Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Resisting the Holy Spirit

Today’s Life Journal Reading:  Exodus 28-29; Acts 7
Topic: Hearing and Obeying

SCRIPTURE:  Acts 7:51

"You stiff-necked people, with uncircumcised hearts and ears! You are just like your fathers: You always resist the Holy Spirit!”  (Acts 7:51 NIV)


In the seventh chapter of Acts we read of the martyrdom of Stephen the Deacon. Previous to verse 51, we see Stephen, “a man full of God’s grace and power,” who was doing “great wonders and miraculous signs among the people” (v. 8), being seized by Jewish leaders (members of the Synagogue of the Freedmen) who “could not stand up against his wisdom or the Spirit by whom he spoke” (v. 10). With false witnesses and charges, Stephen was dragged before the ruling body, the Sanhedrin, where he proceeded to outline the story of the Jewish people. A more lucid and concise history of the Hebrew people you will not find in the Bible.

It was the conclusion of Stephen’s address that enraged the Jewish rulers. He truthfully and evidentially identified them as “stiff-necked people, with uncircumcised hearts and ears” (v. 51). The ultimate conclusion of that systemic “resisting of the Holy Spirit”—the Truth-Giver—was the murdering of the “Righteous One,” Jesus Christ.


A key point of reflection from this passage is: What is the basis of our beliefs and actions? The Freedmen’s name seems to be a misnomer. They were anything but free. They were bound by their tradition and their pride. They could not and would not accept anything new or different from how they had been taught—how they interpreted things should be. They were locked in a theological box of their own making from which they refused to escape. The same thing is true in the Church today to a large degree.  Why are we so hell-bent on doing things the same way as always?  Why does anything new or different upset us?  Why do we so resist change? Or, on the other hand, why do we pursue change just to be trendy?

The Holy Spirit was bringing fresh revelation to the world of Stephen’s day, not to do away with the Law and the prophets but, to bring enlightenment as to their fulfillment.   

What fresh revelation does the Holy Spirit want to give us now? The reflective question is this: How often are we (am I) guilty of resisting the Holy Spirit? Are we (am I) open and listening and obedient to God’s voice?    

This is a topic that can certainly spark impassioned debate and give rise to even more theological questions, but Stephen’s Holy Spirit inspired words should give us pause for honest reflection.  


Lord, may I and the people I lead never be guilty of resisting Your Holy Spirit.
For our own best and for Your glory, in Christ’s name.  Amen.  -AP

Monday, January 30, 2017

Team Building

Today’s Bible Reading:  Exodus 25-27, Acts 6
Topic: Wisdom

SCRIPTURE:  Acts 6:2-4

2 Then the twelve summoned the multitude of the disciples and said, “It is not desirable that we should leave the word of God and serve tables. 3 Therefore, brethren, seek out from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business; 4 but we will give ourselves continually to prayer and to the ministry of the word.”  (Acts 6:2-4 NKJV).


The apostles recognized the importance of organization and order.  They knew the value of team building and teamwork.  The Holy Spirit was indeed moving and the Church was experiencing phenomenal growth.  They needed Holy Spirit inspired wisdom to accommodate the growth and facilitate the continued move of the Holy Spirit.  They had to more specifically define their own role and enlist team members to take care of other necessary responsibilities.  They were learning to lead with the help of the Holy Spirit. 


As an organizational leader and consultant, I must replicate and teach this lesson.


Lord, give me Holy Spirit inspired wisdom as You did the apostles.  May the churches and organizations and developing leaders I serve seek and receive that wisdom also.

For Your glory, in Christ’s name.  Amen.  -AP

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Stand for Right

(repost from 1/29/2009)
Today’s Bible Reading:  Exodus 23-24, Psalm 14, Acts 5
Topic: Integrity

SCRIPTURE:  Exodus 23:2, Acts 5:29

Do not follow the crowd in doing wrong. When you give testimony in a lawsuit, do not pervert justice by siding with the crowd. (Ex 23:2 NIV)

But Peter and the other apostles answered and said: “We ought to obey God rather than men.”  (Acts 5:29 NKJV)


This verse in Exodus speaks of the importance of individualism and individual personal integrity. Individuals are responsible to know right from wrong and to do right regardless of the majority. There is no excuse of, "Everybody else did it" or "Everyone else thinks this way" - No! You stand up for what's right period, and do not be swayed by the crowd mentality. The apostles had to stand up with this type of integrity when they did not give in to the heavy-handed intimidation tactics of the Sanhedrin and said, "We must obey God rather than men!" (Acts 5:29 NIV)


I must always stand up for what's right. I must never allow the mentality of the crowd to be an excuse for my inaction. "I" am the one responsible to do and act and speak and fight for what is right.


Lord, give me the strength, courage and wisdom to stand for right.
In Jesus' name.  Amen.  -AP

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Of One Heart and Soul

Today’s Bible Reading:  Exodus 21-22, Psalm 12, Acts 4
Topic: Unity

SCRIPTURE:  Acts 4:31-32

32 Now the multitude of those who believed were of one heart and one soul…
(Acts 4:31-32 NKJV)


This is a remarkable statement.  The concept of being of one heart and soul is entirely foreign to the American culture.  Oh, there may be a married couple here or there that seem to have achieved that oneness, but a “multitude”—thousands of people experiencing a deep inner oneness with each other—unheard of!  How did these early Christians achieve this?  Was it the commonality of the persecution they faced together?  Perhaps to some degree, but I think the real source of their unity is found in verse 31: 

31 And when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness.

They were all filled with the Holy Spirit!


Real unity in the Church may only be realized amongst believers who have genuinely been filled with God’s Holy Spirit.  This I must teach and preach and contend for.  Yet this I can only pray and hope for.


Lord, send a fresh wind of Your Holy Spirit to Your Church.  Make us willing to receive.
Through Christ.  Amen.  -AP

Friday, January 27, 2017

My Calling

Today’s Bible Reading:  Exodus 17-20, Acts 3
Topic: Calling

SCRIPTURE:  Exodus 18:13-23 (particularly verses 19 & 20)

20 And you shall TEACH them the statutes and the laws and SHOW them the way in which they must walk and the work they must do.
(Ex 18:19-20 NKJV – emphasis mine)


Three key callings to me as a pastor are given here:
1) I am to intercede in prayer for the people in my care.
2) I am to teach them the Word of God.
3) I am to mentor others to take leadership.


This whole passage in which Moses' father-in-law Jethro advises him is another place in God's Word of His calling to me:
- Teamwork in ministry
- Develop leaders
- Equip leaders
- Release leaders
Equipping the saints for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the Body of Christ. (Eph 4:12)

My mission and the mission of the church is to...
- ...REACH the lost and hurting (outreach)
- ...REGARD people with love and care (nurture and charity)
- ...READY believers to do the work of the ministry (teach, mentor, coach, show)
- ...RELEASE disciples to do the work they are called to do (let them do it, teamwork)


Lord, help me to fulfill this calling more effectively day by day, week by week, year by year until You come again or call me home. Amen.  -AP

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Opened Eyes

Today’s Bible Reading:  Exodus 14-16, Acts 2
Topic: Faith

SCRIPTURE:  Exodus 14:20

So it (the pillar of cloud) came between the camp of the Egyptians and the camp of Israel. Thus it was a cloud and darkness to the one, and it gave light by night to the other, so that the one did not come near the other all that night. (Ex 14:20 NKJV)


To the Egyptians the presence of God, manifested by the pillar of cloud, created darkness; to the Israelites, it provided light. This incident was by all means a supernatural phenomenon—darkness to one and light to the other. But I wonder if what is described here and seen in the physical realm is not also a picture of reality in the spiritual realm. God is omnipresent yet those without faith, who do not believe in Him, remain in darkness. The Light is present but they still do not see. It is as though lack of faith is a closed eyelid, like a puppy before its eyes are opened.


I must not sleep spiritually. I must not be an immature puppy spiritually. I must exercise my faith and thus keep my eyes opened.


I pray that the Light will dispel the darkness which holds so many captive. May they come to believe and by faith have their eyes opened. In Jesus' name.  Amen.  -AP

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Do My Part, Not God's

Today’s Bible Reading:  Exodus 12-13, Psalm 21, Acts 1
Topic: Witnessing

SCRIPTURE:  Acts 1:7-8

7 And He (Jesus) said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority. 8 But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me… (Acts 1:7-8 NKJV).


This passage is well known and often quoted by Pentecostals.  As I read this again today, I am struck with this message:  “Do what you are called to do and let God do the rest.”  There are some things about God and His purview that are unknowable and incomprehensible to man; therefore, don’t guess (v. 7).  Concern yourself rather with those things God has made clear to you to do—those things He has empowered you for — for instance, being a “witness” to Him (v. 8).


I must study God’s Word and commune with Him continually that I may know Him and his ways better day by day.  What I gain of knowledge and understanding I must convey to others clearly with His help.  But I must avoid conjecture and realize that some knowledge is beyond me.


Lord, make me a blessed witness for You. 

In Jesus’ name and for Christ’s sake.  Amen.  -AP

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

No Compromise -- "Not a Hoof"

Today’s Bible Reading:  Exodus 9-11, Luke 24
Topic: Obedience

SCRIPTURE:  Exodus 10:26

Our livestock shall also go with us; not a hoof shall be left behind. (Exodus 10:26 a)


As things got worse and worse for Pharaoh and Egypt during the plagues, Pharaoh employed a common political tactic - negotiate for a compromise. But when it comes to the commands of the Lord we learn an important and invaluable lesson in this verse: "Not a hoof!" God's command and will was that "all" Israel be set free - every man, woman, child and possession! Pharaoh tried to persuade Moses to compromise - first to leave the women and children behind, then to leave some of the livestock. Moses knew that to compromise God's command would lead to death and destruction. "NO! 'All' of Israel will go - every person, young or old, every possession, every beast - NOT A HOOF shall be left behind. We will not compromise!"


What was true for Moses and the Israelites is true for me today.  There are many ways in which followers of Christ can and should be conciliatory.  There are matters of culture and contemporary realities to which I can and, in some case, even should adapt in order to reach some.  There are matters of Church tradition which I must recognize as such and not treat as dogma.  However, when it comes to God’s commands, there must be no compromise. 


Lord, to compromise You—to dilute Your ways at all—is an abomination. Give me the wisdom to recognize the difference between Divine command and human dogma.  Give me the strength and resolve to never compromise You or myself. In Jesus' name. Amen.  -AP

Monday, January 23, 2017

Women -- the Stronger Sex

Today’s Bible Reading:  Exodus 6-8, Luke 23
Topic: Commitment

SCRIPTURE:  Luke 23:27

And a great multitude of the people followed Him, and women who also mourned and lamented Him.  (Luke 23:27 NKJV)


When Jesus was taken and mocked and beaten; when He was unjustly tried and crucified, it was the women who stayed close by and followed after Him.  The men, with the exception of John, scattered and hid.  Peter denied the Lord, but the women openly displayed their love and devotion to Him.


It strikes me that most of the men in our society today are likewise wimpy cowards.  In most churches, the majority of the work, ministry and standing up for Jesus is done by women.  Where are the men?  Why are there not more men like John?  Where is the courage?  It would do many men well to learn at the feet of women.


Father, may I and millions of other men gain the courage to stand up for Jesus.  May we not lord it over our women, but humbly learn lessons in strength from them.

In Jesus’ name.  Amen.  -AP

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Do Not Delay to Obey

Today’s Bible Reading:  Exodus 3-5, Luke 22
Topic: Obedience

SCRIPTURE:  Exodus 4:24-25

24 And it came to pass on the way, at the encampment, that the LORD met him (Moses) and sought to kill him. 25 Then Zipporah took a sharp stone and cut off the foreskin of her son and cast it at Moses' feet, and said, "Surely you are a husband of blood to me!"
(Ex 4:24-25 NKJV)


Evidently, Moses had failed to follow the command of the Lord regarding circumcision with his own son. He is about to depart as God's spokesman to deliver and lead the children of Israel, yet he has not even complied with this basic requirement of God. Well, God dramatically gets the message across. I wonder why Zipporah does the circumcision rather than Moses himself? Perhaps it was Zipporah who had resisted the circumcision; it would not have been the practice of her people. Whatever the reasons, now to save her husband's life she begrudgingly complies.


The lesson to me from this passage is to never put off or delay in doing what God commands me to do.


Lord, help me to hear and understand Your commands to me clearly, and give me the strength and resolve to comply without delay. Through Jesus Christ.  Amen.  -AP

Saturday, January 21, 2017

When is it Okay to Lie?

Today’s Bible Reading:  Exodus 1-2, Psalm 88, Luke 21
Topic: Fear of God

SCRIPTURE:  Exodus 1:17-21

17 But the midwives feared God, and did not do as the king of Egypt commanded them, but saved the male children alive. 18 So the king of Egypt called for the midwives and said to them, "Why have you done this thing, and saved the male children alive?"

19 And the midwives said to Pharaoh, "Because the Hebrew women are not like the Egyptian women; for they are lively and give birth before the midwives come to them."

20 Therefore God dealt well with the midwives, and the people multiplied and grew very mighty. 21 And so it was, because the midwives feared God, that He provided households for them.  (Ex 1:17-21 NKJV)


Previous to these verses, Pharaoh had ordered the midwives to kill any male Hebrew babies as soon as they were born (v. 16).  When we come to verses 17-19 we find that the midwives apparently lied to pharaoh. Because they feared God more than pharaoh, they lied. It was likely true that the Hebrew women were more "lively" and physically fit that the Egyptian women, but the real reason the male babies were spared was because the midwives revered God and could not kill innocent human life. Is lying okay then in certain cases?


God's commandment actually says, "Do not bear false witness against your neighbor" (Ex 20:16). But yes, the midwives were not entirely truthful to Pharaoh.  The real issue here, however, is not to justify lying. The real principle to take away from this passage is to revere God above all else.


My God, I declare my allegiance to You and Your principles. Help me to stand for Your righteousness even in the face of evil. Through Jesus Christ.  Amen.  -AP

Friday, January 20, 2017

A Place of Favor and Honor

Today’s Bible Reading:  Genesis 49-50, Psalm 8, Luke 20
Topic: Honor

SCRIPTURE:  Genesis 49:29-33

29 Then he (Jacob) charged them (his sons) and said to them: “I am to be gathered to my people; bury me with my fathers in the cave that is in the field of Ephron the Hittite, 30 in the cave that is in the field of Machpelah, which is before Mamre in the land of Canaan, which Abraham bought with the field of Ephron the Hittite as a possession for a burial place. 31 There they buried Abraham and Sarah his wife, there they buried Isaac and Rebekah his wife, and there I buried Leah. 32 The field and the cave that is there were purchased from the sons of Heth.” 33 And when Jacob had finished commanding his sons, he drew his feet up into the bed and breathed his last, and was gathered to his people.
(Gen 49:29-33 NKJV)


I never noticed before that Leah, not Rachel, was given the honor of being buried in the family burial place. Rachel was the favored wife whom Jacob loved. Leah, the unloved and set aside, actually bore Jacob more sons because God looked with compassion upon her (Gen 29:31). I wonder if there is a parallel between Jacob & Esau and Rachel & Leah? Esau sold his birthright for a bowl of porridge and ultimately lost his father's blessing as well. I wonder if Rachel didn't sell her favor for some mandrakes (Gen 30:14-19), and lose her place of honor by bringing idols into the family (Gen 31:19, 34-35)?


The key lesson here for me is that one must not take the Lord’s favor lightly.  Yet, putting Him in first place is not merely a formula for currying His favor.  God knows my heart, and it is He who will bring me favor, blessing and honor as He chooses.


Lord, forgive me of my trespasses and weaknesses. May I find favor in Your sight and ever bring You honor.  It is You Lord who establish my place. I praise You and thank You. In Christ Jesus.  Amen.  -AP

Thursday, January 19, 2017

The Blessings He Chooses

(reposted from 2009 & 4/6/2014) A favorite post - See more comments on those dates

20169-01-11 Today’s Reading: Genesis 47-48, Psalm 10, Luke 19

Title: “The Blessing He Chooses”
Topic: Humility

SCRIPTURE: Genesis 48:13-19

13 And Joseph took them both, Ephraim with his right hand toward Israel's left hand, and Manasseh with his left hand toward Israel's right hand, and brought them near him. 14 Then Israel stretched out his right hand and laid it on Ephraim's head, who was the younger, and his left hand on Manasseh's head, guiding his hands knowingly, for Manasseh was the firstborn. 15 And he blessed Joseph, and said:

"God, before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac walked, the God who has fed me all my life long to this day, 16 the Angel who has redeemed me from all evil, bless the lads;
let my name be named upon them, and the name of my fathers Abraham and Isaac;
and let them grow into a multitude in the midst of the earth."

17 Now when Joseph saw that his father laid his right hand on the head of Ephraim, it displeased him; so he took hold of his father's hand to remove it from Ephraim's head to Manasseh's head. 18 And Joseph said to his father, "Not so, my father, for this one is the firstborn; put your right hand on his head."

19 But his father refused and said, "I know, my son, I know. He also shall become a people, and he also shall be great; but truly his younger brother shall be greater than he, and his descendants shall become a multitude of nations."
(Gen 48:13-19 NKJV)

Joseph placed his sons in the order he wanted them blessed. He came for a blessing with his own agenda. He had his own idea of what he wanted. Israel (Jacob) intentionally reversed the blessings. Why? It could have been because he was once the younger of two brothers and yet ended up receiving the greater blessing. It could have been that he prophetically knew which blessings were to be given to each son.

Whatever Jacob's reasons may have been for intentionally crossing his hands and reversing the blessings, the lesson to me is to never come before the Lord seeking His approval of my agenda. My only agenda must be to pursue His agenda. I must humbly seek to know His will and faithfully follow after it.

Lord, I seek Your blessing alone—the blessing You have determined to give me. Help me to ever know and walk in Your will.
Through Christ Jesus. Amen. -AP

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Blessings TODAY

Today’s Bible Reading:  Genesis 44-46, Luke 18
Topic: Prayer

SCRIPTURE:  Luke 18:1-30 (particularly verses 1, 7-8, 29-30)

1 … men always ought to pray and not lose heart.
7 …shall God not avenge His own elect who cry out day and night to Him, though He bears long with them? 8 I tell you that He will avenge them speedily
29 …there is no one who has left house or parents or brothers or wife or children, for the sake of the kingdom of God, 30 who shall not receive many times more in this present time, and in the age to come eternal life.” (NKJV) (emphasis mine).


The word, “speedily” (v. 8) and the phrase, “in this present time” (v. 30) caught my attention as I was reading today’s Bible passages.  In these words from Jesus, He gives us the admonition to keep persisting in prayer to God.  The parable He tells of the widow who continually and repeatedly laments to the heartless judge until he gives her justice, is much like the old adage, “the squeaky wheel gets the most grease.” 

The promise here to God’s children—“His own elect”—(v. 7), is that they will receive answers “speedily” (v. 8).  Furthermore, the Lord promises that whatever was sacrificed to serve Him will be returned with blessings of “many times more” today—“in this present time” (v. 30).   


In the parable of the persistent widow, Jesus describes a judge who has neither care for God nor for people.  Yet, because of the widow’s continual and unrelenting petitions before him, he basically gave in to her demands just to get her off his back.  Jesus then tells us the point of the story—the point for His elect—the point for those who have become His children by believing in Him and receiving His gift of salvation—the point for you if you are a believer—the point for me:

He says to notice what the unjust judge did—how he ruled in favor of the persistent widow.  How much more then, He says, should you trust in God to avenge you when you persistently cry out to Him day and night?  Yes, He will avenge you quickly (vv. 7-8).

Furthermore, in addition to receiving eternal life in the age to come, I am promised multiplied blessings today, on this side of heaven, in return for all I have given up to follow Him (vv. 29-30). 


Lord, thank You for the encouragement that I may—and indeed should—continually and repeatedly offer the cries of my heart before You.  Thank You for the promise that You will avenge me and mine today.  Thank You for the promise of blessings that are not postponed for the life to come, but that may be realized today. 

In light of these truths and with Your help, may I rest in anxiety free peace, knowing that I and my affairs are in Your capable hands.

Through Your grace in Christ.  Amen.  -AP

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Bigotry - WHY?

Today’s Bible Reading:  Genesis 42-43, Psalm 5, Luke 17
Topic: God's Love

SCRIPTURE:  Genesis 43:32

"So they (the Egyptian servants) set him (Joseph) a place by himself, and them (Joseph's brothers) by themselves, and the Egyptians who ate with him by themselves; because the Egyptians could not eat food with the Hebrews, for that is an abomination to the Egyptians." (Gen 42:32 NKJV)


What is it within mankind that constantly wants to exalt himself and his tribe or culture or ethnicity above others? The Egyptians thought they were "above" eating with Hebrews. The Hebrews felt they were "above" association with Gentiles. The Greeks, the Romans and others believed they were superior to other peoples. By race or social status or religion or gender or nationality or, or, or…, bigotry permeates the entire history of mankind it seems.


My patience and understanding extends far and to divers types of men and women. But I have no understanding of, nor give any place for, bigotry. God loves all men and women - period!! Therefore, so must I and so do I! 


Father, I pray against the spirit of bigotry and prejudice, especially in Your Church. May we see and love all men and women as You do.
Through Christ.  Amen.  -AP

Monday, January 16, 2017

Resisting Day by Day

(repost of  Jan 16, 2009)
Today’s Bible Reading:  Genesis 39-41, Luke 16
Topic: Temptation

SCRIPTURE:  Genesis 39:7-10

7 And it came to pass... that his master's wife cast longing eyes on Joseph, and she said, "Lie with me."
8 But he refused...
10 So it was, as she spoke to Joseph day by day, that he did not heed her to lie with her or be with her.  (Gen 39:7-10 NKJV)


Joseph was confronted with a temptation and it wasn't a one time temptation to sin, but "day by day" (v. 10) Potiphar's wife prodded and urged and presented the temptation to Joseph. Joseph had to resist and keep resisting. For many people that is how Satan works - he keeps on tempting them especially in areas where they are weak. His plan is that at some point, after continually being offered the means and the opportunity, they will grow weary of resisting, give in, and fall into the sin. Joseph didn't give in; Joseph did not fall, he held to his integrity and convictions.

Joseph is an example to me. It IS possible to continually resist sin, even in the areas where I am the weakest and most susceptible to fall. When I am weary or discouraged or weak, I can still yet resist temptations placed before me.

May I have the resolve to continually resist the devil, that he flee from me (James 4:7). Lord, grant me that help in Jesus' name.  Amen.  -AP

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Assuring My Defense

Today’s Bible Reading:  Genesis 37-38, Psalm 7, Luke 15
Topic: Integrity

SCRIPTURE:  Psalm 7 (particularly verses 8 & 10)

8 …Judge me, O LORD, according to my righteousness, and according to my integrity within me.
10 My defense is of God, Who saves the upright in heart.


Psalm 7 is a Psalm of David.  In verses 3-5 David says to the Lord, “IF there is iniquity in my hands, IF I have repaid evil to him who was at peace with me, or have plundered without cause, let my enemies defeat and kill me” (paraphrased).  It was because David knew his heart was “upright” (v. 10) that he could say this.  David knew that if the Lord judged him according to his “righteousness” and “integrity” (v. 8), he would be saved.


When I live my life with complete honesty and integrity, when I am faultless before the Lord, I can expect His protection and provision.  And if there is ought in my life, it behooves me to repent immediately that I not come out from under the Lord’s protection.


May I ever live my life so as to know the Lord’s defense is mine. 

Through Christ.  Amen.  -AP

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Honesty about Motives

Today’s Bible Reading:  Genesis 34-36, Luke 14
Topic: Honesty

SCRIPTURE:  Genesis 34:13-29

15 "...If you will become as we are, if every male of you is circumcised, 16 then... we will dwell with you and we will become one people." (Gen 34:15-16)

19 Shechem "...did not delay to do the thing..." 24 "...every male was circumcised..." (Gen 34:19,24)

25 "...on the third day, when they were in pain... Simeon and Levi... each took his sword and... killed all the males." 27 ...and plundered the city..." (Gen 34:25, 27)


What a sad chapter in the history of Israel. Simeon and Levi practiced the art of deception and dishonesty - a trait perhaps learned by the example of their father, Jacob. They were not even honest about their motives to supposedly vindicate their defiled sister Dinah who, by the way, was apparently happy to become Shechem's wife. Their real motives were hatred and greed, as evidenced by their plundering.


One must always ask oneself, "Do I act on godly, righteous motives or selfish motives? Am I driven by a desire to do the will of God or by selfish lust? Am I motivated by the virtues of God such as love and righteousness, or am I prompted by evil arrogance and hatred?" Be honest with yourself and be willing to repent of untoward motives.

Lord, keep me from hatred and selfish desires. Reveal any deviance within me. May I ever be motivated by righteousness and godly principles. In Jesus' name. Amen.  -AP

Friday, January 13, 2017

To Live or Perish

To Live or Perish

2016-01-13 Today’s Reading: Genesis 31-33, Luke 13

Title: “To Live or Perish”
Topic: Repentance

SCRIPTURE: Luke 13:3 & 5

Jesus said… “…unless you repent you will all likewise perish.”

In Luke 13 Jesus repeats this phrase twice (verses 3 & 5). The message is clear, repentance is undeniably necessary for salvation— “Unless you repent you will… perish.”
What are the theological ramifications of this doctrine? Does this negate the doctrine of salvation by grace? In no way! Salvation is only available to me by God’s love and grace—I don’t deserve it and I can’t earn it. But neither can I consider it my rightful entitlement just because it is free, without any acknowledgment or intention on my part to change—to turn away from sin—to turn toward God—to repent.

To say, “I believe in Jesus; I believe He died on the cross for my sins, but I have no intention what-so-ever of following Him or changing the way I live in any way,” is not to be saved, but rather to seal one’s doom. Jesus says that if you are not willing to repent, you will perish. A sobering theological truth to be reflectively balanced with the gospel of grace.

Lord, help me to teach the theological truths of Your Word always in proper balance.
For the sake of Christ and in His name— Amen. -AP

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Peace in the Face of Opposition

2016-01-12 Today’s Reading: Genesis 29-30, Luke 12

Title: “Peace in the Face of Opposition”
Topic: Peace

SCRIPTURE: Luke 12:11-12

Jesus says…
11 “Now when they bring you to the synagogues and magistrates and authorities, do not worry about how or what you should answer, or what you should say. 12 For the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say.”

Two things strike me about this passage:

- First, when you take a stand for Jesus Christ, it is almost a forgone conclusion that you will face opposition by some kind of “authorities.” Don’t be surprised when opposition comes, because it will!

- Secondly, Don’t worry about it— “What will I do? How should I defend myself? What should I say?” Jesus says, “do not worry about it” (v. 11).

As we are living in the Lord; as we are serving the Lord; as we are proclaiming Him, we should be experiencing His joy and resting in His peace. When opposition comes against me for His name’s sake, He will be my defender. I do not need to rehearse a pre-planned defense or occupy my mind with “what if” scenarios. I may rest assured that when the time comes, the Holy Spirit will show me what to say.

Thank You Lord for the joy I have in serving You. Help me to always put my trust in You and to rest peacefully in Your care. I thank You for the many times I have already experienced the enlightenment of Your Holy Spirit with the words to say in various situations. When opposition comes, may I continually trust in Your help, as I dedicate myself to Your service. Through Christ, Amen. -AP

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Ask, Seek, Knock, Persist

Ask, Seek, Knock, Persist

2016-01-11 Today’s Reading: Genesis 27-28, Psalm 4, Luke 11

Title: “Ask, Seek, Knock, Persist”
Topic: Persistence

SCRIPTURE: Luke 11:5-10

5 And He (Jesus) said to them, “Which of you shall have a friend, and go to him at midnight and say to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves; 6 for a friend of mine has come to me on his journey, and I have nothing to set before him’; 7 and he will answer from within and say, ‘Do not trouble me; the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give to you’? 8 I say to you, though he will not rise and give to him because he is his friend, yet because of his persistence he will rise and give him as many as he needs. 9 “So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 10 For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.

We seldom include verse 8 when reciting the oft quoted verses 9 and 10 of this passage in Luke. Verse 8 points out that merely relying on friendship and asking for help once when you are in need is not enough—PERSISTENCE in your asking, seeking and knocking is what gets results. The element of proper persistence must not be overlooked in our prayers of petition before the Lord. We may need to ask, seek and knock with more alacrity and tenacity.

This passage begs the question of how committed I am to seeing results and receiving answers to my prayers? How sincerely do I ask of the Lord? How earnestly do I seek Him? How urgently do I knock at the doors of heaven? Does my persistence comport with the importance of my requests, or does my lack of persistence belie my sincerity?

Father, I honor and revere You above all else. May my communion with You be ever pleasing, and may I learn to express my needs before You with proper persistence in all reverence. In Jesus’ Name. Amen. -AP

Tuesday, January 10, 2017


(repost from March 9, 2014)

Today’s Reading: Genesis 25-26, Psalm 6, Luke 10

Title: “Progress”
Topic: Perseverance

SCRIPTURE: Genesis 26:18

And Isaac dug again the wells of water which they had dug in the days of Abraham his father, for the Philistines had stopped them up after the death of Abraham. He called them by the names which his father had called them. (Gen 26:18 NKJV)

Why did the wells have to dug again? If the work that had already been done had been looked after, protected and cared for it seems there would have been no need to duplicate the effort. Indeed, isn't that how progress is thwarted - by having to re-do and re-discover rather than building upon what has already been established? Thank God Isaac knew where the wells had been and what they were called or they might never have been restored.

It behooves me to know the lessons of my predecessors, to protect the good that has already been established, to strip away only that which has been tainted by the enemy and to build upon the good foundation previously ordained by God.

Lord, give me the wisdom to discern these things and the strength and courage to keep building and progressing. In Christ - Amen. -AP

Monday, January 9, 2017

Success Assured

2016-01-09 Today’s Reading: Genesis 23-24, Luke 9

Title: “Success Assured”
Topic: Obedience

SCRIPTURE: Genesis 24:7 & 40

7 The LORD… will send His angel before you…

40 …The LORD… will send His angel with you and prosper your way…

Abraham sent his chief servant on a mission to find a wife for Isaac. The servant was concerned about whether he would succeed or fail in that mission. The reassurance that Abraham gave his servant is reassurance to me for the mission God has called me to: "The Lord will send His angel with you and will prosper your way."

I am the servant of my Lord. All I need do is obey His command to go where He says and do what He says. I am assured that I will not be alone and that HE will prosper me and the mission to which He has charged me.

Lord, thank You for Your word of assurance to me today. I commit to obey Your direction. I believe You for prosperity and success to Reach, Regard, Ready and Release.
Through Christ. Amen. -AP

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Only Believe

2016-01-08 Today’s Reading: Genesis 20-22, Luke 8

Title: “Only Believe”
Topic: Faith

SCRIPTURE: Genesis 22:6-8 & Luke 8:50

6 So Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering and laid it on Isaac his son; and he took the fire in his hand, and a knife, and the two of them went together. 7 But Isaac spoke to Abraham his father and said, “My father!”
And he said, “Here I am, my son.”
Then he said, “Look, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?”
8 And Abraham said, “My son, God will provide for Himself the lamb for a burnt offering.” So the two of them went together.
 (Genesis 22:6-8)

Jesus said, “Do not be afraid, only believe...” (Luke 8:50)

When God told Abraham to sacrifice his only son Isaac as a burnt offering, Abraham did not argue. He proceeded to obey, apparently believing that God is good and would provide a lamb as a substitute for Isaac; but he didn't hesitate to obey. What tremendous faith!

Faith is like a catalyst that activates the power of God to provide miracles. This is what Jesus taught us. When Jarius' daughter died, the facts of the matter said it was too late, she was gone, she was dead. But, Jesus said, “Believe and she will rise up and be well” (Luke 8:50).

What a challenge this is to me to have faith and believe God no matter what things may look like.

Lord I believe! Please help my unbelief. Grant unto me the measure of the gift of faith when You deem it is needed, give me wisdom and discernment to recognize when that is, and give me courage to act upon that faith.

By Your Holy Spirit and through Jesus Christ - Amen. -AP

Saturday, January 7, 2017

He Lifts My Head

(Reposted from 2009)

2016-01-07 Today’s Reading: Genesis 18-19, Psalm 3, Luke 7

Title: “He Lifts My Head”
Topic: Faith

SCRIPTURE: Psalm 3:1-8

A Psalm of David when he fled from Absalom his son.

1 LORD, how they have increased who trouble me! 
Many are they who rise up against me. 
2 Many are they who say of me, 
“There is no help for him in God.” Selah

3 But You, O LORD, are a shield for me, 
My glory and the One who lifts up my head. 
4 I cried to the LORD with my voice, 
And He heard me from His holy hill. Selah

5 I lay down and slept; 
I awoke, for the LORD sustained me. 
6 I will not be afraid of ten thousands of people 
Who have set themselves against me all around. 

7 Arise, O LORD; 
Save me, O my God! 
For You have struck all my enemies on the cheekbone; 
You have broken the teeth of the ungodly. 
8 Salvation belongs to the LORD. 
Your blessing is upon Your people. Selah 

On first reading this psalm it may seem to be a dichotomy. David laments his troubles, “My enemies have increased” (v.1). Yet he rejoices in the Lord’s protection and salvation (vv.7-8). Both seem to be written in the present tense. Is it that the latter is a statement of fact and the former a statement of faith? David was able to see the solution to his troubles while still in the midst of them.

At the time King David wrote Psalm 3, he was being pursued by enemies within his own kingdom and household. Yet his faith in the Lord remained great. He recognized the protection of the Lord, “…a shield for me” (v.3). Though he was king, he remained humble. Whatever honor he received, he recognized was due to the Lord, “You Lord are my glory, and the One who lifts my head” (v.3). Verse 3 also seems to be saying that, even when you are despised by men, if you remain faithful to the Lord, you can hold your head up high.

As I write this, I am personally facing a number of trials. I need to see, as David did, my help and salvation from God. I must only be obedient and faithful to the Lord, and He will bring whatever honor is due me—He will lift my head.

Lord, You are MY shield too. In You I see advancement, not defeat! I love You Lord and resolve to serve You with complete abandon. You will take care of me—of this I am assured.
Thank You Lord. Amen. -AP 

Friday, January 6, 2017

To Be Like Jesus

(reposted from 2009)

2016-01-06 Today’s Reading: Genesis 15-17, Luke 6

Title: “To Be Like Jesus”
Topic: Discipleship

SCRIPTURE: Luke 6:40

40 A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone who is perfectly trained (trained well) will be like his teacher. (parentheses mine)

This is the goal—to be like Jesus. I have three observations in regard to this verse:

First, Jesus is my Master—my Teacher. I am most certainly not above my teacher and I want to be His disciple, I want to be “like” Him.

Secondly, who am I discipling? Am I giving those whom I teach “good” training? If those I teach become “like” me, will that be a good thing?

Finally, the first part of this verse warns against arrogance. No matter how well read or how well trained and educated one may be, they will never attain to a higher level than Jesus. To believe so is folly and place oneself in danger of a great fall (see verse 49).

To follow the pattern—the example—of Christ precisely is to be like Him; that is, to do what He does, to behave as he behaves, to say what he says, to respond as He responds. This is what I need to continually aspire to. Jesus taught and preached and did many good things. He touched many people. But one of the primary things He did was to make disciples. It behooves me to become a good disciple that I may become a good discipler. I must sit at my Master’s feet that I may become as much like Him as possible, that those who follow me and try to imitate me may become like Him too.

Lord, teach me and use me. Teach me Your ways so “perfectly” that I may respond to every situation with Your mind. Help me to be a good teacher/pastor. Send me those whom I may disciple—help me find and call disciples as You did. And then give me the strength, ability and wisdom to train them well, and release them to go and do likewise. Lord, I want to be a good and faithful servant. Help me, show me, guide me I pray. Amen. -AP

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Return to the Altar

(reposted from 2014)

2016-01-05 Today’s Reading: Genesis 12-14, Luke 5

Title: “Return to the Altar”
Topic: Repentance

SCRIPTURE: Genesis 13:3-4

3 And he (Abram) went on his journey from the South as far as Bethel, to the place where his tent had been at the beginning, between Bethel and Ai, 4 to the place of the altar which he had made there at first. And there Abram called on the name of the LORD.

Abram, later called Abraham, often built altars and "called on the name of the Lord." Here we see Abram returning to a previous altar. This altar between Bethel and Ai was first built as Abram was obediently following the Lord's leading into Canaan (Gen 12:7-8). Between these two occasions at the altar we see Abram being distracted by circumstances (famine) and getting off course (into Egypt).

Sometimes we, like Abram, get off course. Like Abram, we then need to return to the starting point; that is, to the place of calling upon the name of the Lord. We must call upon Him for our direction and we must call upon Him to stay on course. And if ever we do get off course, we must repent, turn around and return to Him.

Lord, may I seek You always and only. In Jesus' name. Amen. -AP

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

God First

(reposted from 2014)

2016-01-04 Today’s Reading: Genesis 9-11, Luke 4

Title: “God First”
Topic: Pride

SCRIPTURE: Genesis 11:1-9 (particularly v. 4)

1 Now the whole earth had one language and one speech. 2 And it came to pass, as they journeyed from the east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar, and they dwelt there. 3 Then they said to one another, “Come, let us make bricks and bake them thoroughly.” They had brick for stone, and they had asphalt for mortar. 4 And they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, and a tower whose top is in the heavens; let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth.”
5 But the LORD came down to see the city and the tower which the sons of men had built. 6 And the LORD said, “Indeed the people are one and they all have one language, and this is what they begin to do; now nothing that they propose to do will be withheld from them. 7 Come, let Us go down and there confuse their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech.” 8 So the LORD scattered them abroad from there over the face of all the earth, and they ceased building the city. 9 Therefore its name is called Babel, because there the LORD confused the language of all the earth; and from there the LORD scattered them abroad over the face of all the earth.

Why did God confuse the languages at Babel? Was He afraid of man getting too advanced and strong (v.6)? God afraid? Hardly! What really seems to be the issue here is the pride, arrogance and selfishness of man— "...let us build OURSELVES a city..." "...let us make a name for OURSELVES..."
A fundamental principle of God was violated: Be humble—honor God first—let Him exalt you. It seems to me that what happened to the people at Babel was a natural consequence of violating a godly principle.

If you want to avoid confusion in your life, remember to always put God first. Don't try to exalt yourself. Remain humble, let Him exalt you.

Thank You Lord for the reminder to keep You first in every aspect of my life. I do not need to exalt myself. I need only exalt and serve You. You will take care of the rest. Amen. -AP

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

One Man

(reposted from 2/2/14)

2016-01-03 Today’s Reading: Genesis 6-8, Luke 3

Title: “One Man”
Topic: Grace

SCRIPTURE: Genesis 4:6-7

But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord. (Gen 6:8 NKJV)

The verses previous to this tell how God was grieved and sorry that He had ever created man because all mankind had become corrupt and evil "continually." Then we come to verse 8 - thank God! One man, Noah, lived above the corruption. One man made a difference for all mankind. Oh true, all who were corrupt and evil were destroyed, but mankind was allowed to continue because one man found God's grace. One man can make a huge difference.

Am I the kind of man who can make a difference? It is the desire of my heart to live above corruption—to be a man of honesty and integrity. Through Christ I have been cleansed and purified. And now, with His help, strength and guidance, I want to be a man who makes a difference for many others.

Lord, may I, as Noah, find grace in Your eyes. In Christ's name - Amen. -AP

Monday, January 2, 2017

Dominion Over Self

January 2 Reading:  Genesis 3-5, Luke 2

Topic: Self-Control

SCRIPTURE:  Genesis 4:6-7

6 So the LORD said to Cain, “Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen? 7 If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin lies at the door. And its desire is for you, but you should rule over it.”


From the very beginning God equipped mankind with the power to resist sin—to “rule over it” (v. 7). The idea that we are helpless to live above our “animal instincts” or that that our behavior is linked entirely to our genetic make up, is just not true!

Because of the original sin of Adam, we are born in sin—that's true.  It is also true that scripture makes it clear that we are unable to save ourselves from our sin nature; that is why we need the Savior, Jesus Christ.  But it is also true that we are equipped to decide not to sin.  We need not be ruled by sin, but indeed have been created with the ability to live above sin—to rule over it and to help each other rule over it.


Just because we need to be saved from our sin nature does not mean that we have no choice but to sin.  God not only gave men and women dominion over the earth, He also gave us dominion over ourselves.  Let us recognize that dominion and exercise it with His help.


Father, help us to live to the utmost of the potential You have created in us.  May we rightly exercise the dominion you have bestowed upon mankind over creation and over ourselves.  Amen.  -AP

Sunday, January 1, 2017


January 1 Reading: Genesis 1-2, Luke 1

Topic: Responsibility

SCRIPTURE: Genesis 1:27-28

God said to the man and to the woman “...fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion... over every living thing...” (Gen 1:27-28)


This verse begs the question, "What does God mean by 'dominion'?" We often define dominion as dominance— to dominate, to conquer, to use for selfish purposes. But dominion can also mean to be responsible for— to take care of. Knowing the character and nature of God, I think I know which definition He means, don't you?

Note too, that God gave this command specifically to man AND woman. Dominion is not just a male thing, it is a balance of rulership and nurture.


Yes, God has given us (men and women) the earth to serve our needs, but that must always be done responsibly, unselfishly and in proper balance.


Lord, may I do my part in caring for Your creation responsibly. May I transmit the message of that responsibility to others whom I may influence. Amen. -AP