Monday, June 27, 2011


Acts 3:1-10 (Peter and John heal the cripple beggar at the temple)

Uncomfortable.  A word no one really likes for any reason.  It isn't fun to be uncomfortable.  Too hot, too cold, out of your element, a scratchy tag in your bra, a child pulling down your pants trying to get your attention. . . All are quite unpleasant.

My reading today made me realize how uncomfortable I get around beggars.  Beggars really isn't the "PC" term to be using now-a-days, but it is the term used in this passage, so I'm going with it.  Whatever category they fall under, they all make me a little twitchy.  I feel a tug in my heart for their plight, wondering what their story is and how they ended up in this sad state.  I want to help them, to hand them a dollar or five, but am unsure at how that money will be used.  Will they go buy food for their family or booze?  Will they grab my hand as I hold out the money and take me away?  Totally unsure and distressed I usually just avert my eyes and pass on by.

Hitchikers, men holding signs, women huddled in a corner, they are all just a bit unnerving to me.  Among this issue and so many more, God pushes me to break out of my shell.  I'm not going to get anywhere if I am not willing to get just a little bit uncomfortable.  Just look at the result John and Peter had from simply not walking past this beggar, who had obviously occupied this spot many times before.  The now-healed man, went into the temple courts dancing and singing praises to Jesus.  The people who knew the man to be crippled were amazed.  How many of them came to believe in Jesus because of the simple words Peter spoke.

Now, I might not always step out of my comfort zone for a 'beggar' due to the fact that it does often pose safety issues, especially when carting along three small children with me 95% of the time.  But that doesn't mean I can't give that $5 to the local food pantry and make them aware of a person who could be reached.  It doesn't mean I can't offer a simple "Jesus loves you" as I pass by.  There are so many things that push me outside of my comfort zone when it comes to witnessing for Jesus, and many pose no safety risks. 

Break out of that shell!
My challenge today?  Identify a 'comfort zone issue' you have and make a point to step out of it at least once this week.  Mine will be not hesitating to share with a group of friends I have coming over this weekend.  Oh yes, they all know that I am all for Jesus, but I usually hold back so that they don't think I'm too weird.  Well, if living for Jesus makes me wierd, then weird I will be. 

Friday, June 24, 2011

True Fellowship

Acts 2:42-47

They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.  Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles.  All the believers were together and had everything in common.  Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need.  Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts.  They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people.  And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved. 

Isn't that ideal?  This is the way the church started.  Now, we so often see churches separating, people leaving their church for another, disputes on the board, different denominations looking down their noses at another.  We, as a church body, need to stop and read this more often.  This is how God intended the church to operate.

Dedicated to the apostles' teaching which was the truth of the gospel, the truth of Jesus and the teachings of Jesus.  The Good News.  Can't get any more pure than that. 

All the believers were together.  They weren't in separate denominations with Catholics thinking they were better than Lutherans or Baptists thinking they know more than Methodists (Now, before you get your panties in a bunch, I am not trying to say anything bad about any denomination here, just using names for pure example reasons).  I have never really understood the need for denominations.  Shouldn't we just all read the Bible and teach what it says?  But, that is an argument for another day.

Giving to everyone as they had need, now this is something I am proud to say, can be seen rather well in current times.  With all of the recent natural disasters that have taken place, it is awesome to see how people are stepping up and taking care of those in need during these hard times.  But it is still so easy to see the poverty of some and the vast richness of others.  I heard on the radio the other day that if your household income is over $50,000 per year you are in the top 5% of wealth on the globe.  WOW!  (Now please don't direct quote me on that one, I heard it on the radio with three children in the car all trying for my attention and/or fighting over something and/or asking if we were there yet, so I might have it off just slightly, but it was something close to that and still awe-striking).  I think even our giving could be stepped up a little.

Meeting together every day with glad and sincere hearts.  Who has the time for this anymore?  We fill our calendars so full of stuff that we don't have time for true fellowship anymore, except on that special occasion you invite your Bible Study group over to your place for a BBQ.  Our days are full of work, running to swimming lessons, ball games and dance class rather than true fellowship and praise (and don't think I am just trying to point a finger, because the above list came from my calender just this week). 

And the Lord added to their number daily. . . Here is the real kicker.  Do the above reasons tell you anything about why today's churches don't see daily conversions.  Nonbelievers look inside and see fighting and hypocrites and people without time for each other and the poor still suffering.  I can't say I don't blame them for not wanting to jump right in.  But if they were to look in and see what was exampled in the first church how could they just walk away?  I think there is a big lesson to be learned from this short little passage here.

Now, this isn't to say that today's churches aren't doing anything good.  I see so many great examples from Christians and Christian churches everyday, but as a whole we are lacking.  What can you do to help improve it?  Is there a step you can take to move you or your church in a backwards direction towards how the first church showed us it should be done?

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Gifts from God

Today's reading - Acts 2:36-41

All too often we take our gifts from God for granted.  Yes, we recognize so many things in our lives as gifts from our Heavenly Father.  We know our blessed children are gifts, and maybe when they are being really good or do something that makes us proud, we stop and thank Him for them.  Maybe you are exceptionally good and thank Him even when they are driving you nuts.  I am still working on that one!

We know that our husbands, families, homes, money, lives, etc., etc. are wonderful gifts from God, but today in Acts 2:38 it talks of receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit.  In my opinion (take it for what it is worth, which isn't too much), the greatest gift we receive from God is His grace.  The fact that if we believe in His Son and that He died on the cross for our sins, God gives us His grace and forgives our sins amazes me.  Every time I screw up and have to beg for mercy I am covered in Gods wonderful grace.  How often do I thank him for this?  Definitely not often enough, but it is surly one of those things I do remember to thank him for quite often. 

The Holy Spirit?  Now that is one that is often not on my 'thankful' list, but it is one of God's great gifts that is received once we repent and believe.  Having the Holy Spirit living in me, being that 'little voice of reason' guiding me on the right path is, without a doubt, something very important.  So often we take this for granted, just chalking it up to our conscience.  But as Christians we need to recognize it as the true gift that it is.  It is God speaking to us through the gift He gave us when we came to believe in His Son.  It is what helps me decide when in a pickle, it is what helps me 'see' what God is trying to tell me when I am reading His Word, it is what gives me that little nudge when I see something beautiful and remember that it is a masterpiece of God.  The Holy Spirit is important.

How about you?  Have to stopped to thank Him today for anything?  Do you refer to the Holy Spirit's guidance as your conscience?  I challenge you to change your thought process and recognize it as the gift that it truly is. 

Friday, June 10, 2011

The Crabbies and The Clueless

Oh I have the crabbies today.  Started off by my youngest waking up at 6:15 am and, thus, waking up her brother and sister.  So, the whole family was up way too early and I was not happy and I have been crabby all day.

Why do I let little things like this ruin my whole day?  Really, it was only 15 minutes before I am usually up anyway.  Why was I so upset about 15 minutes?  OK, so I know that the kids getting up this early meant that they would be crabby all morning due to their lack of sleep, but having a crabby mommy doesn't help them be less crabby.  (Are you tired of the word crabby yet?)

Anyway, here is to hoping that my quiet time can help me with my crabbies. 

Acts 2:25-34.  So many times I pick up my Bible, read a passage and go, "Great.  What am I supposed to get from that?"  Am I the only one?  Thankfully, reading Jen Hatfield's "A Modern Girls Guide to Bible Study" has helped me a little, but I am still learning.  Frankly, I just need to read it again and go through all the steps again to help it all really sink in.
Moving on.  Today was yet another one of those days where I was glad for what I read, but struggling for an "ah ha" moment or life application.  Prayer.  Stop and pray for the Holy Spirit to guide me.  Read it again. 

Peter is recounting what David prophesied about not staying dead, 'you will not abandon me to the grave. . .nor will you let you let your Holy One see decay.'  So much faith.  David knew, even before Christ came that he didn't need to fear death.  God would not let him stay dead or let his body decay because he would be with Him in heaven someday. 

We know, as Christians that we don't need to fear death.  But this is so much easier to 'know' than to actually 'do'.  We have the proof of the Bible, the stories of Jesus' actual life, the account of his death on the cross, yet where is my faith somedays?  It is so easy to fear death, to face not the unknown, but the different.  I need faith like David's.  So much less proof of Jesus, yet so much more faith than mine.

In vs 28 he says 'You have made known to me the paths of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence.'  How good God is.  If we follow His path for life, we will be filled with joy.

Thank you, Lord for this reassurance.  Thank you that I don't need to fear death, but that I can trust in the saving grace you have provided for me in Jesus and the wonderful promise of heaven.  Help me not fear the unknown or leaving people behind.  Give me faith like David's.  Show me your will and help me walk in it.  Help me see and rid my life of anything that is not on your path for my life.  Thank you, Holy Spirit, for helping me find an application for me in the Words I read today.

How about you?  Do you fear death? 

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

"Death Cannot Keep its Prey"

Acts 2:24 But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him.
This verse caught my eye today.  Impossible for death to keep its hold on him.  It just creates a picture in my mind of how strong and mighty our God is.  I just see Jesus in hell with flames and demons grabbing at his broken and bleeding flesh.  How weak he must have been at that point, having been beaten and hung up on a cross for hours, but Jesus is fight back, rising from the grave; overpowering the flames and demons.  Yet, my Jesus is so strong, after his death, it was impossible for hell to win.  It is impossible for anything to win when it is against God's will. 

This makes me stop and think.  What am I doing today that is against God's will?  What am I doing that is in God's will?  Do I stop and ask enough?  Do I pray for his guidance enough?  Sadly, I know the answer to these last two questions is no.  I am so weak in the prayer dept.  I resolve every year to do better at praying more than just the 'heat of the moment' prayers where it is a dire need or even just a quick "Thank you, Jesus" type of prayer.  I don't purpose enough in my prayers to seek God's guidance, to find his will and mostly to stop and listen to what his answer is.  Because, just as this verse shows, it is impossible to keep God dead.  God is very much alive and I need to purpose every day that he live in me and in my every action.  I know one thing I need to surrender to him is my temper.  I have been quite sleep deprived lately and my middle child can trigger my temper like nothing I have ever seen before.  Heck, I didn't even know I had a temper until she came along (for the most part that is).  I have to give this to him and hold on tight to His loving responses to be able to make it through a confrontation with her without losing it.  Frankly, I haven't been holding on very tightly lately and I need to give this up and turn to him.  Help me, Lord.  I can't do that one alone.  

Father, God,  I pray that you will light a spark in my heart for prayer.  The desire to do it is there, but I am lacking the discipline.  Help me find a trigger that will remind me to earnestly seek your will each and every day.  Help me see anything in my life right now that is not in your will and help me be willing to give it up.  Help me stop and think of you when I want to lose my temper with Miss Firecracker.  Give me a loving response instead of my temper.  Make me an example to my children, that they might see my prayer life and learn to live a life of prayer.  I am not perfect and I have a long way to go, a lot to learn, but I know that you have to power to get me where you want me to be.  You are working in me and around me every day.  Keep working, Lord.  Shape me.  Mold me.  Use me. 

Post title is lyrics from Robert Lowry's "Up From the Grave He Arose". 


New study with my mentor on gratitude.  We are reading Nancy Leigh DeMoss's Choosing Gratitude.  I think this will be great lesson, as I can be super whiny and take things for granted all too often.  A quote I saw on another blog I follow said "What if you woke up today with only the things you thanked God for yesterday?"  How true is this.  I am so not thankful enough.  Truth be told, if it weren't for prayer time at bedtime with my kids, the day I read that - I would have woken up outside in my skivvies!  That kind of hit me upside the head and reminded me of how ungrateful I can be. 

Benefits of gratitude: Joy!  If you find thankfulness and God's work in any and every situation, you will find the true joy of life.  You will see God's hand in every detail and learn to look for it more.

My 30 day challenge issued to me by my mentor: Every morning write down 3 things you were thankful for from the previous day.  Be very specific.  Yesterday: 1. A fantastic and encouraging hour-long phone conversation with a wonderful friend.  2. Watching my 2 oldest play in a very fun T-ball game (the first of the season) and 3. Sunscreen (I got a bit of a burn at the pool :)

Here is to being thankful and full of gratitude!  Let's see how I do......