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Category Archives: Discipleship

Sinful Humanity

18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and wickedness of those who by their wickedness suppress the truth.19For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20Ever since the creation of the world his eternal power and divine nature, invisible though they are, have been understood and seen through the things he has made. So they are without excuse; 21for though they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their senseless minds were darkened. 22Claiming to be wise, they became fools; 23and they exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling a mortal human being or birds or four-footed animals or reptiles. 24 Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the degrading of their bodies among themselves, 25because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshipped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed for ever! Amen. (Romans 1:18-25, NRSV)

Who do we worship?

Or better yet who do you worship?

Do you know the truth, and do you suppress it or keep it from others? And if so why?

You see I like to think about the truth that Romans, and Paul, are talking about is much bigger than any of us.

It is like a big ball the angels were playing catch with and one of them missed and it fell to earth and shattered into a million pieces and each of us got a piece, or each denomination got a piece. We think we have the truth, but we only have a part and we won’t know the whole truth until we put all the pieces together. Only God knows the truth, we can get close by being with God and in the word and prayerfully devote our lives to being a conduit for God’s love, but we don’t see the full picture.

We need to worship God and follow after where God is leading us, so we can share His grace.

Are we a part of the problem or getting out of God’s way to bring about the truth?

 

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Called to be Saints

Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, 2which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy scriptures, 3the gospel concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh 4and was declared to be Son of God with power according to the spirit of holiness by resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord, 5through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith among all the Gentiles for the sake of his name, 6including yourselves who are called to belong to Jesus Christ, 7 To all God’s beloved in Rome, who are called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 8 First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is proclaimed throughout the world. 9For God, whom I serve with my spirit by announcing the gospel of his Son, is my witness that without ceasing I remember you always in my prayers, 10asking that by God’s will I may somehow at last succeed in coming to you. 11For I am longing to see you so that I may share with you some spiritual gift to strengthen you— 12or rather so that we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith, both yours and mine. 13I want you to know, brothers and sisters,that I have often intended to come to you (but thus far have been prevented), in order that I may reap some harvest among you as I have among the rest of the Gentiles. 14I am a debtor both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to the wise and to the foolish 15 hence my eagerness to proclaim the gospel to you also who are in Rome. 16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel; it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who has faith, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17For in it the righteousness of God is revealed through faith for faith; as it is written, ‘The one who is righteous will live by faith.’ (Romans 1:1-17, NRSV)

I have always wondered why Paul put verse 16 in there. “For I am not ashamed of the gospel…”

Paul is the person who used to arrest followers of the way and when he met Jesus on the Damascus Road turned around and became the most prolific preacher of the good news of the gospel. Paul was the one who started most of the churches in the Greek speaking areas. Why would anyone think he is ashamed of the gospel.

Maybe he said that to the Romans, a church he had not visited yet to help them be bold in their proclamation.

I mean how bold are we in our proclamation of the gospel? Are the actions of your life showing you are not ashamed of the gospel?

I remember reading at one point a very good phrase we should all wonder about if you were brought to trial for being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you?

 

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Freedom in the Morning

35When morning came, the magistrates sent the police, saying, ‘Let those men go.’ 36And the jailer reported the message to Paul, saying, ‘The magistrates sent word to let you go; therefore come out now and go in peace.’ 37But Paul replied, ‘They have beaten us in public, uncondemned, men who are Roman citizens, and have thrown us into prison; and now are they going to discharge us in secret? Certainly not! Let them come and take us out themselves.’ 38The police reported these words to the magistrates, and they were afraid when they heard that they were Roman citizens; 39so they came and apologized to them. And they took them out and asked them to leave the city. 40After leaving the prison they went to Lydia’s home; and when they had seen and encouraged the brothers and sisters there, they departed. (Acts 16:35-40, NRSV)

Wouldn’t you think that the authorities would have asked or discovered the citizenship of people they were arresting/beating? I mean this wouldn’t happen today right?

This happens all the time because people assume what they want about others, rather than caring to get to know the person and the situation.

How do we jump to conclusions in our daily lives?

Where can we change our attitudes and the way we live to show God’s love more?

 
 

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Jail and an Earthquake

25 About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them. 26Suddenly there was an earthquake, so violent that the foundations of the prison were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone’s chains were unfastened. 27When the jailer woke up and saw the prison doors wide open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself, since he supposed that the prisoners had escaped. 28But Paul shouted in a loud voice, ‘Do not harm yourself, for we are all here.’ 29The jailer called for lights, and rushing in, he fell down trembling before Paul and Silas. 30Then he brought them outside and said, ‘Sirs, what must I do to be saved?’31They answered, ‘Believe on the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.’ 32They spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house. 33At the same hour of the night he took them and washed their wounds; then he and his entire family were baptized without delay. 34He brought them up into the house and set food before them; and he and his entire household rejoiced that he had become a believer in God. (Acts 16:25-34, NRSV)

The jailer was going to kill himself because when he saw the doors opened he assumed the prisoners had all left.

But the prisoners were still there when the jailer discovered this he wanted to know why. Then he wanted to know what he had to do to have this life where even in prison you are still free. Because up to that point he wasn’t free.

Are we actually free?

Even in the moments we feel we are in prison or can’t do what we want are we still truly free?

 

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An Exorcism, Riot, and Jail

16 One day, as we were going to the place of prayer, we met a slave-girl who had a spirit of divination and brought her owners a great deal of money by fortune-telling. 17While she followed Paul and us, she would cry out, ‘These men are slaves of the Most High God, who proclaim to you a way of salvation.’ 18She kept doing this for many days. But Paul, very much annoyed, turned and said to the spirit, ‘I order you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.’ And it came out that very hour. 19 But when her owners saw that their hope of making money was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the market-place before the authorities. 20When they had brought them before the magistrates, they said, ‘These men are disturbing our city; they are Jews 21and are advocating customs that are not lawful for us as Romans to adopt or observe.’ 22The crowd joined in attacking them, and the magistrates had them stripped of their clothing and ordered them to be beaten with rods.23After they had given them a severe flogging, they threw them into prison and ordered the jailer to keep them securely. 24Following these instructions, he put them in the innermost cell and fastened their feet in the stocks. (Acts 16:16-24, NRSV)

So Paul got annoyed and told a spirit to leave a young woman. And when this happened she could no longer tell the things others couldn’t, and her owners now couldn’t make any money off of her.

But rather than be happy that she was free from the spirit that held her captive, they were upset at the loss of their income.

Where would you be in this situation, happy for the young woman or made at the loss of your income?

Why do we do the things we do, for the things we get from doing them or allowing them to happen, or do we live our lives to show the love God has for all of us?

What can we do to allow God to move more through our lives?

 
 

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Philippi and Lydia

11We set sail from Troas and took a straight course to Samothrace, the following day to Neapolis, 12and from there to Philippi, which is a leading city of the district of Macedonia and a Roman colony. We remained in this city for some days. 13On the sabbath day we went outside the gate by the river, where we supposed there was a place of prayer; and we sat down and spoke to the women who had gathered there. 14A certain woman named Lydia, a worshipper of God, was listening to us; she was from the city of Thyatira and a dealer in purple cloth. The Lord opened her heart to listen eagerly to what was said by Paul. 15When she and her household were baptized, she urged us, saying, ‘If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come and stay at my home.’ And she prevailed upon us. (Acts 16:11-15, NRSV)

The picture here is the Church of Lydia in Philippi.  I took this picture in January 2004. My wife and I visited Turkey and Greece on a tour called the Churches of Revelation and the Footsteps of Paul. We saw biblical sites and walked the streets that Paul walked. This church was built on the site where they say Lydia and her family was baptized. There is a nice cross baptismal bridge over the river.

Lydia was a rich woman because she delt in purple cloth and purple was a hard color to dye. So she was a pillar in the community. She was prepared by God to hear the message of Paul and she did and was transformed.

God send all of us to go into the world and share his love that he shared with us.

Are we ready to go where God is sending us to share what God has given us?

 

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On the Road…with Timothy

Paul went on also to Derbe and to Lystra, where there was a disciple named Timothy, the son of a Jewish woman who was a believer; but his father was a Greek. 2He was well spoken of by the believers in Lystra and Iconium. 3Paul wanted Timothy to accompany him; and he took him and had him circumcised because of the Jews who were in those places, for they all knew that his father was a Greek. 4As they went from town to town, they delivered to them for observance the decisions that had been reached by the apostles and elders who were in Jerusalem. 5So the churches were strengthened in the faith and increased in numbers daily. 6 They went through the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia. 7When they had come opposite Mysia, they attempted to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them; 8so, passing by Mysia, they went down to Troas. 9During the night Paul had a vision: there stood a man of Macedonia pleading with him and saying, ‘Come over to Macedonia and help us.’ 10When he had seen the vision, we immediately tried to cross over to Macedonia, being convinced that God had called us to proclaim the good news to them. (Acts 16:1-10, NRSV)

I wonder as I read this, “How were forbidden by the Holy Spirit to not speak in Asia, and how did the Spirit not allow them to go to Bithynia?”

Have you ever wanted to go somewhere or do something, and circumstances lined up that you couldn’t do that? Just plans don’t work out or something better comes up?

Sometimes we think the plans we have for our lives are the best thing that could ever happen. But then the Spirit steps in and doesn’t allow what we want to happen and shows us the life that God has planned for us. I

If we can allow the Spirit to be our cruise director, we will have a great ride through life!

 

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