A Pilgrim's Passage

Daily dispatches from a wandering pilgrim.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Who Shall Separate Us?

Today's reading: Psalms 38-42; Romans 8:18-39

Romans 8:35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?

It seems clear by these words written by the apostle Paul that the believers in Rome were suffering under some level of persecution. History reveals that the men and women who followed Jesus were subjected to horrible deaths at the hands of the Roman government often for the pleasure and amusement of the crowds that would gather to watch. Today in our western cultures we can hardly comprehend what they endured because of their faith in Christ. But the main point of Paul's writing this wasn't to provide a scathing rebuke of the authorities who conducted such horrors but instead to remind the believers that no matter what they encountered in this life that nothing could ever come between them and their Lord. It's a wonderful reminder to us that even when we experience the worst of days that Jesus is with us through every trial and difficulty. He will never leave us and nothing can pry us out of His mighty hand.

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Thursday, July 7, 2011

You Know How Unlawful It Is

Today's reading: 2 Chronicles 35-36; Acts 10:23-48

Acts 10:28 Then he said to them, "You know how unlawful it is for a Jewish man to keep company with or go to one of another nation. But God has shown me that I should not call any man common or unclean."

Peter was summoned by a Roman centurion named Cornelius. Unlike the other Romans he was seeking to know the God of the Jews and he had done many good deeds for them. Then one day while he was praying an angel appeared to him and told him to find Peter and have him come and preach the gospel. There was, however, a big problem; Peter was a Jew which meant it was unlawful according to Jewish law for him to associate with gentiles like the Romans. Not only that but the Romans were still seen as an occupying force and they were looked on with anger and suspicion and so were those who were seen with them. But God had planned this entire event and He had prepared Peter's heart to respond to Cornelius's request. Even at that this was such a departure for the normal way of things Peter still felt compelled to explain how strange this encounter was. But Peter had heard from God and that changed everything.

God's love wasn't and isn't reserved for just a few select individuals. In fact even His 'chosen' people, the Jews, were chosen in order to bring salvation to the rest of the world. His love for the world is seen in every action that He's taken in the history of man and in this account Peter has stepped across the final boundary of separation that God desired to destroy. From God's perspective the death and resurrection of Jesus has opened the way for all people to come to Him through the gospel of Jesus.

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Friday, July 1, 2011

At the Feet of a Young Man

Today's reading: 2 Chronicles 21-23; Acts 7:41-60

Acts 7:58 and they cast him out of the city and stoned him. And the witnesses laid down their clothes at the feet of a young man named Saul.

Saul, who would become known as Paul the apostle didn't start off on the right foot. While he didn't throw any stones at Stephen, the first martyr for Christ, he consented to the action and stood by watching over the coats of the elders. He was just as guilty as they were. If you and I were going to choose a man for the special duty of writing most of the New Testament we would have looked right past Saul because he was obviously against everything Jesus stood for. But history tells us that God doesn't look at people the way we do. Long before that day when Saul was watching the coats by his feet God had chosen him to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Now if a man like Saul can be changed and go from being a murderer to an apostle then it's possible not only for God to change our life but to do extraordinary things through us too. This verse also helps us see that when it comes to people we can't see what's going on inside of them and we don't know the plans that God has for them and it makes me wonder how many people we've written off and judged as unworthy when all along God has been working unseen in their life preparing them for the day when they would become one of His children. The point is simple don't write anyone off as being too far gone to experience the grace of God, even if that someone is you.

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Thursday, June 30, 2011

If Disaster Comes Upon Us

Today's reading: 2 Chronicles 19-20; Acts 7:20-40

2 Chronicles 20:9 ‘If disaster comes upon us--sword, judgment, pestilence, or famine--we will stand before this temple and in Your presence (for Your name is in this temple), and cry out to You in our affliction, and You will hear and save.’

Disasters come to everyone at one time or another and when they come it's important that we know what to do. Our security isn't found in our emergency preparedness, or our government or any other human agency, our security is in the Lord. Our first response when facing affliction should always be to cry out to the Lord for help. Typically our first response is to try and solve the problem our selves or even to try and deny reality but none of those efforts will have any real and lasting impact outside of God's intervention and help.

What we need to remember is that God wants us to call out to Him in times of trouble, it doesn't bother Him and he doesn't get tired of helping us. His desire is to show Himself strong on our behalf and to reveal Himself more clearly to us through our trials. So don't hesitate to call out to Him when disaster comes because He is waiting to answer.

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Wednesday, June 29, 2011

God Diverted Them

Today's reading: 2 Chronicles 17-18; Acts 7:1-19

2 Chronicles 18:31 So it was, when the captains of the chariots saw Jehoshaphat, that they said, "It is the king of Israel!" Therefore they surrounded him to attack; but Jehoshaphat cried out, and the LORD helped him, and God diverted them from him.

The battle was going poorly and the enemy was closing in on the king so he cried out and the Lord intervened to protect him and diverted the enemy in another direction. The Lord was the ever present help for the king in his time of trouble.

We are in a war, a spiritual one, that has already been decided in our favor by the Lord, but in the middle of the war we face many battles and attacks from our adversary the devil. He has identified us and is working hard to defeat us and while we're the ultimate victors there are days when the battle doesn't go well for us usually because we grow careless or try to handle the fight on our own. That never seems to work out we end up in danger of falling. Regardless of how we got there when we cry out to God He hears and responds to bring us deliverance by diverting the enemy's attention away from us and onto something else that ends up leading him to defeat. It's not that we're such good tacticians in the battle because if we were left to our own abilities we would always snatch defeat from the jaws of  victory, but with God our victory is assured when we cry out to Him.

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Tuesday, June 28, 2011

When In Their Trouble

Today's reading: 2 Chronicles 14-16; Acts 6

2 Chronicles 15:4 but when in their trouble they turned to the LORD God of Israel, and sought Him, He was found by them.

In the verses just before this it was made clear that Israel had wandered so far from God that there wasn't even a connection between them any longer. But now a new king had come who honored God and desired to establish the true worship of God in the land and in reply through a prophet God responds by saying that even though they had wandered away He was still willing to found found by them when they turned around and began to seek Him.

There are times in our life when we wander away from God and find ourselves in over our heads. Most often this wandering isn't an intentional rebellion or rejection, although it can be, but gradually over time we begin to drift away and in time we end up in trouble. The great news is that God is merciful and gracious and will never turn a deaf ear to anyone who seeks Him with their whole heart even when we're in trouble because we flat out turned away from God to go our own way. That's one of the most amazing things about God, He forgives and restores the rebellious and the righteous alike.

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Monday, June 27, 2011

The Lord Opened the Prison Doors

Today's reading: 2 Chronicles 11-13; Acts 5:17-42

Acts 5:19 But at night an angel of the Lord opened the prison doors and brought them out, and said...

The apostles where put in jail because the continued to preach in the name of Jesus and it really made the religious leaders mad. They thought they had put an end to this Jesus and His movement but He,and they, just wouldn't go away. Even though all of their attempts to silence them had failed they still tried to shut them up by putting them in jail. But the word and people of God can't be silenced.

The world system is in active rebellion against that gospel of Jesus and it shouldn't come as a surprise to us that it will attempt to silence it. Of course in the United States we don't have to worry about going to jail for our testimony, but that still doesn't prevent Satan from shutting us down with bondage of another type. For many people that bondage can take the form of emotional distress, for others it's financial difficulty, and others are held captive by fear or disease. All of these conspire to silence us and keep us from proclaiming the Good News, the exciting this is that the God who opened the prison doors and brought the apostles out of bondage is able to deliver us from the bondage we face.

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