But the message of Jesus’ disciples could not be stopped.
Gamaliel advised the religious leaders in Acts 5 – “Therefore, in the present case, I advise you: leave these men alone! Let them go! For if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail. But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God.” vs 38-39.
The verdict is in.
Jesus was not of human origin. His Great Commission for his disciples – then and now – to go into all the world and preach the Gospel making new disciples was not of human origin.
When they tried to stop the Good News of Jesus from spreading, the Pharisees found themselves fighting against God. You know how well that worked.
How many believers are there in the world? How many churches?
As the final Revelation of God’s Word begins, the Spirit is writing to the 7 churches through John. The message that reverberates through my mind are his words to the church of Laodicea –
“I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm – neither hot nor cold – I am about to spit you out of my mouth.” Rev. 3: 15 – 16.
The Spirit sounds pretty disgusted with this church. They were rich and they were acting like they had everything they needed. But the Spirit calls them pitiful, poor, blind and naked.
And then he offers them the truth – “Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent. Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person and they with me.” Rev 3: 19-20.
The Spirit tells the church of Laodicea to repent and reminds them that Jesus is always ready to forgive them and redeem them.
Lukewarm is not a good place to be. Jesus came to earth to save us and transform us into beacons of light in a lost and broken world. ‘Okay’ is not what we are called to be. ‘Comfortable’ is not our goal. The Holy Spirit wants to set a fire burning within each of us as we seek to know and love our Abba Father. As our love for God grows, he transforms our hearts so we can truly start to love other people like he does.
There is a fire burning in my heart. It burns hotter the closer I get to God. This fire keeps me passionate about following Jesus on this journey towards the truth.
What’s the temperature of your heart for God? Is there anything or anyone you care about more than God? Are you lukewarm? Or sold out?
I see it in the gorgeous sunrise as God once again declares his faithfulness to me with the start of a new day. I feel it in my 3 year-old granddaughter’s hug. I see it in the smiles of my friends. I feel it in the ‘love you’ from my husband of over 40 years.
It’s the great love God has lavished upon me.
God tells me that I am a precious child and he proves that by showing his love for me in a multitude of ways, every day.
“See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called the children of God.” 1 John 3: 1a
It’s very encouraging to realize that the closer I get to God, the more of his love I feel pouring out over me. As I’ve been consistently memorizing God’s scripture these last 6 years, I also feel his wisdom pouring out from his Word. More knowledge. More understanding.
I am his child! How much more love and wisdom and knowledge and understanding does he have available for me?
There is no limit!
As 2022 quickly approaches, I am looking forward to seeing what God has planned for this next year. New challenges. More love.
They were faithful here on earth and are now receiving their reward in heaven.
My family has had a long history of being people of faith. My grandparents immigrated to the US from the Netherlands during a time of discontent and division in the Reformed Church. My parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, their parents, their grandparents and on and on make up a big portion of the faithful ones from my family who have gone home before me.
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.” Hebrews 12: 1-2. Every time is read this, I visualize a big bunch of Dutch people in their wooden shoes cheering me on as I run the race God has set before me.
For generations, my ancestors have been farmers – both here and in the Netherlands – who planted the seeds but then had to trust God to water them and give them sunshine to grow. It’s easy to see in farming how God has a direct affect on the success or failure of your crops. I was raised in a small farming community in Iowa and I will never forget the standing-room-only prayer services we had when the crops needed rain. There was never any doubt about who was in control.
I know my mother is in the front of my cloud of witnesses in heaven – clapping loudly and yelling encouragements. She was never a quiet person so I’m sure she’s not quiet in heaven. My crowd in heaven also contains other Christians who were my role-models here on earth – challenging me, teaching me and loving me.
And, for many of you here on earth, someday I will be in your cloud of witnesses, cheering you on as you keep your eyes fixed on Jesus here on earth, running the race each day and looking forward to joining me in our forever home in heaven.
New Year’s resolutions have gotten a bad rep because so many of us break them within a day or two of making them. I’m a goal-oriented person so I like them as long as I limit them to things I REALLY want to do. I try to stay away from making resolutions that sound good but I’m not really committed to making them happen.
Here’s one that I’m totally committed to continue making happen in 2022 –
“But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen” 2 Peter 3:18.
These are the words Peter uses to close out his second letter. There are several other things I would like to accomplish in 2022 but I’m not as committed to them as I am to this. And I have a plan. Please feel free to join me in any or all of these –
*I’m going to read the entire Bible again – for the 11th year in a row. I have found that reading the entire revelation of God feeds my soul much more than skipping around in various chapters or verses. I love the chronological Bible because the natural progression through history makes more sense to me and helps me understand what God is saying. It’s not a Study Bible because things that are mentioned more than once in the regular Bible are condensed into one spot. The changes in the Chronological Bible make it much easier to read the entire book but I always keep a Study Bible handy if I want to know specifics.
*I’m going to continue to memorize scripture. My big goal is to memorize the entire book of James. Yep, all of it. Yep, it will take years, especially since I don’t have a good memory. It’s a God-sized task and I know he’s up for it. So far, God has helped me memorize the first and second chapter of James and I’ve begun to work on the 3rd chapter. He constantly blesses me by speaking to me through these words that he has etched on my heart and mind.
*I have couple of people in my life that I am meeting with and spiritually mentoring. I’m praying that God will open my eyes to anyone else he is bringing into my life who I can walk beside on this journey of growing our faith.
*After moving to a new state during a worldwide pandemic, my husband and I have finally found a new church home that we are excited about. It’s awesome to praise God and give him glory with a spiritual family again! We are figuring out where and how God wants us to serve. We have very recently joined a small group Bible study from our new church and we are excited about growing in our faith with them.
I’m committed to this plan. I know that I need to consistently put myself in God’s presence and he will grow my faith in 2022.
What are your spiritual goals for 2022?
Do you have a plan?
Please help us be intentional in growing our faith, Abba Father.
What does it take to move beyond the basics of truth and begin to understand the mysteries?
The writer of Hebrews talks to us about those who have been believers for a long time and should be teaching others but who still need someone to teach them and remind them basic things about God’s truth. “In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food. Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil. Hebrews 5: 12 – 14.
I don’t want to be a spiritual baby.
My goal is to continue to mature in my faith – growing more like Jesus each year. To make this happen, I realized I had to open my mind and let God change me from the inside out. I have begun to let God write his Truth on my heart which has altered the list of things I love along with how I spend my time and resources. His truth has been etched on my mind through memorization and the Holy Spirit uses this truth to transform my thinking.
Through time and study and perseverance, I have come to understand the basics and been able to move on to the more complicated aspects of God’s truth. And I’ve been able to share with others the truth I have learned.
I’ve been convicted by the knowledge that, at some point, those of us who are studying God’s truth regularly need to ‘get it’. It has to move from something we know to something we live out – daily. Otherwise we stay babies, being taught the basics over and over but never really letting the change begin.
We need to stop talking about the transforming power of God and let it happen to us –
let him in –
let him grow us –
change us –
so we can become mature.
Thank you, Abba Father, for your transforming power in our lives.
I don’t own anything. When I die, nothing is coming with me.
I know – I check the box ‘own’ when I’m filling out a form about my house but I should really be marking ‘rent’ because my house is not coming with me. My house is full of stuff I ‘own’ but it’s all staying here when I leave this earth.
The Apostle Peter says, ” Dear friends, I warn you as ‘temporary residents and foreigners’ to keep away from worldly desires that wage war against your very souls.” 1 Peter 2:11.
Peter calls me and you ‘temporary residents’.
I like it!
Living in this world is often disappointing and difficult. It’s confusing and full of conflicts. The moments of joy seem fleeting compared to the problems that hang on forever. When I hear people talk about ‘forever homes’ here on earth, I’m really glad to know that my ‘forever home’ is not here – it’s in a much better place.
The hole left in my life when my son was killed will only be filled in heaven.
So I’m good with my temporary, renting status here on earth. When my lease is up, I’m going home, where I belong…..forever.
I know you already have a place prepared for me, Abba Father. Thank you.
seem like less of a problem than the things I have done that I shouldn’t have.
Do you feel this way, too? When I don’t do something I should have done, I rarely feel the same guilt and regret that I have after doing something I never should have done.
Is that because the things I should have done but didn’t do are invisible? It didn’t happen so there is no evidence that I should have done it?
James tells us, “If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is a sin for them.” James 4:17.
God knows everything – even my thoughts. There are no secrets from him. When I am prompted by the Holy Spirit to do something or say something and I don’t do it, God knows. Sure, his grace kicks in and my sins are covered by Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross, but it’s still wrong.
I need to keep my eyes and ears open to these promptings so I don’t miss the opportunities God gives me to partner with him in his plan to redeem the people around me and deepen their faith. I want to make sure my hands and feet are available for his kingdom purposes.
During this special time of year, I often hear the Spirit whispering in my ear,
“For God so loved the world.”
God loves the people in this world so I need to love the people in this world.
Please let me be a part of helping the world believe in you, Abba Father, so they will accept your free gift of grace and live in your love.