Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Hidden in my heart (Acts 18:18-28, Psalm 119:11-16)

Just in case you are feeling overwhelmed with the Bible.  I started out reading the Bible everyday, just a chapter or some verses.  I thought I knew a lot.  But when I went to Grand Canyon College to study the Bible, I had a really hard time getting through the tests.  Several of the guys at school tried to help me learn.  There was just so much to remember.

So I wrote a prayer:
"Now I lay me down to study,
I pray the Lord I won't go nutty,
And if I die before I wake,
That's one less test I'll have to take."

When it came time for finals, I finished my term paper and turned it in late to the Professor. He asked what my excuse was. Trying to be noble, I said, "I don't have one. I messed up."
He said, "Ah come on I collect excuses." I told him the truth, "I led someone to Christ." He said, "That's a new one."

"But you still get a low grade."

I also got to meet Dr. Puckett at Grand Canyon. He had a wonderful Southern accent. Before each test, he'd say, "I don't want to scare anyone. But I don't think it's a good idea to cheat on your Bible test. You know, lightening bolts, stuff like that."

The details in the Bible seemed impossible to remember. I kept reading it, and realized I wasn't planning to be a Theologian.  I just wanted to learn about God's Word and share Christ, be His servant.  So, I listened to sermons at Church and kept reading the Bible on my own. I've always been hungry to learn more.  There's still some books in the Bible I haven't spent a lot of time on.  I plan to keep studying.

I did get through the year. Unfortunately, I couldn't afford to go back to Grand Canyon in Arizona. My parents moved up to Washington. God didn't let me slip away. I was able to spend some time in a Community College so I could finish my Bachelor's degree in Art and the Bible at Seattle Pacific University. I wound up working part-time in Financial Aid offices while going to school. I was on Financial Aid to go to school, and the Director asked if I wanted to work. I agreed and it went well. My brother married a German girl.  When I got my degree, my Sister-in-law stood up and yelled, "Heil Karen!" I didn't know what to think.  Remembering all of this brings back good memories. As I look back today, I'm smiling and reminded how God has a plan for us all even when it seems impossible.  I've been studying the Bible for 39 years now.  As for the Art degree and Bible minor, I was sitting in a cube at Boeing when the web became public.  My Art degree got me lots of jobs.  And the Bible?  God's Word has always given me courage.  He knew exactly what I would need : )

11 Your word I have hidden in my heart,
That I might not sin against You.
12 Blessed are You, O Lord!
Teach me Your statutes.
13 With my lips I have declared
All the judgments of Your mouth.
14 I have rejoiced in the way of Your testimonies,
As much as in all riches.
15 I will meditate on Your precepts,
And contemplate Your ways.
16 I will delight myself in Your statutes;
I will not forget Your word.
(Psalms 119:11-16 NKJV)

11 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. 12 Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. 13 And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.
(Jeremiah 29:11-13 NKJV)

Paul Returns to Antioch
18 So Paul still remained a good while. Then he took leave of the brethren and sailed for Syria, and Priscilla and Aquila were with him. He had his hair cut off at Cenchrea, for he had taken a vow. 19 And he came to Ephesus, and left them there; but he himself entered the synagogue and reasoned with the Jews. 20 When they asked him to stay a longer time with them, he did not consent, 21 but took leave of them, saying, “I must by all means keep this coming feast in Jerusalem; but I will return again to you, God willing.” And he sailed from Ephesus.
So we're back in Acts.  Paul made a lot of friends along his journeys.  In Antioch, they didn't want him to leave.  He was a great teacher and lead many to Jesus.

22 And when he had landed at Caesarea, and gone up and greeted the church, he went down to Antioch. 23 After he had spent some time there, he departed and went over the region of Galatia and Phrygia in order, strengthening all the disciples.

Paul's work produced many books in the Bible that we can still read after all those years, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Romans, Colossians and more.  It's hard to imagine how the Lord could use one man to accomplish so much.

Ministry of Apollos

24 Now a certain Jew named Apollos, born at Alexandria, an eloquent man and mighty in the Scriptures, came to Ephesus. 25 This man had been instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in spirit, he spoke and taught accurately the things of the Lord, though he knew only the baptism of John. 26 So he began to speak boldly in the synagogue. When Aquila and Priscilla heard him, they took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately. 27 And when he desired to cross to Achaia, the brethren wrote, exhorting the disciples to receive him; and when he arrived, he greatly helped those who had believed through grace; 28 for he vigorously refuted the Jews publicly, showing from the Scriptures that Jesus is the Christ.
I really like how Aquila and Priscilla pulled Apollos aside to teach him, rather than embarrassing or discouraging him in public.

Dear Heavenly Father,
I thank and praise You for the plans that seem impossible and turn out the way You planned all along.  I know You never leave or forsake us.  You are able to carry out plans we can't even imagine.  I pray You will bring a new desire to read Your Word, so everyone can know how truly awesome You are.

In Jesus Name, Amen.

(Acts 18:18-28 NKJV)

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