Daily Nuggets

Jun. 14, 2021

Acts 9:26-43 from the daily reading in the One Year Bible

When he came to Jerusalem, he was trying to associate with the disciples; but they were all afraid of him, not believing that he was a disciple. 27 But Barnabas took hold of him and brought him to the apostles and described to them how he had seen the Lord on the road, and that He had talked to him, and how at Damascus he had spoken out boldly in the name of Jesus. 28 And he was with them, moving about freely in Jerusalem, speaking out boldly in the name of the Lord. 29 And he was talking and arguing with the Hellenistic Jews; but they were attempting to put him to death. 30 But when the brethren learned of it, they brought him down to Caesarea and sent him away to Tarsus.

31 So the church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria enjoyed peace, being built up; and going on in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it continued to increase.

32 Now as Peter was traveling through all those regions, he came down also to the saints who lived at Lydda. 33 There he found a man named Aeneas, who had been bedridden eight years, for he was paralyzed. 34 Peter said to him, “Aeneas, Jesus Christ heals you; get up and make your bed.” Immediately he got up. 35 And all who lived at Lydda and Sharon saw him, and they turned to the Lord.

36 Now in Joppa there was a disciple named Tabitha (which translated in Greek is called Dorcas); this woman was abounding with deeds of kindness and charity which she continually did. 37 And it happened at that time that she fell sick and died; and when they had washed her body, they laid it in an upper room. 38 Since Lydda was near Joppa, the disciples, having heard that Peter was there, sent two men to him, imploring him, “Do not delay in coming to us.” 39 So Peter arose and went with them. When he arrived, they brought him into the upper room; and all the widows stood beside him, weeping and showing all the tunics and garments that Dorcas used to make while she was with them. 40 But Peter sent them all out and knelt down and prayed, and turning to the body, he said, “Tabitha, arise.” And she opened her eyes, and when she saw Peter, she sat up. 41 And he gave her his hand and raised her up; and calling the saints and widows, he presented her alive. 42 It became known all over Joppa, and many believed in the Lord. 43 And Peter stayed many days in Joppa with a tanner named Simon.

 

In today’s text it says:  So the church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria enjoyed peace, being built up; and going on in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it continued to increase. Just prior it says:  When he came to Jerusalem, he was trying to associate with the disciples; but they were all afraid of him, not believing that he was a disciple. But Barnabas took hold of him and brought him to the apostles and described to them how he had seen the Lord on the road, and that He had talked to him, and how at Damascus he had spoken out boldly in the name of Jesus.  And he was with them, moving about freely in Jerusalem, speaking out boldly in the name of the Lord. And he was talking and arguing with the Hellenistic Jews; but they were attempting to put him to death. But when the brethren learned of it, they brought him down to Caesarea and sent him away to Tarsus.   In John 14:27 Jesus says:  Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.”  The peace that the church enjoyed was not the peace of the world. The world was against them. They were trying to put Paul to death as they already had done to others of the faith. The peace that the church enjoyed came from the comfort of the Holy Spirit and the fear of the Lord. Psalm 128:1 says: How blessed is everyone who fears the Lord, Who walks in His ways.  If we will fear the Lord, there will be no one or nothing else that we need to fear. If we will walk in His ways, we will be blessed. Ephesians 1:3 says: Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ.  We have every spiritual blessing in Christ. They are ours in heaven. Jesus taught us to pray saying:  Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. We are to walk in the spiritual blessings of Christ on earth. Peace in the midst of chaos, confusion and conflict is one of the greatest blessings we have in Christ. In John 16:33 Jesus says:  “These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.”

The overcoming power and peace of Christ in the midst of the chaos, confusion and conflict in the world today is not only a blessing that we have in the world, it is also one of the most powerful witnesses that we have to the world. There will be tribulation and if we believe what Jesus said, the tribulation will continue to get worse. As it does, the peace of Christ will shine even brighter in the darkness of the world. We are seeing that there is little if anything of human institutions that we can trust. Governments lie and deceive for power and control. Science no longer pursues the truth, but rather follows the finances. Education no longer promotes thinking, but rather indoctrination into a way of thinking. Truth in our society and culture is no longer based on reality and fact, but rather on perception and opinion. Living apart from and opposed to truth is a source of conflict and lack of peace. When Saul was confronted by Jesus for persecuting the church Jesus said: ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.’ (Acts 26:14)  Another translation says: ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me? It is useless for you to fight against my will.’  It is difficult, useless when we oppose God’s will. It causes conflict and lack of peace. If we will walk in His ways, even in the most difficult times, we will have peace and comfort. Romans 8:28-30 says: We know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.

May this song, written by a man who suffered great tribulation and loss in the world, but knew the peace of Christ be our declaration and prayer.

  1. When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
    When sorrows like sea billows roll;
    Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,
    It is well, it is well with my soul.
  • Refrain:
    It is well with my soul,
    It is well, it is well with my soul.
  1. Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
    Let this blest assurance control,
    That Christ hath regarded my helpless estate,
    And hath shed His own blood for my soul.
  2. My sin—oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!—
    My sin, not in part but the whole,
    Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
    Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!
  3. For me, be it Christ, be it Christ hence to live:
    If Jordan above me shall roll,
    No pang shall be mine, for in death as in life
    Thou wilt whisper Thy peace to my soul.
  4. But, Lord, ’tis for Thee, for Thy coming we wait,
    The sky, not the grave, is our goal;
    Oh, trump of the angel! Oh, voice of the Lord!
    Blessed hope, blessed rest of my soul!
  5. And Lord, haste the day when the faith shall be sight,
    The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
    The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
    Even so, it is well with my soul.   Amen.

 

Jun. 13, 2021

Acts 9:1-25 from the daily reading in the One Year Bible

Now Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest, and asked for letters from him to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, both men and women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. As he was traveling, it happened that he was approaching Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him; and he fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?” And he said, “Who are You, Lord?” And He said, “I am Jesus whom you are persecuting, but get up and enter the city, and it will be told you what you must do.” The men who traveled with him stood speechless, hearing the voice but seeing no one. Saul got up from the ground, and though his eyes were open, he could see nothing; and leading him by the hand, they brought him into Damascus. And he was three days without sight, and neither ate nor drank.

10 Now there was a disciple at Damascus named Ananias; and the Lord said to him in a vision, “Ananias.” And he said, “Here I am, Lord.” 11 And the Lord said to him, “Get up and go to the street called Straight, and inquire at the house of Judas for a man from Tarsus named Saul, for he is praying, 12 and he has seen in a vision a man named Ananias come in and lay his hands on him, so that he might regain his sight.” 13 But Ananias answered, “Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much harm he did to Your saints at Jerusalem; 14 and here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on Your name.” 15 But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is a chosen instrument of Mine, to bear My name before the Gentiles and kings and the sons of Israel; 16 for I will show him how much he must suffer for My name’s sake.” 17 So Ananias departed and entered the house, and after laying his hands on him said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road by which you were coming, has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” 18 And immediately there fell from his eyes something like scales, and he regained his sight, and he got up and was baptized; 19 and he took food and was strengthened.

Now for several days he was with the disciples who were at Damascus, 20 and immediately he began to proclaim Jesus in the synagogues, saying, “He is the Son of God.” 21 All those hearing him continued to be amazed, and were saying, “Is this not he who in Jerusalem destroyed those who called on this name, and who had come here for the purpose of bringing them bound before the chief priests?” 22 But Saul kept increasing in strength and confounding the Jews who lived at Damascus by proving that this Jesus is the Christ.

23 When many days had elapsed, the Jews plotted together to do away with him, 24 but their plot became known to Saul. They were also watching the gates day and night so that they might put him to death; 25 but his disciples took him by night and let him down through an opening in the wall, lowering him in a large basket.

 

In today’s text it says:  The Lord said to him, “Go, for he is a chosen instrument of Mine, to bear My name before the Gentiles and kings and the sons of Israel; for I will show him how much he must suffer for My name’s sake.” So Ananias departed and entered the house, and after laying his hands on him said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road by which you were coming, has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” And immediately there fell from his eyes something like scales, and he regained his sight, and he got up and was baptized; and he took food and was strengthened.  Saul, who became called Paul, surely was a chosen instrument of the Lord, perhaps the single most influential person in the history of the Christian faith aside from Jesus Himself. He planted churches, performed many miracles and through the Holy Spirit, authored a large portion of the New Testament. How many today would like to have even a portion of the influence Paul had for the Christian faith? How few today would be willing that the Lord would show them how much they would suffer for His name’s sake?  Many people wonder why we don’t experience the miracles and growth that we see in the early church, today in the western church.  Perhaps it is in part because there are so few who are chosen instruments of the Lord who are willing to truly suffer for His name’s sake. It does not appeal to the masses when the message is suffering, sacrifice and repentance. Many people seek the blessing and the power of the Lord and the Holy Spirit. In Psalm 128:1 it says:  Blessed is every one who fears the LORD, Who walks in His ways.  How many though, who seek the blessing of the Lord, are willing to walk in His ways? If we would be a people who feared the Lord, there would be nothing else for us to fear.

The text says:  For several days he was with the disciples who were at Damascus, and immediately he began to proclaim Jesus in the synagogues, saying, “He is the Son of God.” All those hearing him continued to be amazed, and were saying, “Is this not he who in Jerusalem destroyed those who called on this name, and who had come here for the purpose of bringing them bound before the chief priests?” But Saul kept increasing in strength and confounding the Jews who lived at Damascus by proving that this Jesus is the Christ.  Saul was trained as a Pharisee, an expert in scripture. He was able, through scripture, to prove that Jesus is the Christ. Jesus, through His birth, life, ministry, death and resurrection fulfilled over three hundred Messianic prophecies.    Professor Peter W. Stoner was Chairman of the Departments of Mathematics and Astronomy at Pasadena City College and Chairman of the science division at Westmont College. In his book, Science SpeaksProfessor Stoner outlines the mathematical probability of one person in the first century fulfilling just eight of the most clear and straightforward Messianic prophecies. Josh and Sean McDowell quote Stoner in their book, Evidence That Demands a Verdict: We find that the chance that any man might have lived down to the present time and fulfilled all eight prophecies is 1 in 1017 (1 in 100,000,000,000,000,000). Stoner went on to calculate the probability of one person fulfilling 48 prophecies: 1 in 10157.  The thing is, proving that Jesus is the Christ does not make it certain that people will believe.  In John 6:44 Jesus says:  “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them to me, and at the last day I will raise them up.”  

What part do we have in the drawing of other people by the Father? 2 Peter 3:9;11-12 says:  The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance… what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God. Verses 14-18 say:  Be diligent to be found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless, and regard the patience of our Lord as salvation; just as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given him, wrote to you, as also in all his letters, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction. You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, be on your guard so that you are not carried away by the error of unprincipled men and fall from your own steadfastness, but 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. Amen.  In 2 Corinthians 11:23-29 Paul gives account of some of his suffering for the sake of Christ.   …Far more labors, in far more imprisonments, beaten times without number, often in danger of death. Five times I received from the Jews thirty-nine lashes. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, a night and a day I have spent in the deep. I have been on frequent journeys, in dangers from rivers, dangers from robbers, dangers from my countrymen, dangers from the Gentiles, dangers in the city, dangers in the wilderness, dangers on the sea, dangers among false brethren; I have been in labor and hardship, through many sleepless nights, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. Apart from such external things, there is the daily pressure on me of concern for all the churches. Who is weak without my being weak? Who is led into sin without my intense concern?  Are we willing to be shown and to do all that the Lord shows us for His name’s sake?

‘Our Father who is in heaven, Hallowed be Your name.  ‘Your kingdom come. Your will be done, On earth as it is in heaven.  ‘Give us this day our daily bread.  ‘And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. ‘And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.’

 

 

 

Jun. 12, 2021

Acts 8:14-40 from the daily reading in the One Year Bible

Now when the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent them Peter and John, 15 who came down and prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit. 16 For He had not yet fallen upon any of them; they had simply been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 17 Then they began laying their hands on them, and they were receiving the Holy Spirit. 18 Now when Simon saw that the Spirit was bestowed through the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money, 19 saying, “Give this authority to me as well, so that everyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.” 20 But Peter said to him, “May your silver perish with you, because you thought you could obtain the gift of God with money! 21 You have no part or portion in this matter, for your heart is not right before God. 22 Therefore repent of this wickedness of yours, and pray the Lord that, if possible, the intention of your heart may be forgiven you. 23 For I see that you are in the gall of bitterness and in the bondage of iniquity.” 24 But Simon answered and said, “Pray to the Lord for me yourselves, so that nothing of what you have said may come upon me.”

25 So, when they had solemnly testified and spoken the word of the Lord, they started back to Jerusalem, and were preaching the gospel to many villages of the Samaritans.

26 But an angel of the Lord spoke to Philip saying, “Get up and go south to the road that descends from Jerusalem to Gaza.” This is a desert road.) 27 So he got up and went; and there was an Ethiopian eunuch, a court official of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, who was in charge of all her treasure; and he had come to Jerusalem to worship, 28 and he was returning and sitting in his chariot, and was reading the prophet Isaiah. 29 Then the Spirit said to Philip, “Go up and join this chariot.” 30 Philip ran up and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet, and said, “Do you understand what you are reading?” 31 And he said, “Well, how could I, unless someone guides me?” And he invited Philip to come up and sit with him. 32 Now the passage of Scripture which he was reading was this:

“He was led as a sheep to slaughter; And as a lamb before its shearer is silent, So He does not open His mouth. 33 “In humiliation His judgment was taken away; Who will relate His generation? For His life is removed from the earth.”

34 The eunuch answered Philip and said, “Please tell me, of whom does the prophet say this? Of himself or of someone else?” 35 Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning from this Scripture he preached Jesus to him. 36 As they went along the road they came to some water; and the eunuch said, “Look! Water! What prevents me from being baptized?” 37 And Philip said, “If you believe with all your heart, you may.” And he answered and said, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.” 38 And he ordered the chariot to stop; and they both went down into the water, Philip as well as the eunuch, and he baptized him. 39 When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord snatched Philip away; and the eunuch no longer saw him, but went on his way rejoicing. 40 But Philip found himself at Azotus, and as he passed through he kept preaching the gospel to all the cities until he came to Caesarea.

 

In today’s text it says:  Then they began laying their hands on them, and they were receiving the Holy Spirit. Now when Simon saw that the Spirit was bestowed through the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money, saying, “Give this authority to me as well, so that everyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.” But Peter said to him, “May your silver perish with you, because you thought you could obtain the gift of God with money! You have no part or portion in this matter, for your heart is not right before God. Therefore repent of this wickedness of yours, and pray the Lord that, if possible, the intention of your heart may be forgiven you. For I see that you are in the gall of bitterness and in the bondage of iniquity.” But Simon answered and said, “Pray to the Lord for me yourselves, so that nothing of what you have said may come upon me.”  How many people, like Simon, believe they can attain what is spiritual by natural means?  A person can read hundreds of books about the Holy Spirit, but a person is not given the Holy Spirit except from God. If we want to have authority to do spiritual things, we need to know the one who has all authority. In Psalm 37:3-6 the psalmist says:  Trust in the Lord and do good; Dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness. Delight yourself in the Lord; And He will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord, Trust also in Him, and He will do it. He will bring forth your righteousness as the light And your judgment as the noonday.  To gain authority, it is not our faith that needs to grow. We need to grow in faithfulness. We need to trust and delight in the Lord. There are no alternate paths to spiritual maturity and authority. In John 14:6 Jesus says:  “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”

Look again at the account:  Peter said to him, “May your silver perish with you, because you thought you could obtain the gift of God with money! You have no part or portion in this matter, for your heart is not right before God. Therefore repent of this wickedness of yours, and pray the Lord that, if possible, the intention of your heart may be forgiven you. For I see that you are in the gall of bitterness and in the bondage of iniquity.” But Simon answered and said, “Pray to the Lord for me yourselves, so that nothing of what you have said may come upon me.”  How many people, like Simon, want some one else to pray and repent for them?  One person can intercede for another, but repentance is individual and personal. Your pastor cannot repent for you. Parents and grandparents can pray for children, but each person must repent for their own sin. Perhaps there are not enough people today who will like Peter, tell others that they need to repent. On the day of Pentecost, Peter preached a message of repentance and three thousand people were added to the church. Far too often today, the church has fallen into the same wrong belief as Simon. The church offers the spiritual blessings of Christ by grace alone, as a free gift without repentance. Those who come for the blessing and the power, but remain in their sin, have no part or portion with Christ. In Matthew 7:21-23 Jesus says:  “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; leave Me, you who practice lawlessness.’”

The Holy Spirit is not something that is given by people to people. The Holy Spirit is the very indwelling presence of God. If we want God to abide in us, then we need to abide in Him. 1 John 1:5-10 says:  God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth; but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous, so that He will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us.

Heavenly Father, Lord Jesus Christ; precious Holy Spirit, thank You that You would abide in me. Help me to cultivate faithfulness in my life. Show me the areas of my life that require repentance so that I might walk in the Light. Psalm 128:1 says:  Blessed is everyone who fears the Lord, Who walks in His ways.While many people seek the blessings of the Lord, may I seek to walk in Your ways. May I be a person who understands that if I fear the Lord, there is no one or nothing else to fear.  Amen.


 

 

 

Jun. 11, 2021

Acts 7:51-8:13 from the daily reading in the One Year Bible

“You men who are stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears are always resisting the Holy Spirit; you are doing just as your fathers did. 52 Which one of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? They killed those who had previously announced the coming of the Righteous One, whose betrayers and murderers you have now become; 53 you who received the law as ordained by angels, and yet did not keep it.”

54 Now when they heard this, they were cut to the quick, and they began gnashing their teeth at him. 55 But being full of the Holy Spirit, he gazed intently into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God; 56 and he said, “Behold, I see the heavens opened up and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” 57 But they cried out with a loud voice, and covered their ears and rushed at him with one impulse. 58 When they had driven him out of the city, they began stoning him; and the witnesses laid aside their robes at the feet of a young man named Saul. 59 They went on stoning Stephen as he called on the Lord and said, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit!” 60 Then falling on his knees, he cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them!” Having said this, he fell asleep.

Saul was in hearty agreement with putting him to death.

And on that day a great persecution began against the church in Jerusalem, and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles. Some devout men buried Stephen, and made loud lamentation over him. But Saul began ravaging the church, entering house after house, and dragging off men and women, he would put them in prison.

Therefore, those who had been scattered went about preaching the word. Philip went down to the city of Samaria and began proclaiming Christ to them. The crowds with one accord were giving attention to what was said by Philip, as they heard and saw the [e]signs which he was performing. For in the case of many who had unclean spirits, they were coming out of them shouting with a loud voice; and many who had been paralyzed and lame were healed. So there was much rejoicing in that city.

Now there was a man named Simon, who formerly was practicing magic in the city and astonishing the people of Samaria, claiming to be someone great; 10 and they all, from smallest to greatest, were giving attention to him, saying, “This man is what is called the Great Power of God.” 11 And they were giving him attention because he had for a long time astonished them with his magic arts. 12 But when they believed Philip preaching the good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were being baptized, men and women alike. 13 Even Simon himself believed; and after being baptized, he continued on with Philip, and as he observed signs and great miracles taking place, he was constantly amazed.

 

In today’s text we see the final account of Stephen, the one who was selected to serve food to widows and performed great wonders among the people. The one who was falsely accused because of the jealousy of the religious leaders. It says: “You men who are stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears are always resisting the Holy Spirit; you are doing just as your fathers did. Which one of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? They killed those who had previously announced the coming of the Righteous One, whose betrayers and murderers you have now become; you who received the law as ordained by angels, and yet did not keep it.” Now when they heard this, they were cut to the quick, and they began gnashing their teeth at him. But being full of the Holy Spirit, he gazed intently into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God; and he said, “Behold, I see the heavens opened up and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” But they cried out with a loud voice, and covered their ears and rushed at him with one impulse. When they had driven him out of the city, they began stoning him; and the witnesses laid aside their robes at the feet of a young man named Saul. They went on stoning Stephen as he called on the Lord and said, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit!” Then falling on his knees, he cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them!” Having said this, he fell asleep.  I marvel at the forgiveness of Stephen, that even as the stones were reigning down on him, battering his body, he said: “Lord, do not hold this sin against them!”  Like Jesus on the cross said: “Father forgive them for they don’t know what they are doing,” Stephen sought forgiveness for the very ones responsible for his death.  How often do I struggle to truly forgive even small offenses?

In Luke 17:5-6 it says:  The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith.” So the Lord said, “If you have faith as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be pulled up by the roots and be planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.” When we look in the context though, the disciples did not ask to have their faith increased to do miraculous things. Instead, in verses 3-4 Jesus says:  “Take heed to yourselves. If your brother sins against you, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him. And if he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times in a day returns to you, saying, ‘I repent,’ you shall forgive him.”  The disciples asked that their faith could be increased so that they could forgive as Jesus commanded them to forgive.  It is more than just a suggestion that we forgive others. There is a tremendous consequence to unforgiveness. In Matthew 6:14-15 Jesus says: “For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions.”  If we hold the sins of others against them, God will hold the sin of unforgiveness against us. Perhaps then forgiveness is the greatest work of the Lord that we can aspire to do. Lord, “Increase our faith.”

The account of Stephen’s death offers us some insight into how we can have the faith to forgive. It says:  Being full of the Holy Spirit, he gazed intently into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God; and he said, “Behold, I see the heavens opened up and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.”  Hebrews 12:1-3 says:  Let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.  The key to having faith to forgive, is to look into heaven, to see and consider Jesus who endured the hostility of the cross, not only to forgive those who were there that day, but also to forgive you and I. If we, like Stephen, will fix our eyes on Jesus, our faith will be not only increased, but perfected in Him. When Jesus said: “If you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions,”  It was just after teaching us to pray saying:

‘Our Father who is in heaven, Hallowed be Your name.  ‘Your kingdom come. Your will be done, On earth as it is in heaven.  ‘Give us this day our daily bread.  ‘And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.  ‘And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.’  Amen.

 

 

 

Jun. 10, 2021

Psalm 128 from the daily reading in the One Year Bible

 

How blessed is everyone who fears the Lord,
Who walks in His ways.
When you shall eat of the fruit of your hands,
You will be happy and it will be well with you.
Your wife shall be like a fruitful vine
[Within your house,
Your children like olive plants
Around your table.
Behold, for thus shall the man be blessed
Who fears the Lord.

The Lord bless you from Zion,
And may you see the prosperity of Jerusalem all the days of your life.
Indeed, may you see your children’s children.
Peace be upon Israel!

 

The psalmist says:  How blessed is everyone who fears the Lord,
Who walks in His ways.
  In truth, God wants to bless everyone, but He allows each one to choose whether they will be blessed.  In Deuteronomy 30:15-20 God says:  “See, I have set before you today life and prosperity, and death and adversity; in that I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in His ways and to keep His commandments and His statutes and His judgments, that you may live and multiply, and that the Lord your God may bless you in the land where you are entering to possess it. But if your heart turns away and you will not obey, but are drawn away and worship other gods and serve them, I declare to you today that you shall surely perish. You will not prolong your days in the land where you are crossing the Jordan to enter and possess it. I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. So choose life in order that you may live, you and your descendants, by loving the Lord your God, by obeying His voice, and by holding fast to Him; for this is your life and the length of your days, that you may live in the land which the Lord swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give them.”

In John 3:14-21 Jesus says:  As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up; so that whoever believes will in Him have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil. For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But he who practices the truth comes to the Light, so that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God.”  A blessing or a curse, life or death, light or darkness; How blessed is everyone who fears the Lord, Who walks in His ways. The person who fears the Lord, does not need to fear anything else. The one who walks in His way is blessed with prosperity and life. In John 10:10 Jesus says: The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.”  Again, each one is  not only free to choose, but they must choose, life in Jesus or death and destruction. Proverbs 1:7 says: The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; Fools despise wisdom and instruction.  How blessed is everyone who fears the Lord, Who walks in His ways.

Numbers 6:24-26“The Lord bless you and keep you; The Lord make His face shine upon you, And be gracious to you; The Lord lift up His countenance upon you, And give you peace.”  Amen.