A Prayer Meeting by the River

An email from George Zeller arrived in my Inbox this week and I had to post it here! We never know how God has prepared the way ahead of us when we take a step to share Christ with someone. It may be as simple as handing someone a Bible pamphlet, saying something kind to a cashier or bagger at the supermarket, or helping a neighbor. It may be just the lift they need to point them to a gracious and loving God!

 

“In his second missionary journey, Paul had wanted to go to Asia (probably to Ephesus), but God sent him and his missionary team in a different direction. In a night vision, a man [anér, a male individual] of Macedonia implored them to ‘come and help us’ (Acts 16:9). They obeyed the vision and arrived in Philippi of Macedonia, a city named after Philip, the father of Alexander the Great.

“Ironically, the ‘man’ they came to help turned out to be a group of women: ‘And on the Sabbath we went out of the city by a river side, where prayer was wont to be made; and we sat down, and spake unto the women which resorted thither’ (Acts 16:13). On this Sabbath [Saturday[, the day when the Jews would rest from their labors and worship, Paul and his companions went to a place where a group of women customarily met to pray to God. There they sat with and spoke to the women who had gathered to pray to the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

“What a touching scene it must have been! A group of devout women met by this scenic riverbank to call upon the name of the Lord. How we each need to develop prayer habits so as to meet with the Lord both alone and at times with other God-fearing souls. How fitting it is to find a quiet gathering place in the midst of God’s creation, far from the distractions and interruptions of the world!

“Consider how the Lord Jesus would often do the same: ‘He went up into a mountain apart [by Himself] to pray’ (Matt. 14:23; Mark 1:35; Luke 5:16). These women had been prepared by prayer and were ready to hear the Gospel message! From this humble prayer gathering the great church at Philippi could trace its origin.”

~George Zeller: www.middletownbiblechurch.org

 

 

 

The Great Magnet

The Great Magnet

John 12:23-33

Three crosses were seen on Calvary’s hill. The center cross was the cross of redemption as the Saviour bore our sins in His own body on the tree (1 Peter 2:24). The center cross was meant for Barabbas whose name means “son of the father.” The Jewish people wanted Pilate to release this murderer and crucify the Holy One in his stead (Acts 3:14). As a result, the true “Son of the Father” went to the cross to suffer for sins, the Righteous One for the unrighteous ones (1 Peter 3:18). Two criminals died, on the Lord’s left and right. One malefactor refused to believe. His was the cross of rejection. The other evildoer initially hurled insults at Christ (Matt.27:44), but later changed his mind and believed (Luke 23:39-43). His was the cross of reception.

Each cross carried a message. One Man died for sins, in the sinner’s place. One man died in his sins (John 8:24); the other man died with his sins forgiven (Acts 10:43).

Our Lord once predicted that when He would be lifted up on the cross. He would draw all men unto Himself (John 12:32-33). A magnet attracts metal; the center cross attracts all mankind. All men are drawn to the center cross where a decision must be made.

We each must answer this question: What will I do with Jesus who is called the Christ? (Matthew 27:22). Will I receive Him or reject Him? Which evildoer will I imitate? All men are drawn to the center cross where they must consider the crucified One and decide what they will do with Him. We can see the cross as foolishness or we can see the cross as the wisdom and power of God (1 Corinthians 1:18, 24).

We can receive Him or reject Him. Our decision will determine our destiny.

George Zeller: www.middletownbiblechurch.org

 

Gentle and Lowly

This excerpt is from the first chapter of a book that someone from my church recommended during a difficult time in my life. We can’t undo things we’ve said or done in the past that harmed people or things they said that harmed us . People quote Philippians 3:13-14 and say, “Well, what’s past is past” or “Just look to the Lord and the future.” They mean well, but that’s hardly a comfort when feelings are raw and emotional pain is real.

I turn to Hebrews 4:14-16 when things grow darkest and remind myself that Jesus Christ, our High Priest and Intercessor in Heaven, also suffered intense emotional rejection and sympathizes with our pain and suffering.

The author of the book from which this is an excerpt uses the ESV translation of the Bible which I find acceptable, although not preferred. May the Lord bless you with these words.

 

“…in only one place—perhaps the most wonderful words ever uttered by human lips—do we hear Jesus himself open up to us his very heart:

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light (Matthew 11:28-30 – ESV).

“In the one place in the Bible where the Son of God pulls back the veil and lets us peer way down into the core of who he is, we are not told that he is “austere and demanding in heart.” We are not told that he is “exalted and dignified in heart.” We are not even told that he is “joyful and generous in heart.”

“One thing to get straight right from the start is that when the Bible speaks of the heart, whether Old Testament or New, it is not speaking of our emotional life only but of the central animating center of all we do. It is what gets us out of the bed in the morning and what we daydream about as we drift off to sleep. It is our motivation headquarters. The heart, in biblical terms, is not part of who we are but the center of who we are. Our heart is what defines and directs us. That is why Solomon tells us to ““Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life” (Proverbs 4:23). The heart is the matter of life. It is what makes us the human being that each of us is. The heart drives all we do. It is who we are.

“And when Jesus tells us what animates him most deeply, what is most true of him—when he exposes the innermost recesses of his being—what we find there is gentle and lowly.”

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From Gentle and Lowly – The Heart of Christ for Sinners and Sufferers, by Dane Ortland, Crossway Boks, 2020