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Cookie Swap

Acts 2:41-47 – “Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles. And all that believed were together, and had all things common; And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need. And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.”

I’m baking Christmas cookies this afternoon. I’m very excited about it, actually. I enjoy cooking and it has been a long time since I took the time to bake Christmas cookies. 

The reason for the baking is that the ladies at my church are having a cookie swap for our Christmas party this year. We are going to turn the air conditioner way up to make it really cold in the building, wear our Christmas sweaters and exchange cookies while drinking cocoa, coffee and milk. I think it sounds fun, different and completely yummy!

So what do these verse have to do with cookies…

We are having a cookie swap. That means that everyone is supposed to bring 1-2 batches of their favorite cookies to exchange with the other attendees. The cookies will all be common. We will all share. 

Can you imagine for a moment what it was like in Jerusalem after the Day of Pentecost where people were getting saved left and right and crowds of people were stacking up on one another just to hear God’s word spoken by one of His apostles? Crazy. Never in my life have I experienced such. Oh, I’ve been involved in some very good and moving revival services, but never have I seen people stopping what they are doing to crowd into a small space and hear the Word of God. That would have been amazing!

Many of these people in Jerusalem, at the time, had been there for a festival. They had stayed a bit longer than they anticipated because of the effects of the Day of Pentecost. They were running short on supplies but God was supplying all their needs. He stirred the hearts of the people to share anything and everything they had. They needed to be fed spiritually just as much as they needed to be fed physically. 

Now, this cookie swap is in no way, shape or form going to be anything like what the people at Jerusalem experienced. No, we are there for fellowship and fun. They were there for life changing information. But I guess that we could have the same type of thing happen. Someone could realize the blessing behind fellowshipping with our ladies and it could, possibly, change her life. 

Fellowshipping together is necessary. We all need that time with the girls to refresh and rejuvenate. (And boys, yes, you need that time too – with other boys, of course! 🙂 

God has put something very special into the heart of a woman. We need that time of bonding and giggling and sharing (goods and stories). We need to know that other women are going through and have gone through the same thing we are. We need the support of a girlfriend to hold our hand and lend a shoulder to cry on. We need to study the Word of God together. I’m sorry to offend, but girls see Scripture in a different light, at least I know I see things differently than my husband at times. It’s just the way God wired us. 

So as you read this Scripture and think about what it means, apply it to today. I don’t think that God necessarily wants us to go and sell everything we have and tent up together and be completely away from the rest of the world. I think that He wants us to share what we have, what we are dealing with and what we have experienced with others. He wants us to have fellowship with our sisters (and brothers) in Christ. He wants us to make the sacrifice to be with the people He has put into our lives. Happy Friday.

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Revisit :Make some noise, cheerleader

Tonight is the first football game of the year. A new school year has started. For those of us with children, it is an opportunity to begin again – a fresh slate toward the end of the calendar year. This is an opportunity to do things different and to live life louder. I hope you enjoy this revisit. Happy Friday.

Acts 18:9-10 – “Then spake the Lord to Paul in the night by a vision, Be not afraid, but speak, and hold not thy peace: For I am with thee, and no man shall set on thee to hurt thee: for I have much people in this city.”

I find comfort in knowing that Bible “greats”, such as Paul, got a little scared sometimes about spreading the Gospel. I don’t think that we truly appreciate the danger these guys would sometimes find themselves in. There are missionaries around the world that put their life on the line each and every day to tell someone about Jesus Christ. And I get nervous talking to someone at the gas pump. Not my best moment.

Yet, here we find Jesus speaking to Paul in a vision saying, “Be not afraid”. Paul was afraid. He was afraid of rejection. But this rejection from the ones he was telling could very well lead to the end of his life. My fear of rejection is just that – rejection. Chances are that no one is going to kill me because I tell them about Jesus at the grocery store. I don’t like to think that people are mad at me, even if I don’t know them. I like to be liked. But I don’t like to be afraid.

Moses wanted us to learn to number our days (Psalm 90:12). In that learning, we understand that we really don’t have that much time. And for someone like me who is a stickler for time management, I do a pretty crummy job when it comes to managing my spiritual time for the Lord and telling others about Him. I am the BIGGEST procrastinator EVER in regards to that! And I hate that. And it’s due mostly to fear. I need to “Be not afraid”.

I’m not a shy person. I can talk to pretty much anyone about anything when it comes to my work. For lands sake, I go in on a first meeting and ask that person about their ability to go to the bathroom by themself. And yet I can’t talk to someone about Jesus.

I have this Light inside of me that needs to be let out. I need to plug in and let it go!

My daughter is a cheerleader. It is her job at football games to encourage the crowd to encourage the team. She is the one down by the field shouting and waving and jumping around trying to get the crowd’s attention and the football players motivated to score a touchdown. She can’t do it for them, but she can encourage everyone else, and them, to make some noise and get the job done.

That’s what we need to do. That’s what God was telling Paul to do here. We need to make some noise. We can’t save the people. But we can encourage them to seek out the One who can. And we need to encourage the crowd. We need to reach out to those around us and encourage them to share with others. We need to make some noise. We have to get over being afraid.

Being a cheerleader requires a lack of fear. You can’t be afraid of what others think about your cheering. You can’t be afraid to complete some of the stunts they do to get everyone’s attention. You can’t be afraid to do the cheer wrong. You can’t be afraid to make some noise.

Now, I’m not saying we should all grab some pompoms and go down the nearest corner and cheer for Jesus. No, that might  be a bit weird, but we can apply the same principles to our life.

Don’t be afraid of what others may think. Chances are your life isn’t in danger. Don’t be afraid to do what God asks you to do. He will give you what you need. Don’t be afraid about doing it wrong. God’s word never returns void. Don’t be afraid to make some noise. God is ready to stir things up – He just needs us to be the spoon.

Make some noise, cheerleader

Acts 18:9-10 – “Then spake the Lord to Paul in the night by a vision, Be not afraid, but speak, and hold not thy peace: For I am with thee, and no man shall set on thee to hurt thee: for I have much people in this city.”

I find comfort in knowing that Bible “greats”, such as Paul, got a little scared sometimes about spreading the Gospel. I don’t think that we truly appreciate the danger these guys would sometimes find themselves in. There are missionaries around the world that put their life on the line each and every day to tell someone about Jesus Christ. And I get nervous talking to someone at the gas pump. Not my best moment. 

Yet, here we find Jesus speaking to Paul in a vision saying, “Be not afraid”. Paul was afraid. He was afraid of rejection. But this rejection from the ones he was telling could very well lead to the end of his life. My fear of rejection is just that – rejection. Chances are that no one is going to kill me because I tell them about Jesus at the grocery store. I don’t like to think that people are mad at me, even if I don’t know them. I like to be liked. But I don’t like to be afraid. 

Moses wanted us to learn to number our days (Psalm 90:12). In that learning, we understand that we really don’t have that much time. And for someone like me who is a stickler for time management, I do a pretty crummy job when it comes to managing my spiritual time for the Lord and telling others about Him. I am the BIGGEST procrastinator EVER in regards to that! And I hate that. And it’s due mostly to fear. I need to “Be not afraid”.

I’m not a shy person. I can talk to pretty much anyone about anything when it comes to my work. For lands sake, I go in on a first meeting and ask that person about their ability to go to the bathroom by themself. And yet I can’t talk to someone about Jesus. 

I have this Light inside of me that needs to be let out. I need to plug in and let it go! 

My daughter is a cheerleader. It is her job at football games to encourage the crowd to encourage the team. She is the one down by the field shouting and waving and jumping around trying to get the crowd’s attention and the football players motivated to score a touchdown. She can’t do it for them, but she can encourage everyone else, and them, to make some noise and get the job done. 

That’s what we need to do. That’s what God was telling Paul to do here. We need to make some noise. We can’t save the people. But we can encourage them to seek out the One who can. And we need to encourage the crowd. We need to reach out to those around us and encourage them to share with others. We need to make some noise. We have to get over being afraid. 

Being a cheerleader requires a lack of fear. You can’t be afraid of what others think about your cheering. You can’t be afraid to complete some of the stunts they do to get everyone’s attention. You can’t be afraid to do the cheer wrong. You can’t be afraid to make some noise. 

Now, I’m not saying we should all grab some pompoms and go down the nearest corner and cheer for Jesus. No, that might  be a bit weird, but we can apply the same principles to our life. 

Don’t be afraid of what others may think. Chances are your life isn’t in danger. Don’t be afraid to do what God asks you to do. He will give you what you need. Don’t be afraid about doing it wrong. God’s word never returns void. Don’t be afraid to make some noise. God is ready to stir things up – He just needs us to be the spoon. 

Challenging

Acts 1:8 – “But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.”

Last night, we went to hear a powerful speaker – Nick Vujicic. The guy was amazing! He held nothing back and really stepped on some toes, so to speak. He doesn’t have arms or legs. If you ever have the opportunity to hear him speak, please, take the time and make the effort. God WILL bless your heart. 

I know this because my heart was blessed last night. You see, Nick has every excuse in the book to be mad at God. Just think about life with no arms OR legs. The physical challenges alone seem overwhelming – and I’m an occupational therapist, for land’s sake! I’m trained to help people like him! 

Yet, Nick sought a reason for his condition. And he found it – in Christ. Now his life has meaning and purpose. He has turned everything over to God and God is making waves in his life that are all consuming. It is beautiful. 

It is Nick’s goal to have every person on the planet hear the Good News. He wants them to make a choice – yes or no to God. Not to Nick, but to God. You see, he knows that this life is not about his suffering and challenges, but rather it is about the love and forgiveness of the Almighty God. 

After we returned home and we’re discussing the night before bed, my husband said that the whole thing helped him to put things into perspective. Nick is out there looking to share the Gospel with the world. 

Does your commission seem insignificant compared to that? Shouldn’t we all be striving to reach the world? Yes. But at the same time, God has given us all a job to do. We aren’t supposed to compare our instructions. We are supposed to follow them, no matter how big or small. 

God has given us all something important to do. We are to reach those around us. We are to share His Word with others both in action and in word. Don’t see yourself as not important or insignificant. God’s plan for you is just as big as the next person’s plan – at least in His eyes, and His eyes are the only one’s that matter. 

So this week, be inspired. Be challenged and choose to be loved. God is ready to turn your world upside down. Are you?

Inside

Psalm 51:6-12 – “Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts: and in the hidden part thou shalt make me to know wisdom. Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Make me to hear joy and gladness; that the bones which thou hast broken may rejoice. Hide thy face from my sins, and blot out all mine iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me. Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit.”

Christmas is just around the corner. The time is quickly approaching when a lot of people are going to be present crazy. There are some people obsessed with creating the perfect package. They buy the best wrapping paper, beautiful ribbons and bows and a super fancy tag to name the recipient of the present. They spend a lot of time wrapping, taping and creating the picture perfect present. 

But who knows what is on the inside. It could be a rubber snake for all the receiver knows. The package could be the most beautiful thing ever created and on the inside is garbage. And then all that time and effort into the outside seems futile. Who wants a beautiful package filled with yuck? 

So many people today are working on the outside when what they should be more concerned about is the inside. Now don’t get me wrong here, I believe that it is our responsibility to take good care of the body that God has given us. I think we need to treat it with respect and feed it good, healthy food and monitor our health to be the best person we can be for the service of Jesus Christ. But all of that should not be our primary concern. 

It’s what is on the inside that counts. What is going on in that brain of yours? Are you striving each and every day to make it more and more like Jesus’s? Do you fill it with His word and think on His will for your life? 

You see, just like a Christmas present, we can fix the outside up to be very nice and visually appealing for those around us. But are we visually appealing to our Heavenly Father on the inside? He sees our thoughts, our motivations, our desires, our dreams – is the root of all these things grounded in Him?

David, bless his heart, was far from perfect. When he wrote this psalm, he had just been busted by the prophet Nathan about his affair with Bathsheba. He had messed up big time. But the thing about David is this – when he was called out for his sin, he didn’t try to blame it on someone else or make excuses or anything like that. No, he owned his sin, he repented of his sin, he accepted the consequences of that sin and then he moved on with the lessons applied to his heart. And still, after everything David did, he was called “a man after mine (God’s) own heart.”(Acts 13:22)

David knew that it was the things on the inside that counted. He knew that he needed to be cleaned. He knew that wisdom and truth were of vital importance. He knew that the only way to get what he needed was to turn back to God. And he humbled himself and asked for that restoration. 

God is ready to give me restoration whenever I ask. He knows that my inside needs a good cleaning out. He is just waiting for me to step up for the cleansing. Unfortunately, sometimes that cleansing is painful. It requires me to admit that I have been wrong. It makes me to see that I’m not as perfect as I like to think that I am. Yet, there is a peace in realizing that I am hot mess. I think the peace comes from the remeberance that I have been purchased with the blood of Jesus. That in His eyes, when I confess and turn away from my sin, my hot mess gets cooled off and I’m back to walking with Him. 

Your life is a gift to God. Are you wrapping it up with pretty paper and fancy bows and filling it with yuck or are you more concerned about what He will find when the paper has been stripped away? Because one day when we are standing before the Judgement Seat, we will be stripped away of all the fancy paper and just be standing there with what is on the inside. What are you going to have to give the One who gave His life for you?

Obey

Acts 5:27-29 – “And when they had brought them, they set them before the council: and the high priest asked them, Saying, Did not we straitly command you that ye should not teach in this name? and, behold, ye have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this man’s blood upon us. Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men.”

Peter and the other apostles were out doing what we all should be doing – telling others about Jesus. They had already been called to the high priest once and had been instructed to no longer teach about Jesus, like that would stop them. They continued. God had laid it on their hearts to spread His Message and they were doing it. But here we find them called into the high priest yet again and being accused. Their response? We have to serve God rather than you, Mr. High Priest. They recognized that God had more authority than this guy wearing his fancy clothes. 

In America, we have rarely seen persecution for our beliefs and convictions. Yet, more and more we find that people who don’t agree with the Bible are trying to silence and control those of us who do believe the Bible. You know, my pastor said yesterday that you could take and destroy every Bible on the top side of the earth and attempt to destroy anything that would identify something as Christianity but that still would not get rid of the FACT that the Bible is truth and God is God. 

We have people today attempting to regulate our morales based on what they think is right. We have people today trying to tell us how to raise our children based on what they think is the correct form of discipline. We have people today trying to convince us that bad is good and good is bad. It’s crazy! 

What this world needs is Jesus. We need to spend more time in the Bible rather than in a self help book. We need to spend a little more quiet time with the Creator rather than the news anchor on the TV. We need to spend more time with fellow believers than with the hand held screen we all have in our pocket. I am just as guilty as the next person. 

So let me encourage on this Labor Day to take some time and spend it with the One who matters most – Jesus. Man has given you the day off, well, some of you, so take that opportunity to reunite and regain your strength. Tomorrow will be filled with challenges to obey God rather than man. Goodness, today will probably be filled with those challenges. Choose God rather than man. It may hurt. It may cause you dispair and heartache for a time, but choosing Him over man will always bring you more blessings that you will ever be able to wrap your arms around. 

Almost…

Acts 26:28,29 – “Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian. And Paul said, I would to God, that not only thou, but also all that hear me this day, were both almost, and altogether such as I am, except these bonds.”

I have been thinking a lot about Judas lately. I have been doing a devotional book and one of the lessons was on Judas. 

Judas walked with Jesus all those years, saw all those miracles, heard all His teachings – and yet, he still did not believe. He was looking for a zealot, someone to lead his people out of Roman bondage and tyranny. Judas thought he had found that leader in Jesus. And instead of listening and having his heart changed, he became bitter and deceitful. 

And then you have Agrippa. He heard all that Paul had to say, had seen the changes in the people and may have even experienced the time of Jesus’s death. Yet, he couldn’t give his heart to Christ. “Almost thou persuadest me”. 

How many people will be standing at the Judgment Seat of Christ saying, “I almost believed”? It makes my heart sad to think of those people. Those people who have seen Jesus at work in someone’s life. Those who have seen His mighty hand change a situation because of prayer. Those who have sat in the pew week after week and heard the Gospel yet remained where they were instead of giving up the fight. 

I just wanted to remind you today that you can lead someone to change, but you can’t make them change. All you can do is offer the change. It is similar to losing weight. You know you need to do it. You know you need to make the change. But until you decide to change and have been persuaded that it is necessary to do so, it is futile to try and change. You have to be persuaded that you are overweight and your health is in danger. With salvation, you have to be persuaded that you are a sinner and your eternal life is in danger of the fires of hell. As followers of Christ, we can show someone these truths from the Bible, but until they allow the Holy Spirit to convict their heart, change is not going to happen. 

So let me encourage you today, live the change. Live the difference that Christ has made in your life. Remember – you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink. You can show others Christ in your life, but you can’t make them accept Him as their Savior.