I was reading through Acts chapter 20 the other day. This is where Paul talks with the Elders of the church at Ephesus before heading down to Jerusalem. I found this passage very inspiring.
As Paul shares with the Elders he tells them that the Holy Spirit has told him that there will only be trouble and strife for him from now on. Verse 20 says, “I only know that in every city the Holy Spirit warns me that prison and hardships are facing me”. Despite this Paul says the Holy Spirit is compelling him to continue on and he wants to obey.
Paul’s next words in verse 21 shows his true commitment to the Gospel and what his life is really about. He says, “However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace”.
Despite the beatings, the calls for his death, the hardship and the endless sufferings, the Apostle Paul’s whole life was about telling people about the Good News that God loves them and that Christ died for them so they could live for eternity with Him. Paul saw his whole life in light of the call that God has given him and he wanted desperately to finish the race placed before him.
As I read this passage God did something to my heart. I felt that tremedous call and honour to preach the Gospel reverberate inside me afresh. All I could do was weap and marvel at Paul’s commitment to the Gospel and my own call that God has given me. Once I finished weaping, all I could do was pray.
Heavenly Father, I pray that I would have that same commitment to preach the Gospel that Paul did. Help me to share your love with those around me and help me to introduce people to Jesus. In Jesus’ name, Amen
If you are a Christian reading this today. Perhaps you could have a read of Acts chapter 20 and then maybe catch some of what I caught a few days ago? Maybe you could even pray the prayer from above? I really believe we need more people with that fire in their bellies to preach the Gospel…maybe it could be you?
I was just over at Biblegateway.com and they have collated their top 100 Bible verse searches for March and April this year. In that time they had 25 million searches! I found it interesting reading.
Here’s the top 20 most-read Bible verses on BibleGateway.com (all verses quoted from the NIV):
- John 3:16: For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
- Jer 29:11: For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
- Rom 8:28: And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
- Phil 4:13: I can do everything through him who gives me strength.
- Gen 1:1: In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
- Prov 3:5: Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.
- Prov 3:6: in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.
- Rom 12:2: Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
- Phil 4:6: Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
- Matt 28:19: Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
- Eph 2:8: For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—
- Gal 5:22: But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,
- Rom 12:1: Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship.
- John 10:10: The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
- Acts 18:10: For I am with you, and no one is going to attack and harm you, because I have many people in this city.”
- Acts 18:9: One night the Lord spoke to Paul in a vision: “Do not be afraid; keep on speaking, do not be silent.
- Acts 18:11: So Paul stayed for a year and a half, teaching them the word of God.
- Gal 2:20: I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
- 1 John 1:9: If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
- Rom 3:23: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
For the rest you can visit here, or you can download the top 100 in PDF here
As I mentioned in early January, one of my goals for this year was to read through the New Testament (NT) one chapter a day (see post here). Today I thought I would give you an update on how I am going.
I am currently up to Acts chapter 21. That is where the Apostle Paul has been arrested in Jerusalem. He is about to speak to the assembled crowd who will be baying for his blood. Not a situation I would like to be in myself I must say!
Anyway, to keep track of how I am going I have printed out a list of all the books of the NT and the chapters in each. Each day I just cross the next one off. You can see it by clicking on the picture above.
So far I have really enjoyed this Bible reading plan. I have found that I am really getting into the Bible and reflecting on what I am reading. It is also helping me to tune into God and His great plan for all of us. The Book of Acts in particular is really inspiring me to live out my faith in a practical way and to keep preaching the Good News of God’s love for all mankind.
I would encourage you to join me on this reading plan. Even if you start from the beginning of the NT today, you will nearly finish it by the end of the year. If you haven’t got a Bible you can find a free one online here at BibleGateway.com.
PS. You might notice on the photo that some other chapters are marked off. This is because I have had to read them for my studies or for messages I have been preparing.
I was just reflecting on the Bible verse 1 Peter 5:7. It says, “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you”.
As I was reflecting I had this picture of someone standing on some rocks by the ocean with a fishing rod casting their line out into the deep waters. It was like bating up their hook with all of their worries, concerns and anxiety and then throwing them with all of their might in God’s direction.
In the same way that that the fishing line with a sinker drops to the bottom, so were the cares and anxieties of the person. They were caste deep into the secret places of God, never to be seen again. As I reflected I found this to be a helpful image.
One thing I have found though, is that sometimes we can reel in the anxiety, worries and concerns back up from the bottom. We can churn them over and re-bait the hook and caste out again. I don’t believe this is what God wants. After we have caste out we need to cut off the line from our rod and let it sink to the bottom.
I believe that when we are stressed out and worried about something that is happening (or might happen) in our lives, God wants us to caste all those stresses and fears on Him. He wants to take them and exchange them for His perfect peace, the peace that Jesus promised to leave us in John 14:27.
If you are worried about something that is coming up in your life or something that you are going through today, I would encourage you to come to God right now and caste all you anxieties on Him. Why? Because He cares for you.
I come to You right now with all of my worries, concerns and anxiety. I caste them all on You. Please take them and exchange them for the perfect peace that Jesus promised. Please help me to look to you in this situation and help me to trust You for the outcome. I thank You that you love me and care for me very deeply. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
PS. If you have never taken the step of praying and asking Jesus Christ into you heart and life, you can do so by visiting this page on my website
I was talking to a friend of mine today who is a Pastor in town. He shared about his message that he brought yesterday and how he talked about putting off the old self and putting on the new self.
He started by sharing from Ephesians 4:1 that says, “As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received”. Then he moved on to Colossians 3:1-17 that talks about putting off the old self (old nature) and clothing yourself with your new nature.
The thing that I found especially good was the illustration he used. He had an old holey pair of work boots on and said, “Old ways can be comfortable and familiar and safe, whereas new ways can be uncomfortable and unfamiliar, therefore making them appear unsafe. Like old and new boots. It isn’t until you wear them for a while (or walk in our new selves) that they become more comfy and fit better and not seem so foreign”.
I really thought that was a great illustration to get the point across. Everytime I read that passage now I will remember an old pair of holey work boots that need to be taken off and replaced…just like our old and new natures!
PS. I have an article on my website that talks about the passage from Colossians 3. You can access it here
My wife Larissa has a little notebook/diary she uses to keep organised. At the bottom of each page is some Bible verses to reflect on during the day. She just showed me the verses for the next week. I thought they were all positive and worth sharing…
Nehemiah 8:10 – …the joy of the LORD is your strength.
Job 8:21 – He will yet fill your mouth with laughter and your lips with shouts of joy.
Psalm 8:9 – O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!
Psalm 121:8 – the LORD will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.
Psalm 19:1 – The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
Psalm 27:1 – The LORD is my light and my salvation—whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life—of whom shall I be afraid?
Psalm 27:4 – One thing I ask of the LORD, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple.
I have been reflecting on James 4:7 this week. It says, “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you”.
The thing I find interesting is that at times as Christians we can feel like we are under spiritual attack and we feel like we have to fight things off. We can get diverted into fighting the battle.
However, James 4:7 tells us what we should be doing. It says is that we should “submit to God”. If we submit to God first and then resist the devil we are in the right place to resist from. Rather than trying to go it alone and feeling all exposed, we are safely under God’s care.
If you are struggling at the moment and feel under pressure spiritually, please remember to spend time in God’s presence in prayer and worship this week. Really press into God.
As you do, you will find that there is a great promise in the second part of the verse – “he will flee”. It is a promise made by and backed up by God!
Several years ago I brought a message to my previous church to open up the whole issue of depression. I really felt from God it was something I had to do as there are a lot of depressed people in our churches and most churches don’t talk openly about the issue.
In the message I shared six points or things that have helped me when I have gone periods or bouts of depression in the past. Here they are…
1. Don’t suffer alone – see your doctor, another health professional, your minister or a close friend. Share the burden as Galatians 6:2 tell us.
2. Count your positives – when you are depressed we can often only see the worst. Counting my positives alway lifted my mood and made me appreciate the good things in my life.
3. Look at your overall health – gentle exercise and eating better improved my overall health which made me feel better. It also helped me to feel better about myself.
4. Journal your thoughts – journalling helped me to see how I was thinking and tract my moods over a period of time. It also helped to clear my headspace.
5. Read the Bible – when I read the Bible my faith is increased, it helps me to look to God and it also helps me to remember the “big picture”. I also am reminded that this problem is not forever.
6. Ask god for help – prayer allowed me to talk to God about things. I was able to caste my cares and anxiety on Him because He cared for me (1 Peter 5:7).
The above is only a quick cut down version of what I said. If you want to read a longer article version you can visit this page here.
I really hope this post and article helps you if you are currently feeling depressed.
All of us at different times of our life go through periods of transition. Times when we finish one thing and we move on to the next. Sometimes though, we finish one thing before we know what is next.
While we can be nervous and uncertain of what the future holds, I believe it is important to look to God and trust Him for the outcome. One of the ways I look to God in these times is through Scripture.
I have a number of verses that I print out and read everyday. This helps me to look to God and it assures me that He has things under control. Here’s a few of my favourites…
Proverbs 3:5-6 – “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight”.
Jeremiah 29:11 – “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
Ephesians 2:10 – “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do”.
1 Peter 5:7 – “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you”.
Matthew 6:33 – “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well”.
I love having these timeless truths on hand to help me focus on the One that holds my future. These Scriptures help me to know that God has a plan for me and that if I just seek His Kingdom ALL things will be added unto me.
For the times I get nervous about the outcome, I can simply caste my anxiety and cares upon Him too.