Keep Asking Questions

Read: Acts 8: 14-40

Keep Asking Questions

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Acts 8: 34 (NLT) The eunuch asked Philip, “Was Isaiah talking about himself or someone else?”

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1.    Simon, a sorcerer, asked Peter and John if they would sell him the power to provide the Holy Spirit to others. Simon, being a sorcerer, naturally did not understand. Simon asked Peter and John if they would pray for him.

2.    An angle instructed Philip to go south, where he eventually met the “eunuch of great authority under the queen of Ethiopia”.

3.    The eunuch did not understand what he was reading from Isaiah. First half of Isaiah instructs the nation of Judah to repent, while the second half of the book is filled with hope and the promise of the Messiah.  The eunuch’s question originated from the second half. He must have not understood the first half, but he kept on reading anyway.

4.    The eunuch knew he needed to understand, and asked Philip his question.

A

Based on my current understanding of the bible, what would I ask Philip? “Hey Philip, was God also talking to me in Joshua 1: 5 when He said, “No one will be able to stand their ground against you as long as you live. For I will be with you as I was with Moses. I will not fail you or abandon you.”?

On the other hand, it is easy to identify a person who lacks understanding of the bible if they asked, “Are Christians racist if they believe accepting Christ is the only way to salvation? Regretfully, we seem to hear that question more often today.

The more I study and “SOAP” journal, the more questions I have. My questions always reflect the depth of my understanding.  My questions were simple, when I first started SOAP journaling.  For example, this was not the first time I read Act 8. However this time the eunuch’s question lead me back to Isaiah and to rethink what I would have asked Phillip.  I have learned, “The more you know, the more you know you don’t know”.  I learned, from my limited study the bible, that God wants us to ask Him questions.  To incorporate and modify Ms. Frizzle’s quote from Magic School Bus, I’ve learned we are to, “Take chances, make mistakes, get messy; but no matter what happens, keep asking God questions.”

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Loving Father. I want to trust You more each day.  I want to study Your word deeper, understand more, and ask You more questions. Lead me to those I need, and to those who need You in me. In Your name I pray, Amen.
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Imagine That

Read: Psalm 23: 1-6

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Psalm 23:4 (NLT) Even when I walk through the dark valley of death, I will not be afraid, for You are close beside me. Your rod and Your staff protect and comfort me.

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1.    David knew about walking through the valley with the Good Shepard. John 10:11, Jesus is the Good Shepard.

2.    Job too; remember when God pointed Job out to Satan. Job 1:8, “Have you noticed my servant Job?”

3.    Death, and public speaking, frightens us the most. Yet, when threatened by death, the only one we can always truly depend on is Jesus.

4.    Courage is not enough, we need Jesus.

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“Imagine there’s no heaven, it’s easy if you try. No hell below us, above us only sky. Imagine all the people, living for today.” If there was no heaven, would you still love and follow Jesus? This question came to me recently, and I can’t get it out of my head. Do I follow Jesus because of heaven? Imagine the type of heaven I could earn, who would want it, would you? Yet there are so many who are required to perform certain acts, prayers, and rituals to earn their heaven.

Would I love, follow, and trust Jesus if there was no heaven? Yes I would. Not to belabor this concept, however, if there was no eternal life with Christ, then that would make Him a liar. Was that the thought behind John Lennon’s lyrics, why people seek out mediums, and believe in ghosts? Do we believe what Satan told Eve in Genesis 3: 4-5? It is easy if we try.

When asked why I accepted Christ at age 12, my tear-filled response was that I wanted to go to heaven. As life happened, I grew up to learn that the promise of heaven wasn’t enough, I needed a personal relationship with Christ. It’s what you hang onto in the storms that matters. In case of a water landing, what we hang onto for a flotation device is not as important as the life guard who’s always on duty.

“I’ve seen fire and I’ve seen rain, I’ve seen sunny days that I thought would never end.” I can’t imagine any type of life worth living without Jesus. Imagine life without Christ’s love and forgiveness, it is easy if you try. Imagine that.

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Loving Father. You asked me a question when I was 12, and again this week. The answer is still yes. I’m Yours for better or for worst. Do with me want You want. In Your name I pray, Amen.
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Who Do You Say I Am?

 

Read: Judges 6: 1-17

Who Do You Say I am?

How was Bill Murray’s character like Gideon?

S

Judges 6: 12 (NLT) The angel of the LORD appeared to him and said, “Mighty hero, the LORD is with you.”

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1.    Gideon, who turned his winepress into a threshing floor to hide from the Midianites, identified himself as “the least in his entire family!”

2.    Gideon went from “Who me?” to “Watch me, and do what I do”, as he lead his remaining 300 men to the camp of the “too many to count” Midianites.

3.    When Gideon’s men blew their horns, the Midianites panicked and fought and killed each other.

A

A study was done with some elementary students.  In the morning they took a test, where the highest performers were called, “the Smart Ones”. The much lower performing students, were called, “the Hard Workers.” As the day progressed the “Smart Ones” chose mediocre and easy tasks to perform, in order to retain their title as “the Smart Ones”.  Whereas, the “Hard workers” chose the more challenging tasks to perform.  At the end of the day, both groups retook the same test.  The “Hard Workers” scored at least 45% higher than the “Smart Ones”, while the “Smart Ones” scored much lower than they did that morning.

How others define us, is not as important as how God defines us. Gideon was not confident in what God asked him to do. He needed a sign and assurance from God. Later on Gideon became the “Mighty hero”, which God had defined him before asked to save Israel.

When the “world” informed me that I had nothing to offer; I believed them for a long time. Then God reminded me that I worked for Him, that I was courageous and fearless in His name, and that I was His. Christ is the Messiah, the Son of God, and my Savior.  When I start to believe how others define me; I just need to pray and ask God, “Who do You say I am?”

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Loving Father. I remember in Mat. 16:15, You asked Your disciples, “Who do you say I am?” Like Peter, I know that You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God. When I start to believe what the enemy says about me, help me to remember who You say I am.  Who can stand against me, while You are for me? LORD, show Yourself in me, so that others will see only You, and want more of You. I know who I am in You. Do whatever You want with me.  In Your name I pray, Amen.
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For Crying Out Loud

Read: Psalms 5: 1-12
For Crying Out Loud

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Ps 5:2 (NLT) Listen to my cry for help, my King and my God, for I will never pray to anyone but you.

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1.    One key to having a close relationship with God, according to David, is to pray earnestly every morning.  In the morning, we’re more rested and our minds are more receptive to God.

2.    David was king right after the Era of Judges. In the book of Judges, as in our lives too, there was a repeating vicious cycle. Sin, always followed by suffering, and then slavery. The Israelites then cried out to God (Supplication), where God delivered (Salvation) them. This lasted a while, before the cycle repeated itself.

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Walking through the grocery yesterday, I heard a child crying an aisle over.  It was an angry cry.  A while later, I heard another child crying from around the corner.  However, this time it was a tired cry.  I’m not a psychic or a medium, or even a large.  Just a dad who once had little children cry out to him too.  It would seem, I had retained these acquired important dad skills.  No matter how old my children get, when they cry, I cry. When they are sad, I’m sad.  How much greater is our Father when we cry out to Him too.

Although my children are on their own now, they know I am a phone call/text away, 24/7.  They don’t want me to solve their problems anymore, as it should be. They just need someone who loves them unconditionally, to listen.  I know what they are going though, and they know this. They also know there is nothing which could separate my love from them. How much greater is our Father’s love, and always a prayer away, 24/7.

Unlike our perfect Father, I do not always know when it is necessary to step in, or quietly listen. God always knows what to say, what to do, who to send, and always at the perfect time.  No matter how much we learn or grow, He will hear our cries.  Just like He heard His Son’s on that cross for us.  He understands everything, even our pain and loss. God just wants a personal relationship with us; for crying out loud.

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Loving Father. Help me to understand Your word.  Help me to start every day on my knees, knowing that You are at my side. Stop this vicious cycle of sin in me.  Use me to help those who cry out to You. Do whatever You want with me.  In Your name I pray, Amen.
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A Teacher, an EMT, a Surgeon, and a Golf Club; Which Needs a Grip?

Read: Luke12: 35-48
A Teacher, an EMT, a Surgeon, and a Golf Club; Which Needs a Grip?

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Luke12: 48 (NLT) “But people who are not aware that they are doing wrong will be punished only lightly.  Much is required from those to whom much is given, and much more is required from those to whom much more is given.”

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  1. Jesus told us to be prepared for the His coming, as if we were preparing for a burglar. Jesus did not say “loving family friend”, he said burglar. A burglar, Satan, will come to steal.
  2. Jesus answers Peter’s question; His message is for everyone of faith and believes.
  3. Those who do not know Christ, and are not aware of right from wrong, will still be judged and punished.
  4. How does Jesus’ message relate to those who have a Bible, a church to attend, and have relationships with Christian friends and family?

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Imagine a child who was in a terrible accident and needed surgery.  Those present were a Science Teacher, an EMT, and a Surgeon.   From their compassion to help others, all three studied long and prepared the best they could, according to God’s gifts.   As the Science Teacher, I would work frantically to help the child.  With only a fundamental knowledge of anatomy, all I could do would be to comfort and encourage.  The EMT, who studied and prepared more than the teacher for such an emergency, would know how to stabilize and provide the necessary immediate medication.  However, the Surgeon, the most schooled and skilled of the three, was scheduled for a celebrity golf tournament, and decided to work on the grip of his golf club instead. 

We are all ether believers or nonbelievers; those of faith or those without. Believers work for God, love themselves as they love their neighbors, and remain attentive in their study and prayer while they wait.  Believers have faith in God and in His complete word.  It doesn’t matter when He comes, we are like the bridesmaids; we just know He will.  Until then, we will serve the LORD with the talents He provided us.

Those represented by Christ, their sins have been paid for in full.  Those who did not know Christ, decided to pay for their sin themselves.   The believers reflected God’s love, whereas the chaff worked on their grip.

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Loving Father. Help me to better understand and apply Your word daily.  Lead me to those I need, and to those who need You in me.  Please reveal Yourself in me so that others will want to get to know You better.  Change me with Your word, do whatever You want with me.  In Your name I pray, Amen.
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It’s Not Addictive, Honest!

Its not additive honestRead: Genesis 3: 1-7
“It’s Not Addictive, Honest!”

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Genesis 3: 6 (ESV) “So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise,…”

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1.    These verses seem to encapsulate Satan’s attacks.

2.    Satan is a pervert, taking what God intended as good for us and twisting it for his evil.

3.    Satan’s first step is to get us to doubt God: “Did God really say…?”

4.    Lie #1: No consequence to sin. Lie #2: You can be Godlike.

5.    Satan’s three prong attack. 1. Make it a need. 2. Make it attractive. 3. Make you smart.

6.    Satan’s three prong attack on Jesus.  #1. Matt. 4:3 turn these stones into bread, #2.  Matt 4:8 Satan showed Jesus the beauty of the land that he would give Jesus, #3. Matt 4:6 Satan said, jump off the Temple and outsmart death.

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Did God really say that you can’t do drugs, pornography, alcohol, or abort a baby? Satan is a pervert, twisting God’s truths to snare and enslave us.  He gets us to doubt God’s promises, and His love for us.  Satan justifies his plan by making what we desire a “need”. He makes sin attractive. He flatters our intellect, to keep us away from trusting God. Satan always employs this three prong attacks.

Since Satan already lost, he pulls out all stops and is relentless with his lies.  Such as, “Marijuana is not addictive and has health benefits”.  According to the National Institute of Drug Abuse, “Marijuana can be addictive. People who begin using marijuana before age 18 are 4-7 times more likely than adults to develop problem use.”  “Any medical benefit from marijuana can be obtained in pill form.”  But wait, “Did God really say you must not eat of any of the fruit?”

Satan’s biggest lie is that there is no consequence if you don’t follow God.  Calling abortion “pro-choice”, for example, makes it a need and not a death. Hence, there are more deaths through abortions, than there are from heart disease and cancer combined.  Satan inflates our egos, clouds the truth, and his tagline is, “It’s not addictive, honest.”

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Loving Father. Lucifer was renamed Satan, when Michael kicked him out of heaven. In Romans 12:2, You said through Paul, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” Protect my mind from evil. When attacked, help me to remember and apply Your words. In Your name I pray, Amen.
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Majestic Trees?

Read: Joshua 1: 1-9
bob-ross
Majestic Trees?

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Joshua 1: 9 (ESV) “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.”

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1.    It seems that every scripture I read, and God urges me to SOAP on, contains His message of, “Don’t be afraid or worry, and trust Him”. Perhaps after 365 times of stating in the bible, “Don’t be afraid”, I’d finally get a clue.

2.    Joshua, son of Nun, continued God’s commission to Moses, and was about to cross over Jordan to the promise land.

3.    Five books of Moses predicted the fulfilment of God’s promise to Abraham. After many military victories under Joshua, it was obvious that God fights for His people when they are courageous and place their full weight and trust in Him.

A

During one of my many sleepless nights, due to worry and fear, I turned on the TV where immediately I saw Bob Ross painting a beautiful mountain vista and happy clouds. I so enjoyed watching him paint, and listening to his calm and reassuring voice as he described his beautiful mountain scene. Watching and listening to him, I became enthralled by the beauty of his painting and the calming tenor of his voice.

Then, for no logical reason, the master artist took a black paintbrush and made a black streak right down the most beautiful part of his painting. I thought, “Bob, you just ruined it”.  Then it occurred to me, as I saw him transform the black streak into a majestic tree, that God was my master artist. Where God had created the black streak down the middle of my life, He created in me a strength and courage I had never seen before. Causing me to reflect, “Did I want my best, or God’s best for my life?”

When I lost my job, God never left my side.  When I thought my life was at its end, He was there to tell me, “Mark, I’m not done yet”.  For every “mistake” made, He remained true, loving, forgiving, and faithful. He took the worst situations in my life, and turned them into His majestic trees.

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Loving Father. When I accepted You as my LORD and Savior, You promised to never leave or forsake me, and You haven’t. Please grow and strengthen those who have lost their jobs, loved ones, or are enduring desperate financial times. Help them to understand that You are just simply, painting Your majestic tree down the center of their lives.  In Your name I pray, Amen.
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