The Great Lord Always Shows Up In His Perfect Timing

Today’s Reading

Bibleorchid

Acts 10

While Peter is in Joppa, another story is developing a day’s journey to the north along the Mediterranean coast.

10 Cornelius, a Roman Centurion and a member of a unit called the Italian Cohort, lived in Caesarea. 2 Cornelius was an outsider, but he was a devout man—a God-fearing fellow with a God-fearing family. He consistently and generously gave to the poor, and he practiced constant prayer to God. 3 About three o’clock one afternoon, he had a vision of a messenger of God.

Messenger of God: Cornelius!

Cornelius (terrified): 4 What is it, sir?

Messenger of God: God has heard your prayers, and He has seen your kindness to the poor. God has taken notice of you. 5-6 Send men south to Joppa, to the house of a tanner named Simon. Ask to speak to a guest of his named Simon, but also called Peter. You’ll find this house near the waterfront.

7 After the messenger departed, Cornelius immediately called two of his slaves and a soldier under his command—an especially devout soldier. 8 He told them the whole story and sent them to Joppa.

9 Just as these men were nearing Joppa about noon the next day, Peter went up on the flat rooftop of Simon the tanner’s house. He planned to pray, 10 but he soon grew hungry. While his lunch was being prepared, Peter had a vision of his own—a vision that linked his present hunger with what was about to happen: 11 A rift opened in the sky, and a wide container—something like a huge sheet suspended by its four corners—descended through the torn opening toward the ground. 12 This container teemed with four-footed animals, creatures that crawl, and birds—pigs, bats, lizards, snakes, frogs, toads, and vultures.

A Voice: 13 Get up, Peter! Kill! Eat!

Peter: 14 No way, Lord! These animals are forbidden in the dietary laws of the Hebrew Scriptures! I’ve never eaten nonkosher foods like these before—not once in my life!

A Voice: 15 If God calls something permissible and clean, you must not call it forbidden and dirty!

16 Peter saw this vision three times; but the third time, the container of animals flew up through the rift in the sky, the rift healed, 17 and Peter was confused and unsettled as he tried to make sense of this strange vision.

At that very moment, Peter heard the voices of Cornelius’s delegation, who had asked for directions to Simon’s house, coming from the front gate.

Delegation: 18 Is there a man named Simon, also called Peter, staying at this house?

19-20 Peter’s mind was still racing about the vision when the voice of the Holy Spirit broke through his churning thoughts.

Holy Spirit: The three men who are searching for you have been sent by Me. So get up! Go with them. Don’t hesitate or argue.

21 Peter rushed downstairs to the men.

Peter: I’m the one you’re seeking. Can you tell me why you’ve come?

Delegation: 22 We’ve been sent by our commander and master, Cornelius. He is a Centurion, and he is a good, honest man who worships your God. All the Jewish people speak well of him. A holy messenger told him to send for you, so you would come to his home and he could hear your message.

23 Peter extended hospitality to them and gave them lodging overnight. When they departed together the next morning, Peter brought some believers from Joppa.

24 They arrived in Caesarea the next afternoon just before three o’clock. Cornelius had anticipated their arrival and had assembled his relatives and close friends to welcome them. 25 When Peter and Cornelius met, Cornelius fell at Peter’s feet in worship, 26 but Peter helped him up.

Peter: Stand up, man! I am just a human being!

27 They talked and entered the house to meet the whole crowd inside.

Peter: 28 You know I am a Jew. We Jews consider it a breach of divine law to associate, much less share hospitality, with outsiders. But God has shown me something in recent days: I should no longer consider any human beneath me or unclean. 29 That’s why I made no objection when you invited me; rather, I came willingly. Now let me hear the story of why you invited me here.

Cornelius: 30 It was about this time of day four days ago when I was here, in my house, praying the customary midafternoon prayer. Suddenly a man appeared out of nowhere. His clothes were dazzling white, and he stood directly in front of me 31 and addressed me: “Cornelius, your prayer has been heard, and your kindness to the poor has been noticed by God. 32 God wants you to find a man in Joppa, Simon who is also called Peter, who is staying at the home of a tanner named Simon, near the seaside.” 33 I wasted no time, did just as I was told, and you have generously accepted my invitation. So here we are, in the presence of God, ready to take in all that the Lord has told you to tell us.

Peter: 34 It is clear to me now that God plays no favorites, 35 that God accepts every person whatever his or her culture or ethnic background, that God welcomes all who revere Him and do right. 36 You already know that God sent a message to the people of Israel; it was a message of peace, peace through Jesus the Anointed—who is King of all people. 37 You know this message spread through Judea, beginning in Galilee where John called people to be ritually cleansed through baptism. 38 You know God identified Jesus as the uniquely chosen One by pouring out the Holy Spirit on Him, by empowering Him. You know Jesus went through the land doing good for all and healing all who were suffering under the oppression of the evil one, for God was with Him. 39 My friends and I stand as witnesses to all Jesus did in the region of Judea and the city of Jerusalem. The people of our capital city killed Him by hanging Him on a tree, 40 but God raised Him up on the third day and made it possible for us to see Him. 41 Not everyone was granted this privilege, only those of us whom God chose as witnesses. We actually ate and drank with Him after His resurrection. 42 He told us to spread His message to everyone and to tell them that He is the One whom God has chosen to be Judge, to make a just assessment of all people—both living and dead. 43 All the prophets tell us about Him and assert that every person who believes in Jesus receives forgiveness of sins through His name.

The true gospel is becoming increasingly clear as the church spreads and develops. What happens that day in Caesarea changes the face of Christianity forever. It builds a bridge from Jews to Gentiles, from insiders to outsiders, and sends the community of Jesus on a journey beyond the kind of religious and cultural barriers that all people erect. Through Peter’s short trip, the church makes an important journey toward reaching the ends of the earth because the message of Jesus is not for the Jews alone but for all people of all time. This is a hard lesson, and not everyone is eager to learn it.

44 Peter wasn’t planning to stop at this point, but the Holy Spirit suddenly interrupted and came upon all the people who were listening. 45-46 They began speaking in foreign languages (just as the Jewish disciples did on the Day of Pentecost), and their hearts overflowed in joyful praises to God. Peter’s friends from Joppa—all of them Jewish, all circumcised—were stunned to see that the gift of the Holy Spirit was poured out even on outsiders.

Peter: 47 Can anyone give any good reason not to ceremonially wash these people through baptism as fellow disciples? After all, it’s obvious they have received the Holy Spirit just as we did on the Day of Pentecost.

48 So he had them baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. The new disciples asked him to stay for several more days.

The Voice (VOICE)The Voice Bible Copyright © 2012 Thomas Nelson, Inc. The Voice™ translation © 2012 Ecclesia Bible Society All rights reserved.

JUNE 7, 2013 Delay Is Not Rejection

 God‘s timing is perfect               Delay Is Not Rejection
 
 
 
Although Jesus loved Martha, Mary, and Lazarus, he stayed where he was for the next two days and did not go to them. Finally, after two days, he said to his disciples, “Let’s go to Judea again.” 
John 11:5-7 NLT

God often delays His response out of love, as He works all things together for good. 

Jeanne Zornes

 

 

Waiting with hope
 
Mary and Martha had sent their friend Jesus a message about the critical condition of their brother, Lazarus, and their urgent need for his help: “Lord, the one you love is very sick” (John 11:3). But instead of rushing off to Bethany, Jesus stayed where he was for two days before responding to Mary and Martha’s plea. When he did arrive, he raised Lazarus from the dead in a magnificent display of his power.
Just as Mary and Martha struggled when Jesus answered their prayers for Lazarus in a time and way different from what they had expected, we get frustrated when the Lord delays in coming to us and answering our prayers.
As it did for the grieving sisters, two days (or two months or two years) of waiting can seem like an eternity to us. But in the midst of the “delay,” God is not inactive. He is teaching us patience, perseverance, and faith and is planning to glorify himself in our circumstances. While we are waiting, he wants to cleanse our hearts and refocus us on Jesus. The Spirit always knows what will glorify God, and we can trust him when we’re in the waiting room.

LORD, help me to wait for you in hope and perseverance, knowing that you will come. Grant me patience and faith in the waiting room of life yet to be.

Adapted from The One Year® Book of Praying through the Bible by Cheri Fuller, Tyndale House Publishers (2003), entry for May 20.

Content is derived from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation and other publications of Tyndale Publishing House

 

May 22, 2013 Feasts of Tabernacles

Link for Study: http://www.hebrew4christians.com/Holidays/Fall_Holidays/Sukkot/sukkot.html

John 7:1-27

Jesus Goes to the Festival of Tabernacles

7 After this, Jesus went around in Galilee. He did not want to go about in Judea because the Jewish leaders there were looking for a way to kill him. 2 But when the Jewish Festival of Tabernacles was near, 3 Jesus’ brothers said to him, “Leave Galilee and go to Judea, so that your disciples there may see the works you do. 4 No one who wants to become a public figure acts in secret. Since you are doing these things, show yourself to the world.” 5 For even his own brothers did not believe in him.

6 Therefore Jesus told them, â€œMy time is not yet here; for you any time will do. 7 The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify that its works are evil. 8 You go to the festival. I am not going up to this festival, because my time has not yet fully come.”9 After he had said this, he stayed in Galilee.

10 However, after his brothers had left for the festival, he went also, not publicly, but in secret.11 Now at the festival the Jewish leaders were watching for Jesus and asking, “Where is he?”

12 Among the crowds there was widespread whispering about him. Some said, “He is a good man.”

Others replied, “No, he deceives the people.” 13 But no one would say anything publicly about him for fear of the leaders.

Jesus Teaches at the Festival

14 Not until halfway through the festival did Jesus go up to the temple courts and begin to teach. 15 The Jews there were amazed and asked, “How did this man get such learning without having been taught?”

16 Jesus answered, â€œMy teaching is not my own. It comes from the one who sent me.17 Anyone who chooses to do the will of God will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own.18 Whoever speaks on their own does so to gain personal glory, but he who seeks the glory of the one who sent him is a man of truth; there is nothing false about him. 19 Has not Moses given you the law? Yet not one of you keeps the law. Why are you trying to kill me?”

20 “You are demon-possessed,” the crowd answered. “Who is trying to kill you?”

21 Jesus said to them, â€œI did one miracle, and you are all amazed. 22 Yet, because Moses gave you circumcision (though actually it did not come from Moses, but from the patriarchs), you circumcise a boy on the Sabbath23 Now if a boy can be circumcised on the Sabbath so that the law of Moses may not be broken, why are you angry with me for healing a man’s whole body on the Sabbath? 24 Stop judging by mere appearances, but instead judge correctly.”

Division Over Who Jesus Is

25 At that point some of the people of Jerusalem began to ask, “Isn’t this the man they are trying to kill? 26 Here he is, speaking publicly, and they are not saying a word to him. Have the authorities really concluded that he is the Messiah27 But we know where this man is from; when the Messiah comes, no one will know where he is from.”

New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

MAY 17, 2013 GOD’S WILL BE DONE

John 4:31-54

31 Meanwhile his disciples urged him, Rabbi, eat something.

32 But he said to them, I have food to eat that you know nothing about

33 Then his disciples said to each other, Could someone have brought him food?

34 My food, said Jesus, is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work. 

35 Don’t you have a saying, It’s still four months until harvest? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest. 

36 Even now the one who reaps draws a wage and harvests a crop for eternal life, so that the sower and the reaper may be glad together. 

37 Thus the saying One sows and another reaps is true.

 38 I sent you to reap what you have not worked for. Others have done the hard work, and you have reaped the benefits of their labor.

Many Samaritans Believe

39 Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, He told me everything I ever did.

 40 So when the Samaritans came to him, they urged him to stay with them, and he stayed two days. 

41 And because of his words many more became believers.

42 They said to the woman, We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Savior of the world.

Jesus Heals an Official’s Son

43 After the two days he left for Galilee.

44 (Now Jesus himself had pointed out that a prophet has no honor in his own country.)

45 When he arrived in Galilee, the Galileans welcomed him. They had seen all that he had done in Jerusalem at the Passover Festival, for they also had been there.

46 Once more he visited Cana in Galilee, where he had turned the water into wine. And there was a certain royal official whose son lay sick at Capernaum47 When this man heard that Jesus had arrived in Galilee from Judea, he went to him and begged him to come and heal his son, who was close to death.

48 Unless you people see signs and wonders Jesus told him,You will never believe.

49 The royal official said, “Sir, come down before my child dies.”

50  Go, Jesus replied, your son will live.

The man took Jesus at his word and departed.

51 While he was still on the way, his servants met him with the news that his boy was living.

52 When he inquired as to the time when his son got better, they said to him, Yesterday, at one in the afternoon, the fever left him.

53 Then the father realized that this was the exact time at which Jesus had said to him, Your son will live. So he and his whole household believed.

54 This was the second sign Jesus performed after coming from Judea to Galilee.

New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

MAY 16, 2013 Jesus Talks With a Samaritan Woman

John 4:1-30

Jesus Talks With a Samaritan Woman

4 Now Jesus learned that the Pharisees had heard that he was gaining and baptizing more disciples than John— 2 although in fact it was not Jesus who baptized, but his disciples.3 So he left Judea and went back once more to Galilee.

4 Now he had to go through Samaria5 So he came to a town in Samaria called Sychar, near the plot of ground Jacob had given to his son Joseph. 6 Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well. It was about noon.

7 When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, â€œWill you give me a drink?” 8 (His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.)

9 The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.)

10 Jesus answered her, â€œIf you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.”

11 “Sir,” the woman said, “you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? 12 Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his livestock?”

13 Jesus answered, â€œEveryone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

15 The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.”

16 He told her, â€œGo, call your husband and come back.”

17 “I have no husband,” she replied.

Jesus said to her, â€œYou are right when you say you have no husband. 18 The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true.”

19 “Sir,” the woman said, “I can see that you are a prophet. 20 Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem.”

21 “Woman,” Jesus replied, â€œbelieve me, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. 22 You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. 23 Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. 24 God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.”

25 The woman said, “I know that Messiah” (called Christ) “is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.”

26 Then Jesus declared, â€œI, the one speaking to you—I am he.”

The Disciples Rejoin Jesus

27 Just then his disciples returned and were surprised to find him talking with a woman. But no one asked, “What do you want?” or “Why are you talking with her?”

28 Then, leaving her water jar, the woman went back to the town and said to the people,29 “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Messiah?” 30 They came out of the town and made their way toward him.

New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

 

Sabbath-Keeping Stewards

Sabbath-Keeping Stewards

Mark 2:23–28

The Pharisees wanted to make the Sabbath all about showy self-denial, but Jesus reiterated that the Sabbath was a celebration of God’s graciousness and provision—whether in gathering grain or in feeding a hungry army. The Sabbath is God’s gift to us. We need rest and everything that comes with it, but we are no longer bound by refraining from certain activities one day in seven (see Col 2:16–17). Being stewards of Sabbath means, as theologian and educator Marva Dawn comments, celebrating God’s gift and letting it enhance our life with him.

We all experience constantly how much our own time crunch is aggravated—and the pace of life accelerated—by the technological milieu in which we live. In such a cultural context, the first Sabbath gift for us to celebrate is its realization that the Bible presents an entirely different sense of time …

Many biblical passages in the Scriptures underscore this freedom from the anxiety of too much work. More positively, many biblical texts highlight the attitude demonstrated by Jesus that all the work committed to us by God can be done in God’s timing, for the grace that entrusts the work to us also empowers it.

Most notably, Jesus models this when the disciples worry that He wants to go to Judea again (after Lazarus’s death), and He responds, “Are there not twelve hours of daylight? [Anyone who walks in the daytime will not stumble, for they see by this world’s light. It is when a person walks at night that they stumble, for they have no light]” (Jn 11:9–10). Sabbath keeping fills us with the light of God’s presence so that the work of the following days can match their hours. Sabbath keeping gives us the opportunity to discern what really is God’s will for our lives and service so that we don’t try to do more than twelve hours’ worth of tasks (nor less either).

Theologian Jürgen Moltmann also comments on this idea of Sabbath as a means of God’s grace.

On this day of the week, the nature which human beings process and utilize should be allowed to breathe and come to itself again. Our mental and purposeful concentration on reason and will is relaxed. On this day the mind or spirit can return again to the body which it had made its instrument. The body becomes the temple in which God’s Spirit can live and rest …

The holy place of God’s silent presence is no longer the space of the Holy of Holies in the temple in Jerusalem. It is now found in time, in the time of the holy rhythm of the Sabbath days. God lives in time, and interrupts the plans and purposes of human labor through his resting presence … It is in the rhythm of the times and the alternation of work and rest that we find the pulse of life. That is the spirituality of the lived life.

Think About It

  • How does your attitude toward work relate to keeping the Sabbath?
  • In what ways does setting aside a day for God become a sacred space?
  • How might you honor God’s provision of a day of rest?

Act on It

If you keep a Sabbath day, spend time this week reflecting on how it is a holy place. If you do not regularly keep a Sabbath day, determine to do so this week.

 

SIGNS OF THE END TIMES

Mark 13:1-20

The Destruction of the Temple and Signs of the End Times

13 As Jesus was leaving the temple, one of his disciples said to him, “Look, Teacher! What massive stones! What magnificent buildings!”

2 “Do you see all these great buildings?” replied Jesus. “Not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down.”

3 As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter, James, John and Andrew asked him privately, 4 “Tell us, when will these things happen? And what will be the sign that they are all about to be fulfilled?”

5 Jesus said to them: “Watch out that no one deceives you. 6 Many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am he,’ and will deceive many. 7 When you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. 8 Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be earthquakes in various places, and famines. These are the beginning of birth pains.

9 “You must be on your guard. You will be handed over to the local councils and flogged in the synagogues. On account of me you will stand before governors and kings as witnesses to them. 10 And the gospel must first be preached to all nations. 11 Whenever you are arrested and brought to trial, do not worry beforehand about what to say. Just say whatever is given you at the time, for it is not you speaking, but the Holy Spirit.

12 “Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child. Children will rebel against their parents and have them put to death. 13 Everyone will hate you because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.

14 “When you see ‘the abomination that causes desolation’ standing where it does not belong—let the reader understand—then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. 15 Let no one on the housetop go down or enter the house to take anything out. 16 Let no one in the field go back to get their cloak. 17 How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers! 18 Pray that this will not take place in winter, 19 because those will be days of distress unequaled from the beginning, when God created the world, until now—and never to be equaled again.

20 “If the Lord had not cut short those days, no one would survive. But for the sake of the elect, whom he has chosen, he has shortened them.

New International Version (NIV)

Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.