The polished floor of this mosque in Malaysia gives the appearance that the people are walking on glass
A good article, reprinted here, on one of my personal heroes – Lottie Moon. Please, read and enjoy!
For those who followed along with our devotional postings lately, they are being compiled into a paperback version and a Kindle version. After they finish the editing process we will make them available for your use. We were hoping for a Christmas release, but now are shooting for New Years. We believe that this will be a great resource to start the year off with. Keep us in prayer as we continue to develop resources that will be of benefit to believers worldwide.
The Holy Spirit has instructed Philip to make contact with the Ethiopian and he does so. Running alongside the chariot, he hears the eunuch reading from Isaiah. In those days, it was customary to read aloud, not silently when one read to their self. Philip asks him a simple question: “Do you understand what you are reading?” The English translation does not do justice to the original Greek wording. Philip’s question really asks the eunuch if what he is reading has any meaning for him, if what he is reading makes any sense.
The response is so telling! It is a response of frustration, discouragement and disappointment. “How can I, unless someone explains it to me?” Despite his apparent regalia and retinue, no one in Jerusalem had taken the time to answer his questions. No one helped quench his thirst for the knowledge of the One True God. He had a copy of the Scriptures, but could not understand what the words meant. He could read them, he was an educated man fluent in languages, but the meaning, the import, and the supernatural impact of the words eluded him.
There is a reason why the Bible says that only those who are spiritual can understand spiritual things. Until a person comes to submit their life to the Lord Jesus, the Bible depicts them as spiritually blind, unable to see or comprehend spiritual truths. They need the Holy Spirit to open their spiritual eyes and illuminate their minds. Often, the Spirit uses believers, like Philip, in that process.
The Ethiopian invites Philip up into his chariot and asks him a question about the passage he is reading. “Who is the prophet referring to?” Without being able to identify the subject talked about, a person cannot make a proper interpretation. Philip begins introducing the Ethiopian to Jesus through this passage. The Book of Isaiah was tailor-made for a person like this Ethiopian. It’s in Isaiah that many prophecies of Jesus’ birth and reign are found. It’s in Isaiah where one finds promises to eunuchs of their inclusion in God’s Holy Temple alongside other worshippers of God. Isaiah described God Himself, high and lifted up, as having compassion on people who have wandered away from the truth; who are like sheep.
Philip begins with the passage the Ethiopian is wrestling with and uses it as a springboard to tell the story of Jesus, God’s Messiah. As Philip expounds the meaning of what the Ethiopian was reading God’s Spirit illuminates his mind. Now, he realizes how a person is to worship God. Now, he realizes that it’s not at a Temple made by human hands but through faith in Jesus Christ that a person comes to approach God. As they pass by some water, he interrupts Philip to ask, “Is there anything that hinders me from being baptized right now?” He understands; he wants to identify with Jesus Christ and he desires to proclaim his newfound faith.
Water baptism was quite common in those days. In Judaism, it stood as a symbol for a Gentile’s repentance and conversion to Israel’s religion. In Christianity, it stands for each person’s repentance and as a symbol of his or her submission to Christ’s Lordship.
Philip baptizes the Ethiopian, which shows us an important picture. Philip, an olive skinned man, baptizes the Ethiopian, a black man, into the fellowship of the church. Philip, a former adherent to Judaism, and the Ethiopian, a former adherent to the religion of Meroe, become equal in standing before Christ. In Christ, racial barriers, national barriers, cultural barriers fall. Each person finds themselves equal at the foot of the Cross.
Today (Thanksgiving Day) through Monday, Ta Ethne is offering the Kindle version of A Heart Hungry to Worship free. Just follow the link and download it to your Kindle device or PC
This is a great resource, courtesy of BrookHills Church in Birmingham, Alabama. David Platt is the pastor there, and they have developed a re-teaching guide to help their members take a sermon and use it to teach others. This is a 7-day intensive exercise to expand the sermon from one hour a day into a week long discipleship course. The end goal is to allow each person to then re-teach the sermon to someone else. I have used a modified version of this for years with great results. Enjoy!
It is traditional to make a list of things you are thankful for at Thanksgiving. Most of the time we focus on material things we have been blessed with. Some go deeper, thanking God for spiritual blessings bestowed during the year. Thanks for friends, family, health and employment top many lists. One category that gets left off many lists is arguably the most important. We should thank God for the things He has taken away from us.
In order to love the Lord our God with all of our heart, soul, strength and mind as commanded means we have to give up any and everything that obscures Him in our lives. Praise be to Him that He works in our lives to conform us to the image of His Son. To do this, He many times has to prune away those things that hinder us from reaching that goal. It may be that He has helped you to kick a destructive habit, end an unhealthy relationship, stop a hurtful lifestyle. It may be that He has forced you to accept the death of a loved one in order to lean only on Him. He may have taken away your job in order to prove to you that He is sufficient to meet all your needs.
As you make your list this year, how about including thanks for the things taken away that has made your faith stronger? I guarantee that it will surprise you what the Lord has done.
As Thanksgiving rolls around, I am once again dismayed by the lack of contentment and gratitude among the masses. It is very hard to be thankful for what you have already been blessed with if you are in a hurry and a worry about getting more stuff the very next day. I know the arguments – stuff is cheaper so it is good stewardship to buy on Black Friday. Or, that a person is buying for others and not themselves, gifts for Christmas Day. My answer – it is even better stewardship not to buy at all unless something is absolutely needed. The same holds true whether you are buying for yourself or others.
I am not saying that one cannot buy things for fun. What I am saying is that we should not try to justify or spiritualize our indulgence. We need to simplify our lives and practice giving to the kingdom of God rather than secular merchants. Guys – how many guns, video games or fishing equipment do you really need? Ladies – how many shoes, kitchen gadgets or spa treatments do you really need? Do any of us really think $95 designer jeans are better than $20 discount store ones? Do we really need the latest upgraded electronic device, the latest model pickup, the “in-fashion” clothing? Can we not be content and thankful for what we have already been blessed with, instead of telling God that we are not satisfied and we have to have more.
Are we truly grateful for His provision, or are we greedily planning on getting yet more stuff that won’t have any bearing on a person’s eternal destiny?