Monthly Archives: February 2014

Simply be Bold!

I am really enjoying reading through the book of Acts. It is so encouraging and motivating. But also it is a clear reminder that as a Christian I need to be active…not just coasting along.

Simple Truth
Chapter 15 is all about the simple truth of the message. Often God’s message is made complicated by us. This chapter reminded me to keep things simple. I like this! I am not a deep thinker and don’t question many things in the Bible. For me it is a matter of faith to believe that these things happened. I do question God ALOT, but the basis of the Bible is what I use as my truth base. I know many people that will question and study everything until they have themselves into a tailspin. In this chapter one important lesson that came through was the need NOT to but barriers in the way of people becoming (and remaining believers). This is easily done when we start to judge others or put others down….this will discourage someone and perhaps turn them away from God as they feel they may never measure up. Another barrier that I have seen is when things and practices are so complicated and full of rules that no one can do it all. God reminded me that I need to preach and teach simply so that many will understand and believe.

Go Tell & Celebrate
Chapter 16 is about go tell the world about God. Spend time preaching and teaching new and old believers as God leads us. As Paul and others travelled around they told people what was happening with other believers in other areas. They celebrated the work of God in the lives of many at that time. Do we celebrate God’s work or are we focused on what is not happening? This chapter challenged me to focus more on the positive things that are happening. Perhaps a new blog on ‘Celebrate Chatham-Kent’ should be started. As I reflected and acknowledged what God has been doing in my life and those around me, I had stop and just praise him. The Holy Spirit is moving and moving big. I often think that when we read the accounts of God’s miracles in the Bible we are looking for similar events. I need to remind myself that God is still in the miracle business and he does them every day. I just need to pause and take notice.

Seek Him First, then Teach
This next chapter is all about seeking God first before trying to do anything. While the beginning of the chapter is all about Paul teaching and trying to reason with the Jews about the teachings of Jesus Christ, it is verse 27 that really sticks out to me. This verse talks about God created us so that we would seek him and perhaps reach out to him. This is not news to me, I know that God wants me to seek him and reach out to him. I need to work on slowing down more so that I am not in motion when I remember. Another important lesson that was highlighted for me in this chapter was to keep teaching, focusing on those who are willing to listen. There are many who will not accept the truth and all I can do is preach the message. I can’t make anyone believe, that is up to the Holy Spirit working in their lives and hearts. I need to stay true to the message and to remember to celebrate the victories.

Be Bold, Speak Up
The one message for me in Chapter 18 was to be bold and speak up for God. I love verse 9, it tells us to not be afraid, keep on speaking, and do not be silent. God did not give us a message to keep to ourselves. He gave us a message and instructions to GO TELL the world. Perhaps this is just in our small community or perhaps this is in other parts of the world. I know that God will lead me, but for now my part of the world is Chatham-Kent. It is easy to type that we all need to be bold and speak up, but for me this is really hard to be bold outside of my church circle. It’s so easy to be bold in front of other believers, but how am I doing in front of non-believers. Praying that I will be more in-tuned with God’s prompting to speak up in areas that may not be comfortable to me.

Stay Strong
Chapter 19 encourages us to stay strong in our beliefs. However this can not be done if we are not encouraging each other and learning more about Jesus as we journey along in our faith walk. We need to be growing in our faith and not remaining as new Christians. I was really encouraged as I read this chapter to continue to study God’s word and meet with others as I grow. I am challenged to minimize the other activities in my life that is taking me away from what is important. While on vacation I read a book that was all about setting my priorities. God first, family second and then my ministry. I need to examine what I am doing to ensure that I am giving the appropriate time to God. A friend recently posted a pie chart with seven slices. Each slice was coloured according to how she spent her time. I would like to do this, but am not sure I want to be that real. I love friends who challenge me in this journey (and some without even knowing it!!)

These chapters were read when I was on vacation. It is so easy to focus on God and his message for me as I am sitting in the sun, relaxing on a cruise ship. Now the real challenge will begin as I arrive home tomorrow and have all the other ‘things’ trying to get my attention. I am very thankful for this time away with family and feel rested. I was able to see more of God’s wonderful, beautiful scenery that was not covered by snow. As we drive north, I am reminded that there is beauty all around me even in that ‘white stuff’ that I am started to see in patches.

God Bless!

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Need to listen first, then preach and teach!!

The readings this week have not been done according to the plan, but my normal schedule is off as I am on vacation. I am on a cruise so there is so much beauty around me that I have not made the time to really spend reading God’s word.

But I spent some time one afternoon just catching up with God. It was great to sit on the balcony and just read God’s word. There was no distractions, except the beauty of the scenery.

And God spoke volumes to me as I read through the chapters 10 to 14 in the book of Acts. As I read through these chapters, I tried to put a word or two at the bottom of my journal page to just summarize the chapter. It really helped with my focus!

Chapter 10 was all about listening to God’s voice and treating everyone as equal. Both of these are challenges for me. First listening for God’s voice is difficult as I have too much ‘stuff’ in my life. I really want this year to simplify things as much as possible. This message is coming through clearly in many of my readings. I can only hear God’s voice when I am quiet. So for those who really know me, know that this can prove a little challenging. The second lesson in this chapter for me was the reminder to treat everyone as equal. It is easy to have favourites or people I avoid, but that is not God’s plan. In this chapter, Peter shares that God does not classify anything that he created as unclean, so why should we. Good point. Everyone is created by God and should be treated as equal!

As I read through Acts, I am reminded of the opposition that Peter and others faced in preaching the Gospel message. In Chapter 11, God reminds me to stand up for what I believe. To preach his message and not be quiet. It is so much easier to tell the message to people who are interest and actually come to church to hear it. But what about people that need to hear the message, am I using every opportunity to tell it. I was really challenged to stay focus on God’s mission for me. I need to stand up for him and not be afraid to meet with opposition. This chapter tells of taking the time to explain your beliefs to those who don’t believe. People are not going to believe just because I tell them to!

The importance of remaining faithful to God came through very strongly in Chapter 12. No matter what situation I am in or am facing, I need to remain firm in my faith. God will take care of those who oppose me. This chapter tells of Peter’s time in prison and his escape from prison (with the help of an angel). Things can get really bad, but have faith that God is in charge and will rescue me in his time.

During all the opposition and trials that I am going face I need to be focused on the truth. That is the message in chapter 13. Focus on his message and preach to those who will listen. For those who are stubborn and don’t want to listen/accept the truth, then I am to just move on. Do not get tangled up in the world’s or their views, but stay completely focused on what God wants me to do.

The message in Chapter 14 is similar to the previous chapter. Keep Focused! In this chapter Paul & Barnabas spoke boldly for The Lord (verse 3) even though many Jews did not accept their message. They spoke boldly. Not something that is in my comfort zone. I know that I need to be more bold! I am reminded lately of our younger generation and how they are bold in their faith. They are in 100% and are not afraid to share their faith in their daily lives. We often look to older generations for examples, but I think there is a lot to be learned from our younger generations.

God is moving all around me. As I continue to read through the book of Acts, I am opening myself to God’s message for me.

God Bless!

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Strength and Focus #Acts 5-9

The reading of the book of Acts is coming at a time when I can really see and feel the working of the Holy Spirit.

As I read through chapters 5-9 of Acts there are two things that come through very clearly — Focus and Strength.

I need to be focused on God if I want to hear his voice, follow his plan and see his miracles. Through every opposition and conflict, I need to be focused on him.

We are reminded in Chapter 5 of the story of Ananias & Sapphira who tried to lie to God. We can put up a front to others, but God knows our heart. He knows the truth. When we try to hide things from him, we are just fooling ourselves. He is aware of everything. The easiest thing is just to be completely open and honest with him. This will allow our focus to be on him and from this we will be strengthen for anything that comes our way.

In chapter 6, the disciples know what they need to focus on and delegated everything else to others. They kept their focus firm on the mission God had set before them. I found this funny in a way that the disciples were called to preach and teach God’s message and did not have time or energy to worry about food distribution. This hit home for me as I am often torn between the social services side of my calling and the actual preaching & teaching. It makes me question whether I am really following God’s calling or if my focus is a little off. But on the other had, I can do a lot through the ‘food distribution’ programs that will tell others and show others his message. It is a balance and I am daily seeking God’s guidance as to what I should do.

Chapter 7 sees Stephen being stoned to death. This chapter is a reminder to stand firm in our belief no matter what. It also reminds me that I need to know the story, I need to know God’s message. It is hard to stand firm if you don’t know all the facts. The importance of study and continual learning will only assist me as I continue to fight the battle that God has place before me. Conflict and fear are part of my journey and I need to be strong in my faith and be bold in telling his story to the nations.

I found it interesting that in Chapter 8 when the church faced persecution, they scattered. But they did not go into hiding. They scattered so that they could tell more about God’s message. That they would spread the Good News even further. I realize that sometimes during persecution we need to stand and fight, but other times we need to move on. It is during these times we need to listen to the Holy Spirit for direction.

Chapter 9 reminds us that no matter how bad someone is, there is always hope that God can work in their lives. This story tells the story of Saul’s conversion. It is a powerful conversion. Sometimes when our conversion are not as bold as Saul’s we may wonderful if we have really been changed. At least I have always thought this when I read Saul’s story. But God has a different way of working with each of us. Sometimes we have a powerful testimony and other times our testimony is one of constant obedience.

While my conversion was not bold and powerful like Saul to those watching. But the work of the Holy Spirit in my life has been bold and powerful to my life. It is as I continue to break down the walls and barriers and allow God full access that I am truly noticing the work of the Holy Spirit. Saul’s conversion was quick and over a short period, mine is just taking a little longer!

Looking forward to more lessons and reminders in the book of Acts. For now I will focus on God and gather my strength and direction from him and him alone.

God Bless!

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