Focus

John 18:11 So Jesus said to Peter, “Put the sword into the sheath; the cup which the Father has given Me, shall I not drink it?” (NASB)

During these tense days, I am very tempted to spend an abundance of time focusing on the Black/White racial issues in the USA. Yesterday, during my personal Bible reading, I was reminded, of our Savior’s words to Peter in John 18:11.

Peter, a fisherman by trade and not a swordsman, sliced off the ear of one who was involved with the arrest of Jesus. Jesus corrected Peter, “Put the sword in the sheath.” In other words, Jesus was telling Peter that now was not the time for physical confrontation, for there was and is a greater and more necessary mission.

So it is today, in my life and ministry. While race issues dominate the USA, there remains a much more critical mission—Gospel ministry.

My stewardship, which is also true for Christians in general, is to make the gospel known (Jesus death in the place of sinners). This message is more important than the contemporary struggles of a Christ denying world (The Psalm writer prophesies, “Why do the nations rage?”).

The answer to all social ills is not ultimately better public policy. Rather, it is individual repentance of sin against God, and the receiving of Jesus Christ as Savior.

On the one hand, the problems of this world, including racism, will not be removed until Jesus comes to establish His Kingdom. On the other hand, our personal alienation from God, which causes all of our personal guilt and loneliness, can be healed. We simply need to trust in the Savior who died in our place for our sin, so we can have eternal life with Him.

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him, will not perish put have eternal life.”

Sharing this needs to be my focus.

Will you believe in the Son?

Bill

A Prayer Letter

Boston and Beyond

Lorraine, 

Thank you for your nudge, reminding me that it is time for a Boston and Beyond update. It would be helpful to do so, (nudge us), in the future as well. Many a time prayer letters are built upon personal correspondence–seems more natural that way, and easier to write. As you will see, I am using your nudge to write my prayer letter.  

I can characterize what is happening in Boston and Beyond, a globalized cities initiative, with the phrase, slowdown,in order to speed up. In some ways, it seems like things in our life and ministry have slowed down. Each step forward seems to take more time. It’s kind of like walking a mountain trail rather than a city street. (It’s a good thing; we love mountain trails.) Recruitment, internships and deputation takes lots of time, so while very good progress is being made, it seems to be one slow, methodical step at a time. Forming teams and making plans to travel as teams is also not done quickly. Because efforts are spread in several areas, evangelistic relationships and Bible studies also take longer to develop, which means results take longer. 

Yet, we are sure of the Lord’s leading, and confident that in the end, much more will be accomplished in the pursuit of the Great Commission, the building of the body of Christ globally:  

1) We have many great gospel-centered relationships. Some of these are related to our work with Urban Peaks, which is a non-profit secular organization which raises funds to help kids take a step up. (Rock climbing is leveraged to help underserved kids have an opportunity to learn living skills by climbing.) We view this as an authenticating ministry, demonstrating our desire to help people, in general. This work forms the environment for gospel ministry. It helps the climbing community (and others) know that we don’t just proselyte, but that we are concerned for the whole person–for people in general. We do this because we understand that the Bible teaches us that all are made in the image of God, and therefore, valuable. That God views every person as of inestimable worth is made clear by the redemptive work of Jesus Christ. Working with Urban Peaks and the climbing community takes time–seems slow, but it is producing opportunities.

New friends are coming to our home, even to church. And, by the way, the rock-climbing community is a tight- knit global community. Working for Urban Peaks may be an excellent way to travel to other major cities, even in countries that do not allow ministers to travel. In a culture that is post-Christian, Urban Peaks is a gift from God.  

We also are developing gospel relationships in our centrally located Boston neighborhood called the South End. We live in an owner-occupied apartment building, where I have become a trustee, which means I am partially responsible for overseeing the operations of the building. As in all things, Deb works closely with me in this, and by doing so, the Lord has helped us form many friendships, some of which have developed into more “sharing of life” relationships. These kinds of relationships produce gospel sharing opportunities. Again, none of this happens quickly, but the relationships, which are being formed will eventually accelerate the building of the body of Christ, globally. After all, Boston is a global community, and we live right in the middle of that community.  

As you pray for us, also remember that we have a Friday night evangelistic Bible study. This study happens in our studio, and our desire is that it will include folks from all parts of the world. We also have a Bible study on the campus of Northeastern University on Wednesday nights. This study is inhabited by young Christians who desire to invite friends who are not yet Christians. Our desire, again, is that it will develop into a time when the nations gather to hear from God’s Word.   

2) We also are continually trudging up the mountain, slowly gaining new heights as we work at recruiting workers for Boston and Beyond. Next week, Deb and I will attend the Refresh Conference at Faith Baptist Bible College and Theological Seminary. While there, we have at least two meetings with prospective workers. It seems so cold calling made-in-the-image-of-God people “prospective workers”. Actually, we consider each person who shows interest in working with Boston and Beyond, as an interesting human being who may join us, and be used of God to minister the gospel to a global community.  

Currently there are two individuals raising funds to work with us in Boston. Part of our stewardships is to encourage them as they move through the arduous journey of support raising. One way we do this is by staying in contact with each one and by hosting a regular online video conference where those interested in Boston and Beyond are able to share their burdens and praises. Our time of prayer and fellowships has become a great blessing to all of those involved. Not everyone who attends are planning on becoming a missionary with Boston and Beyond, or even living in Boston. But all these folks believe in the concept of ministering in the city as a conduit to ministering the gospel to the world. So, we meet together, encourage each other along life’s journey, and we pray for our world. 

3) As I write this, Deb is across the studio in the kitchen preparing food for our Chinese New Year celebration to be held in our church facility in East Cambridge. Later this afternoon, we will pack up Deb’s lamb dumpling filling, head across the street to the Back Bay, subway station and take the Orange Line across the Charles River from Boston into East Cambridge. The work of building our local manifestation of Boston and Beyond, the International Baptist Church, a Christian orthodox association, continues. Our ministry responsibilities in this regard are varied and complex. We seek to nurture, encourage, counsel, work, whatever it takes to help our fellowship become what it needs to become, as the foundation for globalized cities church planting. The work is slow, and we need to make progress more quickly. It is important that Deb and I do a good job of evangelizing and discipling through baptism. We also must be successful at recruiting laypeople and tentmakers to become part of our church family–this is essential. Most of our disciples end up leaving Boston, as we planned, but these do not make a good foundation for a self-supporting church. We need mature, flexible, qualified workers to come and live/work with us in Boston–again absolutely essential.  

4) Deb and I have the potential opportunity of traveling to at least three international urban centers/cities over the next year. Two of these are in places that are not open to Christianity. All three have great potential for Great Commission ministry. As the Lord leads and enables, we will be helping young believers be faithful in cities to which they have returned. In other places, we will be learning about new areas of opportunity and hopefully developing ministry relationships with the body of Christ in those cities. One step at a time, up the mountain path, slowly ascending, but in the end, the ministry will peak:-) 

5) There are other very important things going on that are both difficult to describe and unwise to share. All I can say is that God seems to be moving in fascinating ways, which may result in accelerated ministry. Confidentiality is mandatory here, but after having been co-laborers with some of you for over thirty years, or longer, I think you can trust us when we say, pray for these undefined, unfocused requests. We need wisdom, patience, and, above all, increased Godliness. Climbing the mountain includes looking into mysterious fog-shrouded canyons. 

6) We do have needs. Firstly, after we leave for Iowa next week, a construction crew will be installing a loft in our studio. Since we live in 310 sq. ft., every inch gained is helpful. The construction and related cost will be around $6,000.00. Secondly, our traveling for Boston and Beyond is expensive and gifts towards our traveling/passage fund would help us.  Thirdly, we always need to maintain our monthly support needs and are, therefore, on the lookout for new financial partners. We are not actively pursuing deputation meetings, but if a church shows interest, we would be excited to present Boston and Beyond to that church family.  

7) Finally, many of you gave special gifts to us at Christmas time. Thank you so much. The gift is helpful, the charitable heart is life-giving.  

Things seem to have slowed down so that we can speed up. We are ascending a rough upward mountain trail, but the view from the top will be…. In the case of Boston and Beyond, it will be ten thriving discipleship centers/churches in ten cities ministering to ten civilizations the gospel of Jesus Christ. These will be places where all sorts of people find shelter, the rich and the poor, the educated person and the simple man, the sophisticated and the addicted, folks from all places and of all ethnicities—a little bit of the kingdom in the church.   

We love you,                                                       , 

Bill and Deb                         

2020-01-24        

If you would like to give to Bill and Deb

The Lamb of God

John 135 The next day again John was standing with two of his disciples, 36 and he looked at Jesus as he walked by and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God!37 The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus. 38 Jesus turned and saw them following and said to them, “What are you seeking?” And they said to him, “Rabbi” (which means Teacher), “where are you staying?” 39 He said to them, “Come and you will see.” So they came and saw where he was staying, and they stayed with him that day, for it was about the tenth hour. 40 One of the two who heard John speak and followed Jesus was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. 41 He first found his own brother Simon and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which means Christ). 42 He brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon the son of John. You shall be called Cephas” (which means Peter). 

 The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Jn 1:35–42). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

When John identified Jesus as the Lamb of God, he connected Jesus with the entire Old Testament, which explains in detail the need for a sacrifice to remove sin and to fix all things. John made it personal. Standing before them was the One who was the fulfillment of all their dreams and greatest needs.

The immediate response was to follow Jesus and learn of Him. This is also our choice–between each of us alone and our Creator, Savior God. Will we follow Him? Learn from Him? Notice in verse 42 how those who make a decision to follow Jesus are forever changed.

Introductory Things

I am writing this series of blog posts primarily to help a special friend, Habibi, to understand why God and the Bible are so essential to everything in my life. It is my fervent and continual steadfast prayer that my Habibi will grow to love God and His Word as I do.

It could be that these writings about my understanding of God and His Word, may help others as they seek God. It may also help some prepare to explain who God is and why it is important to pursue Him. That would be wonderful.

Before we start studying the Bible, we need to understand a few things about the Bible. The Bible contains sixty-six individual books, which together form one book. With many different authors, written over centuries, this library of books tells one unified story of God’s desire for mankind, the history of man’s rejection of God, and God’s sovereign efforts to fix the relationship between God and man. Interestingly, the history contained in the Bible stretches from the beginning of time into the time when all things have been set right between God and all things, including man and the created universe.

The Bible presents the story, not a story. It is the authoritative account by which all other accounts will be judged.

The main theme of the Bible is the reconciliation between God and man. That reconciliation is the central theme of the Bible may be understood by studying Luke 24:25-27,

And He said to them, “O foolish men and slow of heart to believe in all that athe prophets have spoken! 26 “Was it not necessary for the Christ to suffer these things and to enter into His glory?” 27 Then beginning with Moses and with all the prophets, He explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures.

 New American Standard Bible: 1995 update. (1995). (Lk 24:25–27). La Habra, CA: The Lockman Foundation.

We will study Luke 24 a bit more in the next post, but notice how Jesus reproves the foolishness of His disciples for not understanding that all Scriptures point to Him.

Application: As the Bible states, all of history is explained in the Bible. The central theme of the Bible is Jesus, the Savior of all those who believe. Those who follow Jesus receive special blessings from Him, Who made us to know Him and enjoy Him forever. Believe in and follow Jesus.

Our Creative God

Ge 1:1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 2 The earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters.

Bill: I am reminded that God is at the root of all things. There is no explanation, no meaning, no anything without God. In the beginning there was only God and from God came all things. How foolish it would be, then, to try and live life while ignoring God. Stated positively, if we begin with God, all things will be put into proper perspective (order), which will allow us to live our lives within the blessings of God.

3 Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. 4 God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness. 5 God called the light day, and the darkness He called night. And there was evening and there was morning, one day.

6 Then God said, “Let there be an expanse in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters.” 7 God made the expanse, and separated the waters which were below the expanse from the waters which were above the expanse; and it was so. 8 God called the expanse heaven. And there was evening and there was morning, a second day.

9 Then God said, “Let the waters below the heavens be gathered into one place, and let the dry land appear”; and it was so. 10 God called the dry land earth, and the gathering of the waters He called seas; and God saw that it was good. 11 Then God said, “Let the earth sprout vegetation, plants yielding seed, and fruit trees on the earth bearing fruit after their kind with seed in them”; and it was so. 12 The earth brought forth vegetation, plants yielding seed after their kind, and trees bearing fruit with seed in them, after their kind; and God saw that it was good. 13 There was evening and there was morning, a third day.

14 Then God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night, and let them be for signs and for seasons and for days and years; 15 and let them be for lights in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth”; and it was so. 16 God made the two great lights, the greater light to govern the day, and the lesser light to govern the night; He made the stars also. 17 God placed them in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth, 18 and to govern the day and the night, and to separate the light from the darkness; and God saw that it was good. 19 There was evening and there was morning, a fourth day.

20 Then God said, “Let the waters teem with swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth in the open expanse of the heavens.” 21 God created the great sea monsters and every living creature that moves, with which the waters swarmed after their kind, and every winged bird after its kind; and God saw that it was good. 22 God blessed them, saying, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth.” 23 There was evening and there was morning, a fifth day.

24 Then God said, “Let the earth bring forth living creatures after their kind: cattle and creeping things and beasts of the earth after their kind”; and it was so. 25 God made the beasts of the earth after their kind, and the cattle after their kind, and everything that creeps on the ground after its kind; and God saw that it was good.

Bill: It must be understood that our creator God created all things in six literal days. We should learn from this that our God is all powerful, all knowing, and everywhere present (notice that the Spirit was hovering over the waters, which allowed God to organize the unorganized into a beautiful creation.) This also reveals our God to be the author of all things beautiful.

26 Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” 27 God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. 28 God blessed them; and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

Bill: Although all things are created by God, all things are not created equally. We (humankind) are created in the image of God. We are God’s special creation, created to enjoy God and serve Him forever. As His image bearers, we a have the privilege and responsibility to creatively and wisely manage the earth ethically, morally, firmly, and beautifully.

29 Then God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the surface of all the earth, and every tree which has fruit yielding seed; it shall be food for you; 30 and to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the sky and to every thing that moves on the earth which has life, I have given every green plant for food”; and it was so. 31 God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.

Bill: When God finished creating, He pronounced His finished product, “very good.” It is correct to say that at the completion of God’s creation, all things were perfect.

 New American Standard Bible: 1995 update. (1995). (Ge 1:1–31). La Habra, CA: The Lockman Foundation.

Application: All that we have is from God and belongs to God. He has given us the wonderful and awesome responsibility of managing His creation. What we have, we should manage for God. By doing so, we enjoy the blessing that is called life.


Psalm 27

27:title A Psalm of David.

1 The Lord is my light and my salvation; Whom shall I fear?

The Lord is the defense of my life; Whom shall I dread?

2 When evildoers came upon me to devour my flesh, my adversaries and my enemies, they stumbled and fell. 3 Though a host encamp against me, my heart will not fear; Though war arise against me, in spite of this I shall be confident.

4 One thing I have asked from the Lord, that I shall seek: That I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord and to meditate in His temple. 5 For in the day of trouble He will conceal me in His tabernacle; in the secret place of His tent He will hide me; He will lift me up on a rock.

6 And now my head will be lifted up above my enemies around me, and I will offer in His tent sacrifices with shouts of joy; I will sing, yes, I will sing praises to the Lord.

7 Hear, O Lord, when I cry with my voice, and be gracious to me and answer me. 8 When You said, “Seek My face,” my heart said to You, “Your face, O Lord, I shall seek.” 9 Do not hide Your face from me, do not turn Your servant away in anger; You have been my help; Do not abandon me nor forsake me, O God of my salvation! 10 For my father and my mother have forsaken me, but the Lord will take me up.

11 Teach me Your way, O Lord, and lead me in a level path because of my foes. 12 Do not deliver me over to the desire of my adversaries, for false witnesses have risen against me, and such as breathe out violence.

13 I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.

14 Wait for the Lord; Be strong and let your heart take courage;

Yes, wait for the Lord.

 New American Standard Bible: 1995 update. (1995). (Ps 27:title–Ps 28). La Habra, CA: The Lockman Foundation.

Feeling Alone?

In our imperfect efforts to serve our Savior, there are times when, I’m sure, we all feel alone. This solitude may be real or imagined, but the feelings of isolation, which accompany it, are very real. And while the Bible has much to say about the strength and vitality of Christian community, it is not at all silent about serving the Savior alone.

2 Samuel 23:And next to him among the three mighty men was Eleazar the son of Dodo, son of Ahohi. He was with David when they defied the Philistines who were gathered there for battle, and the men of Israel withdrew. 10 He rose and struck down the Philistines until his hand was weary, and his hand clung to the sword. And the Lord brought about a great victory that day, and the men returned after him only to strip the slain. 

Eleazer, understanding God’s intention for Israel, stood alone when others ran away and who only returned after the battle was already won. Eleazer won the battle alone, but he wasn’t by himself. The God of Israel was with him.

2 Samuel 23:11 And next to him was Shammah, the son of Agee the Hararite. The Philistines gathered together at Lehi, where there was a plot of ground full of lentils, and the men fled from the Philistines. 12 But he took his stand in the midst of the plot and defended it and struck down the Philistines, and the Lord worked a great victory. 

Shammah was much like Eleazer. He took his stand in the midst of Israel’s enemies and fought alone to a great and amazing victory. Undoubtedly, Shammah was a confident warrior, but his real confidence was in the Lord. Probably both Eleazer and Shammah realized the potential for death, but were, nevertheless, ready to stand upon the promises and dignity of God even unto death. They were willing to do so alone, but not really alone. The triune God was with them.

 The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016).

Matthew 26:36 Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and said to His disciples, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” 37 And He took with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be grieved and distressed. 38 Then He said to them, “My soul is deeply grieved, to the point of death; remain here and keep watch with Me.”

Matthew 26:39 And He went a little beyond them, and fell on His face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will.” 40 And He came to the disciples and found them sleeping, and said to Peter, “So, you men could not keep watch with Me for one hour? 41 “Keep watching and praying that you may not enter into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

Matthew 26:42 He went away again a second time and prayed, saying, “My Father, if this cannot pass away unless I drink it, Your will be done.”43 Again He came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were heavy.

Matthew 26:44 And He left them again, and went away and prayed a third time, saying the same thing once more. 45 Then He came to the disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Behold, the hour is at hand and the Son of Man is being betrayed into the hands of sinners. 46 “Get up, let us be going; behold, the one who betrays Me is at hand!”

 New American Standard Bible: 1995 update

The Lord was alone. On the night when He was to be betrayed, when, more than ever, the fellowship of the disciples would be needed, they failed Him and left Him alone. But our Savior wasn’t alone, the Holy Father and the Holy Spirit was with Him, and that was all that was needed. Only Jesus could die for us, and He had to do it alone.

Maybe this is why, at times, we serve alone. Maybe it is the way it needs to be. Maybe it is the way of the cross. But we must remember this, when we are alone, or feel alone in our service to the Savior, we are not alone at all. God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit are right there with us, and that is more than enough.

Vulnerability

Today, in my Bible reading, I came to Judges 17 and Luke 2. It was timely reading since complicated issues concerning ministry support are before me.

Luke 2:1 Now in those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus, that a census be taken of all the inhabited earth. 2 This was the first census taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. 3 And everyone was on his way to register for the census, each to his own city. 4 Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David, 5 in order to register along with Mary, who was engaged to him, and was with child. 6 While they were there, the days were completed for her to give birth. 7 And she gave birth to her firstborn son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

Being born is such humble circumstances, Jesus seemed so utterly vulnerable. It reminds me, that as I stay humble and apparently vulnerable, I am actually under the providential care and protection of almighty God.

Judges 17:5 And the man Micah had a shrine and he made an ephod and household idols and consecrated one of his sons, that he might become his priest.

Micah certainly was a pragmatic man who did what seemed right in his own eyes. With a veneer of dedication to God, he manipulated circumstances to his advantage with little regard for true sanctity. Things seemed to workout for his family, but would you like your legacy to be like his–I wouldn’t.

My Application: It is better to error on the side of caution than to try to out shrewd the shrewd. Just be humble and trust the Lord.

 New American Standard Bible: 1995

Walking Humbly with God: What Peaceful Joy

Judges 13: 1 Now the sons of Israel again did evil in the sight of the Lord, so that the Lord gave them into the hands of the Philistines forty years. 2 There was a certain man of Zorah, of the family of the Danites, whose name was Manoah; and his wife was barren and had borne no children. 3 Then the angel of the Lord appeared to the woman and said to her, “Behold now, you are barren and have borne no children, but you shall conceive and give birth to a son. 4 Now therefore, be careful not to drink wine or strong drink, nor eat any unclean thing. 5 “For behold, you shall conceive and give birth to a son, and no razor shall come upon his head, for the boy shall be a Nazirite to God from the womb; and he shall begin to deliver Israel from the hands of the Philistines.

Judges 13: 6 Then the woman came and told her husband, saying, “A man of God came to me and his appearance was like the appearance of the angel of God, very awesome. And I did not ask him where he came from, nor did he tell me his name. 7 But he said to me, ‘Behold, you shall conceive and give birth to a son, and now you shall not drink wine or strong drink nor eat any unclean thing, for the boy shall be a Nazirite to God from the womb to the day of his death.’ ”

Judges 13: 8 Then Manoah entreated the Lord and said, “O Lord, please let the man of God whom You have sent come to us again that he may teach us what to do for the boy who is to be born.” 9 God listened to the voice of Manoah; and the angel of God came again to the woman as she was sitting in the field, but Manoah her husband was not with her. 10 So the woman ran quickly and told her husband, “Behold, the man who came the other day has appeared to me.” 11 Then Manoah arose and followed his wife, and when he came to the man he said to him, “Are you the man who spoke to the woman?” And he said, “I am.” 12 Manoah said, “Now when your words come to pass, what shall be the boy’s mode of life and his vocation?”

Judges 13: 13 So the angel of the Lord said to Manoah, “Let the woman pay attention to all that I said. 14 “She should not eat anything that comes from the vine nor drink wine or strong drink, nor eat any unclean thing; let her observe all that I commanded.”

It is interesting to me that the total sum of God’s commands to Manoah’s wife was to raise her son without cutting his hair or allowing him to drink from the vine or strong drink nor allowing him to eat anything unclean. Really not very demanding. The obedience to this simple life style was all that God asked. The woman, who is not named, could live a simple life of obedience enjoying each day before the Lord.

Micah 6: 8 He has told you, O man, what is good; And what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?

Micah, also seems to proclaim the same humble instruction. Just live a good life before the eyes of God. Nothing complicated, no expertise needed, just humbly and peacefully walk with God. It reminds that God walked in the garden of Eden in the cool of the day seeking fellowship with Adam and Eve.

Paul basically confirms the simplicity of Godly living.

Live Humbly before God:

Romans 12: 1 Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. 2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.

Understand what God expects of you:

Romans 12: 3 For through the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith.

Then do it:

Romans 12:4 For just as we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function, 5 so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. 6 Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us is to exercise them accordingly: if prophecy, according to the proportion of his faith; 7 if service, in his serving; or he who teaches, in his teaching; 8 or he who exhorts, in his exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.

I am glad I don’t need to be a superstar to live the life God has for me. I just need to be faithful to His calling.

 New American Standard Bible: 1995 update

Jesus Presented at the Temple

J

Jesus Presented at the Temple

Luke 2: 21-24 And when eight days had passed, before His circumcision, His name was then called Jesus, the name given by the angel before He was conceived in the womb.

And when the days for their purification according to the law of Moses were completed, they brought Him up to Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “Every firstborn male that opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord”), and to offer a sacrifice according to what was said in the Law of the Lord, “A pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.”

Bill”s Comments–Mary and Joseph were humble, obedient parents. You don’t need to be well known to do great things. 

Lesson: Faithfulness to the Lord will accomplish whatever it is we should  accomplish. 

Luke 2: 25-35 There was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon; and this man was righteous and devout, looking for the consolation of Israel; and the Holy Spirit was upon him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. He came in the Spirit into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to carry out for Him the custom of the Law, then he took Him into his arms, and blessed God, and said, “Now Lord, You are releasing Your bond-servant to depart in peace, according to Your word; For my eyes have seen Your salvation, which You have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a Light of revelation to the Gentiles, And the glory of Your people Israel.” And His father and mother were amazed at the things which were being said about Him. And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary His mother, “Behold, this Child is appointed for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and for a sign to be opposed—and a sword will pierce even your own soul—to the end that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.”

Bill’s Comments–Simeon had obediently waited for the Father to reveal to him the One who would bring salvation to both the Jew and Gentile (the whole world). Simeon would have clearly understood that God would send a Savior by his (Simeon’s) study of God’s Word, the Bible. The Holy Spirit revealed to Simeon that in his life time he would see the prepared One.

Lesson: God will lead those who are obedient students of His Word (the Bible) to understand and do His will. Our personal God is able to lead us personally.

Luke 2: 36-38 There was a prophetess, Anna the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was advanced in years and had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, and then as a widow to the age of eighty-four. She never left the temple, serving night and day with fastings and prayers. At that very moment she came up and began giving thanks to God, and continued to speak of Him to all those who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem.

Bill”s Comments–Anna, by the giftedness granted to her by God, speaks to those at the Temple about the child Jesus, who would become the Savior of the world. Notice, that Anna was devoted to God all of her life.

Lesson: So, we are shown faithful parents, Jospeh and Mary; a faithful servant, Simeon; and a devout gifted for ministry woman, Anna. We also are able to lead a life which may be characterized as faithful and devout. By doing so, God may decide to use us to serve the Savior, just like Joseph and Mary, Simeon, and Anna.