Acts 19 Part 1–Paul at Ephesus

Paul moved on from Corinth and ended up in Ephesus.  When He arrived in Ephesus he met up with some disciples.  They repented and accepted Christ, but only was baptised for repentence. Paul laid hands on the disciples and they received the Holy Spirit. They immediately spoke in tongues and prophecied.  Paul continued his ministry and grew the church in Ephesus.  He had an amazing ministry and even healed people by touching handkerchiefs and aprons and sending them out.  It was great two year ministry and provided great growth and stability for the church and region.

 How important did the Church become? Well Timothy became the pastor for a time. Then the Apostle John became the pastor for a time and was finally exiled to the island of Patmos where he wrote Revelations.  Interestingly, the first church John reviewed in revelations was the Church in Ephesus.  That church was known as a great church that did great things.  John told them that they had simply lost its first love. 

Ephesus was significant in the group of churches.  The Ephesians taught us that it is not what we accomplish that makes us a Christian; it is our faith that redeems us.  Our acts and traditions do not improve our standing with God, we simply need to trust and love the Lord with our hearts.  It is also Paul’s letter to the Ephesians that reminds us that “It is by faith we are saved through faith, and not of ourselves.  It is a gift from God not of works lest anyone should boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9.  The Church at Ephesus became a central church in the growth of the faith.  We see it was started because Paul continued his journey as God led Him.


God Bless You


While Apollos was at Corinth, Paul took the road through the interior and arrived at Ephesus. There he found some disciples and asked them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when[a] you believed?”

They answered, “No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.”

So Paul asked, “Then what baptism did you receive?”

“John’s baptism,” they replied.

Paul said, “John’s baptism was a baptism of repentance. He told the people to believe in the one coming after him, that is, in Jesus.” On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. When Paul placed his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in tongues[b] and prophesied. There were about twelve men in all.

Paul entered the synagogue and spoke boldly there for three months, arguing persuasively about the kingdom of God. But some of them became obstinate; they refused to believe and publicly maligned the Way. So Paul left them. He took the disciples with him and had discussions daily in the lecture hall of Tyrannus. 10 This went on for two years, so that all the Jews and Greeks who lived in the province of Asia heard the word of the Lord.

11 God did extraordinary miracles through Paul, 12 so that even handkerchiefs and aprons that had touched him were taken to the sick, and their illnesses were cured and the evil spirits left them.

Luke 23 Part 1–Jesus on Trial

As the time for our Savior’s death approached, it was apparent that the sacrifice was real.  Jesus stood before the Roman governor who had no reason to judge or punish Him.  Then He was sent to the Jewish king and that man simply wanted a magic show–Jesus would not humor him.  These leaders knew this was a man that had not committed any crime but was hated by the religious leaders–a true no-win situation for the two governing leaders.

Jesus also knew He had committed no crime.  He had simply met the needs of the folks with whom He came into contact.  He spoke the truth, in love about God’s love for people and the folks in Israel.  He called the religious leaders out for doing everything to honor themselves in the name of God. That was the point, God had tried sending priests and prophets to express His desire to redeem His people.  Those He sent were ridiculed and injured; even killed. Now, as in the parable of the landowner and tenants, God sent His Son to make peace and get on track with the tenants (Religious leaders).  They were now plotting His death so that they would not be accountable to the Landowner (God). Luke 20:19. Neither our Lord nor Father God was surprised.  The critical thing was that Jesus did know what had to happen and allowed these “Keystone Cops” to think they were completing a grand plan to rid themselves of a rival. 

Then and now, we are the beneficiaries of His willingness to give what no man could take without God’s help or consent.  As Paul reminded us in Romans 5:8, “God demonstrated His love for us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” In this season when Easter is fast approaching, we need to reflect on the personal relationship we have with God, and we need to allow Him to be a part of all aspects of our lives.  We cannot simply acknowledge God’s sacrifice; we must allow it to change us and help us to become more like Him.

God Bless You


Then the whole assembly rose and led him off to Pilate. And they began to accuse him, saying, “We have found this man subverting our nation. He opposes payment of taxes to Caesar and claims to be Messiah, a king.”

So Pilate asked Jesus, “Are you the king of the Jews?”

“You have said so,” Jesus replied.

Then Pilate announced to the chief priests and the crowd, “I find no basis for a charge against this man.”

But they insisted, “He stirs up the people all over Judea by his teaching. He started in Galilee and has come all the way here.”

On hearing this, Pilate asked if the man was a Galilean. When he learned that Jesus was under Herod’s jurisdiction, he sent him to Herod, who was also in Jerusalem at that time.

When Herod saw Jesus, he was greatly pleased, because for a long time he had been wanting to see him. From what he had heard about him, he hoped to see him perform a sign of some sort. He plied him with many questions, but Jesus gave him no answer. 10 The chief priests and the teachers of the law were standing there, vehemently accusing him. 11 Then Herod and his soldiers ridiculed and mocked him. Dressing him in an elegant robe, they sent him back to Pilate. 12 That day Herod and Pilate became friends—before this they had been enemies.

Luke 22 Final–The Trial…

It must have been surreal for Jesus to watch everything unfold.  He had seen this day since the dawn of time.  It is interesting to ponder which of the details that must have stuck out to our Lord.  Judas’ betrayal, Peter’s denial, the religious leaders stumbling over themselves as they tried to make a case against the Lord.  I am sure that the grief Peter bore as he looked into Jesus’ eyes after denying Him was overwhelming. Judas could not bear his shame, and so he committed suicide.

Meanwhile, the enemy and the Jewish leaders were having a ball.  Here, the one that had beaten them all now stood before the council on trial for His life. During the process, every punch, every slap, every curse thrown at Jesus, was done so for our redemption.  One can only imagine the pain and frustration Jesus set aside as those He came to save were mocking and preparing to kill Him. Still, Jesus faced the mob. He did not interfere with their kangaroo court.  He did, after all, write the law that they used as the basis for their mockery of justice.

His disciples were scattered, and now, all that transpired would happen according to the script that was written as Eve prepared the fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil.  The trial was not actually before the religious leaders.  The trial was, in fact, being played out on a heavenly stage. The finding was simply whether God would demonstrate His love for us–in that while we were yet sinners, would Christ die for us? Romans 5:8.

Praise God that He did in fact endure the next hours and day. His sacrifice freed us from the curse our sinful nature bound us to.  We can become new creatures by simply trusting the Lord. 2 Corinthians 5:17. What was to come made all that possible.  We can never understand the depth of love Jesus’ sacrifice embodied.  Our prayer needs not to be one for understanding, however. It simply needs to be one of acceptance of the gift, and submission to the amazing plan our Lord prepared and executed to redeem and restore us.

God Bless You


Then they seized him and led him away, bringing him into the high priest’s house, and Peter was following at a distance. 55 And when they had kindled a fire in the middle of the courtyard and sat down together, Peter sat down among them. 56 Then a servant girl, seeing him as he sat in the light and looking closely at him, said, “This man also was with him.” 57 But he denied it, saying, “Woman, I do not know him.” 58 And a little later someone else saw him and said, “You also are one of them.” But Peter said, “Man, I am not.” 59 And after an interval of about an hour still another insisted, saying, “Certainly this man also was with him, for he too is a Galilean.” 60 But Peter said, “Man, I do not know what you are talking about.” And immediately, while he was still speaking, the rooster crowed. 61 And the Lord turned and looked at Peter. And Peter remembered the saying of the Lord, how he had said to him, “Before the rooster crows today, you will deny me three times.” 62 And he went out and wept bitterly.

Jesus Is Mocked

63 Now the men who were holding Jesus in custody were mocking him as they beat him. 64 They also blindfolded him and kept asking him, “Prophesy! Who is it that struck you?” 65 And they said many other things against him, blaspheming him.

Jesus Before the Council

66 When day came, the assembly of the elders of the people gathered together, both chief priests and scribes. And they led him away to their council, and they said, 67 “If you are the Christ, tell us.” But he said to them, “If I tell you, you will not believe, 68 and if I ask you, you will not answer. 69 But from now on the Son of Man shall be seated at the right hand of the power of God.” 70 So they all said, “Are you the Son of God, then?” And he said to them, “You say that I am.” 71 Then they said, “What further testimony do we need? We have heard it ourselves from his own lips.”

Luke 19 Part 1–Seeking and Saving that Which is Lost

The story of Zacchaeus has several great components.  First, we see the lost man’s desire to meet the Master.  Zacchaeus was one of the most hated and powerful men in his community.  As chief tax collector, Zacchaeus had the ear of the Romans and the wealth of the city.  Even with all that power and wealth, Zacchaeus was still empty.  He wanted to learn more about this Jesus that had changed so many lives. Sadly, he could not see Jesus over the crowd.  He had to climb a tree to catch a glimpse.  

Next, we see the perspective of the Lord.  As Jesus passed through, like the shepherd He saw the one sheep that was lost and called out to this man in the tree and told Zacchaeus he was the reason for Jesus being there that day.  It changed Zacchaeus’ Life.  In an instant, Zacchaeus became generous and sought to make amends to all he had wronged.  His heart was redeemed.  What a picture of the power of God. Jesus had truly sought and saved that which was lost.

Finally, there was the crowd.  They were incensed by Jesus’ choice of company that day.  In their minds, Zacchaeus was the least worthy person to be with Jesus. Still, after He met the Lord, Zacchaeus would become a benefactor and friend to those that despised him.  Sadly, the people that should embrace those that need Jesus, were the ones that cast Zacchaeus aside.

In our lives, we need to have Jesus’ heart and not the heart of the crowd.  Jesus saw Zacchaeus in the tree, and He knew Zacchaeus was the point of the journey.  The crowd only saw Zacchaeus sin.  We, as Jesus chosen, need also to seek and to save that which is lost.  We can never lose sight of our mission.  Many people search high and low for a way to be saved, but they cannot see over the crowd.  It is our job to reach out and bring them to Jesus. It is not our job to judge them.  

Finally, if You have tried to find peace through power, influence, money, or any other means, Like Zacchaeus, you will still be empty inside.  Jesus is uniquely suited to fill the void in your life.  Once you give your life to Him, you will be free from the void left in your heart by a world gone mad.  All Jesus asks is for you to accept His gift of salvation, and then trust the Lord to do a work in your heart–just like He did with Zacchaeus.

God Bless You

 Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy. He wanted to see who Jesus was, but because he was short, he could not see over the crowd. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way.

When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.” So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly.

All the people saw this and began to mutter, “He has gone to be the guest of a sinner.”

But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord! Here and now, I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.”

Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”

Isaiah 63–A Story From Three Perspectives

Isaiah 63 could easily be a script to a Hollywood movie.  It looks At Israel from 3 perspectives; the Father that avenges His chosen’s enemies, a grateful child that recognizes and regrets their rebellion, and a humble recipient that begs for forgiveness for their wicked behavior.  The title could be “Three Genres”. 

In the first genre, the audience would see the rage of a Heavenly Father tired of seeing His chosen attacked and abused by all that are around them.  In His mind, these are His precious treasures, and no one will help them.  So, as any great Dad would–The Father interceded.  It was not pretty, and the enemies were destroyed “Hollywood Style”.  The Father wanted to make clear that while there are times when he has had to discipline them–no one can mess with His kids and not pay a price!

Act two is staged in a quiet forest, where a Lovely child tells the story of a Father’s patience and love for Children that chose to rebel.  She sings the praises of the patience of a Father that would love despite the rebellion.  One can hear the beautiful and humble grateful heart of this child of the King.  She knows she did not deserve the effort, but also that Her Heavenly father would Have it no other way.

Then the final vignette.  This vignette is in a chapel on a hill where a child who has given the Father a very difficult time realizes the err of their ways and repents and asks for the pardon the awful behavior.  In that, the Father gladly scoops up the child and forgives the child without a second thought.  It is a scene like the prodigal son with fine robes, fatted calves and celebration that lasts for days.  All are reunited, redeemed, and restored and the family of God walks in peace and unity…

The closing credits display three verses–Romans 5:8, 2 Chronicles 7:14 and I John 1:9…

God Bless You


Who is this who comes from Edom,
    from the city of Bozrah,
    with his clothing stained red?
Who is this in royal robes,
    marching in his great strength?

“It is I, the Lord, announcing your salvation!
    It is I, the Lord, who has the power to save!”

Why are your clothes so red,
    as if you have been treading out grapes?

“I have been treading the winepress alone;
    no one was there to help me.
In my anger I have trampled my enemies
    as if they were grapes.
In my fury I have trampled my foes.
    Their blood has stained my clothes.
For the time has come for me to avenge my people,
    to ransom them from their oppressors.
I was amazed to see that no one intervened
    to help the oppressed.
So I myself stepped in to save them with my strong arm,
    and my wrath sustained me.
I crushed the nations in my anger
    and made them stagger and fall to the ground,
    spilling their blood upon the earth.”

Isaiah 41 Part 2–The Chosen Need Not Fear!

Isaiah is clear, God WILL uphold Israel.  No matter which enemy, no matter which age–Israel is still, and will always be, God’s chosen people.  Additionally, those who are in relationship with God through faith in Christ are also God’s chosen.  Isaiah makes the pronouncement that the chosen of God need not fear–He will uphold and defend them and their name until the end of time.

There have been so many cultures and people groups that have sought to eradicate God and His chosen from the face of the earth.  They have persecuted, martyred, and sought to destroy all evidence of God’s existence and impact on men’s lives.  Yet, as of 2020, they have failed repeatedly.  Oh, make no mistake, every resource has been leveraged.  Every attempt has been made. Armies, legislatures, congresses, parliamentary bodies, judicial bodies, evil empires, and tyrannical regimes have, in succession done their part to wipe the planet clean of God and His people.

The Great news is they have all failed–because, as Isaiah so articulately explains, God has committed to our protection and provision.  God can raise and destroy empires in an instant–Ask the Assyrians, the Babylonians, the Persians, the Greeks, the Romans, the Byzantines…Still, God calls His people to pray without ceasing.  He calls us to walk humbly and live holy lives.  He accepts us for who we are; but, calls us to become like Jesus.  In that process, though, He never abandons His beloved.  We must trust Him at His word. Walk as one that is bought with a price.

The world can continue to spew its hate and attempt to take God out of the picture, but, as has always been the case–the world will fail.  The created will never outsmart the creator. He has always been, is and will always be.  Conversely, those that would defeat the Lord are here for an instant and then disappear into obscurity.  We,God’s chosen, need to cling to His promise and walk in His way to enjoy the peace, protection, and provision He longs for us to enjoy.

God Bless You


But you, Israel, my servant,
    Jacob, whom I have chosen,
    the offspring of Abraham, my friend;
you whom I took from the ends of the earth,
    and called from its farthest corners,
saying to you, “You are my servant,
    I have chosen you and not cast you off”;
10 fear not, for I am with you;
    be not dismayed, for I am your God;
I will strengthen you, I will help you,
    I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

11 Behold, all who are incensed against you
    shall be put to shame and confounded;
those who strive against you
    shall be as nothing and shall perish.
12 You shall seek those who contend with you,
    but you shall not find them;
those who war against you
    shall be as nothing at all.
13 For I, the Lord your God,
    hold your right hand;
it is I who say to you, “Fear not,
    I am the one who helps you.”

14 Fear not, you worm Jacob,
    you men of Israel!
I am the one who helps you, declares the Lord;
    your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel.
15 Behold, I make of you a threshing sledge,
    new, sharp, and having teeth;
you shall thresh the mountains and crush them,
    and you shall make the hills like chaff;
16 you shall winnow them, and the wind shall carry them away,
    and the tempest shall scatter them.
And you shall rejoice in the Lord;
    in the Holy One of Israel you shall glory.

Preparation is Key–Mark 1 part 1

The Gospels tell the story of salvation from many different perspectives.  Mark’s version is most famous because it seems to take the Jack Webb’s “Dragnet” approach.  The famous Dragnet line was always, “Just the facts ma’am.  Just the facts.”  And as you read Mark, that is what you get. 

God planned Jesus entrance from the dawn of time and knew that preparation was critical.  He sent John the Baptist ahead to lead the people of the time to a place of personal responsibility for their sin.  Once they saw their sin as personal they could begin to see their salvation as personal.  Once they saw their salvation as personal, they could see their relationship with God as personal and that is where Jesus comes in.

In our lives, we have the same issue even today.  It is easy to rely on our checklist for salvation.  We think if we are good enough, at church enough or at least not as bad as others, then we will be fine.  But as John told the Jews—we have to repent of our sin, turn and go the other way. Agree that we cannot earn our salvation by deed or promise; and simply accept that he sent Christ to redeem us from our sin and restore us to a right relationship with God.  God prepared for our redemption and his plan was flawless.  Help me Lord, to accept the plan you made and not try to do things my way.

God Bless You

1 The beginning of the good news about Jesus the Messiah,[a] the Son of God,[b] as it is written in Isaiah the prophet:

“I will send my messenger ahead of you,
who will prepare your way”[c]
“a voice of one calling in the wilderness,
‘Prepare the way for the Lord,
make straight paths for him.’”[d]

And so John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. The whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem went out to him. Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River. John wore clothing made of camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. And this was his message: “After me comes the one more powerful than I, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. I baptize you with[e] water, but he will baptize you with[f] the Holy Spirit.”

Ruth 2 part 2 Guardian Redeemer

 

Ruth had by “coincidence“ stumbled into the field of the family’s guardian redeemer—Levitical law said that if you have a relative that has fallen into hard times, as a close relative you were to assist them to get back and going again. What a concept—if a part of the family is struggling then pitch in and assist them in getting free. God directed Ruth to that person and he also directed Boaz to fill that role. God’s plan demonstrated and shows how he cares for each of his own.
Today, we as a family of believers are called to do the same. We are to pour our lives into those that are struggling to assist them in getting free. We, like Boaz, must be proactive in our generosity and assistance. There is nothing we have that cannot be gone in a blink of an eye. We, therefore must hold on loosely and share liberally. God will bless our generosity. He will make our accounts balance.

He says in Malachi—“Trust me, try me, prove me-says the Lord of Hosts; and see if a blessing—unmeasured blessing will not fall out on you!” We cannot out give God, and we cannot ever go wrong by taking on his character traits!
God Bless You
17 So Ruth gleaned in the field until evening. Then she threshed the barley she had gathered, and it amounted to about an ephah.[a] 18 She carried it back to town, and her mother-in-law saw how much she had gathered. Ruth also brought out and gave her what she had left over after she had eaten enough.
19 Her mother-in-law asked her, “Where did you glean today? Where did you work? Blessed be the man who took notice of you!”
Then Ruth told her mother-in-law about the one at whose place she had been working. “The name of the man I worked with today is Boaz,” she said.
20 “The LORD bless him!” Naomi said to her daughter-in-law. “He has not stopped showing his kindness to the living and the dead.” She added, “That man is our close relative; he is one of our guardian-redeemers.[b]”
21 Then Ruth the Moabite said, “He even said to me, ‘Stay with my workers until they finish harvesting all my grain.’”
22 Naomi said to Ruth her daughter-in-law, “It will be good for you, my daughter, to go with the women who work for him, because in someone else’s field you might be harmed.”