Now, and Then

October 25, 2021: SOAP #4344:  Job 16; Acts 21-23

SCRIPTURE:  Acts (NIV) 23:23 Then he called two of his centurions and ordered them, “Get ready a detachment of two hundred soldiers, seventy horsemen and two hundred spearmen to go to Caesarea at nine tonight. 24 Provide mounts for Paul so that he may be taken safely to Governor Felix.”

OBSERVATION: Paul’s nephew brought Paul news of a plot to kill Paul.  Paul had the young lad sent to the Roman commander to repeat the report.  The commander provided 200 soldiers, 70 horsemen and 200 spearmen to accompany Paul to a place of safety!  (And that is just what could be counted—there is no record of how many angels!)

The irony of the situation cannot be missed.  Here the same Roman government that crucified Jesus at the insistence of the Jews, now goes to great ends to protect Paul from those same Jews!

APPLICATION:  God never runs out of resources to provide safety for those doing His will.  As I hear His voice and stay in the middle of His will, I can count on His protection. 

God never runs out of resources to provide for those doing His will.  As I am faithful to hear His directions and to do His will, I can count on His provision. 

I am certain that when I look back from heaven’s point of view, I will be even more amazed at His protection and provision!

PRAYER: Heavenly Father, it is a privilege to be your child. For what I am aware, I thank you for your protection and provision.  Looking back from heaven’s point of view, I will see the full extent of your protection and provision.  I will see the times you protected me when I did not know I was in danger. I will see how skillfully you directed provision to arrive at just the right time.  I worship you now, and I will worship you even more then! Amen.

Pastor Leon
Making friends for time and eternity! 

Important Ministry

October 24, 2021: SOAP #4343:  Job 15; Acts 19-20

SCRIPTURE:  Acts *NIV) 19:1 While Apollos was at Corinth, Paul took the road through the interior and arrived at Ephesus. There he found some disciples 2 and asked them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” They answered, “No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.” 3 So Paul asked, “Then what baptism did you receive?” “John’s baptism,” they replied. 4 Paul said, “John’s baptism was a baptism of repentance. He told the people to believe in the one coming after him, that is, in Jesus.” 5 On hearing this, they were baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus. 6 When Paul placed his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied. 7 There were about twelve men in all.

OBSERVATION:  Before coming to Corinth, Apollos had been in Ephesus.  In Ephesus he taught some disciples all he knew about Jesus.  When he arrived in Corinth, Aquila and Pricilla took time to explain things more fully.  However back in Ephesus, Paul found the disciples that Apollos had taught.  As Aquila and Pricilla did for Apollos in Corinth, Paul did for the disciples in Ephesus. 

Paul taught them about the Holy Spirit and prayed for them to receive the Holy Spirit.  The ministry of the Holy Spirit and our relationship to Him was very important to Jesus.  He made sure his followers knew about the Spirit and that they should wait in Jerusalem until they personally encountered the Holy Spirit (on the day of Pentecost.)  (Acts 2) 

APPLICATION:  The Holy Spirit draws my attention to the Bible passages He wants me to emphasize in the SOAPs.  Sometimes He gives me understanding when I read the passage, sometimes He opens my understanding as I am writing out the SOAP. 

PRAYER: Holy Spirit, I pray that as you open my understanding while reading the Bible, and while writing the SOAPs…I pray that you do the same for those who read these SOAPs.  But especially do it as they read the Bible.  Reveal to them how the scriptures apply to their personal lives.  Amen.

Pastor Leon
Making friends for time and eternity! 

Useful

October 23, 2021: SOAP #4342:  Job 13-14; Acts 17-18

SCRIPTURE:  Acts (NIV) 18:26 He [Apollos] began to speak boldly in the synagogue. When Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they invited him to their home and explained to him the way of God more adequately. 27 When Apollos wanted to go to Achaia, the brothers encouraged him and wrote to the disciples there to welcome him. On arriving, he was a great help to those who by grace had believed. 28 For he vigorously refuted the Jews in public debate, proving from the Scriptures that Jesus was the Christ.

OBSERVATION: There are some good examples in this passage that should be applied to the church today.  (Vs. 24-28) First, we see Apollos.  He used his gifts to present Jesus.  He was not too proud to be teachable.  When he moved on to Achaia, he continued to be useful.  He was a good man! 

Second, we see Priscilla and Aquila.  They were a faithful and useful part of the church in Ephesus.  Though not mentioned as a church leader, they listened carefully to what the preacher said.  When they heard Apollos preach something that was not right, they did not cause turmoil in the congregation, but invited him to their home.  Their faithful ministry in helping Apollos grow in his understanding helped Apollos grow in fruitful ministry. 

APPLICATION:  I need to be teachable.  What I learn from others can strengthen my ministry for the glory of God!  

If I hear something needing correcting, I need to help bring the correction lovingly, wisely, privately, and carefully.  Like in this passage, the goal of any correction should be future, fruitful ministry. 

PRAYER: Use me, Lord, for your glory.  Use me to bring benefit to your church. Amen.

Pastor Leon
Making friends for time and eternity! 

Praise to God!

October 22, 2021: SOAP #4341:  Job 11-12; Acts 15-16

SCRIPTURE:  Acts (NIV) 16: 25 About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them.  26 Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everybody’s chains came loose.

OBSERVATION: From the context we know that Paul and Silas were “severely flogged’ and then put in an “inner cell” with their “feet in the stocks.”  Hurting and bleeding backs from the whipping, in jail with limited movement—their circumstances were bad, their feet were bound; but their hearts were free.  Many times, sorrow is expressed through music; but it was not sorrow or hurt or self-pity that was in the songs of Paul and Silas — it was praise to God!    The other prisoners heard them, but it was more than a concert for prisoners.  Someone more important was listening that night.  Their song was heard in the courts of heaven and stirred the heart of God.  When God set them free, “everybody’s chains came loose!”

APPLICATION:  My heart has often been lifted from the prison of my circumstances by the anthem of praise.

Truly, God inhabits the praises of His people. (Ps 22:3)

 God is not only interested in doing things in me, but also through me!   He is not only interested in my freedom, but the freedom of those around me. 

PRAYER: Oh Lord, may I bring joy to your heart as I praise you, especially in the time of trouble.  Instead of complaining, griping, and talking words of doubt and defeat, may those around me hear praise to you.  You are worthy! Amen.

Pastor Leon M
Making friends for time and eternity! 

Report back…

October 21, 2021: SOAP #4340:  Job 9-10; Acts 13-14

SCRIPTURE:  Acts (NIV) 14:26 From Attalia they sailed back to Antioch, where they had been committed to the grace of God for the work they had now completed.  27 On arriving there, they gathered the church together and reported all that God had done through them and how he had opened the door of faith to the Gentiles. 28 And they stayed there a long time with the disciples.

OBSERVATION: Their missionary journey was complete; they were back home.  The journey was complete, but not their responsibility.  The responsibility to report back to those who sent them out had yet to be completed.  So they gathered the church and gave them a report of where they had gone and what the Lord had done. 

APPLICATION:  It is important for us/me to report back to those who have sent us, encouraged us, supported us, helped us, prayed for us.  They share with us/me the victories, the rewards, and the joy.  When we do not share with those involved in our ministry, we are robbing them of their share in God’s blessings. 

This not only applies to the “big” ministries, but to the little ways people have encouraged us to do something for the Lord.  It could be a word of thanks to our pastor for a message that spoke to our hearts or inspired us to step out in faith. 

PRAYER: Holy Spirit, show me the debt I owe to people who have helped me move forward in serving you and those around me. Help me not to ignore or take it lightly.  Amen.

Pastor Leon
Making friends for time and eternity! 

Faith to Ask; Faith to Receive

October 20, 2021: SOAP #4339:  Job 6-8; Acts 12

SCRIPTURE:  Acts (NIV) 12:12 When this had dawned on him, he went to the house of Mary the mother of John, also called Mark, where many people had gathered and were praying. 13 Peter knocked at the outer entrance, and a servant girl named Rhoda came to answer the door. 14 When she recognized Peter’s voice, she was so overjoyed she ran back without opening it and exclaimed, “Peter is at the door!” 15 “You’re out of your mind,” they told her. When she kept insisting that it was so, they said, “It must be his angel.” 16 But Peter kept on knocking, and when they opened the door and saw him, they were astonished.

OBSERVATION: While Peter was in prison, the church was praying.  Peter must have had some inclination that people would be praying for him, because after his miraculous release, he went to Mary’s home.  They had gathered for the purpose of praying for Peter and they were earnestly praying. 

Peter learned that it was easier to get into prison than into that prayer meeting!  

The believers learned that the answer to their prayer was standing at their door!  All they had to do was open the door! 

They had prayed; God had answered; now all they had to do was open the door!

Peter was in the house; the answered prayer was complete; and there was great rejoicing!

APPLICATION:  By faith I pray, and by faith I receive my answer.  I cannot bring the answer, but I can receive the answer.  The answer is not complete until it is in my life.  (Peter was as separated from the church standing in the street outside the door of Mary’s house as he was in the prison!) 

I open the door by saying, “Thank you!”  I open the door by giving praise and thanksgiving.  I open the door by my words and attitude. 

PRAYER: Holy Spirit, thank you for having me consider this passage again!  You are building my faith to pray, and my faith to receive.  Amen.

Pastor Leon                       Making friends for time and eternity! 

My part…

October 19, 2021: SOAP #4338:  Job 5; Psalm 108; Acts 10-11

SCRIPTURE:  Acts (NIV) 10:44 While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit came on all who heard the message. 45 The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on the Gentiles. 46 For they heard them speaking in tongues {Or other languages} and praising God.

OBSERVATION: Peter, a Jew, had been obedient to the Holy Spirit.  He crossed a prejudiced barrier and entered the house of a gentile.  There is no indication that Peter knew what he was to do, or what was to happen.  But his obedience in going was all that was needed.  While he was speaking, the Gentiles experienced the Holy Spirit the same as the Jews had on the Day of Pentecost!

APPLICATION:  There is no way to over emphasize the importance of obedience!   When I obey and do what I can do, I open the door for the Holy Spirit to do what He can do!   My obedience to God opens the door for the Holy Spirit to move in my environment. 

God’s plan is always beyond my abilities and resources.  If God limited Himself to my ability and resources, then people would say, “That was only Leon.”  But when God does what only God can do, then people must acknowledge that God was at work.  God’s plan almost always includes a part for man, but that part is obviously not the solution to the problem. 

I believe many times God uses my obedience as a sign to the spirit world to demonstrate that He has a child/son who will do as He says.  It may seem foolish to man, but it blesses the Heart of God who then does what only He can do!  My obedience is in contrast with satan’s disobedience and it justifies God’s decision to remove satan from his place in heaven. 

PRAYER: Holy Spirit, I listen to you and I obey you.  My obedience is an expression of my submission to you and of faith that you will bring the needed solution.  Amen.

Pastor Leon
Making friends for time and eternity! 

Letting God Know

October 18, 2021: SOAP #4337:  Job 3-4; Acts 8-9

SCRIPTURE:  Acts (NIV) 9:17 Then Ananias went to the house and entered it. Placing his hands on Saul, he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord—Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here—has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” 18 Immediately, something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes, and he could see again. He got up and was baptized, 19 and after taking some food, he regained his strength. Saul spent several days with the disciples in Damascus. 20 At once he began to preach in the synagogues that Jesus is the Son of God.

OBSERVATION: Before Saul’s conversion, he actively persecuted believers.  He was on his way to arrest believers in Damascus when he was confronted by the Lord and struck blind.  He continued into the city where Ananias prayed for Saul and his sight was restored.  Then Saul spent several days with the disciples he had come to arrest. 

APPLICATION:  I can only imagine the conversations that happened between Saul and the believers in Damascus.  Maybe he stayed as a guest in one of their homes; he spent several days with them.  He not only interacted with the believers but began preaching publicly in the synagogues! 

What a testimony it was!  There is nothing like a fresh testimony.  It lets people know that God is at work today.  It builds faith that God is interested in interacting with people.  What God has done for me He will do for others. 

Letting others know what God has done for me is one way of letting God know how much I appreciate His blessing. 

PRAYER: Lord, every day you are at work.  Every day you give me something fresh from the scriptures.  I pray that you will use these SOAPs to encourage every reader that you will speak to them also.  Amen.

Pastor Leon
Making friends for time and eternity! 

Just Passing Time

October 17, 2021: SOAP #4336:  Job 1-2; Acts 6-7

SCRIPTURE:  Acts 7: 30 “After forty years had passed, an angel appeared to Moses in the flames of a burning bush in the desert near Mount Sinai.  31 When he saw this, he was amazed at the sight. As he went over to look more closely, he heard the Lord’s voice: 32 ‘I am the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.’ Moses trembled with fear and did not dare to look.

OBSERVATION: In making his defense before the religious leaders in Jerusalem, Stephen gives an overview of Israel’s history.  He covers forty years with five words: “After forty years had passed…”   It was a long forty years.  It was the time between Moses having to leave Egypt until the time God appeared to him in the burning bush telling him to return. 

Joseph spent years in an Egyptian prison until God gave Pharaoh a dream that needed to be interpreted.  If Joseph was not in prison, he very likely would have returned to his family in Canaan, but being in prison, he was immediately available.  (Genesis 41)

APPLICATION:  God’s timing often requires periods when I am sitting on the sidelines just passing time.  It may be an hour while waiting on a family member, or it may be a year or more waiting on a job or ministry opportunity. 

Waiting time can be productive time for prayer and Bible study.  God will use the waiting time to prepare me for the next assignment. 

I must be careful not to think that God is finished with me, or I am useless to Him. 

PRAYER: Heavenly Father, the timing for your plan for my life may require times of just being available. You are worthy of my whole-hearted service.  You are also worthy of my being available by waiting. Amen.

Pastor Leon
Making friends for time and eternity! 

He takes it personally!

October 16, 2021: SOAP #4335:  Malachi 3-4; Psalm 148; Acts 5

SCRIPTURE:  Acts (NIV) 5:1 Now a man named Ananias, together with his wife Sapphira, also sold a piece of property. 2 With his wife’s full knowledge he kept back part of the money for himself but brought the rest and put it at the apostles’ feet. 3 Then Peter said, “Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit and have kept for yourself some of the money you received for the land? 4 Didn’t it belong to you before it was sold? And after it was sold, wasn’t the money at your disposal? What made you think of doing such a thing? You have not lied to men but to God.”… 9 Peter said to her [Sapphira], “How could you agree to test the Spirit of the Lord? Look! The feet of the men who buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out also.”

OBSERVATION: Here is a good example of how God takes personally what we do to each other.  Ananias and Sapphira agreed to sell their property and give part of it to the church, but they told the church that they were giving it all.  Maybe it did not seem like much of a lie.  They were probably giving a large portion.  It would seem a reasonable amount to receive for their property.  No one would know.  

BUT they did not realize that when they spoke to the church, they were really speaking to the Holy Spirit! 

APPLICATION:  If they had known that the Holy Spirit was listening to their conversations about the sale of the property, would they still have gone through with their plan?  Maybe not. 

What about me?  When I make promises or do something less than I could have done…do I pretend that I have done all I could have done?  When I make an excuse for something I did not do, do I realize that the Holy Spirit is a part of that conversation.  He takes lies, even “white lies,” personally.  

PRAYER: Holy Spirit, forgive me for not considering that you are a part of my every conversation.  Help me remember that when I talk to others, you take my words personally.  Amen.

Pastor Leon
Making friends for time and eternity!