Unkown

16 While Paul waited for them in Athens, he was deeply distressed to find that the city was flooded with idols. 17 He began to interact with the Jews and Gentile God-worshippers in the synagogue. He also addressed whoever happened to be in the marketplace each day. 18 Certain Epicurean and Stoic philosophers engaged him in discussion too. Some said, “What an amateur! What’s he trying to say?” Others remarked, “He seems to be a proclaimer of foreign gods.” (They said this because he was preaching the good news about Jesus and the resurrection.) 19 They took him into custody and brought him to the council on Mars Hill. “What is this new teaching? Can we learn what you are talking about? 20 You’ve told us some strange things and we want to know what they mean.” (21 They said this because all Athenians as well as the foreigners who live in Athens used to spend their time doing nothing but talking about or listening to the newest thing.) 22 Paul stood up in the middle of the council on Mars Hill and said, “People of Athens, I see that you are very religious in every way. 23 As I was walking through town and carefully observing your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: ‘To an unknown God.’ What you worship as unknown, I now proclaim to you. 24 God, who made the world and everything in it, is Lord of heaven and earth. He doesn’t live in temples made with human hands. 25 Nor is God served by human hands, as though he needed something, since he is the one who gives life, breath, and everything else. 26 From one person God created every human nation to live on the whole earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their lands. 27 God made the nations so they would seek him, perhaps even reach out to him and find him. In fact, God isn’t far away from any of us. 28 In God we live, move, and exist. As some of your own poets said, ‘We are his offspring.’ 29 “Therefore, as God’s offspring, we have no need to imagine that the divine being is like a gold, silver, or stone image made by human skill and thought. 30 God overlooks ignorance of these things in times past, but now directs everyone everywhere to change their hearts and lives. 31 This is because God has set a day when he intends to judge the world justly by a man he has appointed. God has given proof of this to everyone by raising him from the dead.” (Acts 17:16-31, CEB)

They would sit around all day and talk about what the newest teaching was.

Can you imagine?

But Paul tells them that what they worship as unknown, can be known, and lived here among us to show us that God wanted to be known.

God is not something or someone far removed from our daily lives, but is here with us, and wants to be a part of your life everyday.

God has given us all kinds of proof of God’s existence. It is all around us in nature and in the fact Jesus died and was raised from the dead.

So know that God can be and wants to be known by you and be a part of you life.

Love People. Love God.

enemies in your mind

15 The Son is the image of the invisible God, the one who is first over all creation, 16 Because all things were created by him: both in the heavens and on the earth, the things that are visible and the things that are invisible. Whether they are thrones or powers, or rulers or authorities, all things were created through him and for him. 17 He existed before all things, and all things are held together in him. 18 He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the one who is firstborn from among the dead so that he might occupy the first place in everything. 19 Because all the fullness of God was pleased to live in him, 20 and he reconciled all things to himself through him—whether things on earth or in the heavens. He brought peace through the blood of his cross. 21 Once you were alienated from God and you were enemies with him in your minds, which was shown by your evil actions. 22 But now he has reconciled you by his physical body through death, to present you before God as a people who are holy, faultless, and without blame. 23 But you need to remain well established and rooted in faith and not shift away from the hope given in the good news that you heard. This message has been preached throughout all creation under heaven. And I, Paul, became a servant of this good news. (Colossians 1:15-23, CEB)

“Once you were alienated from God and you were enemies with him in your minds”

This line struck me as I read this passage. We were enemies with God in our minds. We thought that God couldn’t like us and therefore created enmity between us and God in our minds. Our sinful nature caused this.

But God knew this and created a way to get rid of it, by becoming a man and dying for us.

Think about it really, most of the issues in our lives are because we think something is one way when it really isn’t. How can we focus on God and allow the truth of the love we have be the picture we see rather than enmity with God?

Focus on love, and know you are loved, as you love the world.

Love People. Love God.

Wrong

31 “To what will I compare the people of this generation?” Jesus asked. “What are they like? 32 They are like children sitting in the marketplace calling out to each other, ‘We played the flute for you and you didn’t dance. We sang a funeral song and you didn’t cry.’ 33 John the Baptist came neither eating bread nor drinking wine, and you say, ‘He has a demon.’ 34 Yet the Human One came eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Look, a glutton and a drunk, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.’ 35 But wisdom is proved to be right by all her descendants.” (Luke 7:31-35, CEB)

No matter what you do someone will find something wrong with it.

If you play music they won’t like it and won’t dance.

If you sing a funeral dirge they won’t get moved and cry.

If you don’t eat or drink things you shouldn’t they will say you are a prude.

If you drink and have fun with people they will call you a drunk and glutton.

No matter what you do someone will find fault and have an issue with you.

Here is what you do. Hold to the truth that God has given to you and worry about what God thinks of you and not everyone else.

God knows your heart and why you are motivated to do what you do.

Keep love in your heart and flowing for all around you and don’t worry about what people think.

Love People. Love God.

Plotting…

12 The next morning some Jewish leaders formulated a plot and solemnly promised that they wouldn’t eat or drink until they had killed Paul. 13 More than forty people were involved in the conspiracy. 14 They went to the chief priests and elders and said, “We have solemnly promised to eat nothing until we have killed Paul. 15 You and the council must explain to the commander that you need Paul brought down to you. Pretend that you want to examine his case more closely. We’re prepared to kill him before he arrives.” 16 Paul’s sister had a son who heard about the ambush and he came to the military headquarters and reported it to Paul. 17 Paul called for one of the centurions and said, “Take this young man to the commander because he has something to report to him.” 18 He took him to the commander and said, “The prisoner Paul asked me to bring this young man to you. He has something to tell you.” 19 The commander took him by the hand and withdrew to a place where they could speak privately. He asked, “What do you have to report to me?” 20 He replied, “The Jewish leaders have conspired to ask that you bring Paul down to the council tomorrow. They will pretend that they want to investigate his case more closely. 21 Don’t fall for it! More than forty of them are waiting to ambush him. They have solemnly promised not to eat or drink until they have killed him. They are ready now, awaiting your consent.” 22 The commander dismissed the young man, ordering him, “Don’t tell anyone that you brought this to my attention.” 23 The commander called two centurions and said, “Prepare two hundred soldiers, seventy horsemen, and two hundred spearmen to leave for Caesarea at nine o’clock tonight. 24 Have horses ready for Paul to ride, so they may take him safely to Governor Felix.” 25 He wrote the following letter: 26 Claudius Lysias, to the most honorable Governor Felix: Greetings. 27 This man was seized by the Jews and was almost killed by them. I was nearby with a unit of soldiers, and I rescued him when I discovered that he was a Roman citizen. 28 I wanted to find out why they were accusing him, so I brought him to their council. 29 I discovered that they were accusing him about questions related to their Law. I found no charge deserving of death or imprisonment. 30 When I was informed of a conspiracy against his life, I sent him to you at once and ordered his accusers to bring their case against him before you. 31 Following their orders, the soldiers took Paul during the night and brought him to Antipatris. 32 The following day they let the horsemen continue on with Paul while they returned to the military headquarters in Jerusalem. 33 The horsemen entered Caesarea, delivered the letter to the governor, and brought Paul before him. 34 After he read the letter, he asked Paul about his home province. When he learned that he was from Cilicia, 35 the governor said, “I will hear your case when your accusers arrive.” Then he ordered that Paul be kept in custody in Herod’s palace. (Acts 23:12-35, CEB)

Here is the thing, plotting may seem to get you what you want, but if it isn’t in the will of God then it will fail. You may succeed in getting someone out or causing harm to a person, but in the end it will not be to the end that you desire, because your ideas and thoughts do not align with God.

God uses and works through all things for good, this doesn’t mean that God causes or allows bad things to happen, but because of free will and human nature to sinfulness, sometimes things happen, but God still works in and through all things for good.

Know that God is with you and do not plat for things that are not the will of God.

Love People. Love God.

Mob mentality

27 When the seven days of purification were almost over, the Jews from the province of Asia saw Paul in the temple. Grabbing him, they threw the whole crowd into confusion by shouting, 28 “Fellow Israelites! Help! This is the man who teaches everyone everywhere against our people, the Law, and this place. Not only that, he has even brought Greeks into the temple and defiled this holy place.” (29 They said this because they had seen Trophimus the Ephesian in the city with him earlier, and they assumed Paul had brought him into the temple.) 30 The entire city was stirred up. The people came rushing, seized Paul, and dragged him out of the temple. Immediately the gates were closed. 31 While they were trying to kill him, a report reached the commander of a company of soldiers that all Jerusalem was in a state of confusion. 32 Without a moment’s hesitation, he took some soldiers and officers and ran down to the mob. When the mob saw the commander and his soldiers, they stopped beating Paul. 33 When the commander arrived, he arrested Paul and ordered him to be bound with two chains. Only then did he begin to ask who Paul was and what he had done. 34 Some in the crowd shouted one thing, others shouted something else. Because of the commotion, he couldn’t learn the truth, so he ordered that Paul be taken to the military headquarters. 35 When Paul reached the steps, he had to be carried by the soldiers in order to protect him from the violence of the crowd. 36 The mob that followed kept screaming, “Away with him!” 37 As Paul was about to be taken into the military headquarters, he asked the commander, “May I speak with you?” He answered, “Do you know Greek? 38 Aren’t you the Egyptian who started a revolt and led four thousand terrorists into the desert some time ago?” 39 Paul replied, “I’m a Jew from Tarsus in Cilicia, a citizen of an important city. Please, let me speak to the people.” (Acts 21:27-39, CEB)

Have you ever believed something because of the people around you?

We see this a lot in the scriptures. When Jesus enters Jerusalem, the people are heralding him as the coming king, and then only a few days later a lot of the same people are calling for his death.

We get caught up in the mood and sway of those around us and forget what we really believe. We all do it.

We need to focus on Jesus and what we are called to do and be.

Always love others, and show them grace.

Love People. Love God.

Careful what you do or ask for

14 Herod the king heard about these things, because the name of Jesus had become well-known. Some were saying, “John the Baptist has been raised from the dead, and this is why miraculous powers are at work through him.” 15 Others were saying, “He is Elijah.” Still others were saying, “He is a prophet like one of the ancient prophets.” 16 But when Herod heard these rumors, he said, “John, whom I beheaded, has been raised to life.” 17 He said this because Herod himself had arranged to have John arrested and put in prison because of Herodias, the wife of Herod’s brother Philip. Herod had married her, 18 but John told Herod, “It’s against the law for you to marry your brother’s wife!” 19 So Herodias had it in for John. She wanted to kill him, but she couldn’t. 20 This was because Herod respected John. He regarded him as a righteous and holy person, so he protected him. John’s words greatly confused Herod, yet he enjoyed listening to him. 21 Finally, the time was right. It was on one of Herod’s birthdays, when he had prepared a feast for his high-ranking officials and military officers and Galilee’s leading residents. 22 Herod’s daughter Herodias came in and danced, thrilling Herod and his dinner guests. The king said to the young woman, “Ask me whatever you wish, and I will give it to you.” 23 Then he swore to her, “Whatever you ask I will give to you, even as much as half of my kingdom.” 24 She left the banquet hall and said to her mother, “What should I ask for?” “John the Baptist’s head,” Herodias replied. 25 Hurrying back to the ruler, she made her request: “I want you to give me John the Baptist’s head on a plate, right this minute.” 26 Although the king was upset, because of his solemn pledge and his guests, he didn’t want to refuse her. 27 So he ordered a guard to bring John’s head. The guard went to the prison, cut off John’s head, 28 brought his head on a plate, and gave it to the young woman, and she gave it to her mother. 29 When John’s disciples heard what had happened, they came and took his dead body and laid it in a tomb. (Mark 6:14-29, CEB)

Have you ever done something and regretted it?

Has that thing ever come back to haunt you?

That is what we see here, Herod had John beheaded, and when he heard about Jesus and people saying Jesus was John come back to life, Herod was worried. He knew there was no reason to kill John, but because of his daughter-in-laws request Herod had John killed.

Sometimes we do things because others force us to, or get us to, and we know they are wrong and we shouldn’t.

God will and does forgive us, but it may put us in a place we don’t want or need to be.

Be careful what you do.

Error on the side of grace always.

Love People. Love God.

What then?

57 When the time came for Elizabeth to have her child, she gave birth to a boy. 58 Her neighbors and relatives celebrated with her because they had heard that the Lord had shown her great mercy. 59 On the eighth day, it came time to circumcise the child. They wanted to name him Zechariah because that was his father’s name. 60 But his mother replied, “No, his name will be John.” 61 They said to her, “None of your relatives have that name.” 62 Then they began gesturing to his father to see what he wanted to call him. 63 After asking for a tablet, he surprised everyone by writing, “His name is John.” 64 At that moment, Zechariah was able to speak again, and he began praising God. 65 All their neighbors were filled with awe, and everyone throughout the Judean highlands talked about what had happened. 66 All who heard about this considered it carefully. They said, “What then will this child be?” Indeed, the Lord’s power was with him. 67 John’s father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied, 68 “Bless the Lord God of Israel because he has come to help and has delivered his people. 69 He has raised up a mighty savior for us in his servant David’s house, 70 just as he said through the mouths of his holy prophets long ago. 71 He has brought salvation from our enemies and from the power of all those who hate us. 72 He has shown the mercy promised to our ancestors,  and remembered his holy covenant, 73 the solemn pledge he made to our ancestor Abraham. He has granted 74 that we would be rescued from the power of our enemies so that we could serve him without fear, 75 in holiness and righteousness in God’s eyes, for as long as we live. 76 You, child, will be called a prophet of the Most High, for you will go before the Lord to prepare his way. 77 You will tell his people how to be saved  through the forgiveness of their sins. 78 Because of our God’s deep compassion, the dawn from heaven will break upon us, 79 to give light to those who are sitting in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide us on the path of peace.” 80 The child grew up, becoming strong in character. He was in the wilderness until he began his public ministry to Israel. (Luke 1:57-80, CEB)

Why John? None of your relatives are John. We should ask Zechariah, but wait he can’t talk, ever since he was chosen to go into the holy of holies… But maybe he can tell us. Give him a tablet and let him write the name of his son.

He wrote John. Why John?

And then Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak and prophesied!

What then will this child be?

John will be a herald of Christ! One who proclaims I am not the one, but we need to be prepared for the one. And to be ready to follow where he leads.

Are you ready?

Are you a herald?

Do you make the paths straight for Jesus?

Are you ready to follow where he Leads?

What then will you life be?

Love People. Love God.

sprinkled

Keep on praying and guard your prayers with thanksgiving. At the same time, pray for us also. Pray that God would open a door for the word so we can preach the secret plan of Christ—which is why I’m in chains. Pray that I might be able to make it as clear as I ought to when I preach. Act wisely toward outsiders, making the most of the opportunity. Your speech should always be gracious and sprinkled with insight so that you may know how to respond to every person. Tychicus, our dearly loved brother, faithful minister, and fellow slave in the Lord, will inform you about everything that has happened to me. This is why I sent him to you, so that you’ll know all about us and so he can encourage your hearts. I sent him with Onesimus, our faithful and dearly loved brother, who is one of you. They will let you know about everything here. 10 Aristarchus, my fellow prisoner, says hello to you. So does Mark, Barnabas’ cousin (you received instructions about him; if he comes to you, welcome him). 11 Jesus, called Justus, also says hello. These are my only fellow workers for God’s kingdom who are Jewish converts. They have been an encouragement to me. 12 Epaphras, who is one of you, says hello. He’s a slave of Christ Jesus who always wrestles for you in prayers so that you will stand firm and be fully mature and complete in the entire will of God. 13 I can vouch for him that he has worked hard for you and for those in Laodicea and Hierapolis. 14 Luke, the dearly loved physician, and Demas say hello. 15 Say hello to the brothers and sisters in Laodicea, along with Nympha and the church that meets in her house. 16 After this letter has been read to you publicly, make sure that the church in Laodicea reads it and that you read the one from Laodicea. 17 And tell Archippus, “See to it that you complete the ministry that you received in the Lord.” 18 I, Paul, am writing this greeting personally. Remember that I’m in prison. Grace be with you. (Colossians 4:2-18, CEB)

Your speech should always be gracious and sprinkled with insights…

Is your speech always gracious?

I know I struggle with this. I have feelings and sometimes they get hurt and I speak before I think and therefore my speech is not always gracious. And sometimes, honestly, my speech is sprinkled with something other than insights…

We need to stand firm in be fully mature in God and know that God is always there for us. We need to focus on God and completing God’s will.

Let us focus on what God has done for us and be led to help others see the love we have received. And be gracious in our speech.

Speak with God and let God’s love flow through you.

Love People. Love God.

for all

I want you to know how much I struggle for you, for those in Laodicea, and for all who haven’t known me personally. My goal is that their hearts would be encouraged and united together in love so that they might have all the riches of assurance that come with understanding, so that they might have the knowledge of the secret plan of God, namely Christ. All the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are hidden in him. I’m telling you this so that no one deceives you with convincing arguments, because even though I am absent physically, I’m with you in spirit. I’m happy to see the discipline and stability of your faith in Christ. (Colossians 2:1-5, CEB)

My goal is that their hearts would be encouraged and united together in love.

That they would have the assurance that comes with understanding.

We struggle for all who have and who have not met us. We share the love, mercy, and grace we received so that all may come to the assurance of understanding that Jesus made a way and showed us what it means to love.

All need to hear and know, and understand that they are loved.

All need to hear and know, and understand that they are accepted.

We need to make our goal to let all hearts know they should be encouraged and united, because that is what God sent Jesus to tell us, and God is sending us to tell the world the same.

Understand you are loved, as you are, and we need to be there for all.

Love People. Love God.

My time

After this Jesus traveled throughout Galilee. He didn’t want to travel in Judea, because the Jewish authorities wanted to kill him. When it was almost time for the Jewish Festival of Booths, Jesus’ brothers said to him, “Leave Galilee. Go to Judea so that your disciples can see the amazing works that you do. Those who want to be known publicly don’t do things secretly. Since you can do these things, show yourself to the world.” His brothers said this because even they didn’t believe in him. Jesus replied, “For you, anytime is fine. But my time hasn’t come yet. The world can’t hate you. It hates me, though, because I testify that its works are evil. You go up to the festival. I’m not going to this one because my time hasn’t yet come.” Having said this, he stayed in Galilee. (John 7:1-9, CEB)

Several times in John Jesus says, “my time has not yet come.” He says it here. He said it when his mother asks him to fix the wine issue at a wedding. But what does he mean, “my time hasn’t come yet?”

The disciples wanted to go to the festival and let everyone see and know what Jesus is doing. But Jesus knew that the authorities in Judea wouldn’t accept him, as they were already working to get rid of him. And Jesus knew the things he was doing would push the authorities even further away. Plus it is interesting that this passage says the disciples wanted him to go and show the world because they didn’t believe in him. As if a bigger spectacle or show would make them believe. As if Jesus doing miracles in Judea would make the world believe.

Sometimes we need to do what we know is the right thing to do even when the rest of the crowd wants to do something different. We need to follow God and know when God’s timing is in place. We are not the ones who know the full plan. God does, we need to trust God and follow the plan.

So live in God’s time.

Love People. Love God.