Doubting his Calling?

I was reading the beginning of Acts 11 this morning, and it got me thinking. You know how in those stories you know really well, an earlier part can remind you of what happens later? Yeah, it was a bit like that.

I was reading about when Peter returned from telling the good news about Jesus to Cornelius and watching his household being filled with the Holy Spirit. Some people thought this good news should only be told to Jews, and Cornelius wasn’t a Jew, so Peter came in for a bit of criticism. Fresh from witnessing God’s power, this opposition didn’t faze him at all. You see, Peter himself had been reluctant to associate with non-Jews, but in Acts 10:9-20, God had shown him a vision of animals Jews were forbidden to eat and said: “Don’t call anything unclean which I have called clean.” So, Peter described the vision he’d had in the previous chapter as his reason for visiting Cornelius. Great! What a transformation!

But later on, in Paul’s letter to the Galatians, he writes that Peter ate with non-Jews, but when some strict Jews came along, he started to back away from them. In typical Paul fashion, Paul opposed Peter to his face ‘Because he stood condemned’. (I love how Paul confronts these issues.) Why did Peter stand condemned? Because God had already revealed how He wanted him to treat people: “Don’t call anything unclean which I have called clean”, but instead of being led by the Spirit of God, Peter was acting in fear – backing away from the non-Jews because he was afraid of those who were Jewish like himself.

What about the vision? What about the power God had given Peter to communicate with non-Jews? Perhaps it’s not dissimilar to that day in the Garden of Eden, when the serpent came along. “Did God really say …?” As time passes, it can be so easy to let doubt creep into our minds, but Paul tells us: “There is therefore no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit” (Romans 8:1). Instead of walking in the flesh (in our fears or doubts), let’s walk according to God’s Spirit and be faithful to our callings.

Advertisements

Hold Your Tongue

“Do not say bad things about servants to their masters” (Proverbs 30:10).  I love how God’s Word is so practical.

 

When I first started going to church, I did a new believers’ course, and one thing I learnt was that as a Christian, I didn’t rule my own life.  Jesus was the Master and I was His servant.  If I think of myself in that way, surely other Christians are servants too.  Now do you see the challenge?  When we’re told not to say bad things about servants to their masters, if Jesus is our Master, it means we shouldn’t say bad things about one another when we’re praying to God.  That sounds a tall order if you ask me, but it can be helpful.  If instead of rushing to talk about somebody’s faults, we ask for God’s perspective on that person, it could completely change the way we see them.

 

This verse in Proverbs is similar to one in Romans:  “Who are you to judge someone else’s servant?  To their own master, servants stand or fall.  And they will stand, for the Lord is able to make them stand” (Romans 14:4).  God knows those who are His, and just like He’ll finish what He started in us, He’ll do the same in them.  Let’s let Him do the judging while we get on with serving.

 

Linking again with Holley’s Coffee for Your Heart.

How to be Poor

It’s amazing how, when I read some of these chapters, I discover a theme running through them:  Today’s seems to be poverty.

 

“The plans of hard-working people earn a profit, but those who act too quickly become poor” (Proverbs 21:5).

 

“Whoever loves pleasure will become poor; whoever loves wine and perfume will never be rich” (Proverbs 21:17).

 

Last but not least, perhaps one of the most important verses in this chapter:

“Whoever ignores the poor when they cry for help will also cry for help and not be answered” (Proverbs 21:13).  This might bring to mind people you’ve helped, but maybe you’re also remembering that person asking for loose change – the one you found an excuse not to help.  Thanks to what Jesus did on the cross, forgiveness is there for our past mistakes, but from now on, let’s think about the poor and not shut our ears to them.

Lies or Truth?

“A witness who lies will not go free” (Proverbs 19:5, 9).  It’s rare for a phrase to be repeated like that, but there seems a lot in this chapter about lying.

 

“It is better to be poor and honest than to be foolish and tell lies” (Proverbs 19:1), “so it is better to be poor than to be a liar” (Proverbs 19:22).

 

In an earlier chapter, we’re told dishonest words crush the spirit.  I don’t know if lying has got you into trouble:  Maybe it’s to get attention, or to get something you want … but though the reasons might be very complex, please remember the people it affects, and remember their deep sadness/their crushed spirits.  Maybe they long for you to trust them with the truth.

Refreshing

“The generous will prosper; those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed” (Proverbs 11:25).

 

This verse has always spurred me on towards doing good.  It’s a great reminder that when you give to others, far from losing out (as the world would have you believe), you actually gain from it.  When you refresh others, you’ll be refreshed yourself.

 

I don’t know how that refreshing will look for you, but personally, God has met my financial needs; He’s put just the right people in my life at just the times I’ve needed their encouragement …  I know I’ve mentioned Kelly before on the blog (a songwriter in the US):  We’re not in-touch so much now, but 2006 was a very difficult year, and the words to her songs a real Godsend (my favourites aren’t on YouTube, sadly).

 

Can you see God in the middle of your difficulty?  My prayer is that you’ll look back one day and see how He supported you, and if you’re going through a hard season at the moment, this is a place where you’re free to comment if you want to.  I’m happy to chat.

Wisdom’s Greatest Delights

“I was like a child by His side.  I was delighted every day, enjoying His presence all the time, enjoying the whole world, and delighted with all its people” (Proverbs 8:30-31).

 

Proverbs 8 – a beautiful chapter on how wisdom was present before even the dust of the earth (verse 26).  And wisdom’s greatest delights?

 

God’s Presence Always:  Although the Bible says we’ve been brought near by the blood of Christ, sometimes we can feel closer to Him than others, but however we feel, the wisest thing we can do is to enjoy His presence all the time.

 

The World God Made:  Somebody told me once that she thought God would want me to see because He’d made such beauty on the earth.  As someone who can’t, I suppose it’s difficult to take as much of a delight in nature, but I do like birdsong, the smell of lilies, the smallness of daisies, and the sound of a babbling stream.

 

All God’s People:  I feel like I haven’t perfected any of these, but verse 31 says wisdom delights in all His people, even the ones I’d struggle to spend a couple of hours with.  The truth is that God made man in His image, so in every person, there’s something to delight in, and God takes great delight in us.

A Tribute to Bible Society

Have you ever thought about Bible Society, and their work to get Bibles to Christians around the world?  After hearing yesterday about 10 people sharing 1 Bible, a man riding for an hour on his bike to get a copy, and the cost of a roll of paper that would print 600, I wanted to write this:

You paid the greatest price – all the money you had saved;

You treasure every time that you read those words:

For you know they give you courage to live, when you see He is your Rock;

You hold them in your heart as you give the treasure to another soul.

How many people?

How long must it take?

How much does it cost you,

And will you believe?

You walk so many hours; you can feel the sacrifice,

But he’ll treasure every time that you bring those words:

You always want to share what you learn, to comfort and to heal,

And in your heart you hope for the day those words will come to every soul.

How many people?

How long must it take?

How much does it cost you,

And will you believe?

Suddenly from nothing,

We see the words spill out;

And for sure, there’s power in the ink on the page

To touch so many lives.

How many people?

How long will it take?

How much will it cost us,

And will we believe?

Fasten Your Seatbelts

Around this time last year, my inbox held more E-mails than usual as a group of Compassion International bloggers boarded a plane for the Philippines.  It’s a great idea:  Ordinary people, hand-picked from a list of bloggers and sent to one of the countries where Compassion works, to write what they see.  Sometimes you might get 2 or 3 perspectives on the same day, so it’s a way of getting to know other bloggers and their writing too.

 

I had a particular interest in last year’s trip.  Under the Compassion Bloggers tag, you can find links to a couple of those posts, but hey; I love it when others tell me their stories, so I’m following this year’s as well, even though I don’t sponsor in Tanzania.  If you’re like me and don’t want to miss out, why not let this year’s team of Amy, Jolanthe, Kelli, Maggie, Scott, Shaun, Keely and The Nester take you to Africa?