TEXT: 33 I wasted no time, did just as I was told, and you have generously accepted my invitation. So here we are, in the presence of God, ready to take in all that the Lord has told you to tell us.
OBSERVATION: In the preceding verses, in a dream, God caused Peter to see a sheet with many kinds of animals. Peter was astonished by this because some of these animals were ones that they (the Jews) didn’t approve of eating or being around. However God was working on Peter’s attitude, because there were certain people that they (the Jews) looked down on. This lesson was very practical, and very much needed by Peter. I wonder what God needs to work on in our lives to make us ready for His service to everyone, no matter where He sends us?
APPLICATION: We have become so accustomed to the things that we eat, the places that we sleep and the friends that we hang out with, that it might be challenging for us to overcome those familiarities and adjust to a different culture. Let me give you an example: let’s assume that you were saved in your local church, and within a year or two you made it know that you felt God was dealing in your heart to work in His vineyard overseas. Your church sent you for some local training to help you understand the culture and the language of the country to which you have been assigned. Not long into this training you realize that there will probably be some huge adjustments that you would need to make, that you never thought possible. Perhaps it’s the food that they eat, or the plain mud houses that they live in without air conditioning, or perhaps no electric at all. Of course, no doctor within a 50 mile radius is frightening, and so is the lack of telephones or internet. In fact you are beginning to wonder how on earth does people survive in that type of environment. However, you are quickly reminded of a missions trip that you took part in when you were just a teenager. It took you into a very poor third world country where you were challenged with some very strange food, and where you really doubted if you would ever survive that short trip. However, you remembered the sweetest people there, and when it was time to leave you had the hardest time leaving them behind. Suddenly the ‘stuff’ they didn’t have became a fading memory for you. Friends, we quickly assume that when we are called to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ, and especially to a third world country, that it’s not just ‘those poor people’ there that we need to go and try to help, but as we open up our hearts and minds to the Gospel, Jesus will also use those same ‘poor people’ to pour into us the richness of His unconditional love, under very different circumstances to those we are used to. Let’s be very careful to not place any conditions on the places we will go, or the types of people we will help. God sent Jesus for the sins of all who would believe in Him. That’s unconditional! We should love in the same way if we are striving to be more like Jesus everyday.
PRAYER: Lord, thank You for dying for sinners, even though many are just like me, and deserve nothing more than Hell itself. But Lord, You reached down in love and heard my prayer for salvation and responded to me in love. Having been personally forgiven and loved beyond all measure, who am I to put others in a box and place them below me? Lord please help me to love others in much the same way as You loved me. Please help Your children to humble themselves and be willing to step into the place where unbelievers live, so that we could feel their pain and heartache and then show them Your unconditional love. To touch a heart for You, we should be willing to do anything that You direct us to do. May that be the case dear Lord, for I ask this in the precious name of Jesus, my Lord, AMEN!
TEXT: Then we, your people, the ones you love and care for, will thank you over and over and over.
We’ll tell everyone we meet how wonderful you are, how praiseworthy you are!
OBSERVATION: In this Psalm by Asaph, he and his people had pleaded with God for several things that they felt very strongly about. These things were mostly in regards to abuse of the temple, so they felt really bad about the disrespect being shown towards God and His holy temple. However, after going through all this, and in confidence of God’s mighty hand, they immediately started praising the Lord! I wonder, does the church of God (that’s you and I) here on earth remember to return thanks?
APPLICATION: At one time I was a part of Wednesday Night Prayer meetings, where the very first thing that we did was to celebrate things for which we should praise God. It was interesting in that we could verbalize the items fairly good, however when it came time to praise God for them in prayer, it became very challenging to just praise God, celebrate and rejoice in our gifts without slipping in our petitions. Mind you, there was always time later to take our petitions before the Lord! It was very challenging to JUST praise the Lord and give thanks. You know, in corporate prayer, some of our challenge today might be because we rush into our prayers, say very quickly what we feel others want to hear, then we finish so that others might have time. This verse that we are meditating on today seems like it may be showing us that we should savor our time with the Lord. Can you imagine sitting around in a circle, knowing that God is in our midst, and start with the words of this verse before naming a few of the things that each of us are thankful for? Imagine if we could do that without watching our clocks and feeling the need to rush through our time with the Lord. Wow, I could see us turning that time together into a great time of praise and thanksgiving, in the very presence of our Lord and Savior. Furthermore, I believe that by the time we have finished praising God for His gifts and blessings to us, our needs that we felt so burdened with when we first came into that Prayer Meeting would be minimized and not worth mentioning anymore. Friends, those of us that have an awesome relationship with our Savior already take advantage of these times with Jesus. Attending corporate prayer meetings allow us to share that celebration with others who may be slipping in their relationship with their Lord. Together, we could help each other draw closer to God. Are you attending your church prayer meetings? Others need you, and you may need strength from the experiences of others. Check out the designated time for your church Prayer Meetings, and be there!
PRAYER: Lord Jesus, for those who have accepted You as Lord, we thank You for accepting us as Your precious children, and Your blessings in so many ways. How could I but praise you, my Savior and my Lord? Thank You for reminding us of this area of our lives that we are probably the weakest in. Please help us to always remember the source of our help and to always be in a state of Thanksgiving. Lord, we love You and we praise You for being so good to us! AMEN!
TEXT: God our Savior, help us
so people will praise you.
Save us and forgive our sins
so people will honor you.
OBSERVATION: Asaph, the writer of Psalm 79, felt like God was punishing the nation of Israel for all their past sins. So in his petitions to God, he included this verse while pleading with God to save his nation. Oh that we may be so concerned about the sins of our respective nations where we live, and so deeply moved to write a similar verse to God asking Him to use us as instruments of change, instead of us adding fuel to the already hot fire of sin.
APPLICATION: I believe it is evident from everything we see, hear and do, that Satan has turned up the heat on our young people and on our adult population. Unfortunately, the church – members and attendees, have become so lukewarm, selfish, segregated and standoffish that the church has lost its impact on our society. More and more laws and rules have been implemented because Christians have not been active before the throne in prayer. Why would children of God ever settle in their faith knowing that their leaders have approved and are ok with the killing of unborn babies. Why would we ever settle in our faith knowing that the drugs that have either killed loved ones or totally destroyed their minds, are now becoming mainstream, and approved drugs? First approved for apparent medical use, but in many states of America quickly being followed with approval for recreational use. Friends, when are we ever going to follow the example of 2 Chronicles 7:14. When are we ever going to surrender to God as Asaph did in our focal Scripture today? Oh friends, where does our help come from? We do not resort to crime against the criminals, we have a Savior that loves them just like He loves us. Fortunately He can also touch their hearts and convince them of their sin. Our part is to encourage those who are slaves to the sins of this world, and to follow the example of 2 Chronicles 7:14. To do this, we can plead with God like the Psalmist did: Help us Lord, so that the people (those that we pray with, and for) will praise You. Save us from our own weaknesses and desire to sin so that the people may honor You. Notice that in both Scriptures that I referenced, that prayer is more than going before God for our own selfish desires. We can all look around us and see things that are happening that really hurts our soul. What are we doing about it? I know, we are so small in the whole scope of things, and that there is very little that we can do, right? Please friends, don’t let Satan pull that one on you, because we serve the God that put this whole world together. He created the complex bodies that we live in, and He loves us enough that He willingly went to the cross, knowing that it would be through His shed blood that we could have eternal life in glory. He brought the dead back to life, and He intervened in battles and saved very small armies from very large opposers. Don’t you think that we can trust Him with the issues that we face today? You better believe it! I don’t believe that there is anything bearing on our hearts that God won’t listen to, care about, and seek to answer if appropriate.
PRAYER: Thank You Lord for caring about Your children and all that we are concerned about. We are so sorry for the mess that is evident in our world today. As I read the Old Testament and see the awful things that You dealt with there, I am astonished….. until I reflect on the awful things that You are still dealing with today – even in my country, state and city. Lord, please impress the seriousness of the hour to all ‘Christians’. Please impress upon us the need to clarify and commit our own lives fully to You and Your service, so that when ‘Your people’ decides to humble themselves and pray, You will hear our prayer. As the Psalmist said, may all glory be Yours in whatever is accomplished. AMEN!
TEXT: 11-12 “Get up and go over to Straight Avenue. Ask at the house of Judas for a man from Tarsus. His name is Saul. He’s there praying. He has just had a dream in which he saw a man named Ananias enter the house and lay hands on him so he could see again.”
13-14 Ananias protested, “Master, you can’t be serious. Everybody’s talking about this man and the terrible things he’s been doing, his reign of terror against your people in Jerusalem! And now he’s shown up here with papers from the Chief Priest that give him license to do the same to us.”
15-16 But the Master said, “Don’t argue. Go! I have picked him as my personal representative to non-Jews and kings and Jews. And now I’m about to show him what he’s in for—the hard suffering that goes with this job.”
OBSERVATION: Interesting how God shocks His servants with challenges, that they feel, are so outlandish! Moses was shocked, and found excuses when asked to take charge of the Israelites. Having never seen or heard of rain, Noah was shocked to receive orders to build a huge boat up on dry land. In our Scripture today, Ananias is being asked to go and minister to a murderer of Christians. One who had always fought Christianity and all that it stood for. Although God was the one telling Ananias to ‘Go’, Ananias was sure there must be some mistake, and he had to be sure that was cleared up before he agreed to do anything. Aren’t we just as quick in coming up with excuses why we can’t or shouldn’t do certain parts of ministry today?
APPLICATION: Do you remember the anxiety the first time that you were asked to read a few verses of Scripture, or pray aloud in public? Did the fear of that happening, keep you from attending certain services, or from sitting near the front? Did that fear worsen when you were asked to go and visit a shut-in or a hospitalized member of the church? Ever felt led of God to visit a friend who was not a believer, hoping that you would find the opportunity to witness to that person, but at the last minute you got ‘cold feet’ and started to find multiple excuses why you couldn’t go? If any of these things bring back vivid memories, then you may have had a mild Ananias experience. I say ‘mild’, because in the case of Ananias, he was being asked to go and lay hands on one of the biggest threats in his time. We would hate to think about being near to a mass murderer, even if given the opportunity to witness to them, but it was a well known fact that Saul was out to eliminate those who might minister for the Lord Jesus, and Ananias was one of those. Wouldn’t that be the same as placing the ‘bait’ right at the feet of the ‘lion’? Friends, I believe that this Scripture shows us several facets of God’s amazing plan. Who else would be more effective in speaking to the folk that opposed God, than one of their own? Who else would show the power of God to save even the vilest of sinners, as in the case of Saul? Who else could better show a life transformed by the blood of Jesus, like Paul did? In listening to the news every day of our lives, we hear of so many forms of evil that, in most cases, we cringe at it happening very close to many of our home towns. God has called us to proclaim His Word and to be His witnesses at home and abroad. Stop finding excuses and saying “But Lord…..”, for He knows the plans He has for you. Don’t disappoint Him by trying to correct or remind the King of all kings and Lord of all lords, that you may know something that He may have overlooked. Let me remind you again what He said back to Ananias, ‘Just GO’. Let’s learn to be more obedient friend.
PRAYER: Unfortunately, I believe that we are just as doubtful today, even after seeing the after results of Your demands on several unsuspecting servants in Your Word. There is no doubt that You hold the world in Your hands and that it moves at Your command. The same is true for the individuals that You alone created. Lord, please have mercy on us and continue to strengthen us with the help of the Holy Spirit, to obediently follow Your commands and Your will for us, especially in using us to touch the lives of others, especially those who seem so unlikely to us. Lord, may Your perfect will be achieved in and through Your saints today, even me Lord. AMEN!
TEXT: 3 As Saul was coming near the city of Damascus, suddenly a light from the sky flashed around him. 4 He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul! Why do you persecute me?”
5 “Who are you, Lord?” he asked.
“I am Jesus, whom you persecute,” the voice said.
OBSERVATION: I would suggest that you click on the Scripture reference and read the context in which our Scripture comes from today. You will find that the above verses are actually displaying a miracle in the life of Saul, one who was out to murder and/or arrest every Christian and worshiper of Christ. In fact, when God intervened, Saul was on his way to the synagogues at Damascus to disrupt the Christians by arresting them and taking them back to Jerusalem. Although we see God make a total change in the life of Saul, we are also reminded of persecutors of the church – perhaps even today?
APPLICATION: Did you click on this devotional hoping that I would give you a list of the persecutors of God’s church today? You might be disappointed, because what I believe that God wants to challenge us on today, is to make sure that we have no indicators of being persecutors ourselves. Oh Brother Ed, you have really gone overboard now, for we are workers in the church, so we would never persecute the church. Friends, here are some subtle ways that I believe we persecute the work of Christ today:
Friends, we can either be a worker, supporter or encourager in the world, or we could be a persecutor, ready to tear down everything and anything God puts together for good. Where do you fit?
PRAYER: Lord, I believe our default character tends to be more of a complainer or discourager. To tear down and destroy. Yet Lord, when we stop and consider that the Son of God came to earth and humbled Himself through death on the cross at Calvary, for the benefit of undeserving sinners such as I am, and you are friend. How can I but love You, my Savior and my Lord? Oh that the love of God may shine through His humble servants this day and every day, so that others may see every indication of Jesus, and never an indication of persecution of His master plan for us while here on this earth. AMEN!