Category Archives: Sunday

The Third Chapter – Acts

Acts 3:18 But what God foretold by the mouth of all the prophets, that his Christ would suffer, he thus fulfilled. 19 Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out, 20 that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus, 21 whom heaven must receive until the time for restoring all the things about which God spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets long ago. ESV

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These Third Chapters have each provided a golden thread to be woven into the fabric of daily life.  Long before there was a New Testament there was a golden thread woven into garments for ministering in the Holy Place.  “They hammered out thin sheets of gold and cut strands to be worked into the blue, purple and scarlet yarn and fine linen—the work of skilled hands.a  Today’s golden thread is the Good News of repentance: “that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that He may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus.”   

“Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God?b” You are now that Holy Place!  Who could imagine the tarnish of sin could not only be blotted out through contact with Jesus, but that repentance might become the golden thread that turns daily life into your garment of ministry?  

a Exodus 39:3 NIV.
b I Cor 6:19 NLT

The Third Chapter – Luke

Luke 3:10 And the crowds asked him, “What then shall we do?” 11 And he answered them, “Whoever has two tunics is to share with him who has none, and whoever has food is to do likewise.” 12 Tax collectors also came to be baptized and said to him, “Teacher, what shall we do?” 13 And he said to them, “Collect no more than you are authorized to do.” 14 Soldiers also asked him, “And we, what shall we do?” And he said to them, “Do not extort money from anyone by threats or by false accusation, and be content with your wages.” 15 As the people were in expectation, and all were questioning in their hearts concerning John, whether he might be the Christ, 16 John answered them all, saying, “I baptize you with water, but he who is mightier than I is coming, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. 17 His winnowing fork is in his hand, to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.” 18 So with many other exhortations he preached good news to the people.  ESV

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This is the question of the day: “What then shall we do?”  

That question is an admirable testament to the remnant of a holy nature within us that wants answers to guide us.  There’s another part of our nature that is frustrated by living in an upside-down world and continually having to ask “what then shall we do?” Luke gives clear answers for practical people.  “Doing” is important but God is calling us to seek our true answer “in expectation.” He is going to accomplish His plans by something much bigger than “doing” alone can accomplish.  He is going to teach us to “be.”  What we do can change the world around us because of this truth: “His winnowing fork is in his hand, to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his barn…So with many other exhortations he preached good news to the people.”

Here is the BEST good news ever for those who choose to live “in expectation.”  You are the wheat He has gathered!   “Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.”a  What turns the wheat into bread?  It is pounded and ground ’til it’s fine, then it’s mixed and it’s shaped to the baker’s design…you’ll be my bread in this world.  Love, Jesus and Shirle

a Matthew 26:26

 

Identity

In conclusion be strong—not in yourselves but in the Lord, in the power of his boundless resource. Put on God’s complete armour so that you can successfully resist all the devil’s methods of attack. For our fight is not against any physical enemy: it is against organisations and powers that are spiritual. We are up against the unseen power that controls this dark world, and spiritual agents from the very headquarters of evil. Therefore you must wear the whole armour of God that you may be able to resist evil in its day of power, and that even when you have fought to a standstill you may still stand your ground.  Eph 6:10-13 [Phillips]

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Remember playing dress up when you were a child?  You were trying on a new identity with old clothes imagining what your future might look like.  That was only pretend and mostly those old clothes didn’t fit quite right.  Now God has given us something better than imagination for our destiny.  His custom fit spiritual body armor is what protects us from the flaws of our own imperfection and enables us to look our best as we learn to live His identity as our destiny.

• truth as your belt
• righteousness your breastplate
• the Gospel of peace firmly on your feet
• salvation as your helmet
• the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God
• faith as your shield
Eph 6:14-18 [Phillips] 

“Therefore you must wear the whole armour of God that you may be able to resist evil in its day of power, and that even when you have fought to a standstill you may still stand your ground.”

See the Light!

EPH 5:13 But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, 14 for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says, “Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.” ESV

These words about Christ and light reminded me of John 8:12 “Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”  I assumed Paul was echoing John but a chronological  timeline of the Bible showed Paul was martyred before John was even written.  What first seemed like an echo became instead Paul’s faithful voice of personal experience pleading for all to wake up and see the light!

Paul wrote these words about the same Lord who’d confronted him with blinding light on that long ago road to Damascus: “Christ will shine on you.” He knew their reality can make light visible even to conflicted hearts.  There’s no amount of human intellect that can explain the process that changes ambivalence toward God into living faith.  There’s no amount of good preaching that can convince a heart to respond to Christ.  There’s no amount of scientific proof that can prove salvation has occurred, or explain how an in-dwelling Holy Spirit can be an actual reality.  That, by definition, is the mystery of Faith.  Faith is not an echo of anyone else’s intellect or truth. “It becomes visible” only when individual hearts are exposed by the Light himself and the “light of life” becomes personal experience.

The notable JB Phillips New Testamenta says “For light is capable of “showing up” everything for what it really is. It is even possible (after all, it happened to you!) for light to turn the thing it shines upon into light also. Thus God speaks through the scriptures: Awake, you who sleep, arise from the dead, and Christ will give you light.”

aJB Phillips: English clergyman who studied classical Greek at Cambridge University and personally translated the New Testament into modern language.

One-ness

NIV EPH 4:2 Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.  3 Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all…13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.

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No one would dispute our world is desperately in need of peace and unity, right?  Maybe the problem is we’re not taking Scripture at it’s word.  Let’s try that! It’s so much easier said than done, though, because peace and unity requires being…
– Humble: a modest or low estimate of one’s own importance.
– Gentle: showing a mild, kind, or tender temperament or character.
– Patient: tolerate delays, problems, suffering without being annoyed or anxious.
– Bearing: a determination of position

Those qualities are a difficult reminder of their specific purpose; to point us to the need of a position to attach them to – “bearing with one another in love.”
Of course, I believe those things are a necessary part of peace and unity.  Of course, I want those qualities and the love to go with them.  Unfortunately there’s another “of course.”  Of course, peace and unity wouldn’t be nearly as hard if everyone would just agree with me. 

More than ever before I realize that humility, gentleness, and patience are clearly elusive parts of love that sometimes slow my journey of faith.  If that is truth, then the original meanings of peace and unity are worth exploring.
– Eirēnēs, translated peace means joining what’s been separated to make one again
– Henotēta, translated unity means oneness and/or in unison

My conclusion is this: The “unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace” is like a two-way street all of us have to travel.  Peace and unity are not dependent on which side of the road you’re on. “Humble, gentle, patient and bearing” are the necessary speed bumps of faith that slow us down so we pay attention to these absolute truths: “There is one body and one Spirit…one hope…one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all.”   That one-ness can rejoin what has been separated and get us over all the speed bumps “until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.

 https://biblehub.com/interlinear/ephesians/4.htm
Read Ephesians 4 as a word-for-word translation

Exercise of the Heart

MSG Eph 3:8 And so here I am, preaching and writing about things that are way over my head, the inexhaustible riches and generosity of Christ.

ESV 8 To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ,

NLT 8 Though I am the least deserving of all God’s people, he graciously gave me the privilege of telling the Gentiles about the endless treasures available to them in Christ.

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What you see above are three different versions of the same verse listed one after another.  The first is an esteemed paraphrase and the other two are translations. The Word of God still has the power to remind us it’s purpose is our purpose too. Put yourself in Paul’s place and read these inspired words as if they’re your own.

“And so here I am, preaching and writing about things that are way over my head, the inexhaustible riches and generosity of Christ. To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ.  Though I am the least deserving of all God’s people, he graciously gave me the privilege of telling the Gentiles about the endless treasures available to them in Christ.”

Combining three different versions of this one verse has become an exercise of the heart that makes use of repetition to emphasize the clarity of their purpose: the “privilege” to tell people about the “unsearchable riches of Christ.”  It’s also become a contemporary application that confirms the Word of God is still alive and able to inspire the heart of His people to make it very personal.

Biblegateway PDF
This downloadable PDF file has directions on how to use your internet access to read many versions of a single verse Bible reference in list form.

Live Your Inheritance!

NASB Eph 1:18 I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, 

NLT Eph 1:18 I pray that your hearts will be flooded with light so that you can understand the confident hope he has given to those he called—his holy people who are his rich and glorious inheritance.

Verse 18 from both the New American Standard Bible and the New Living Translations have become the foundation of this post.  The words are slightly different but the questions are the same.  They reminded me that the “glorious inheritance” is a real part of our daily lives, and so much more than a reward at the end of it.  

  • What is God’s purpose in opening the eyes of our heart?
  • What is the hope to which he has called us?
  • What is the glorious inheritance? 

Visual, written and spoken information bombards our senses but not everything makes it past the defenses life teaches us to build to protect our heart.  The gift of hope is God’s purpose that has made His Word endure for centuries. Hope that penetrates the defenses of the heart to see beyond itself into God’s own heart with the confidence to ask: whose inheritance? Ours or His?

Ours!  That dear friend is only a part of the much bigger answer.  God’s inheritance has been given to enable us to live beyond our imperfections in this world while waiting for the perfection promised in the next. God has already invested everything of Himself in us to provide us with “the riches of the glory of His inheritance IN the saints…

His!  “The confident hope he has given to those he called” has revealed the complete answer from God’s own heart through Jesus so we might live everyday as “his holy people who are HIS rich and glorious inheritance.”

Live your inheritance!

[.] Full Stop Truth

Ephesians 1:3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. 4 For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight.  In love 5 he[b] predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. [NIV]

OR
[b] in his sight in love.  5 He

A period [.], called a full stop in British English, is one of the first punctuation marks we learn about when we begin reading and writing.  It’s a [point] used at the end of a statement. Very rarely when we read are they of any notice because they’re so common.  In this case it was the repositioning of that period that caused me to do a “full stop” and ask myself this question; whose love?  His or ours?

The answer of course is both.  The relationship between the Sovereign God and us is certainly meant to be one of love and that is the [point] of this footnote [b].  The first iteration was God’s choice: “in his sight[.] In love 5 he” makes it clear God was operating toward us in love.  What intrigued me was reading that same sentence with the footnote in place; “For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless “in his sight in love[.]  5 He”

There are two clear truths in this short passage: He chose us in love to be holy and blameless[.] AND He chose us to be holy and blameless in his sight in love[.]  The human authors and editors of the Bible have been inspired to use that footnote to preserve the fullness of God’s absolute truth.  Our heart’s response is to stand “in his sight in love” only because “In love” He has chosen us “to be holy and blameless in his sight[.] Full Stop

The Recipe for Tomorrow

2 Peter 3:1…I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder…5 by the word of God…9 The Lord is patient…that all should reach repentance…11 in lives of holiness and godliness…13 We are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells…14…without spot or blemish, and at peace…18 Grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  

To him be the glory both now and
to the day of eternity. [ESV]

Amen.

Almost two years have passed since I last posted about this chapter.  How I happened to know that is interesting.  It showed up as a Facebook Memories notification this week which was certainly a timely reminder. [read here] As I re-read that post and looked at other versions, verse 9 stood out…”The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent.” [v9 NLT]  The Lord’s provision is bigger than “yesterday” which captures our memory or  “today” which occupies so much of our daily experience.  The Lord has given us His purpose for the recipe for tomorrow.  “Bear in mind that our Lord’s patience means salvation.”  [v15 NIV]

The Recipe of Man

2 Peter 2:1…there will be false teachers among you…3…these teachers will exploit you with fabricated stories…4…God did not spare angels when they sinned…5…did not spare the ancient world when he brought the flood
7…he rescued Lot, a righteous man, who was distressed by the depraved conduct of the lawless
9 if this is so, then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials and to hold the unrighteous for punishment on the day of judgment. NIV

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Genesis 2:7 tells us “Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.”  Dust + the Breath of God combined to become the recipe of man.  Consider this – God Himself created two separate natures in the soul of human life; the physical [dust] and the spiritual [His breath].  The God of all creation designed us to be evidence of His love, not puppets.  

Those two natures were at war even in that first perfect environment.  That first sin was a shocker.  Clearly the soul of human life has the dual ability to respond to the instincts, passions and impulses of the physical nature at the same time it has a longing to respond to God’s love with the instincts, passions and impulses He breathed into us. We need to be shocked by that realization. “Our great security against sin lies in being shocked at it.”a. 

Peter doesn’t sugarcoat the consequences of the physical nature of sin or neglect to remind us God breathes within the spiritual nature of the righteous.  IF this is so, THEN the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials and to hold the unrighteous for punishment on the day of judgment.”

aJohn Henry Newman