10 “I asked, ‘What should I do, Lord?’ “And the Lord told me, ‘Get up and go into Damascus, and there you will be told everything you are to do.’. — Acts 22:10 NLT
Saul used to sit at the feet of Gamaliel learning about the Old Testament and the Jewish traditions and laws. He became very zealous in defending the Jewish customs even to the point of putting Christians to death. I think we can be very sure that in those times, he never considered the fact that Jesus was training him for a specific purpose. It probably never crossed his mind that he would be the missionary of the ages and the man responsible for writing most of the New Testament. The transition from Saul to Paul took over three years. Our salvation experience was probably not as dramatic as that of Paul. Nevertheless, it is just as necessary as that of Paul for the spread of the Gospel and the increase in the Kingdom of God. Let each of us look at our lives and experiences. What do those things tell us about what God has trained us to do to add to His Kingdom here on earth? We cannot come to the conclusion that we are trained to do God’s bidding, that would devalue the work of Jesus on the Cross and our value to God. Every person God has called to salvation has a part to play in the Kingdom here on earth. Ask God to show you what that part is and then, giddy-up go.
1 O Lord, I give my life to you. — Psalm 25:1 NLT
Psalm 25:1-7 NLT
When we accept Jesus as our Savior, the Holy Spirit comes to abide within our hearts and minds. God has sent Him to be our guide and our teacher. If we are sincere about our repentance and listen to His teachings, we will soon discover that Jesus wants to be not only our Savior, but also our Lord. If we are going to allow Jesus to be Lord of our lives, there will have to be some changes made. We are becoming new creatures and that requires tearing down the old. We have new hearts inhabited by a new master. He also wants to renew our minds. Jesus, better than anyone, understands that the true battlefield is the mind. It is where our thoughts and ideas originate. We have to learn to control our thoughts and imaginations and bring them all into the obedience of Christ Jesus. Once our thought patterns change, our words and actions will change and our words and actions will let those around know which God we serve.
2 Cor. 10:3-6 NIV
4 But the Lord is in his holy Temple; the Lord still rules from heaven.
He watches everyone closely, examining every person on earth. — Psalm 11:4 NLT
In Psalms 10-13, David seems to be more focused on those who are bent on doing evil than what God has done for him. He questions God about why those people seem to be more successful than the righteous. It is a question that many, if not all, of us have asked at sometime or other. Why are bad things happening to good people while the bad people seem to be receiving blessings? God doesn’t seem to answer David directly, but rather allows David to arrive at his own conclusion. David never gives up on God, even though he questions why God allows such things and why they continue for so long. He also questions whether God can hear his prayers or not. When we are going through those rough patches, it is encouraging to know that we are not the only ones to wonder where God is and what He is up to. Because David is a man “after God’s own heart”, he arrives at the right conclusion. God is exactly where He is supposed to be doing exactly what He should be doing. He always has been, He is and He always will be there watching over us and doing what is best for us even though at times, it doesn’t “feel” like it. Those are the times we have to ignore “feelings” and stand firm on the knowledge that God is always with us and we are never alone. Those are the times that God allows so that we know whether or not our head knowledge has become heart knowledge. If what we know in our heads has taken root in our hearts, then we will pass the test when God examines us. Should we fail, God has no qualms about having us take the test again and again until we pass it.
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
This verse is probably one of the best known verses in the Bible. It may be very well-known but we had best not get complacent about it. Do we believe what this verse says? Is there really only one Name under heaven whereby we can be saved? Would you stake your life on it? In today’s society with its anti-Christian bent, we had better be sure we believe it if we are going to stand up for Jesus because there are thousands of our brothers and sisters around the world who are doing just that–giving their lives for Jesus. If we believe then why do we get so mealy-mouthed around the religious people of the world? There is not one religion that makes this claim, only Christianity. Our beliefs had better be rooted in Jesus and our lives built on Him. Otherwise, when the storms come and the winds of doubt and fear start beating us up, we will fall. If you read the full passage above, then you will know that verse thirteen says that the council of leaders knew that Peter and John “had been with Jesus”. Isn’t that what we want others to see in us? Enough of the likeness of Jesus that they will know that we have spent some time with Jesus. Jesus died for all sinners, we owe it to Him to let the whole world know. Are we ready to stand up, speak up and die if we have to? Let us all pray that if that time comes in our lives that we will be ready to meet the challenge and joyfully go home to be with Jesus.
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!
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.
19 Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.– Matt. 28:19 NLT
In yesterday’s reading, we thought about how we might have reacted to the instructions of Jesus to “go and make disciples of all the nations”. The important part for us in any work in which God asks us to participate is to agree and believe. How do we get to that point? We start by remembering that God never asks us to do anything that He has not prepared us to do and that He is ready to provide everything we need to complete the work. Look at the training that Jesus had given the disciples. They had had three years of walking and talking with Him on a daily basis, observing Him as He interacted with people on all levels of society and healing them. In today’s society, that would probably qualify them for a doctorate degree in Christianity. God had used the evil Romans to build the roads necessary and to make the country safe enough to travel. He had sent the disciples out once before with absolutely nothing but the clothes on their back and the sandals on their feet. They had passed the survival test then and they would again. When God calls us to participate in His Kingdom work, He just wants us to agree and be available, He provides everything else. So when you feel that little nudge, don’t doubt, don’t fear, don’t be a Zechariah and get struck dumb for nine months, be a Mary and become “blessed above all”.
6 In this way, Solomon did what was evil in the Lord’s sight; he refused to follow the Lord completely, as his father, David, had done. — 1 Kings 11:6 NLT
Just in case, we should think that we are capable of handling great wealth easily, look at what happened to Solomon in his old age. The wisest man in the world turned from the God who had blessed him abundantly with worldly goods, wisdom, power and fame. If he couldn’t handle it, then we need to be very careful in our walk in this world. Sure, Solomon still had plenty of money, after all, what was there to buy or to do with all that cash? Even with all of his wisdom, he was still, somehow, not fulfilled. We can’t imagine his abundance but with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, we can see that his failure was due to the desires of the flesh. Notice that in verse 4, it reads “they turned his heart to worship other gods”. Solomon came to the point that pleasing his wives was more important to him than being obedient to the God of Israel. In all of his wisdom, Solomon forgot that God had said that the king must not take many wives or buy many horses. And the king must not accumulate large amounts of wealth for himself. But, the king must copy the scriptures and study them daily.
We have to wonder if Solomon had kept up the practice of reading God’s Word daily. It is only when we keep the Word of God first in our lives that we can overcome the desires of the flesh. His Word must be our light, our guide and our advisor. Without His Word as a constant reminder of who He is and who we are, the flesh will dominate and we will end up in the same situation in which Solomon found himself in his old age. Daily, diligent meditation on His Word is our only hope for deliverance from evil.
14 “I’m in a desperate situation!” David replied to Gad. “But let us fall into the hands of the Lord, for his mercy is great. Do not let me fall into human hands.” — 2 Samuel 24:14 NLT
David was a man after God’s own heart. Time after time, David sinned and repented and God always forgave him. God blessed David with peace and with a super-abundance. Why does God do this for those of us who fall time after time? Because He loves us with a love that we cannot totally grasp or understand. He continued to forgive David because David always had a godly sorrow for his sins. After the heat and passion of the moment had settled, David always turned back to God and begged for His forgiveness. This was a continuing battle for David and it is a continuning battle for any of us as long as we remain in the flesh in this sinful world. God knows that we cannot be perfect in this flesh. If that were possible, then Jesus would not have had to die to redeem us and the old covenant would still be in effect. When we fail and come short of the mark, we must remember to be like David, admit our sins to God and repent from them. When we repent, we turn from the old way and to a new way. True repentance requires actions that show God and those around us that we are serious when we ask God for forgiveness. When we fail and we all do at some point, don’t allow satan to beat you up with guilt and condemnation. Follow David’s example and choose to be disciplined by God. His mercies are new every morning and there is plenty of mercy for all of us and enough to last throughout eternity. When God saved us, He knew our weaknesses and He knew that sooner or later, we would fall, but He chose us anyway and He hasn’t changed His mind about our salvation. Be honest with God, He already knows what we did and what we will do in the future. Those sins are already forgiven, but we must repent.
9 Jesus responded, “Salvation has come to this home today, for this man has shown himself to be a true son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of Man came to seek and save those who are lost.” — Luke 19:9 NLT
Jesus temporarily gave up all of His glory in heaven for one reason. That reason was to come to earth, be born as a human, live a perfect, sinless life so that He would be sacrificed for our sins. Some of the people then, just as now, never understood that. They were always trying to find fault with the things He did. Jesus associated with and ate with sinners. We must follow that example if we are to bring others to Christ. Do we actively “seek” those who are lost or do we try to avoid situations where the Holy Spirit might nudge us to speak to sinners about Jesus and where they will spend eternity? Do we hide behind the claim that we have not been called to be preachers or missionaries? When we pray asking God to send workers into the fields of harvest, do we exclude ourselves as being one of those who are subject to the call? If we do, then are our prayers really sincere? Since Jesus gave up everything to redeem us, what are we willing to give up to follow in His footsteps? Is our attitude one of “save me and leave me alone” or “save me and use me to grow Your Kingdom here on earth and in eternity”? To those that use the talents they have to expand the Kingdom, more is given, to those that refuse to use their talents to expand the Kingdom, what they have is taken away.
The talents that God has given to each of us are our Spiritual muscles, we either use them or we lose them.