1 Blessed is the man Who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly,
Nor stands in the path of sinners,
Nor sits in the seat of the scornful;– Psalm 1:1 NKJV
Verse 1 of Psalm 1 shows a progression of acts; walking, standing, sitting. Isn’t this how we usually progress in making friends with people? First, it is a casual meeting where a few words are exchanged. If we find that enjoyable, the next encounter, we spend a little more time with them. After the casual greeting, we start a conversation about something that is of interest to both of us so we stand around and chat. After a few of these sessions, we decide to have coffee (or whatever your preferred beverage is) and we sit together. By this time, the relationship has developed to the point that our words and opinions are influencing the other person. Either they are influencing us to agree with them or we are influencing them to agree with our opinions and beliefs. We may do this without any conscious knowledge of it as it happens. That is the warning in verse 1. Don’t do these things with the wrong people. As new Christians, we need to spend our time meditating on God’s Word so that we will be prepared to witness to sinners. Once God has prepared us, then we can sit and talk with sinners for a while. As we mature spiritually, there are still times that we need to withdraw from worldly conversations to pray and meditate, just as Jesus did on several occasions. We need to refuel for the next encounter that God has planned for us. On this earth, there will never be a time that we are so mature spiritually that we can abandon the reading of God’s word. It we think that we have reached that point, that is pride and we are headed for a fall.
12 I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. – Philippians 3:12 NLT
God created a perfect earth. When Adam and Eve were tempted by satan and chose to disobey God, the earth was no longer perfect. Then the earth, along with humankind, started to age and decay. God became the perfect man to redeem earth and all mankind from that fallen state. When Jesus ascended, there was no longer anything left on this earth that was perfect. Then God came as the Holy Spirit to abide within us. Since that time, those of us who accept Christ as our Savior and Lord have been given both the command and the desire to strive for perfection. Though we understand that as long as we live in this fleshly tent, it is impossible for us to achieve perfection, nevertheless, as Paul says we “press on to possess that perfection”. Why would we or Paul strive to achieve a seemingly impossible goal? If this temporal dwelling and life were the end, then we would be foolish. But we, who believe in Jesus, have a knowledge and a hope of eternity. That knowledge and hope will not be perfected while we participate in the activities of the Kingdom of God here on earth. We press on because we know that when the Perfect One comes to reign again, we will be like Him. It is then that our hope will be fulfilled and we will reach the goal of perfection. We press on for a few years to win the prize of eternal perfection, fully synced with the One who has always been, now is and will always be Perfection. Impossible in this lifetime? Yes. Impossible in eternity? No!
12 Afterward Mordecai returned to the palace gate, but Haman hurried home dejected and completely humiliated. — Esther 6:12 NLT
We are familiar with the story of Esther and how God exalted her to the position of queen in a most unlikely situation. Besides Esther, there are three other people God had positioned strategically for this particular time. God needed a man with the the authority to make things happen so He had positioned Xerxes as king. He needed a villain, He chose Haman for this role. Haman was the perfect villain for this time, he hated Mordecai and all of the Jews. God needed a hero, someone who would refuse to bow to the villain and with the backbone to stand up for God’s people. He chose Mordecai who had a little known history with the king. In the past, he had warned the king about a plot to kill the king and for this he had never been rewarded (at least not in earthly ways). Mordecai was also a man of compassion. We know this because he had taken his cousin, Hadassah, also known as Esther and raised her as his own daughter after his uncle died. God had prepared and positioned each of these people to carry out His plan to free His people and destroy the enemy. God is preparing each of us to do the same thing today. Are we ready and willing to do our part when all the people involved come together? If not, how do we get ready?
15 Work hard so you can present yourself to God and receive his approval. Be a good worker, one who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly explains the word of truth. — 2 Timothy 2:15 NLT
29 But Peter and the other apostles answered and said: “We ought to obey God rather than men. — Acts 5:29 NKJV
In Romans and other Scriptures we are taught to obey the laws of the land. We are also taught to respect the officials and to pray for those who rule over us. In today’s military, we are taught to obey all orders that are legal and moral. There are times when we, as Christians, have to make decisions about how far we can go in obeying others. Peter and the apostles did not need time to think about or pray about their decision. They had already decided that they should obey God rather than man. With this in mind, we should have already made a predetermined decision that when laws conflict with the Holy Scriptures, we will obey God and His word. From a temporary, worldly viewpoint, this can be a costly decision. We have brothers and sisters who are being persecuted, imprisoned, beaten and murdered because they refuse to deny Jesus as their Savior and Lord. There are youths of all ages that are beaten by their own parents and kicked out of their homes because they have converted to Christianity and refuse to turn back. Let us pray for them on a daily basis. The mantra of the persecuted Christians is “It is harder to live for Christ than it is to die for Him”‘ As our society grows more evil and violent, we must come to that same conclusion now before the pressure is really on. From an eternal, spiritual viewpoint, it is an easy decision to decide for the Lord.
7 For none of us lives to himself, and no one dies to himself. 8 For if we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. Therefore, whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s. — Romans 14:7, 8 NKJV
11 Revive me, O Lord, for Your name’s sake! For Your righteousness’ sake bring my soul out of trouble. — Psalm 143:11 NKJV
There are times in our lives when everything around us seems to be going in the wrong direction. There are situations that we have prayed about on a daily basis, we have checked the Scriptures to be sure that our request does not violate them in any way and we have agreed with others in our request. Yet, we still don’t see any positive results. It is then that we, as the Psalmist does here, must fall on our faces and ask God to fulfill our request, not for our sake, but for the glory of His name. The end of our rope is the beginning of our hope. The surety that God cannot be defeated and that He will not give His glory to anyone else is our hope and our reason for being confident that He will act. Yes, it will be in His time and in His way, but He will act. So, when satan seems to be winning the battle, we appeal to God to act speedily for His name’s sake. And He will do it.
10 Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver; I have tested you in the furnace of affliction.
11 For My own sake, for My own sake, I will do it; For how should My name be profaned?
And I will not give My glory to another. — Isaiah 48:10, 11 NKJV
12 There is salvation in no one else! God has given no other name under heaven by which we must be saved.” — Acts 4:12 NLT
Jesus Christ died on the Cross at Calvary for every single person who has lived, is living and will ever live. Those who accept that fact as the absolute truth will make it to heaven, those who don’t won’t. It is a simple, plain message that even a child can understand and accept. Yet, there are those who refuse to believe it. They have their own god(s) and become very angry when they hear the name of Jesus. Why? Because every time the name of Jesus is heard, those hearing it have to make a decision. Some will say “Oh, I will decide later” not understanding that this statement is a decision not to accept Him. They want us to water down the message and allow for other ways to get to heaven. The Gatekeeper is on duty 24/7 and will not allow anyone to enter into heaven unless they can truthfully answer the simple question; “Have you accepted Jesus as the only way into heaven?” There is no negotiation, the deal has been sealed and everyone comes on the same terms. The foot of the cross is level ground, everyone comes just as they are and accepts Jesus the same way. The rich, the famous and the powerful must meet Jesus the same way as the poor, the unknown and the common man. The only way is to go empty-handed, humble and obedient. It isn’t a man’s plan that can be altered, it is the infallible, immutable plan of God.
6 Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.” – John 14:6 NLT
6 But Peter said, “I don’t have any silver or gold for you. But I’ll give you what I have. In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, get up and walk!” — Acts3:6 NLT
God has a plan for each of us and following that plan, we will intersect with the plans He has for others. Every minute detail of every plan is laid out and weaved into the patterns of our lives. The lame man was laid by the Temple gate every day. No doubt, Peter, John and even Jesus had passed him before on their way to worship in the Temple. Why did God choose this particular day to demonstrate His power? We could say that we don’t know the specific reason and that would be true. But we can assume without doing any injury to the Scriptures here that there was at least one person present in the crowd that day that needed to see this miracle occur. Probably more, but at least one, needed to see a lame man made whole. God doesn’t waste miracles. He has His reasons for when, where, and why. We have no idea of how big the impact of this particular miracle became as time passed. When reading the Bible, it is important to remember that the acts we read about are only a small sampling of what was going on at the time. One of the people in the crowd may very well have become a church founder or maybe just a missionary to his own family. Either way, it was necessary for this miracle to happen at this exact moment on this day in front of this crowd. God excels in doing the extraordinary in ordinary places and times. Listen for the small, still voice. He is asking some of us to allow Him to take our ordinary lives and do something extraordinary with them today. At least one of us, maybe more.
And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. – Romans 12:1 NLT
15 So on October 2nd the wall was finished—just fifty-two days after we had begun. 16 When our enemies and the surrounding nations heard about it, they were frightened and humiliated. They realized this work had been done with the help of our God. — Nehemiah 6:15, 16 NLT
Rebuilding the wall that surrounded Jerusalem in Nehemiah’s time was a major construction project. Although we can’t be sure of exactly how much of the wall they rebuilt, we can be sure that at the very minimum, it would have exceeded two and a quarter miles. Compare that to how long it takes a construction crew to repair a section of interstate that exceeds two miles even with all the equipment and ready-made materials they have available to them today. Then add to that, the fact that they had to build the final portions of the wall using one hand and carrying a weapon in the other. And the whole time, they were being harassed and ridiculed by their enemies. It was quite a miraculous feat. There is no way Nehemiah and his people could have even started this project without the direction and the power of God working through the people involved. From the king of Babylon to the least of the workers in Jerusalem, God worked through each of them to provide for the people and the project. When satan sees that God has raised up people to do a great work, he is always there to try to thwart what God is doing. He was there in Nehemiah’s time trying to discourage everyone with bluster and lies and he is still up to his old tricks today. We need to pray that God will raise up Ezras and Nehemiahs in our day to rebuild the body of Christ. So that satan and his allies will once again be “frightened and humiliated” when they see God helping us.
39 This promise is to you, to your children, and to those far away—all who have been called by the Lord our God.
— Acts 2:39 NLT
The disciples had been through basic training and spent three years with Jesus. They had peen patient, prayerful and persecuted and they had persevered through it all. True, they had their moments of doubts and disappointments and had at one point run away and left Jesus all alone to face his killers. But when the time was right, Jesus had brought them all back together and given them their final instructions before His departure. The first instruction was to “wait in Jerusalem”. The basic training was over and they were about to go on their first missions without Him as their leader. Up to now, the provisions and power had come through Jesus but He was no longer physically with them. Now, the time had come for them to tap into the source of power through another person, the Holy Spirit. A person just as much as Jesus, in fact, the same person but not in human form. Jesus was God in visible human form. The Holy Spirit is the new heart-sized version, just as powerful and able to be everywhere at once.
The disciples now had the power and God would give them the provisions. The fight was on, the Commander had given the order– “Charge!” and the power started a great movement that is still alive today. We are the “far away” mentioned in this verse. It is up to us to be the hands and feet as the Holy Spirit carries on the battle.
Once when he was eating with them, he commanded them, “Do not leave Jerusalem until the Father sends you the gift he promised, as I told you before. — Acts 1:4
Sometimes when God first starts to reveal our part in His plan, we want to start “doing” right then. There are times that we should move instantly because it might be the only chance we have to witness to a particular person. But if God is calling us to do a work that requires coordination and acceptance by others, we may have to wait while everyone else involved gets lined up. God never sends us unprepared. Jesus was tested for forty days before He began His ministry. Saul spent years in the desert becoming Paul. David spent years fighting battles, running from Saul and was anointed three times before He actually took the throne. Preparation requires patience, prayer, persecution, perseverance, provision and power. There are usually people who disagree with what we think God has called us to do and/or the methodology we use to do it. We must not only be patient with God but with others involved as well. We must endure the negativity and the discouraging remarks. If we persevere, God will give us the provisions and the power. God had prepared the disciples to “go and make” but now He has commanded them to “wait”. Waiting can sometimes be the hardest part. But success will only come if we adhere to God’s battle plan and His timing. We must wait until all the ifs, ands, buts, perhapses, and maybes are gone. Then when the Commander says “charge”, we will be successful in the war.
14 Wait patiently for the Lord. Be brave and courageous.
Yes, wait patiently for the Lord.— Psalm 27:14 NLT