The Church Prayed for Him Most Strenuously

June 14, 2019: Acts 12, 13.

 

Jeffre Woodke, Lacheng Ren, Kidane Weidou, Hassan Abduraheem, Ebrahim Firouzi, Alimijiang Yimiti, Yang Hua, John Cao, Leah Sharibu, Yosef Nardarkhani, Kuwa Shamal, Abdulmonem Abdemawla…these are some of the people I pray for daily. They are in prison for their faith in Jesus Christ. I will pray for them until I learn of their release.

Acts 12:5, “All the time that Peter was under heavy guard in the jailhouse, the church prayed for him most strenuously.” The Message

I won’t be discouraged because of the mom in Africa who was released in 2014. And Saeed Abednidi who was freed in 2016. This year Asia Bibi was freed!

I pray faithfully but am I praying strenuously? How do you pray “strenuously?”

Acts 13:2, 3, “One day as they were worshipping God – they were also fasting as they waited for guidance. … (3) …In that circle of intensity and obedience, of fasting and praying…” The Message

These verses gave me the answer:

  1. Worship
  2. Fast
  3. Ask for guidance
  4. Pray with others
  5. Pray intensely
  6. And then, obey!

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Invited Them In

June 13, 2019: Acts 10, 11.

 

The bass player couldn’t make it to practice. He drives west and meets us at Mt. Pleasant. The rest of this week’s team lives west of Mt. Pleasant.

Derek asked if we could practice at our house. I can’t say I wasn’t warned. This was my verse.

Acts 10:23, “Peter invited them in and made them feel at home.” The Message

Derek brought his Cajon and a couple rhythm instruments. He set up on one side of our bed. (My piano and keyboard are stacked in our bedroom.)

The singers found spaces on the other side of the bed and David stood in the door. We went through the songs for the service and worked on the new one a bit longer.

As we filed out of the bedroom, I said to David, “In our next house, let’s set up a music room.”

Yes, I dream of a larger house – just like many of you!

Acts 10:26, “…I’m a man and only a man, no different from you.” The Message

©2009-2019 thisyearsbiblereadingguide.com. All Rights Reserved.

Forced to Leave Home Base

June 12, 2019: Acts 8, 9.

I worked in the church office for most of my adult life. I thought I would work there for the rest of my life. God had a different plan.

My health deteriorated and even working at home was no longer possible. I stepped down from my job.

I decided to finish the Bible Reading Guide I wish I had when I was 13. I gave that guide to 2 trusted to couples to test. They loved it! At the end of that year, I shared it online and became a blogger.

Bloggers and missionaries are born the same way. The desire is there, and if we don’t go willingly, we find ourselves forced out of our home base.

Acts 8:4, “Forced to leave home base, the followers of Jesus all became missionaries. Wherever they were scattered, they preached the Message about Jesus.” The Message

It’s not an easy life. Sure, some bloggers make money, but the majority do not. Missionary work is not lucrative either!

Acts 9:16, “And now I’m about to show him what he’s in for – the hard suffering that goes with this job.” The Message

Where do we start?

Acts 9:34, “…Get up and make your bed. And he did it – jumped right out of bed!” The Message

Why make your bed? It’s a discipline. We need discipline and structure. Routines are our best friends.

Jesus even made his bed! When he rose from the dead, he folded the shroud and the napkin that covered his face, see John 20:7.

©2009-2019 thisyearsbiblereadingguide.com. All Rights Reserved.

Whom Everyone Trusts

June 11, 2019: Acts 6-7.

 

After pie on Saturday, I stopped at Family Dollar. I forgot to write “popcorn” on the grocery list at the cafe. I grabbed a bag to donate.

While I was at it, I picked up a few more donations: orange cleaner (for the plexiglass on the popcorn machine), non-scratch pads, a scrubby sponge, and Magic Erasers. (I have a few minutes to clean before I start cooking.)

I thought of the cafe workers when reading about Stephen. Stephen and 6 others were chosen to wait tables for the widows.

Acts 6:3, “So, friends, choose seven men from among you whom everyone trusts, men full of the Holy Spirit and good sense, and we’ll assign them this task.” The Message

The qualities of a waiter in Bible times apply to all servants of God today:

  1. Trustworthy
  2. Full of the Holy Spirit
  3. Having of good sense.

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What I Do Have, I Give

June 10, 2019: Acts 3-5.

 

At the Cary Reunion, we each shared something the others may not know about us or a memory. My favorite memory was of Grandma Cary’s generosity.

The farm was near the railroad track. Hoboes would raid Grandma Cary’s garden. Then they would knock on the back door and ask for a meal. They spread the word – you can always get a meal at Mrs. Cary’s.

Grandma always fed them. She had 13 children and it was the middle of the depression, but she still gave what she could.

I remember eating at Grandmas. There was so much food at her table it made Thanksgiving look like a snack!

Acts 3:6, “Peter said, ‘I don’t have a nickel to my name, but what I do have, I give you: In the Name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk!'” The Message

* * * * * * *

I read 2 verses today with the word “turn” in them. I noticed something interesting…

Acts 3:19, 20, “Now it’s time to change your ways! Turn to face God so He can wipe away your sins, (20) pour out showers of blessing to refresh you, and send you the Messiah He prepared for you, namely, Jesus.” The Message

* * * * * * *

Acts 3:26, “God, having raised up His Son, sent Him to bless you as you turn, one by one, from your evil ways.” The Message

…we have to turn away from our sin before we receive God’s blessings. Until that time, we are cursed.

We must:

  1. Change our ways.
  2. Face God.
  3. Repent of our sins.
  4. Turn from our evil ways.

And then, God will send showers of blessings.

I saw something else…

Acts 4:34, “And so it turned out that not a person among them was needy. Those who owned fields or houses sold them and brought the price of the sale to the apostles and made an offering of it.” The Message

Many cite this verse to support communal living. Everyone was liquidating their assets. Yes, they helped the needy, but God’s goal was to fulfill the Great Commission.

After Stephen’s death, there was great persecution, see Acts 8:1; 11:19. The Christians scattered. This liquidating of assets was preparation.

They didn’t have to give all the money to the disciples. Peter told Ananias and Sapphira as much, see Acts 5:4. They gave what was needed to make up a shortfall.

Another interesting thing – communal living was not a cure-all. Those who stayed in Jerusalem lived in poverty. The disciples traveling and preaching were constantly collecting offerings for the poor in Jerusalem, see Romans 15:26.

©2009-2019 thisyearsbiblereadingguide.com. All Rights Reserved.

Timing is the Father’s Business

June 9, 2019: Acts 1, 2.

 

It was a big day! The Fairfield satellite joined the main church for “Church on the Lawn.” There were games and a potluck after the service.

It was also the day of the “Cary Reunion.” Since there were plenty of musicians in Mt. Pleasant, we took the Sunday off for the reunion.

This reunion is for the descendants of my father’s parents. Dad had 12 brothers and sisters – it’s a big reunion!

We’ve lost 10 of the original siblings. Only 1 sister and my mom represented the generation of great-grandparents. My cousins and I are grandparents. It’s difficult to keep up with each other and all of those names!

One uncle’s oxygen level was low and he couldn’t come. We wonder if he will make it next year.

Acts 1:7, “He told them, ‘You don’t get to know the time. Timing is the Father’s business.'” The Message

It’s Pentecost Sunday! The day the Holy Spirit fell on the 120 in the upper room. It’s the reason the 2019 “Relevant” Bible Reading Guide switched from reading in the Old Testament to the book of Acts.

I’m glad our church was together in one place, even though we missed it. I’m grateful we got together with many of our cousins and their families. We may need to rename the reunion the “Cary Cousins Reunion!”

©2009-2019 thisyearsbiblereadingguide.com. All Rights Reserved.

 

God’s People Are Urged to Return

June 8, 2019: Jeremiah 38; 2 Chronicles 36.

 

We’ve been trying to schedule this for a few years – pie with the girls. The first time we did this was after a ladies retreat. On the way home, we stopped at the Village Inn for pie. We promised ourselves we would get together soon.

Today was the day! I met Reeta, Mel, and Robin at the Riverside restaurant for pie. Mel ordered apple pie with vanilla ice cream. The other two agreed that sounded the best.

Not me!

I ordered strawberry/rhubarb pie with strawberry ice cream. When the waitress brought the tray with our pies, I sang…

“Three of these things belong together, three of these things are kind of the same…”

We ate, talked, laughed, and caught up on each other’s lives for over 2 hours. I finally broke the party up because I needed to go to the library before it closed.

I reminded them that I wouldn’t be at church because we have a family reunion. But I would see them on Wednesday.

2 Chronicles 36:23, “…All who belong to God’s people are urged to return – and may your God be with you! Move forward!” The Message

God goes with us as we move forward in our lives. But He urges us to return to church. There is strength in the community…and a lot of laughter!

©2009-2019 thisyearsbiblereadingguide.com. All Rights Reserved.

I’ll Delight in Doing Good Things for Them

June 7, 2019: Jeremiah 32-33.

 

My exercise routine had become too easy. I upped the reps on my core exercises from 8 to 12. Then asked David to buy heavier weights – 10 pounds. (Don’t laugh, I started with soup cans!) 

(Note to self: “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength,” Philippians 4:13.)

Jeremiah 32:6, 10, 14, 27, “Jeremiah said, ‘God’s message came to me like this: Prepare yourself. … (10) Follow all the proper procedures, … (14) …Put them for safekeeping… (27) Stay alert! I am God, the God of everything living. Is there anything I can’t do?'” The Message

I am reading the prophecies that were given right before the destruction of Jerusalem. Even though judgment was coming, God promised it was not permanent. He promised good things later.

Jeremiah 32:41-42, “Oh how I’ll rejoice in them! Oh, how I’ll delight in doing good things for them! Heart and Soul, I’ll plant them in this country and keep them here! (42) …I will also usher in a wonderful life of prosperity. I promise!” The Message

* * * * * * *

Jeremiah 33:3, “Call to me and I will answer you. I’ll tell you marvelous and wondrous things that you could never figure out on your own.” The Message

It looked hopeless for the Israelites but it wasn’t. My basement looks hopeless. We are on the list to have a crack in our foundation repaired. Until then, the laundry room is in disarray. Some things are in the dining room and the other 2 rooms need organizing.

Jeremiah 33:6, “I’m going to give this city a thorough renovation, working a true healing inside and out. I’m going to show them life, whole, brimming with blessings.” The Message

* * * * * * *

I made salads for the week. The outer leaves of my green leaf lettuce wilted. I soaked them in ice water for a few hours. When they were crisp again, I laid them on a towel to dry. Then I tore them into pieces and added them to the salad.

Jeremiah 33:7, “I’ll restore everything that was lost. …I’ll build everything back as good as new.” The Message

©2009-2019 thisyearsbiblereadingguide.com. All Rights Reserved.

Get Along Just Fine with Each Other

June 6, 2019: Jeremiah 30-31.

 

I admit it…I didn’t get much sleep…and I struggled to remember one song. I was beating myself up about not playing well as I drove back to the E3 youth building.

I turn everything on and start the popcorn popper before church. Other team members take over and David takes me up the hill to practice and play for the adult service.

Then I drive back down the hill and help in the cafe. After their teaching time is either a game or a special food night. (“Build Your Own Burrito” anyone?)

It was my first time volunteering in the cafe. They had a “Leaders vs. Students” game in the indoor, caged, basketball court – complete with play by play. It was louder than a heavyweight championship boxing match!

I decided serving would be easier than cooking. I was wrong.

I couldn’t hear over the game, (too many years sitting next to the drums), and many kids had to repeat their request. I didn’t know there were 10 different kinds of Mt. Dew!

I would ask:

  • What color?
  • What shelf?
  • Can you point to it?

And they stock all of the other soda pops, (YooHoo, anyone?), plus tea, water, and a few flavors of Gatorade.

* * * * * * *

The next week, I stocked the warmer. There were 3 cooks frying: corn dogs, chicken nuggets, mozzarella sticks, and French fries. I carried them to the warmer as they ran out. Another cook was making smoothies…one after another…using 2 blenders to keep up!

Everyone pitches in wherever they are needed. The servers will man the scoops on “Build Your Own Sundae” night and the cooks will cover the counter when the servers are outside on “Grill Night.”

Some nights members from the hospitality team will cook or serve when the cafe is shorthanded. No matter which team we normally serve in, (adult worship team for me), we all work together to feed those hungry teenagers.

I swear some of them are hollow!

Jeremiah 31:24, “All Judah’s people, whether in town or country, will get along just fine with each other.” The Message

©2009-2019 thisyearsbiblereadingguide.com. All Rights Reserved.

…Has Waged War Against Us

June 5, 2019: Jeremiah 21, 34, 37.

 

It was the first day of Candi’s vacation. She is the team leader of the youth cafe. She asked me to sub for a team member whose children are playing ball.

I ride to church with Derek who serves on the worship team. We went fifteen minutes earlier than normal. He had his guitar, snare drum, cymbals, and sticks bag. I offered to carry his guitar.

He stopped at the information desk and I continued on to the sanctuary. I ran into Sarah.

Seriously, I almost mowed her over.

Sarah works in the office and thought she was alone in the building. She had just turned out the lights and was trucking around the corner…and there I was.

I scared her half to death.

After apologizing, and promising to sing the next time I entered the darkened building, I took the guitar to the platform. Then I unlocked the cafe and started down my mental list:

  • Turn on the exhaust fan.
  • Turn on the tall oven.
  • Turn on light in the pop cooler.
  • Get the popcorn machine parts out of the dish drain.
  • Assemble them in the machine…

About that time Robin arrived. I walked her through what I had already done. I showed her how to make popcorn. Then we put pizza and French fries in the tall oven. I plugged in the fryers and loaded up the pop cooler.

The popcorn was just finishing when Mel arrived. Mel flipped the kettle to show Robin how to unload the popcorn. Then she grabbed the mozzarella sticks and popcorn chicken.

“I thought we decided to use the lower ovens.”

Oops. I forgot. We did discuss that at the team meeting. It was there Pastor Monte reminded us that Satan’s strategy is to break teams apart. He is waging a war against us.

Jeremiah 21:2, “…has waged war against us. Pray to God for us. Ask Him for help. …” The Message

When things go wrong on a team, we need to remember we are fighting Satan – not each other.

(Yes, Mel still loves me.)

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