The Truth About Forgiveness, Day 6

Today’s reading is drawn from Acts 10:23-48.

As Peter shared the gospel with Cornelius and Cornelius’ relatives and close friends, he referred to God’s forgiveness of sins (see Acts 10:43). At that moment, all the people who heard Peter’s words believed and received the Holy Spirit (see Acts 10:44–47). What is so significant about the forgiveness of sins? It is significant because we have all gone our own way and fallen short of God’s standards (see Psalm 14:3; Romans 3:23). Our sin alienates and disconnects us from God, his love and his care. Our sinful nature puts us in an isolated and hopeless state.

Forgiveness through Jesus’ death is God’s solution; it rescues us from our hopelessness and restores our connection with God. As the psalmist put it, “As far as the east is from the west, so far has [God] removed our transgressions from us” (Psalm 103:12). Or as Hebrews puts it, “Their sins and lawless acts [God] will remember no more” (Hebrews 10:17; see also Hebrews 10:22).

If we ask God to forgive us, he will (see 1 John 1:9). He then sees us as completely new people. We are clean, washed with pure water; whatever we might have done is forgotten and put away “as far as the east is from the west” (Psalm 103:12). Paul said that “there is now no condemnation” for those who have been forgiven and are “in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1).

The knowledge that we are forgiven and have a clean slate is powerful. We can stand upon that solid ground. We can live from a place of growth instead of brokenness. We can ask Jesus for that forgiveness now. If we do not know him, we can ask him to be our Lord. If we turn to him in faith, he will cleanse us and we can walk in a guilt-free state. It is a strong state indeed.

 

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Overcoming Financial Fear,

 Day 4

Money Management

Today’s reading is drawn from Matthew 6:25-34.

These words of Jesus teach us how to live in uncertain financial times without stress or fear.

Financial fear is: 1) unreasonable (verse 25). We are not to become distracted from the substantial issues of life over less important matters like what we will eat or wear.

It is 2) unnatural (verse 26). We are the only creation of God who worries. God provides for the birds He created, and we are more valuable than they are. We are outside of God’s natural design when we worry.

It is 3) unhelpful (verse 27). Worry and fear do not produce anything worthwhile.

It is 4) unnecessary (verse 30). God provides for His own and promises to take care of our needs.

It is 5) unbelieving (verses 31, 32). We are acting as if God did not exist when we live in financial fear. Our heavenly Father knows our needs, and He will provide.

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Ephesus During the Time of Paul, Day 6

Today’s reading is drawn from Acts 19:17-20 and Revelation 2:1-3.

By the time of Paul, Ephesus had become enormously wealthy due to its status and position as a major port city of Asia Minor. It boasted a number of major public buildings, including gymnasiums, theaters and a triumphal arch constructed in 3 BC. In addition, the Ephesian temple of Artemis was lauded as one of the seven wonders of the ancient world and was already then a significant source of income (Acts 19:23–27).

Ephesus became a major center of the Christian faith. Although Paul probably wrote Ephesians as a circular letter and not specifically to this congregation, the church of Ephesus was a major focus of his ministry (he stayed there for over two years on his second visit; see Acts 19:1–41). The apostle John also wrote to this church in Revelation 2:1–7, and during the first five centuries AD several church councils were convened there. By the medieval period, however, silt from the Cayster River had extended the coastline so far to the west that Ephesus had ceased to be a port city and was abandoned.

The desertion of Ephesus was a boon for modern archaeology since it meant that the unoccupied city was open for excavation. Today Ephesus exists as one of the most magnificent ruins of the ancient world. According to second-century tradition, the apostle John spent his last years in Ephesus, as well as Jesus’ mother, Mary, who likely died in Ephesus.

The population of New Testament Ephesus is unknown, but it is clear that the city at that time was a thriving, cosmopolitan center of trade, religion and recreation. Its remains provide a rare look at an ancient city that was also important as a setting for the apostolic mission and the rise of Christianity. Perhaps more than any other archaeological site, Ephesus affords the reader of Acts a sense of context. Since there is no modern city there, the remains of Ephesus distinctively allow visitors to enter vicariously into the ancient world.

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Courageous Wisdom, Day 3

Today’s reading is drawn from Proverbs 23:15-16.

Observation

In this proverb, God reveals what brings him pleasure: people who live with wise hearts and who speak what is right.

Notice that shrewd minds do not please God. Neither do talents, successful businesses or large ministries. The bottom line is that he delights in people who are wise in heart and have the courage to speak what is right.

Application

Making wise decisions and speaking what is right will not win us any popularity contests. It may even be contested by those closest to us, but we must still take time to consider the situation, ponder it deeply and make decisions that will be the best for all involved.

Courage to stand up for what is right sometimes seems in short supply, but it is abundant in those who refuse anything less than God’s best. Here is the prerequisite: a deep desire to do what is best, regardless of the emotional trauma the soul must endure in pressing forward, anticipating push-backs and possible rejections. No one likes it when their faults are exposed or they are called to change. But following God includes handling confrontation and disagreement in a godly manner.

Prayer

Father, give me the courage to be wise, to be committed to each person’s best in my life, and in return, to feel your pleasure and delight.

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PROJECT PEARL PERFUME BIBLES

They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold; they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the honeycomb. Psalm 19:10

In 1977, Peter Xu became the leader of the Born-Again Movement—a large house church network today in China. Ten years ago he was visiting in the United States and shared a devotional at the Open Doors-USA office. When he saw a sample of a Project Pearl Bible on the shelf, he became very animated. Then a long story developed:

After Project Pearl Bibles were stored in depositories in southern China in the early 1980s, Peter Xu sent three men every month by train to the depository contacts to bring back about 1,000 Bibles per trip for his growing house church movement. One month the three men were discovered with their Bible load by the local police of the depository city. The police threw the 1,000 Project Pearl Bibles into the cesspool of the public latrine and the three men were interrogated and jailed for the weekend.

Monday they were released and commanded to return straight home and never return. Instead they waited inside the latrine until darkness fell. Then they climbed down into the filthy cesspool of human waste carefully retrieving each of the foul smelling books. They washed them off under the local water tap and carried them home. There they dried them out, sprayed them with perfume and circulated them through their network. Such was the hunger and importance of every copy of God’s Word.

Project Pearl certainly had an impact on the future printing of Bibles inside China which continues today. Shortly after the project was completed, China’s Three Self Patriotic Movement announced the first official printing of Bibles inside the country. Noted author and China watcher, David Aikman, wrote in his book, Jesus in Beijing, “[Project] Pearl had a major long-term impact on the overall availability of Bibles in China.”[1]

But more important are the personal evaluations from Chinese believers: “These gifts are more precious than gold!”

RESPONSE: Today I will treasure God’s Word as more valuable than any precious metal or gem.

PRAYER: Thank You, Lord that Your precious Word is being made available in countries where it is not valued by those in authority.

1. David Aikman, Jesus in Beijing (Washington, DC: Regnery, 2003), p. 270.

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The Little Foxes

Very interesting to a writer, blogger. anyone that likes to write.

Juli Ocean

martina-misar-tummeltshammer-232911-unsplash.jpg

Catch the foxes for us, the little foxes that spoil the vines, and our vines are all blossom. 
~ Shir haShirim 2:15

It isn’t always the big things that keep us from reaching our goals. Many times it’s small, seemingly inconsequential moments lost.

Recently, I returned from a sort of sabbatical. I always accomplish a lot when I can tune everything out and focus. I used to think it might be necessary to set myself up in a cave to get work done. On this trip, I discovered my top five distractions and how to circumvent those distractions. Maybe my personal time-robbers are similar to yours.

Messages:

Have you ever been in the middle of something and you finally hit your stride, all synapses are firing, you’re really focused and then… PING! A text, an email, or some other message flies right through your radar.

What’s the first thing you…

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