they served their idols just as their fathers had done. It is no wonder then that God allowed the pagan Assyrians to conquer Israel, and soon the Babylonians will do this to Judah.

There is a lesson for us. We need to be in the Word daily. We need strong biblical leaders that will guide us and teach us. Unfortunately, today we see that we are just like the nation of Israel. Remember these words:  “For a person will reap what he sows because the person who sows to his own flesh will reap corruption from the flesh, but the one who sows to the Spirit will reap eternal life from the Spirit.” [Gal 6]

Photo: pinterest

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Be Discerning

1Kings 13 & Gal 1 & Acts 17 (Be A Berean)

After Paul left Galatia, grievous wolves had entered and taken captive their hearts. Paul said to them, “I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting…” The author of 1Kings has recorded the story of the disobedient unnamed prophet sent to the wicked king Jeroboam. Before we judge this prophet harshly, we need to stop and see ourselves in this tale.

The prophet had stood tall and strong in the face of Jeroboam to warn him! God had sent a sign by Jeroboam’s shriveled hand and the broken altar. He had refused Jeroboam’s gracious gift of a meal and rest. YET—on his way home, he stopped to rest. God had said not to eat or drink or return the same way, but not about resting. An old man approached him, saying he too was a prophet with an angelic message. Was the old man a true prophet? This is when we let our guard down! We wonder why the prophet did not ask God for confirmation. But…why do we not ask God when we hear someone say, God has told me to tell you this or that? Beware of contradicting messages; if it sounds too good to be true, it probably isn’t. God is not a man that changes his mind. If we want to know, pray and ask for discernment. Be forewarned; the adversary can use even what seems like righteous words.  

Stay alert! Be on your guard. Check the source; be like the Bereans in Acts 17. Check to see if it is true.

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