Wake Up!

Today’s reading is Revelation 3

Have you ever received a letter from someone that was a little harsh, but true? I’ve received some rejection letters, some letters about my kids doing weird things, and a few letters of thanks or appreciation. I’ve thrown the rejection letters away but I kept the letters about my kids and the appreciation. While they were painful to read initially, they were also filled with encouragement and hope.  The three churches mentioned in Revelation chapter 3 received letters, but they were not left without feeling encouraged and hopeful.

The church of Sardis was deemed “dead” and they were instructed to “wake up”! At one time they had been strong in their faith but they let it fizzle. They were urged to get back to the basics of what they believed at the very beginning. If they didnt wake up they would miss out on His return.
The church of Philadelphia also received a letter. They Lacked strength but they were obedient and did not deny Him. They were encouraged to hold tightly to whatever strength they had and use the gifts God gave them to keep their faith. Lastly, the church in Laodicea. They were lukewarm in their faith. Their riches and self sufficiency took the place of their need for God. But they were reminded that in the midst of their riches they were actually “wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked”. They were encouraged to be diligent and turn from their indifference. The things of God are greater than any riches obtained in this lifetime.
Rev 3:20-22 “Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear me calling and open the door,  I will come in, and we will share a meal as friends. I will invite everyone who is victorious to sit with me on my throne, just as I was victorious and sat with my Father on the throne. Anyone who is willing to hear should listen to the spirit and understand what the spirit is saying to the churches.”
Which of these letters would you be receiving? Are you dead in your faith? Weak? Or lukewarm? God disciplines those he loves. May we hear the encouragement in the midst of the discipline to turn from our ways back to Him.
Shelly

JOHN 13

Today’s reading is from John 13.

Wow, what an amazing chapter in the Bible!  I know that we have read it before and we concentrate on Judas and Jesus washing feet.  However, I would like to make this writing short…but your thought and reading elongated.  I would like to point to John 13:3:  “Jesus knew that the Father had given him authority over everything and that he had come from God and would return to God.”  This verse took me back to a hymn as a child that I really loved.  Please excuse me if I miss quote…going from memory:  “He could have called ten thousand angels, to destroy the world and set him free.  He could have called ten thousand angels, but he died alone…for you and me.”  Jesus was given all authority, but chose to be beaten (look up ‘flogged’…see descriptions of this in other gospels), belittled, and dozens of other things that none of us would have gone through…for anyone.  He didn’t HAVE to endure any of it, but he chose to…because he loved us that much…so that he could take the place of sin and we could be connected with the Father.

Please consider his love for us this Thanksgiving week…and give thanks that Jesus loved us this much.  AMEN!

MT

10, 000 angels hymn – https://youtu.be/mP563vwmQB0

A Voice in the Wilderness

Today’s reading is John 1.

John was one of Jesus disciples, another eye witness. He wrote the gospel “to build faith and confidence in Jesus Christ so that we may believe that He truly was and is the Son of God”. (John 20:30,31).
In this first chapter of John we learn that God sent John the Baptist to tell everyone about the coming messiah. His job was to prepare the way. He was the opening act for the savior. When the Jewish leaders asked John who he was he replied in the words of Isaiah: “I am a voice shouting in the wilderness, ‘prepare a straight pathway for the Lords coming!’”John 1:23.
John the Baptist knew Jesus but did not know he was the Messiah until he saw “the Holy Spirit descending like a dove from heaven and resting upon him” as it says in John 1:32. He was the first one to proclaim to the people that Jesus was the Messiah. He did such a good job pointing everyone to Jesus that 2 of his own disciples turned from him to follow Jesus (John 1:37). Which was exactly what John expected and wanted them to do.
John the Baptist was a man with a mission. God gave him a job and he did it. He was bold and convicted. May we be like John the Baptist and always point others back to Jesus. Our savior.
Shelly

When the Roll is Called Up Yonder

TODAYS READING : Luke13

There is a LOT of great stuff in Luke 13:  Jesus calls people to repent, Jesus heals the crippled woman, Jesus grieves over Jerusalem.  However, I’m convicted tonight to say that there is nothing like:  Jesus teaches about entering the kingdom.  I encourage all of you to read the entire chapter, but really give verse 28 some time.  “And there will be great weeping and gnashing of teeth, for you will see Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets within the Kingdom of God, but you will be thrown out.”

I thought I had some great losses in high school and college when I may have been rejected by others…or lost a big game.  When we lost to Peoria Manual in 1987, I thought that was the lowest moment of my life.  Now, in my “mid-years”, I thought I may have experienced the most weeping I could have by losing my best friend of over 30 years and losing my mom.  However, when you give it some thought, there will be nothing worse than losing a loved one for eternity…when we have the capacity to realize at the time it is happening that people we know and love are being cast into the depths for eternity.  In this day and age, it is easy to think:  “There will be another chance…there will be a do-over.”  NO!!!  No there won’t.  When the roll is called up yonder, you’ll be there…or you won’t.  There is no second chance…there is no do-over…there is no last minute pleading with loved ones that haven’t said Jesus is who He says he is.  I recall someone saying about my best friend:  “He was such a nice person, he has to be in heaven.”  I didn’t say it at the time…as it didn’t seem like the time and place, although I wish I had…that is not why he is in heaven.  I asked him if he believed in Jesus…that is why he’s in heaven.  John 14:6…”I am the way, the truth, and the life.  No one comes to the Father, except through me.”

MT

The Holy Spirit

Today’s reading is Luke 1

 Luke was a physician and historian. He was a friend of Paul’s and also wrote the book of Acts. Luke refers to the Holy Spirit more than any other Gospel writer. As a friend of Paul’s and a witness to the events in Acts, he was well acquainted with the power of the Holy Spirit.
In this first chapter of Luke we learn about the birth of John the Baptist and the call of Mary to be the mother of Jesus. The Holy Spirit played a major role in the happenings of this chapter. Even before Jesus was in the world, God used the Holy Spirit to accomplish His plans.
The first mention of the Holy Spirit was when the angel spoke to Zechariah about his soon to be son, John. He told him in Luke 1:15 that  “he will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even before his birth”. Then the angel appeared to Mary to share the news that she would be the mother of Jesus. In Luke 1:35 the angel said, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the most high will overshadow you”.  Elizabeth was also filled with the Holy Spirit in Luke 1:41, “At the sound of Mary’s greeting, Elizabeth’s child leaped within her, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit”. She then proceeded to affirm Mary and all that God had said would happen. What a gift to Mary! Someone older, wiser, and pregnant giving reassurance that she wasn’t crazy and God had called her to this task. Then in verses 68-79 Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and gave a beautiful prophecy of things to come. After losing his voice for 9 months he had a few things to say!
 All these people filled with the Holy Spirit takes us to Jesus. Gods beautiful orchestration for the promised Messiah. He used people that were faithful, humble, and willing.
The Holy Spirit is a gift from God (Eph 1:13) that we have access to all the time when we believe in Jesus.  The Holy Spirit is always working on our behalf. Roman’s 8:8 says, “And the Holy Spirit helps us in our distress. For we don’t even know what we should pray for, nor how we should pray. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words”.
Rest in this assurance today.
Shelly

Faith

Enjoy Mark 5 today.

Mark 5:25-34

She is alone. Banned from society because she is “unclean”. She has tried to make herself well by going to all the doctors she could but none of them were able to heal her. All of her money was spent trying to find a cure that never came. 12 years……bleeding. 4,380 days. Never clean. Always waiting….hoping the next day would get better. Silently suffering. The dark circles under her eyes tell the story of loss. That’s what bleeding does…..it depletes you of life. She was being depleted daily……of nutrients, relationships, and connection. Hope was gone.

Or was it?

She heard about Jesus performing miracles. Maybe this was her chance. She was so desperate and tired. So sick of feeling sick. She decides to reach for Jesus, at least the edge of his garment. Just the edge….just a piece of his clothing……something……anything. She doesn’t come to him with a big speech. She doesn’t even ask him for help. She approaches her healing as the outcast she had been for the past 12 years.  She comes from behind……reaching through the crowd of people, for a scrap of healing.
“If I just touch his clothes I will be healed” Mark 5:28.
She reaches until she feels the rough texture of his clothes on the tips of her fingers. Amidst people, animals, dust, and dirt she feels his clothing in her grasp. Hopeful. Trusting.
And then…….it happens…..healing. The bleeding and suffering stop. And Jesus stops. He asks who touched him and the disciples remind him of all the people around him…..everyone is touching Jesus! But He knew the difference. This was a touch of faith. A purposeful touch. Jesus felt the power go out of Him. She fell to his feet knowing she was healed.
He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering” Mark 5:34.
Jesus knew exactly what was happening. It was monumental to heal this woman and acknowledge her. In a culture that put men first and sent women away when they were “unclean”……this was a big deal. And everyone saw and witnessed his care for this woman.
I love this story. I love that he called her daughter. He healed her physically and called her his own. All while walking in a crowd of people, heading to raise Jairus’s daughter from her death.
This is our Jesus! Oh that we would have the faith to reach out and touch the edge of his garment.
Shelly

Matthew 21

Wow, does Matthew 21 have a lot of great stuff!  Tonight/this morning, we take you on a walk through the eyes of a simpleton.

“Jesus rides into Jerusalem on a donkey”

Jesus was all about fulfilling the old testament prophesy…in this case Zechariah 9:9:  “Rejoice greatly, O people of Zion!  Shout in triumph, O people of Jerusalem!  Look, your king is coming to you.  He is righteous and victorious, yet he is humble, riding on a donkey – even on a donkey’s colt.”  To me, it is very meaningful that Jesus goes out of his way to fulfill the writings of the old testament…and to validate his prophets.  I did wonder what it would be like for the two disciples that were sent ahead to get the donkey.  Jesus tells them what to say if they encounter anyone, but it doesn’t say that they did encounter anyone.  What do you think the conversation was like between the two disciples on the way there?

“Jesus clears the temple again!”

This one is short, but much to it.  It is clear that the people who needed Jesus, put their faith in him and knew who he was.  After Jesus drove out the merchants and their customers, “The blind and the lame came to him, and he healed them there in the temple.”  Then, once again, he used old testament scripture to set the doubters straight:  “Haven’t you ever read the scriptures?”

“Jesus says the disciples can pray for anything.”

Do you ever wonder what “funny” stuff Jesus may have done that wasn’t recorded in the bible?  In this case, he wilted a fig tree that didn’t have any fruit…to create an example for the disciples.  If they had faith, they could do much more than wilt a fig tree…they could make a mountain thrown into the sea.  The verses like this make me wonder how strong my faith is…could I make a grain of sand thrown into a creek?  Why couldn’t I have a mountain thrown into the sea?

“Religious leaders challenge Jesus’s authority.”

THESE ARE GREAT!  Every time the religious smart guys try to catch Jesus in his own words, he turns the tables on them…baffling them…they have no idea what to do…except get mad.  “So they finally replied, ‘We don’t know’.”

“Jesus tells the parable of the two sons”

I wonder what these ‘leading priests’ thought after hearing this parable.  Do you think any of them changed their ways?  Surely, they all weren’t completely stubborn and set in their ways.

“Jesus tells the parable of the evil farmers”

I really wonder what all of them felt after they heard the parable.  “When the leading priests and Pharisees heard Jesus, they realized he was pointing at them – that they were the farmers in this story.  They wanted to arrest him, but they were afraid to try because the crowds considered Jesus to be a prophet.”

Our all church study is focusing on “remembering” this week.  We had a great discussion tonight going over the Armstrong and the Thomas family history.  Shelly and I also shared where we were on 9/11.  Shelly was working in the pediatric ICU in Peoria and I was at the State Farm facility in Canada…it was a month plus before we were to be married.  I was amazed at how much our kids were interested in these stories.  Don’t sell your story short…and share it with others…God may be using it…and/or you!

MT

Healing

 

Todays reading is Matthew 9.

Jesus is performing miracles of healing, recruiting disciples, and dealing with critics. I love the stories of healing. These verses in Matthew 9 remind me that Jesus is powerful and has the ability to heal. The common theme in all of the healing was faith. They believed Jesus could heal them and they showed up for it. I can picture the paralytic running home to tell everyone about Jesus. The blind man describing what Jesus looked like to anyone who would listen. The mute man telling his articulate story of what Jesus said to him while he was being healed. The woman who had been bleeding 12 years was no longer a lonely outcast. These are the stories that ignite our faith. People come to know Jesus through these miraculous stories of healing. And then they realize the real miracle….forgiveness.

I’m covicted that I forget this as I’m praying for physical healing in the here and now. I don’t want anyone around me suffering sickness and physical limitations. I want friends and loved ones to be healthy, radiant, and full of life. But I know this world is not perfect and I know God’s plans are much bigger than my own. Illness and death will happen.  God has the power to heal and we should continue asking for it in faith. But we can be thankful and rejoice in the healing of our souls first. That was the first thing Jesus offered the paralytic…”Take heart son, your sins are forgiven” 9:2. He then proceeded to heal his affliction to show the crowds that he had authority. God does miracles all the time. He can heal whatever your affliction is. But have you thanked him today for the healing of your soul to have eternal life with Him?

Shelly

Love, in deed

A Trilogy from Another Brother:

1 John 3:17 – 24

But if anyone has the world’s goods sand sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth. By this we shall know that we are of the truth and reassure our heart before him; for whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and he knows everything. Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God; and whatever we ask we receive from him, because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him. And this is his commandment, that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us. Whoever keeps his commandments abides in God, and God in him. And by this we know that he abides in us, by the Spirit whom he has given us.”

Have to admit that I read this morning’s verses several times and came up with:  “it says what it says”.  So, what do you do when you have no other trains of thoughts…you go with movie themes.

Verse 17, Trading Places

I would like to think that if any of us saw someone in need, that we would respond in a generous way.  How far would we go out of our way to help others?  How far could we go out of our way to help others?  There are so many aspects to both of these questions.  If I spent all of my time helping others, how much would I have to share with them?  Yet, there are some that their spiritual gifts are giving and are SO amazing at it.  There are also some that thrive with what God has given to them and thrive at sharing with others.  What this verse speaks against is having the means and doing nothing with it.  Don’t go down that road:  don’t be Louis Winthrop III toward the beginning of the movie…be Billy Ray Valentine toward the end of the movie.  “Mortimer…we’re back in business!”

Verses 18-20, Forrest Gump

“I may not be a smart man, Jenny…but I know what love is.”  Forrest was really good at walking the walk…once he learned to walk.  He showed love to his mama, Jenny, Bubba…and little Forrest.  He loved his momma through obedience…loved Jenny by never giving up on her…loved Bubba by going back in the thick for him (it’s like a snake jumped up and bit me)…and loved little Forrest by “fixing his breakfast, lunch, and dinner every day”…and putting him on the bus with Dorothy Harris.  Forrest didn’t talk the love game…he flat out lived it…with passion!  You could see the love for Lt. Dan in the excitement for his gain:  “Lt. Dan, you got new legs!”  May we be generous and genuine in our love for someone in our circle…or someone running from one coast to the other coast that we don’t know.

Verses 21-24, Pinocchio

In this verse, we need to let The Trinity be our Jiminy Cricket.  I think we all believe in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus or we wouldn’t be reading this.  These versus tell us to believe in the name of Jesus and that we can have a clear conscience in Him, with the Holy Spirit in us.  Is there much more exciting and inspirational than verse 24:  “Those who obey God’s commandments live in fellowship with him, AND HE WITH THEM.  And we know he lives in us because the Holy Spirit lives in us.”

Have a blessed Wednesday and please pray for all of the students and teachers starting another school year.

MT

Open Door

Today’s reading is Revelation 3:8-11

8 “‘I know your works. Behold, I have set before you an open door, which no one is able to shut. I know that you have but little power, and yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name. 9 Behold, I will make those of the synagogue of Satan who say that they are Jews and are not, but lie—behold, I will make them come and bow down before your feet, and they will learn that I have loved you. 10 Because you have kept my word about patient endurance, I will keep you from the hour of trial that is coming on the whole world, to try those who dwell on the earth. 11 I am coming soon. Hold fast what you have, so that no one may seize your crown.”
We watched the movie Armegeddon the other night. Not on purpose…kind of stumbled on to it and couldn’t shut it off. While watching I thought about end times. It’s a real thing. But we don’t have to be afraid if it. God has a plan.
These are the words of encouragement written to the church in Philadelphia. They are also an encouragement to us, the Bible Journal Community in 2018. I love the word picture of the door of salvation. He has set an open door before us that no one can shut. No one! It’s done and promised. This is the door of hope, the door of eternal life. He knows we are weak and has opened it for us if we accept it. These verses encourage us to continue obeying and persevering because God sees us, knows us, and will protect us. I do not pretend to know the ins and outs of “the hour of trial” but I trust that God will protect us in that moment because He said so. He is coming soon. Keep doing the things He gave you to do on this earth for Him. Keep going. Don’t give up. If you don’t know what He’s given you to do…..ask Him. He will answer because He has given each of us gifts and talents for His kingdom. And make sure to look for your gift…..not the one you wish you had. I’ve done that……it’s exhausting. Be patient….it will come. Keep your eyes on that open door.
Have a blessed Wednesday!
Shelly