October 21, 2020: SOAP #3975:  Job 9-10; Acts 13-14

SCRIPTURE:  Acts (NIV) 14:3 So Paul and Barnabas spent considerable time there, speaking boldly for the Lord, who confirmed the message of his grace by enabling them to do miraculous signs and wonders… 5 There was a plot afoot among the Gentiles and Jews, together with their leaders, to ill-treat them and stone them. 6 But they found out about it and fled to the Lycaonian cities of Lystra and Derbe and to the surrounding country, 7 where they continued to preach the good news.

OBSERVATION:  Last year the Lord used verse 7 for a SOAP devotion.  Yet today I feel drawn to this verse again.  Paul and Barnabas had such a successful ministry in Iconium, that they encountered viable threats to their lives.  So, they moved on.  They changed location, but they did not change ministry.  Opposition did not discourage them or stop their ministry.  Opposition moved them to another open field where they continued their ministry.   

APPLICATION:  If God has called me to be a witness, then all I need is a testimony of what he has done in my life, and people who will listen.  If God has called me to be a preacher, all I need is a message from God and one or many people to listen.  I can do this standing on a street corner or talking with co-workers around a water fountain.  I can do this in a church building or while buying groceries.  I can even do this over the internet!!!  I must not let circumstances stop me.  I must continue using what I have in the completion of my assignment.                               

PRAYER:  Heavenly Father, what I have may seem small to me, but I know that you are not depending on what I have, but what YOU HAVE!  Holy Spirit, help me be one who continues ministering wherever I am and with whatever I have.  Amen

Pastor Leon
Making friends for time and eternity! 

Sleep: A Valid Expression of Faith

October 20, 2020: SOAP #3974:  Job 6-8; Acts 12

Scripture:  Acts (NIV) 12:5 So Peter was kept in prison, but the church was earnestly praying to God for him. 6 The night before Herod was to bring him to trial, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains, and sentries stood guard at the entrance. 7 Suddenly an angel of the Lord appeared, and a light shone in the cell. He struck Peter on the side and woke him up. “Quick, get up!” he said, and the chains fell off Peter’s wrists.

Observation:  If anyone should have been praying, it should have been Peter.  But the Bible says he was sleeping so soundly that the angel had to strike Peter on the side to wake him up!   Peter logically should have been sleepless trying to think how he would defend himself. 

But Peter was not living his life for himself.  His life belonged to God.  It was for God to decide how to best use Peter.  Peter could sleep knowing that God would determine what would happen tomorrow.  He had been faithful doing God’s work; He could rest in God’s faithfulness to work through what was ahead. 

And we know that God did work it out for Peter’s good and God’s glory!!!

The church expressed their faith by praying.  Peter expressed his faith by sleeping.

Application:  If I have been faithful in doing God’s will for my life, I can count on God to take care of that which is out of my control.  I do not need to frantically call for help.  I do not need to twist people’s arm to get their help and support.  The Holy Spirit is far better than me in convincing people to help.  And if the help needed is greater than man can provide, then God can send an angel!   God’s provision is proof of His calling. 

Prayer:  Heavenly Father, I cannot out-faithful you. I must be focused on what you give me to do.  I know I can trust you to be focused on what I cannot do.  I know the expression of my faith is powerful in your sight.  Amen

Pastor Leon
Making friends for time and eternity! 

He is Working on Both Sides! Pt 2

October 19, 2020: SOAP #3973:  Job 5; Psalm 108; Acts 10-11

Scripture:  Acts (NIV) 10:4 Cornelius stared at him in fear. “What is it, Lord?” he asked. The angel answered, “Your prayers and gifts to the poor have come up as a memorial offering before God. 5 Now send men to Joppa to bring back a man named Simon who is called Peter.
[Meanwhile back in Joppa…]
9 About noon the following day as they were on their journey and approaching the city, Peter went up on the roof to pray. …11 He saw heaven opened and something like a large sheet being let down to earth by its four corners. … 15 The voice spoke to him a second time, “Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.”

Observation:  As in yesterday’s SOAP we see God at work on both sides.  God spoke to Cornelius to send for Peter AND God preparing Peter to go with these Gentiles.  Later Peter reported, “As I began to speak, the Holy Spirit came on them as he had come on us at the beginning.” Acts 11:15   God was making it clear that Gentiles, along with Israelites, were to be a part of His church!

Application:  If God sends me somewhere, I can rest assured that He has made necessary provision for my arrival.  There is no better advanced person than God.  And those times someone comes to me looking for help, I can rest assured that I have, or I am capable of doing my part.  My part might not be the final solution, but God brought them my way because I could glorify God by doing my part.  God is not only working in my life, He is already working in the lives those coming my way! 

Prayer:   Heavenly Father, thank you for making a way that I can participate in what you are doing. I trust you to work through me.  Amen

Pastor Leon
Making friends for time and eternity! 

He is Working on Both Sides!

October 18, 2020: SOAP #3972:  Job 3-4; Acts 8-9

Scripture:  Acts (NIV) 9:10 In Damascus there was a disciple named Ananias. The Lord called to him in a vision, “Ananias!” “Yes, Lord,” he answered. 11 The Lord told him, “Go to the house of Judas on Straight Street and ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul, for he is praying. 12 In a vision he has seen a man named Ananias come and place his hands on him to restore his sight.”
13 “Lord,” Ananias answered, “I have heard many reports about this man and all the harm he has done to your saints in Jerusalem. 14 And he has come here with authority from the chief priests to arrest all who call on your name.” 15 But the Lord said to Ananias, “Go! This man is my chosen instrument to carry my name before the

Observation:  God tells Ananias where to go and for whom he should ask.  God also tells Ananias that Saul will be expecting him.  God had prepared Saul for the visit from Ananias.  God was able to send Ananias to Saul AND prepare Saul for the visit!   

Application:  When I recognize that God is wanting me to go somewhere or to someone, I can rest assured that God is already at work at the destination!  I can move ahead with confidence that what is needed for the assignment will be adequately provided.  

He tells me to go; He goes with me; When I arrive, I find He is already there!!!

Prayer:  Holy Spirit, it all starts with hearing your voice.  The priority is to hear your voice.  When I am faithfully following your directions, I can trust your provision.  Amen

Pastor Leon
Making friends for time and eternity! 

God’s Super-Glue

October 17, 2020: SOAP #3971:  Job 1-2; Acts 6-7

Scripture:  Job (NIV) 1:8 Then the LORD said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job? There is no-one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil.”…
2:3  Then the LORD said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job? There is no-one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil. And he still maintains his integrity, though you incited me against him to ruin him without any reason.”

Observation:  Was God proud of Job? or what!!!  Wow!

If you are looking for a character reference, you can go no higher than God.  The above verses are quotes of God speaking to Satan on behalf of Job!!!  God not only said it once; He said it twice! 

Between these two verses, the world has changed for Job.  He has lost his oxen, donkeys, sheep, camels, sons, and daughters.  His whole world has turned upside down.  Everything has changed, but two things have not changed – Job’s commitment to God, and God’s testimony of Job!

Application:  What God says about me is so much more important than what any man says about me.  I want to live my life in such a way that God can speak the same of me when I am going through the good times, AND when I am going through the bad times.  I know my circumstances do not change God, may He have the confidence that my circumstances do not change me.  

Prayer:  Heavenly Father, you are so absolutely holy that nothing can change you.  Help me to grow through the tough times I am experiencing so that nothing can change me.  I am held to you with the super-glue of your Love.    Amen

Pastor Leon
Making friends for time and eternity! 

Ministry Emphasis

October 16, 2020: SOAP #3970:  Malachi 3-4; Psalm 148; Acts 5

Scripture:  Acts (NIV) 5:14 Nevertheless, more and more men and women believed in the Lord and were added to their number. 15 As a result, people brought the sick into the streets and laid them on beds and mats so that at least Peter’s shadow might fall on some of them as he passed by. 16 Crowds gathered also from the towns around Jerusalem, bringing their sick and those tormented by evil spirits, and all of them were healed.

Observation:  If someone read the above scriptures and missed the part about Peter’s shadow, they may believe these were from the gospels and were written about the ministry of Jesus.  Of course, they would be wrong.  These are post crucifixion, post resurrection, post ascension, post Pentecost!  The same Holy Spirit that came upon Jesus, is now on the early church and He is continuing His ministry through Peter and the early church. 

Application:  I believe the Holy Spirit can bring about church growth today as He did in Acts.  We need to step out in faith.  From reading the Gospels, healing was a major part of Jesus ministry.  From reading the book of Acts, healing was a major part of the early church’s ministry.  From looking at the world in which I live, healing needs to be a major part of today’s church ministry! 

Prayer:  Holy Spirit, I know I am praying according to God’s will when I pray that you stir up the gifts of healing in your church—in me today.  Be glorified today as you were in the gospel and book of Acts days. Amen

Pastor Leon
Making friends for time and eternity! 

Words that affect God!

October 15, 2020: SOAP #3969:  Nehemiah 13; Malachi 1-2; Acts 4

Scripture:  Malachi (NVI) 2:17 You have wearied the LORD with your words. “How have we wearied him?” you ask. By saying, “All who do evil are good in the eyes of the LORD, and he is pleased with them” or “Where is the God of justice?”

Observation:  Here is an interesting view into the character of God.  He can be wearied!  He has desires and hopes that man is able to frustrate.  Man has the power to frustrate God!  God loves man and desires man to love Him in return.  Man’s love is expressed in obedience to God’s laws.  God’s laws are designed to enable man to enjoy life.  They are designed for our good. 

The words I speak can “weary” God.  

Application: A parent can go to great lengths to plan a day for the good of their child, making it a day that the child will greatly enjoy.  But the child would rather sleep in and stay home!  In a small way, that parent can understand how man can weary God.

Prayer:   Heavenly Father, you work out all things for my good and your glory.  Instead of wearying you, I want to bring joy to your heart.  May the words I speak be true to your character.  Amen

Pastor Leon
Making friends for time and eternity! 

Ordinary becomes Extra-ordinary!

October 14, 2020: SOAP #3968:  Nehemiah 11-12; Psalm 1; Acts 3

Scripture:  Acts (NIV) 3:1 One day Peter and John were going up to the temple at the time of prayer—at three in the afternoon. 2 Now a man crippled from birth was being carried to the temple gate called Beautiful, where he was put every day to beg from those going into the temple courts. 3 When he saw Peter and John about to enter, he asked them for money…6 Then Peter said, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.”

Observation:  Peter and John were not out looking to heal someone, or to have a large gathering where they could preach about Jesus and call people to faith in Christ.  But that is what happened.  It started as they were moving through a normal day.  Nothing big was planned.  They were just doing what was common for them to do.  It was nothing out of the ordinary.  They were just being faithful in doing something ordinary.  But their ordinary day was interrupted by an ordinary beggar with an ordinary request.  Then the Holy Spirit turned their ordinary day into an extra-ordinary day!  Now we can read the rest of the story in Acts 3. 

Application:  The Holy Spirit specializes in taking the ordinary things I faithfully do and using them to bring glory to Jesus!  I may not know how my faithfulness in doing the little things might affect someone who is watching.  It may be just a smile, or a gentle touch, or a short prayer, (baking a cake, fixing a leaky roof, writing a letter, making a phone call, etc.) but the Holy Spirit can do something big in someone’s life with something small from me.  Whatever it is you do, do it in the name of Jesus!  Give Him glory!  Many of the big things God does, starts with a believer doing a small thing! 

Prayer:  Jesus, knowing that you are watching my life makes me want to be faithful.  May my life please you and bring you joy.  And knowing that there may be someone watching close by—someone who may need encouragement, or a kind word—this also makes me want to be faithful.  Amen

Pastor Leon
Making friends for time and eternity! 

That includes me!!!

October 13, 2020: SOAP #3967:  Nehemiah 9-10; Acts 2

Scripture:  Acts (NIV) 2:1 When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. 2 Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. 4 ALL OF THEM were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them. …
38 Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 The promise is for you and your children and for ALL who are far offfor ALL whom the Lord our God will call.”

Observation:  The same Holy Spirit that empowered Jesus while living as the Son of Man, is the same Holy Spirit that came upon the early church as described above.  And it is the same Holy Spirit promised to ALL who are “far off”—that includes today, and that includes me!  2000 years later and 6,700 miles away, the Holy Spirit is the same! 

Application:  Jesus, as the Son of Man was limited to being in one place at a time.  He died on one cross and rose from one grave.  When He ascended to heaven, He promised to send the omnipresent Holy Spirit!  This is so much better.  He is with SOAP readers in Southeast Asia, in Africa, and it the United States.  He makes the Word alive in our hearts and lives!  

Prayer:  Jesus fill me anew with the Holy Spirit.  And keep me full!  Holy Spirit, work through me.  Glorify Jesus through me.  Amen

Pastor Leon
Making friends for time and eternity! 

The Enabling Anointing

October 12, 2020: SOAP #3966:  Nehemiah 7-8; Acts 1

Scripture:  Acts (NIV) 1:4  On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. 5 For John baptized with water, but in a few days, you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”

Observation:  Luke, the author of Acts, had emphasized the Holy Spirit descending like a dove on Jesus at His water baptism (Luke 3:22).  He followed on to describe Jesus as full of the Holy Spirit (Luke 4:1) and led by the Holy Spirit (Luke 4:1) and then returning from the devil’s temptation in the power of the Spirit (Luke 4:14).  The next Sabbath day (Luke 4:16-21) Jesus publicly read from Isaiah (61:1-2) that he had the anointing of the Holy Spirit. 

In the verses above, Luke records Jesus as saying that the presence and anointing of the Holy Spirit was as important to the apostles as it was to Him at the beginning of His ministry.  They were not to go anywhere until they had received this gift! 

Application:  If the presence and anointing of the Holy Spirit was important to Jesus, also to the early church, then it is also important to me.  As the early church in Acts 2:4, I need to stay filled with the Holy Spirit.  Without His presence and anointing in my life, it is impossible to accomplish God’s assignment to me. 

Prayer:   Holy Spirit, Education is good; examples are great; but they are not sufficient for fruitful ministry.  It is your enabling presence and anointing that I need every day.  I cannot depend on myself. Amen

Pastor Leon
Making friends for time and eternity!