Lessons from Lent: Day Twenty

12 Mar

creation swap lessons from lent coffee cup Kelly Sikkema 22940

An Explanation of Lessons from Lent

In the next 40 days (21 now because you have already accomplished nineteen), the weeks leading up to Easter, the posts on Glimpsed Glory will be different. I am reading through the New Testament during this time and I am hoping the Holy Spirit will lead me to a fresh revelation each and every day. I’m going into it with a prayerful heart and an expectant spirit but I will fully confess to you that my soul feels sluggish.

I have been in a place of exhaustion over these last months. My mind has been clouded, my body has ached and insomnia has been my companion since late December. The enemy has been and is still whispering in my ear that my Jesus has forgotten me . . . that He has finally tired of my imperfections and left me behind.

I’m not giving in to it! I am going to fight the good fight of faith and follow the example of my Nehemiah Man. I am going to stand firm in my faith because if I do not, I will not stand at all. I’m praising God for bringing me to a place of emptiness so that I can look to Him to fill my cup.

I’m coming before the Lord and I’m asking Him to do a new thing in me. To rouse my heart to His side and to draw me near in real and tangible ways. To plow through the fog that has settled over me in the form of health issues, physical stress, and emotional upheaval and lay a level path before me. I’m entering the throne room and I’m humbly reminding Him that He has invited me to come in my time of need. O Lord – be near to me. Love me where I am. Take me where I need to be.

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That’s the cry of my heart Sweet Sister and I’m thinking that if I am in this place that perhaps you are too. It might be that different life situations have brought us here but here we are. If that’s the case, I want you to know that you are not alone and that you have a faith sister to walk through it with. We can do this together – you and I. It’s why God gave us to one another. We can join our hearts and we can offer up the next 40 days to the Beautiful One and trust Him to do the beautiful thing in us.

So here’s what I’ll do. I’ll post the daily reading on the blog (except for Sundays) and if you read the Scriptures not only will you have read through the entire New Testament by Easter but God promises that He’ll show you deep and unsearchable things you do not know. He promises that His word is alive and active and will transform your heart. I could use some transformation. What about you?

At the end of the daily passage, I’m going to share my “Lesson from Lent” – nothing long or drawn out just something that God uses to speak straight to my heart from the Scripture that day. I’m putting it at the end because if your time runs short on a particular day – I want you to skip reading my words, not His.

I’m hoping that you’ll start your own running record of what God is showing you. Maybe you’ll even be moved to leave a comment so your Sisters can glean from what you’re learning. No matter how you choose to keep track of all He shares with you . . . treasure it up in your heart Sweet One, meditate on it, mull it over, consider the whisper of the Lover of your soul. The God of the Universe is the only Voice we need to revive our tired souls. So, let’s you and I lean in close, pray for ears to hear and hearts to respond. Let’s dig in to the riches He has given us and prepare to be amazed by what He will reveal to our expectant hearts. O Sister, let’s boldly ask Him for a lesson from Lent and then brace ourselves for a glimpse of Glory!

Day Twenty

March 12, 2015 ~~ Acts 12-17

Amplified Bible

Footnotes: I’ve left the footnotes in place if you would like to track down sources in word study and language. Please follow the link to each chapter and scroll to the bottom of the passage.

Acts 12

About that time Herod the king stretched forth his hands to afflict and oppress and torment some who belonged to the church (assembly). And he killed James the brother of John with a sword; And when he saw that it was pleasing to the Jews, he proceeded further and arrested Peter also. This was during the days of Unleavened Bread [the Passover week].

And when he had seized [Peter], he put him in prison and delivered him to four squads of soldiers of four each to guard him, purposing after the Passover to bring him forth to the people. So Peter was kept in prison, but fervent prayer for him was persistently made to God by the church (assembly).

The very night before Herod was about to bring him forth, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, fastened with two chains, and sentries before the door were guarding the prison. And suddenly an angel of the Lord appeared [standing beside him], and a light shone in the place where he was. And the angel gently smote Peter on the side and awakened him, saying, Get up quickly! And the chains fell off his hands.

And the angel said to him, Tighten your belt and bind on your sandals. And he did so. And he said to him, Wrap your outer garment around you and follow me. And [Peter] went out [along] following him, and he was not conscious that what was apparently being done by the angel was real, but thought he was seeing a vision. 10 When they had passed through the first guard and the second, they came to the iron gate which leads into the city. Of its own accord [the gate] swung open, and they went out and passed on through one street; and at once the angel left him.

11 Then Peter came to himself and said, Now I really know and am sure that the Lord has sent His angel and delivered me from the hand of Herod and from all that the Jewish people were expecting [to do to me]. 12 When he, at a glance, became aware of this [[a]comprehending all the elements of the case], he went to the house of Mary the mother of John, whose surname was Mark, where a large number were assembled together and were praying.

13 And when he knocked at the gate of the porch, a maid named Rhoda came to answer. 14 And recognizing Peter’s voice, in her joy she failed to open the gate, but ran in and told the people that Peter was standing before the porch gate. 15 They said to her, You are crazy! But she persistently and strongly and confidently affirmed that it was the truth. They said, It is his angel!

16 But meanwhile Peter continued knocking, and when they opened the gate and saw him, they were amazed. 17 But motioning to them with his hand to keep quiet and listen, he related to them how the Lord had delivered him out of the prison. And he said, Report all this to James [the Less] and to the brethren. Then he left and went to some other place.

18 Now as soon as it was day, there was no small disturbance among the soldiers over what had become of Peter. 19 And when Herod had looked for him and could not find him, he placed the guards on trial and commanded that they should be led away [to execution]. Then [Herod] went down from Judea to Caesarea and stayed on there.

20 Now [Herod] cherished bitter animosity and hostility for the people of Tyre and Sidon; and [their deputies] came to him in a united body, and having made Blastus the king’s chamberlain their friend, they asked for peace, because their country was nourished by and depended on the king’s [country] for food. 21 On an appointed day Herod arrayed himself in his royal robes, took his seat upon [his] throne, and addressed an oration to them. 22 And the assembled people shouted, It is the voice of a god, and not of a man!

23 And at once an angel of the Lord smote him and cut him down, because he did not give God the glory (the preeminence and kingly majesty that belong to Him as the supreme Ruler); and he was eaten by worms and died.

24 But the Word of the Lord [concerning the attainment through Christ of salvation in the kingdom of God] continued to grow and spread.

25 And Barnabas and Saul came back from Jerusalem when they had completed their mission, bringing with them John whose surname was Mark.

Acts 13

Now in the church (assembly) at Antioch there were prophets (inspired interpreters of the will and purposes of God) and teachers: Barnabas, Symeon who was called Niger [Black], Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen a member of the court of Herod the tetrarch, and Saul.

While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, Separate now for Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them. Then after fasting and praying, they put their hands on them and sent them away.

So then, being sent out by the Holy Spirit, they went down to Seleucia, and from [that port] they sailed away to Cyprus. When they arrived at Salamis, they preached the Word of God [concerning the attainment through Christ of salvation in the kingdom of God] in the synagogues of the Jews. And they had John [Mark] as an attendant to assist them.

When they had passed through the entire island of Cyprus as far as Paphos, they came upon a certain Jewish wizard or sorcerer, a false prophet named Bar-Jesus. He was closely associated with the proconsul, Sergius Paulus, who was an intelligent and sensible man of sound understanding; he summoned to him Barnabas and Saul and sought to hear the Word of God [concerning salvation in the kingdom of God attained through Christ]. But Elymas [a]the wise man—for that is the translation of his name [[b]which he had given himself]—opposed them, seeking to keep the proconsul from accepting the faith. But Saul, who is also called Paul, filled with and controlled by the Holy Spirit, looked steadily at [Elymas] 10 And said, You master in every form of deception and recklessness, unscrupulousness, and wickedness, you son of the devil, you enemy of everything that is upright and good, will you never stop perverting and making crooked the straight paths of the Lord and plotting against His saving purposes? 11 And now, behold, the hand of the Lord is upon you, and you will be blind, [so blind that you will be] unable to see the sun for a time. Instantly there fell upon him a mist and a darkness, and he groped about seeking persons who would lead him by the hand. 12 Then the proconsul believed (became a Christian) when he saw what had occurred, for he was astonished and deeply touched at the teaching concerning the Lord and from Him.

13 Now Paul and his companions sailed from Paphos and came to Perga in Pamphylia. And John [Mark] separated himself from them and went back to Jerusalem, 14 But they [themselves] came on from Perga and arrived at Antioch in Pisidia. And on the Sabbath day they went into the synagogue there and sat down. 15 After the reading of the Law and the Prophets, the leaders [of the worship] of the synagogue sent to them saying, Brethren, if you have any word of exhortation or consolation or encouragement for the people, say it.

16 So Paul arose, and motioning with his hand said, Men of Israel and you who reverence and fear God, listen! 17 The God of this people Israel selected our forefathers and made this people great and important during their stay in the land of Egypt, and then with an uplifted arm He led them out from there. 18 And for about forty years [c]like a fatherly nurse He cared for them in the wilderness and endured their behavior. 19 When He had destroyed seven nations in the land of Canaan, He gave them [the Hebrews] their land as an inheritance [distributing it to them by lot; all of which took] about 450 years. 20 After that, He gave them judges until the prophet Samuel. 21 Then they asked for a king; and God gave them Saul son of Kish, a man of the tribe of Benjamin, for forty years. 22 And when He had deposed him, He raised up David to be their king; of him He bore witness and said, I have found David son of Jesse a man after My own heart, who will do all My will and carry out My program fully.

23 Of this man’s descendants God has brought to Israel a Savior [in the person of Jesus], according to His promise. 24 Before His coming John had [already] preached baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel. 25 And as John was ending his course, he asked, What or [d]who do you secretly think that I am? I am not He [the Christ. No], but note that after me One is coming, the sandals of Whose feet I am not worthy to untie!

26 Brethren, sons of the family of Abraham, and all those others among you who reverence and fear God, to us has been sent the message of this salvation [the salvation obtained through Jesus Christ]. 27 For those who dwell in Jerusalem and their rulers, because they did not know or recognize Him or understand the utterances of the prophets which are read every Sabbath, have actually fulfilled these very predictions by condemning and sentencing [Him]. 28 And although they could find no cause deserving death with which to charge Him, yet they asked Pilate to have Him executed and put out of the way.29 And when they had finished and fulfilled everything that was written about Him, they took Him down from the tree and laid Him in a tomb.

30 But God raised Him from the dead.31 And for many days He appeared to those who came up with Him from Galilee to Jerusalem, and they are His witnesses to the people. 32 So now we are bringing you the good news (Gospel) that what God promised to our forefathers, 33 This He has [e]completely fulfilled for us, their children, by raising up Jesus, as it is written in the second psalm, You are My Son; today I have begotten You [[f]caused You to arise, to be born; [g]formally shown You to be the Messiah by the resurrection].

34 And as to His having raised Him from among the dead, now no more to return to [undergo] putrefaction and dissolution [of the grave], He spoke in this way, I will fulfill and give to you the holy and sure mercy and blessings [that were promised and assured] to David. 35 For this reason He says also in another psalm, You will not allow Your Holy One to see corruption [to undergo putrefaction and dissolution of the grave]. 36 For David, after he had served God’s will and purpose and counsel in his own generation, fell asleep [[h]in death] and was buried among his forefathers, and he did see corruption and undergo putrefaction and dissolution [of the grave]. 37 But He Whom God raised up [to life] saw no corruption [did not experience putrefaction and dissolution of the grave].

38 So let it be clearly known and understood by you, brethren, that through this Man forgiveness and removal of sins is now proclaimed to you; 39 And that through Him everyone who believes [who [i]acknowledges Jesus as his Savior and devotes himself to Him] is absolved (cleared and freed) from every charge from which he could not be justified and freed by the Law of Moses and given right standing with God. 40 Take care, therefore, lest there come upon you what is spoken in the prophets: 41 Look, you scoffers and scorners, and marvel and perish and vanish away; for I am doing a deed in your days, a deed which you will never have confidence in or believe, [even] if someone [[j]clearly describing it in detail] declares it to you.

42 As they [Paul and Barnabas] went out [of the synagogue], the people earnestly begged that these things might be told to them [further] the next Sabbath. 43 And when the congregation of the synagogue dispersed, many of the Jews and the devout converts to Judaism followed Paul and Barnabas, who talked to them and urged them to continue [to trust themselves to and to stand fast] in the grace (the unmerited favor and blessing) of God.

44 The next Sabbath almost the entire city gathered together to hear the Word of God [concerning [k]the attainment through Christ of salvation in the kingdom of God]. 45 But when the Jews saw the crowds, filled with envy and jealousy they contradicted what was said by Paul and talked abusively [reviling and slandering him].

46 And Paul and Barnabas spoke out plainly and boldly, saying, It was necessary that God’s message [concerning [l]salvation through Christ] should be spoken to you first. But since you thrust it from you, you pass this judgment on yourselves that you are unworthy of eternal life and out of your own mouth you will be judged. [Now] behold, we turn to the Gentiles (the heathen). 47 For so the Lord has charged us, saying, I have set you to be a light for the Gentiles (the heathen), that you may bring [eternal] salvation to the uttermost parts of the earth.

48 And when the Gentiles heard this, they rejoiced and glorified (praised and gave thanks for) the Word of God; and as many as were destined (appointed and ordained) to eternal life believed (adhered to, trusted in, and relied on Jesus as the Christ and their Savior).

49 And so the Word of the Lord [concerning eternal salvation through Christ] scattered and spread throughout the whole region. 50 But the Jews stirred up the devout women of high rank and the outstanding men of the town, and instigated persecution against Paul and Barnabas and drove them out of their boundaries.

51 But [the apostles] shook off the dust from their feet against them and went to Iconium. 52 And the disciples were continually filled [throughout their souls] with joy and the Holy Spirit.

Acts 14

Now at Iconium [also Paul and Barnabas] went into the Jewish synagogue together and spoke with such power that a great number both of Jews and of Greeks believed (became Christians); But the unbelieving Jews [who rejected their message] aroused the Gentiles and embittered their minds against the brethren.

So [Paul and Barnabas] stayed on there for a long time, speaking freely and fearlessly and boldly in the Lord, Who continued to bear testimony to the Word of His grace, granting signs and wonders to be performed by their hands. But the residents of the town were divided, some siding with the Jews and some with the apostles.

When there was an attempt both on the part of the Gentiles and the Jews together with their rulers, to insult and abuse and molest [Paul and Barnabas] and to stone them, They, aware of the situation, made their escape to Lystra and Derbe, cities of Lycaonia, and the neighboring districts; And there they continued to preach the glad tidings (Gospel).

Now at Lystra a man sat who found it impossible to use his feet, for he was a cripple from birth and had never walked. He was listening to Paul as he talked, and [Paul] gazing intently at him and observing that he had faith to be healed, 10 Shouted at him, saying, Stand erect on your feet! And he leaped up and walked.

11 And the crowds, when they saw what Paul had done, lifted up their voices, shouting in the Lycaonian language, The gods have come down to us in human form! 12 They called Barnabas Zeus, and they called Paul, because he led in the discourse, Hermes [god of speech]. 13 And the priest of Zeus, whose [temple] was at the entrance of the town, brought bulls and garlands to the [city’s] gates and wanted to join the people in offering sacrifice.

14 But when the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard of it, they tore their clothing and dashed out among the crowd, shouting, 15 Men, why are you doing this? We also are [only] human beings, of nature like your own, and we bring you the good news (Gospel) that you should turn away from these foolish and vain things to the living God, Who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and everything that they contain. 16 In generations past He permitted all the nations to walk in their own ways; 17 Yet He did not neglect to leave some witness of Himself, for He did you good and [showed you] kindness and gave you rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, satisfying your hearts with nourishment and happiness. 18 Even in [the light of] these words they with difficulty prevented the people from offering sacrifice to them.

19 But some Jews arrived there from Antioch and Iconium; and having persuaded the people and won them over, they stoned Paul and [[a]afterward] dragged him out of the town, thinking that he was dead. 20 But the disciples formed a circle about him, and he got up and went back into the town; and on the morrow he went on with Barnabas to Derbe.

21 When they had preached the good news (Gospel) to that town and made disciples of many of the people, they went back to Lystra and Iconium and Antioch, 22 Establishing and strengthening the souls and the hearts of the disciples, urging and warning and encouraging them to stand firm in the faith, and [telling them] that it is through many hardships and tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God.

23 And when they had appointed and ordained elders for them in each church with prayer and fasting, they committed them to the Lord in Whom they had come to believe [being full of joyful trust that He is the Christ, the Messiah].

24 Then they went through Pisidia and arrived at Pamphylia. 25 And when they had spoken the Word in Perga [the doctrine concerning the attainment through Christ of salvation in the kingdom of God], they went down to Attalia; 26 And from there they sailed back to Antioch, where they had [first] been commended to the grace of God for the work which they had [now] completed. 27 Arriving there, they gathered the church together and declared all that God had accomplished with them and how He had opened to the Gentiles a door of faith [in Jesus as the Messiah, through Whom we obtain salvation in the kingdom of God].

28 And there they stayed no little time with the disciples.

Acts 15

But some men came down from Judea and were instructing the brethren, Unless you are circumcised in accordance with the Mosaic custom, you cannot be saved. And when Paul and Barnabas had no small disagreement and discussion with them, it was decided that Paul and Barnabas and some of the others of their number should go up to Jerusalem [and confer] with the apostles (special messengers) and the elders about this matter. So, being [a]fitted out and sent on their way by the church, they went through both Phoenicia and Samaria telling of the conversion of the Gentiles (the heathen), and they caused great rejoicing among all the brethren.

When they arrived in Jerusalem, they were heartily welcomed by the church and the apostles and the elders, and they told them all that God had accomplished through them. But some who believed [who [b]acknowledged Jesus as their Savior and devoted themselves to Him] belonged to the sect of the Pharisees, and they rose up and said, It is necessary to circumcise [the Gentile converts] and to charge them to obey the Law of Moses.

The apostles and the elders were assembled together to look into and consider this matter.

And after there had been a long debate, Peter got up and said to them, Brethren, you know that quite a while ago God made a choice or selection from among you, that by my mouth the Gentiles should hear the message of the Gospel [concerning the [c]attainment through Christ of salvation in the kingdom of God] and believe (credit and place their confidence in it). And God, Who is acquainted with and understands the heart, bore witness to them, giving them the Holy Spirit as He also did to us; And He made no difference between us and them, but cleansed their hearts by faith ([d]by a strong and welcome conviction that Jesus is the Messiah, through Whom we obtain eternal salvation in the kingdom of God). 10 Now then, why do you try to test God by putting a yoke on the necks of the disciples, such as neither our forefathers nor we [ourselves] were able to endure? 11 But we believe that we are saved through the grace (the undeserved favor and mercy) of the Lord Jesus, just as they [are].

12 Then the whole assembly remained silent, and they listened [attentively] as Barnabas and Paul rehearsed what signs and wonders God had performed through them among the Gentiles. 13 When they had finished talking, James replied, Brethren, listen to me. 14 Simeon [Peter] has rehearsed how God first visited the Gentiles, to take out of them a people [to bear and honor] His name. 15 And with this the predictions of the prophets agree, as it is written, 16 After this I will come back, and will rebuild the house of David, which has fallen; I will rebuild its [very] ruins, and I will set it up again, 17 So that the rest of men may seek the Lord, and all the Gentiles upon whom My name has been invoked, 18 Says the Lord, Who has been making these things known from the beginning of the world. 19 Therefore it is my opinion that we should not put obstacles in the way of and annoy and disturb those of the Gentiles who turn to God, 20 But we should send word to them in writing to abstain from and avoid anything that has been polluted by being offered to idols, and all sexual impurity, and [eating meat of animals] that have been strangled, and [tasting of] blood. 21 For from ancient generations Moses has had his preachers in every town, for he is read [aloud] every Sabbath in the synagogues.

22 Then the apostles and the elders, together with the whole church, resolved to select men from among their number and send them to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas. They chose Judas called Barsabbas, and Silas, [both] leading men among the brethren, and sent them. 23 With [them they sent] the following letter: The brethren, both the apostles and the elders, to the brethren who are of the Gentiles in Antioch and Syria and Cilicia, greetings: 24 As we have heard that some persons from our number have disturbed you with their teaching, unsettling your minds and [e]throwing you into confusion, although we gave them no express orders or instructions [on the points in question], 25 It has been resolved by us in assembly to select men and send them [as messengers] to you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, 26 Men who have hazarded their lives for the sake of our Lord Jesus Christ. 27 So we have sent Judas and Silas, who themselves will bring you the same message by word of mouth. 28 For it has seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us not to lay upon you any greater burden than these indispensable requirements: 29 That you abstain from what has been sacrificed to idols and from [tasting] blood and from [eating the meat of animals] that have been strangled and from sexual impurity. If you keep yourselves from these things, you will do well. Farewell [be strong]!

30 So when [the messengers] were sent off, they went down to Antioch; and having assembled the congregation, they delivered the letter. 31 And when they read it, the people rejoiced at the consolation and encouragement [it brought them]. 32 And Judas and Silas, who were themselves prophets (inspired interpreters of the will and purposes of God), urged and warned and consoled and encouraged the brethren with many words and strengthened them. 33 And after spending some time there, they were sent back by the brethren with [the greeting] peace to those who had sent them. 34 However, Silas decided to stay on there.

35 But Paul and Barnabas remained in Antioch and with many others also continued teaching and proclaiming the good news, the Word of the Lord [concerning the [f]attainment through Christ of eternal salvation in God’s kingdom].

36 And after some time Paul said to Barnabas, Come, let us go back and again visit and help and minister to the brethren in every town where we made known the message of the Lord, and see how they are getting along. 37 Now Barnabas wanted to take with them John called Mark [his near relative]. 38 But Paul did not think it best to have along with them the one who had quit and deserted them in Pamphylia and had not gone on with them to the work. 39 And there followed a sharp disagreement between them, so that they separated from each other, and Barnabas took Mark with him and sailed away to Cyprus.

40 But Paul selected Silas and set out, being commended by the brethren to the grace (the favor and mercy) of the Lord. 41 And he passed through Syria and Cilicia, establishing and strengthening the churches.

Acts 16

And [Paul] went down to Derbe and also to Lystra. A disciple named Timothy was there, the son of a Jewish woman who was a believer [she had become [a]convinced that Jesus is the Messiah and the Author of eternal salvation, and yielded obedience to Him]; but [Timothy’s] father was a Greek.

He [Timothy] had a good reputation among the brethren at Lystra and Iconium. Paul desired Timothy to go with him [[b]as a missionary]; and he took him and circumcised him because of the Jews that were in those places, all of whom knew that his father was a Greek. As they went on their way from town to town, they delivered over [to the assemblies] for their observance the regulations decided upon by the apostles and elders who were at Jerusalem. So the churches were strengthened and made firm in the faith, and they increased in number day after day.

And Paul and Silas passed through the territory of Phrygia and Galatia, having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to proclaim the Word in [the province of] Asia. And when they had come opposite Mysia, they tried to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus did not permit them. So passing by Mysia, they went down to Troas.

[There] a vision appeared to Paul in the night: a man from Macedonia stood pleading with him and saying, Come over to Macedonia and help us! 10 And when he had seen the vision, we [including Luke] at once endeavored to go on into Macedonia, confidently inferring that God had called us to proclaim the glad tidings (Gospel) to them. 11 Therefore, setting sail from Troas, we came in a direct course to Samothrace, and the next day went on to Neapolis. 12 And from there [we came] to Philippi, which is the chief city of the district of Macedonia and a [Roman] colony. We stayed on in this place some days; 13 And on the Sabbath day we went outside the [city’s] gate to the bank of the river where we supposed there was an [accustomed] place of prayer, and we sat down and addressed the women who had assembled there.

14 One of those who listened to us was a woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a dealer in fabrics dyed in purple. She was [already] a worshiper of God, and the Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what was said by Paul. 15 And when she was baptized along with her household, she earnestly entreated us, saying, If in your opinion I am one really convinced [that Jesus is the Messiah and the Author of salvation] and that I will be faithful to the Lord, come to my house and stay. And she induced us [to do it].

16 As we were on our way to the place of prayer, we were met by a slave girl who was possessed by a spirit of divination [claiming to foretell future events and to discover hidden knowledge], and she brought her owners much gain by her fortunetelling. 17 She kept following Paul and [the rest of] us, shouting loudly, These men are the servants of the Most High God! They announce to you the way of salvation! 18 And she did this for many days. Then Paul, being sorely annoyed and worn out, turned and said to the spirit within her, I charge you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her! And it came out that very [c]moment.

19 But when her owners discovered that their hope of profit was gone, they caught hold of Paul and Silas and dragged them before the authorities in the forum (marketplace), [where trials are held]. 20 And when they had brought them before the magistrates, they declared, These fellows are Jews and they are throwing our city into great confusion. 21 They encourage the practice of customs which it is unlawful for us Romans to accept or observe!

22 The crowd [also] joined in the attack upon them, and the rulers tore the clothes off of them and commanded that they be beaten with rods. 23 And when they had struck them with many blows, they threw them into prison, charging the jailer to keep them safely. 24 He, having received [so strict a] charge, put them into the inner prison (the dungeon) and fastened their feet in the stocks. 25 But about midnight, as Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns of praise to God, and the [other] prisoners were listening to them, 26 Suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the very foundations of the prison were shaken; and at once all the doors were opened and everyone’s shackles were unfastened.

27 When the jailer, startled out of his sleep, saw that the prison doors were open, he drew his sword and was on the point of killing himself, because he supposed that the prisoners had escaped. 28 But Paul shouted, Do not harm yourself, for we are all here! 29 Then [the jailer] called for lights and rushed in, and trembling and terrified he fell down before Paul and Silas. 30 And he brought them out [of the dungeon] and said, Men, what is it necessary for me to do that I may be saved?

31 And they answered, Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ [[d]give yourself up to Him, [e] take yourself out of your own keeping and entrust yourself into His keeping] and you will be saved, [and this applies both to] you and your household as well. 32 And they declared the Word of the Lord [the doctrine concerning the [f]attainment through Christ of eternal salvation in the kingdom of God] to him and to all who were in his house. 33 And he took them the same hour of the night and [g]bathed [them because of their bloody] wounds, and he was baptized immediately and all [the members of] his [household]. 34 Then he took them up into his house and set food before them; and he [h]leaped much for joy and exulted with all his family that he believed in God [accepting and joyously welcoming what He had made known through Christ].

35 But when it was day, the magistrates sent policemen, saying, Release those fellows and let them go. 36 And the jailer repeated the words to Paul, saying, The magistrates have sent to release you and let you go; now therefore come out and go in peace. 37 But Paul answered them, They have beaten us openly and publicly, without a trial and uncondemned, men who are Roman citizens, and have thrown us into prison; and do they now thrust us out secretly? No, indeed! Let them come here themselves and conduct us out!

38 The police reported this message to the magistrates, and they were frightened when they heard that the prisoners were Roman citizens; 39 So they came themselves and [striving to appease them by entreaty] apologized to them. And they brought them out and asked them to leave the city.

40 So [Paul and Silas] left the prison and went to Lydia’s house; and when they had seen the brethren, they warned and urged and consoled and encouraged them and departed.

Acts 17

Now after [Paul and Silas] had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where there was a synagogue of the Jews. And Paul entered, as he usually did, and for three Sabbaths he reasoned and argued with them from the Scriptures, Explaining [them] and [quoting passages] setting forth and proving that it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead, and saying, This Jesus, Whom I proclaim to you, is the Christ (the Messiah). And some of them [accordingly] were induced to believe and associated themselves with Paul and Silas, as did a great number of the devout Greeks and not a few of the leading women.

But the unbelieving Jews were aroused to jealousy, and, getting hold of some wicked men (ruffians and rascals) and loungers in the marketplace, they gathered together a mob, set the town in an uproar, and attacked the house of Jason, seeking to bring [Paul and Silas] out to the people. But when they failed to find them, they dragged Jason and some of the brethren before the city authorities, crying, These men who have turned the world upside down have come here also, And Jason has received them to his house and privately protected them! And they are all ignoring and acting contrary to the decrees of Caesar, [actually] asserting that there is another king, one Jesus!

And both the crowd and the city authorities, on hearing this, were irritated (stirred up and troubled). And when they had taken security [bail] from Jason and the others, they let them go.

10 Now the brethren at once sent Paul and Silas away by night to Beroea; and when they arrived, they entered the synagogue of the Jews. 11 Now these [Jews] were better disposed and more noble than those in Thessalonica, for they were entirely ready and accepted and welcomed the message [[a]concerning the attainment through Christ of eternal salvation in the kingdom of God] with inclination of mind and eagerness, searching and examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so. 12 Many of them therefore became believers, together with not a few prominent Greeks, women as well as men.

13 But when the Jews of Thessalonica learned that the Word of God [[b]concerning the attainment through Christ of eternal salvation in the kingdom of God] was also preached by Paul at Beroea, they came there too, disturbing and inciting the masses.

14 At once the brethren sent Paul off on his way to the sea, but Silas and Timothy remained behind.

15 Those who escorted Paul brought him as far as Athens; and receiving instructions for Silas and Timothy that they should come to him as soon as possible, they departed. 16 Now while Paul was awaiting them at Athens, his spirit was grieved and roused to anger as he saw that the city was full of idols. 17 So he reasoned and argued in the synagogue with the Jews and those who worshiped there, and in the marketplace [where assemblies are held] day after day with any who chanced to be there.

18 And some also of the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers encountered him and began to engage in discussion. And some said, What is this babbler with his scrap-heap learning trying to say? Others said, He seems to be an announcer of foreign deities—because he preached Jesus and the resurrection. 19 And they took hold of him and brought him to the [c]Areopagus [Mars Hill meeting place], saying, May we know what this novel (unheard of and unprecedented) teaching is which you are openly declaring? 20 For you set forth some startling things, foreign and strange to our ears; we wish to know therefore just what these things mean—

21 For the Athenians, all of them, and the foreign residents and visitors among them spent all their leisure time in nothing except telling or hearing something newer than the last— 22 So Paul, standing in the center of the Areopagus [Mars Hill meeting place], said: Men of Athens, I perceive in every way [on every hand and with every turn I make] that you are most religious or very reverent to demons. 23 For as I passed along and carefully observed your objects of worship, I came also upon an altar with this inscription, To the unknown god. Now what you are already worshiping as unknown, this I set forth to you. 24 The God Who produced and formed the world and all things in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in handmade shrines. 25 Neither is He served by human hands, as though He lacked anything, for it is He Himself Who gives life and breath and all things to all [people]. 26 And He made from one [common origin, one source, one blood] all nations of men to settle on the face of the earth, having definitely determined [their] allotted periods of time and the fixed boundaries of their habitation (their settlements, lands, and abodes), 27 So that they should seek God, in the hope that they might feel after Him and find Him, although He is not far from each one of us. 28 For in Him we live and move and have our being; as even some of your [own] poets have said, For we are also His offspring.

29 Since then we are God’s offspring, we ought not to suppose that Deity (the Godhead) is like gold or silver or stone, [of the nature of] a representation by human art and imagination, or anything constructed or invented. 30 Such [former] ages of ignorance God, it is true, ignored and allowed to pass unnoticed; but now He charges all people everywhere to repent ([d]to change their minds for the better and heartily to amend their ways, with abhorrence of their past sins), 31 Because He has fixed a day when He will judge the world righteously (justly) by a Man Whom He has destined and appointed for that task, and He has made this credible and given conviction and assurance and evidence to everyone by raising Him from the dead.

32 Now when they had heard [that there had been] a resurrection from the dead, some scoffed; but others said, We will hear you again about this matter.

33 So Paul went out from among them. 34 But some men were on his side and joined him and believed (became Christians); among them were Dionysius, a judge of the Areopagus, and a woman named Damaris, and some others with them.

And the worshippers of God raise the “Amen”

#lessonsfromlent

Isn’t it something that everywhere the Spirit of Jesus goes we find people being “disturbed”, being “troubled” . . . . might I be so bold as to say these are the by-products of being convicted?

Think about yourself for a moment. Do you always react well when Jesus shines the light on a habitual transgression, a pattern of reactionary offense, or—and this one for me is probably the most pointed—a cozy sin? What I mean by that is a sin that I’ve made space for in my life. I’ve cleared a path for it, built it a well-protected place to live, hung pictures on the walls and put out throw pillows for its comfort . . . I’ve made it cozy. Do you have any of those?

Full confession is that even though Christ has torn down my self-constructed walls and snatched the pillows from under the heads of many of my cozy sins, His Light continues to shine into the darkest parts of me. He loves me, and He loves you, too much to allow us to keep the welcome mat out for anything that harms us. And Sister, sin harms us.

The most recent offense Christ has told to pack up its wall décor and go is worry. I made every excuse to hang onto that habitual, reactionary, cozy sin. It was the trifecta of offense –habitual was the fear of losing control, reactionary was anxiety, and cozy was the head of the snake . . . worry.  I had given myself permission to keep that transgression close and when Jesus decided to uproot that thing and send it packing . . . I was “disturbed” . . . I was “troubled.”

And this is the plain language the Holy Spirit used with me:  Worry is the tangible expression of mistrust. Mistrust is the product of unbelief. Unbelief is the failure to understand the Love of God. Failure to understand the very Essence of the God I profess to love is a lack of knowledge of the Who of Him.

Worry was the manifestation of my “unknown god” because the lack of knowing the Who of Him allowed it to make a home in my heart. When Jesus issued its eviction notice . . . I was “disturbed” . . . I was “troubled.”

Just like Herod who dressed himself up to look like a king, I had put royal robes on that thing and sat it on the throne. It wasn’t a conscious decision that it would keep me from knowing God but Girlfriend, that’s the nature of an idol. It gets devotion, it gets energy, it gets worship, it gets room in our lives that belongs to God.

We read about the idols, crafted from silver and gold at the hands of man, and we wonder how they could worship something their own hands had created rather than the One that created them but I don’t think we’re so far apart from those artisans.

If I truly look, and you truly look, at the Mars Hill meeting place in our own hearts what will we find? Is the way clear or is it cluttered with objects of worship? I know the home my heart built to make worry look beautiful—dressed up in concern, robed in sharing the burden—were no less created by me than the idols hand crafted in Athens. The products of my human imagination, the things I created—worry, anxiety, fear – became silver and gold shrines that crowded by mind and left little room for the One who created me.

And the thing is that sin, no matter how cozy of a space we create for it or how inviting we try to make the walls we attempt to constrain it with . . . it won’t be contained. It always wants more space. It always wants more room. And before you know it God has been given a small altar in the corner – one object of worship among many. Whew! That’s some truth that “disturbs” me . . .that “troubles” me.

Fear not Sweet One . . . Jesus paid the price to have you and He will not let you go. He is going to come with eviction notice after eviction notice for all those cozy sins. The Messiah does not mind disturbing or troubling us one bit. He has no hesitation in pulling away those throw pillows, shaking the pictures from the walls and sending the sin we’ve made so comfortable packing. He knows that for us to KNOW the Father, if we’re to have any hope of finding Him, of living and moving and having our being in Him, every other god has to go.

creation swap throw pillows 15545_Abandoned_Sofa ribbet

 No throw pillows allowed . . . #lessonsfromlent

2 Responses to “Lessons from Lent: Day Twenty”

  1. cazusa March 12, 2015 at 1:37 pm #

    I like your terminology “Cozy Sins.” i sure have some of them which I don’t want to recognize at time. This lesson was for me as well. God’s blessing upon you and Bret

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