WOW – The Big Picture 11/29

 

November 29
Paul Creates Confusion in Jerusalem
Acts 21:17-40;  Psalms 132:10-12;  Proverbs 25:3
And when we had come to Jerusalem, the brethren received us gladly. On the following day Paul went in with us to James, and all the elders were present. When he had greeted them, he told in detail those things which God had done among the Gentiles through his ministry. And when they heard it, they glorified the Lord. And they said to him, “You see, brother, how many myriads of Jews there are who have believed, and they are all zealous for the law; but they have been informed about you that you teach all the Jews who are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, saying that they ought not to circumcise their children nor to walk according to the customs. What then? The assembly must certainly meet, for they will hear that you have come. Therefore do what we tell you: We have four men who have taken a vow. Take them and be purified with them, and pay their expenses so that they may shave their heads, and that all may know that those things of which they were informed concerning you are nothing, but that you yourself also walk orderly and keep the law. But concerning the Gentiles who believe, we have written and decided that they should observe no such thing, except that they should keep themselves from things offered to idols, from blood, from things strangled, and from sexual immorality.”
Then Paul took the men, and the next day, having been purified with them, entered the temple to announce the expiration of the days of purification, at which time an offering should be made for each one of them.
Now when the seven days were almost ended, the Jews from Asia, seeing him in the temple, stirred up the whole crowd and laid hands on him, crying out, “Men of Israel, help! This is the man who teaches all men everywhere against the people, the law, and this place; and furthermore he also brought Greeks into the temple and has defiled this holy place.” (For they had previously seen Trophimus the Ephesian with him in the city, whom they supposed that Paul had brought into the temple.)
And all the city was disturbed; and the people ran together, seized Paul, and dragged him out of the temple; and immediately the doors were shut. Now as they were seeking to kill him, news came to the commander of the garrison that all Jerusalem was in an uproar. He immediately took soldiers and centurions, and ran down to them. And when they saw the commander and the soldiers, they stopped beating Paul. Then the commander came near and took him, and commanded him to be bound with two chains; and he asked who he was and what he had done. And some among the multitude cried one thing and some another.
So when he could not ascertain the truth because of the tumult, he commanded him to be taken into the barracks. When he reached the stairs, he had to be carried by the soldiers because of the violence of the mob. For the multitude of the people followed after, crying out, “Away with him!”
Then as Paul was about to be led into the barracks, he said to the commander, “May I speak to you?”
He replied, “Can you speak Greek? Are you not the Egyptian who some time ago stirred up a rebellion and led the four thousand assassins out into the wilderness?”
But Paul said, “I am a Jew from Tarsus, in Cilicia, a citizen of no mean city; and I implore you, permit me to speak to the people.”
So when he had given him permission, Paul stood on the stairs and motioned with his hand to the people. And when there was a great silence, he spoke to them in the Hebrew language, saying,
“Brethren and fathers, hear my defense before you now.” And when they heard that he spoke to them in the Hebrew language, they kept all the more silent.
Then he said: “I am indeed a Jew, born in Tarsus of Cilicia, but brought up in this city at the feet of Gamaliel, taught according to the strictness of our fathers’ law, and was zealous toward God as you all are today. I persecuted this Way to the death, binding and delivering into prisons both men and women, as also the high priest bears me witness, and all the council of the elders, from whom I also received letters to the brethren, and went to Damascus to bring in chains even those who were there to Jerusalem to be punished.
“Now it happened, as I journeyed and came near Damascus at about noon, suddenly a great light from heaven shone around me. And I fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to me, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?’ So I answered, ‘Who are You, Lord?’ And He said to me, ‘I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom you are persecuting.’
“And those who were with me indeed saw the light and were afraid, but they did not hear the voice of Him who spoke to me. So I said, ‘What shall I do, Lord?’ And the Lord said to me, ‘Arise and go into Damascus, and there you will be told all things which are appointed for you to do.’ And since I could not see for the glory of that light, being led by the hand of those who were with me, I came into Damascus.
“Then a certain Ananias, a devout man according to the law, having a good testimony with all the Jews who dwelt there, came to me; and he stood and said to me, ‘Brother Saul, receive your sight.’ And at that same hour I looked up at him. Then he said, ‘The God of our fathers has chosen you that you should know His will, and see the Just One, and hear the voice of His mouth. For you will be His witness to all men of what you have seen and heard. And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord.’
“Now it happened, when I returned to Jerusalem and was praying in the temple, that I was in a trance and saw Him saying to me, ‘Make haste and get out of Jerusalem quickly, for they will not receive your testimony concerning Me.’ So I said, ‘Lord, they know that in every synagogue I imprisoned and beat those who believe on You. And when the blood of Your martyr Stephen was shed, I also was standing by consenting to his death, and guarding the clothes of those who were killing him.’ Then He said to me, ‘Depart, for I will send you far from here to the Gentiles.'”
And they listened to him until this word, and then they raised their voices and said, “Away with such a fellow from the earth, for he is not fit to live!”
WORSHIP
For Your servant David’s sake,
Do not turn away the face of Your Anointed.
The LORD has sworn in truth to David;
He will not turn from it:
“I will set upon your throne the fruit of your body.
If your sons will keep My covenant
And My testimony which I shall teach them,
Their sons also shall sit upon your throne forevermore.”
WISDOM
As the heavens for height and the earth for depth,
So the heart of kings is unsearchable.

Ordinary, everyday love – Experiencing LIFE Today – November 29, 2019

I want to be in a relationship where you telling me you love me is just a ceremonious validation of what you already show me. — Steve Maraboli, Life, the Truth, and Being Free

A traditional Christian song resonates with a chorus reminding us, “They will know we are Christians by our love, by our love.” Others know we belong to Jesus by the way we love each other. “They are watching,” Jesus explained, “so love.”

But what does that love look like? Let’s back up and take a look at the Bible chapter where that song came from, John 13.

When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them… “I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you… A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must also love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:12, 15, 34-35)

How was it that Jesus showed His love prior to the cross?

He demonstrated service to others daily. Yes, if we are going to be known as His disciples, we must recognize that others are watching how we love each other—but that’s not why we do it. Service is a natural expression of God’s love working through us. Consider the day Jesus washed the grimy feet of His followers.

Foot-washing perfectly demonstrated what Jesus desired His disciples to understand:

  • Some demonstrations will be awkward. Love in unexpected ways anyway.
  • Some demonstrations will feel “beneath” you. Step down and love humbly.
  • Some demonstrations will need to be repeated. Serve each other and love at every opportunity.

It was an ordinary, everyday act of service that didn’t draw the crowds. It wasn’t permanent; their feet would get dirty again. It wasn’t based upon warm fuzzies and springtime feelings.

It was a dirty demonstration of serving others in love.

Is there a best way to show love? Yes, at every opportunity through ordinary acts of service.

Demonstrating love in a way that replicates You, Jesus, seems impossible. But You don’t leave us to the task alone. By Your Spirit, demonstrating Your love can become my default, my norm! So I pray You will love through me at every opportunity. I ask that we start with those closest to me. Prompt me when You are ready to love another, then simply make me willing to let You do it through me. Amen.

Taken from Pete’s series To Love and to Cherish.

 

The Blessing of Faith – Holy Land Moments with The Fellowship – November 29, 2019

The Blessing of Faith

“But blessed is the one who trusts in the LORD,
    whose confidence is in him.” —Jeremiah 17:7

    and my God the rock in whom I take refuge. — Psalm 94:21-22

During this season when we give thanks for God’s many blessings and His faithfulness, enjoy this collection of devotions on what it means for us to be people of faith. As an expression of your faith and thankfulness, find out how you can help elderly Jews in the former Soviet Union who are alone and in need of lifesaving assistance this holiday season.

A little bit of faith goes a long way. Just as a small flame can light up an entire room of darkness, so does even a small dose of faith dispel so many of the doubts and worries that bog us down. Faith brings us hope and peace. It gives us safety and security.

Many places in Scripture encourage us to have faith in God, but one place in particular gives us a powerful image as to what life is like when lived with faith, and in contrast, what life is like without it. That place is Jeremiah Chapter 17 which describes what faith looks like — and what the opposite feels like.

Jeremiah provides us with a description of two trees. The first is like a bush in the desert. It lives in parched soil and does not thrive. The second tree is a true evergreen: “ . . . a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream . . . its leaves are always green . . . and never fails to bear fruit” (Jeremiah 17:8). A tree planted by a stream of water always has strong roots. It isn’t affected by the twists and turns of the weather because it has an alternate source of nourishment. A tree with well-nourished roots always thrives. It is strong, beautiful, and always fruitful.

Jeremiah likens the first tree living in parched soil to a person who puts his faith in man instead of in God: “Cursed is the one who trusts in man . . . and whose heart turns away from the LORD” (Jeremiah 17:5). The second tree with strong roots is the person who puts all of his faith in God: “But blessed is the one who trusts in the LORD . . .” Faith in God brings blessings.

When we live our lives with faith, we will be able to thrive in any circumstances. Faith is the water that nourishes our roots, our soul, and allows us to flourish whatever the situation. We are grateful for the good in our lives and use our blessings well. We understand that even the challenges are blessings, for it is through them that we grow.

The choice is ours: we can plant ourselves in a desert, or in the luscious grounds of faith. Just like trees, it is where we live that determines how we will grow.

Find out how you can help elderly Jews in the former Soviet Union who are alone and in need of lifesaving assistance this holiday season.

Won’t you join The Fellowship in supporting Israel and her people, and in helping fulfill the prophecy?