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Tag Archives: listen

The Conquest of Canaan Promised

I am going to send an angel in front of you, to guard you on the way and to bring you to the place that I have prepared. Be attentive to him and listen to his voice; do not rebel against him, for he will not pardon your transgression; for my name is in him. But if you listen attentively to his voice and do all that I say, then I will be an enemy to your enemies and a foe to your foes. When my angel goes in front of you, and brings you to the Amorites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Canaanites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites, and I blot them out, you shall not bow down to their gods, or worship them, or follow their practices, but you shall utterly demolish them and break their pillars in pieces. You shall worship the Lord your God, and I will bless your bread and your water; and I will take sickness away from among you. No one shall miscarry or be barren in your land; I will fulfill the number of your days. I will send my terror in front of you, and will throw into confusion all the people against whom you shall come, and I will make all your enemies turn their backs to you. And I will send the pestilence in front of you, which shall drive out the Hivites, the Canaanites, and the Hittites from before you. I will not drive them out from before you in one year, or the land would become desolate and the wild animals would multiply against you. Little by little I will drive them out from before you, until you have increased and possess the land. I will set your borders from the Red Sea to the sea of the Philistines, and from the wilderness to the Euphrates; for I will hand over to you the inhabitants of the land, and you shall drive them out before you. You shall make no covenant with them and their gods. They shall not live in your land, or they will make you sin against me; for if you worship their gods, it will surely be a snare to you. (Exodus 23:20-33, NRSV)

Here God told the Israelites that is they listened to God’s Angel that the land God promised them would be conquered by them.

Do we listen to God?

Do we do what we think He would want us to do, or actually what He is telling us to do?

Sometimes we get hung up in our own ways and our own insecurities and fall back on our understanding and our fears, but God is leading us to places we have never been and taking by means we can not understand. If we do not listen and follow His direction we will be lost and floundering.

So do you listen to God?

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The Plot to Kill Paul

In the morning the Jews joined in a conspiracy and bound themselves by an oath neither to eat nor drink until they had killed Paul. There were more than forty who joined in this conspiracy. They went to the chief priests and elders and said, “We have strictly bound ourselves by an oath to taste no food until we have killed Paul. Now then, you and the council must notify the tribune to bring him down to you, on the pretext that you want to make a more thorough examination of his case. And we are ready to do away with him before he arrives.” Now the son of Paul’s sister heard about the ambush; so he went and gained entrance to the barracks and told Paul. Paul called one of the centurions and said, “Take this young man to the tribune, for he has something to report to him.” So he took him, brought him to the tribune, and said, “The prisoner Paul called me and asked me to bring this young man to you; he has something to tell you.” The tribune took him by the hand, drew him aside privately, and asked, “What is it that you have to report to me?” He answered, “The Jews have agreed to ask you to bring Paul down to the council tomorrow, as though they were going to inquire more thoroughly into his case. But do not be persuaded by them, for more than forty of their men are lying in ambush for him. They have bound themselves by an oath neither to eat nor drink until they kill him. They are ready now and are waiting for your consent.” So the tribune dismissed the young man, ordering him, “Tell no one that you have informed me of this.” (Acts 23:12-22, NRSV)

How can these people say they follow a loving God if they vow to not eat or drink until they have killed someone?

What kind of religion causes people to want to kill others simply because they are different from them?

And Paul used to be one of them. It seems that would make them want to listen more because he was the one who was going around rounding up followers of the way so if he is now a part of the way I would want to know why not get rid of him.

So how do we react to those who are different?

Are we open and able to listen, or do we move quickly to get rid of all those who are different?

 

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Paul Defends Himself

Just as Paul was about to be brought into the barracks, he said to the tribune, “May I say something to you?” The tribune replied, “Do you know Greek? Then you are not the Egyptian who recently stirred up a revolt and led the four thousand assassins out into the wilderness?” Paul replied, “I am a Jew, from Tarsus in Cilicia, a citizen of an important city; I beg you, let me speak to the people.” When he had given him permission, Paul stood on the steps and motioned to the people for silence; and when there was a great hush, he addressed them in the Hebrew language, saying: ”Brothers and fathers, listen to the defense that I now make before you.”When they heard him addressing them in Hebrew, they became even more quiet. Then he said: ”I am a Jew, born in Tarsus in Cilicia, but brought up in this city at the feet of Gamaliel, educated strictly according to our ancestral law, being zealous for God, just as all of you are today. I persecuted this Way up to the point of death by binding both men and women and putting them in prison, as the high priest and the whole council of elders can testify about me. From them I also received letters to the brothers in Damascus, and I went there in order to bind those who were there and to bring them back to Jerusalem for punishment. (Acts 21:37-22:5, NRSV)

So Paul knew the crowd he was speaking to.

When talking with the authorities of the city he spoke in Greek, and when he spoke to the crowd that had brought him from the temple he spoke in Hebrew.

You see in our understanding of being a disciple of Jesus context is very important. You use clues from the society you are speaking to to make sure they understand the message you are delivering. To speak to the authorities in Hebrew wouldn’t have worked. Well maybe one could have understood, and the same for the crowd from the temple. You have to deliver the message contextually so it is understood.

How do we deliver our message of good news? The way we always have? Or in the context of those to whom we are speaking?

 

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Paul Arrested in the Temple

When the seven days were almost completed, the Jews from Asia, who had seen him in the temple, stirred up the whole crowd. They seized him, shouting, “Fellow Israelites, help! This is the man who is teaching everyone everywhere against our people, our law, and this place; more than that, he has actually brought Greeks into the temple and has defiled this holy place.” For they had previously seen Trophimus the Ephesian with him in the city, and they supposed that Paul had brought him into the temple. Then all the city was aroused, and the people rushed together. They seized Paul and dragged him out of the temple, and immediately the doors were shut. While they were trying to kill him, word came to the tribune of the cohort that all Jerusalem was in an uproar. Immediately he took soldiers and centurions and ran down to them. When they saw the tribune and the soldiers, they stopped beating Paul.Then the tribune came, arrested him, and ordered him to be bound with two chains; he inquired who he was and what he had done. Some in the crowd shouted one thing, some another; and as he could not learn the facts because of the uproar, he ordered him to be brought into the barracks. When Paul came to the steps, the violence of the mob was so great that he had to be carried by the soldiers. The crowd that followed kept shouting, “Away with him!” (Acts 21:27-36, NRSV)

Isn’t it interesting how the people rebel against what they had been taught is right and proper?

But don’t we all do this?

Maybe not to the point of becoming an angry mob and beating the one with the new idea, but we are all protective of the way we learned something when someone comes and says something opposite of what we learned. This is particularly true when it comes to our faith.

Jonah was swallowed by a _______? I am sure most of you said whale. Because we learned in Sunday School that Jonah was swallowed by a whale. But the Bible doesn’t say whale, it says a big fish. So it might not have been a whale.

And we will fight against this. and this statement doesn’t even affect our salvation! We are all quick to beat down what is different than us. But really the only way for us to evangelize is to know the other and to know another we have to listen to them.

So don’t push something away because it is different. You may just learn something and maybe share something in the process.

 

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Paul in Ephesus

Ephesus: Road to Library

While Apollos was in Corinth, Paul passed through the interior regions and came to Ephesus, where he found some disciples. He said to them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you became believers?” They replied, “No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.” Then he said, “Into what then were you baptized?” They answered, “Into John’s baptism.” Paul said, “John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in the one who was to come after him, that is, in Jesus.” On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. When Paul had laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied— altogether there were about twelve of them. He entered the synagogue and for three months spoke out boldly, and argued persuasively about the kingdom of God. When some stubbornly refused to believe and spoke evil of the Way before the congregation, he left them, taking the disciples with him, and argued daily in the lecture hall of Tyrannus. This continued for two years, so that all the residents of Asia, both Jews and Greeks, heard the word of the Lord. (Acts 19:1-10, NRSV)

Paul continued his journey through the land and spreading the word about Jesus as he went. Anyone who was receptive to the message he would share with them. Paul did not force his opinions or views on anyone even though he knew the message he was sharing was one that would save all who would hear and accept it. When he was met with opposition rather than argue, he would move on.

Do we do this?

Or do we want to be right?

Maybe the best thing to do is move along when we do not agree. Rather than trying to make others see our point of view and force our way, what if we did what Jesus said, shake the dust off and move along. Jesus is the one who brings change, we get to bring the message of love, but if it is not heard, forcing love won’t work.

So what will we do?

 

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The Conversion of Lydia

We set sail from Troas and took a straight course to Samothrace, the following day to Neapolis, and 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. On 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. A certain woman named Lydia, a worshiper 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. When 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)

Did you see what happened here?

Paul went where God was leading him and shared what had happened to him and how he had met Jesus and all that Jesus did for the entire world. And when they shared the message that God sent them with, people would listen and hear and God opened the hearts of those listening and they heard the message of love.

That is what God is asking all of us to do. To go where He leads us, and share His Story with all the world. And then let Him work on the hearts of those who listen.

Are you ready to go?

 

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The Joy of Forgiveness

Then I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not hide my iniquity; I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,” and you forgave the guilt of my sin. Selah (Psalm 32:5, NRSV)

When we come to God with all of the darkness that keeps our relationship from growing He doesn’t turn away from us and leave us yo die in our sins. God is faithful and just and already knows all of the blackness of your life. In fact God knows things about you you don’t even know a

God will listen and forgive. He will never leave you or forsake you.

 

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