1. 20131001 - Prepare for Life: Lesson 2 - He is Holy and Set Apart


    from Colin Rowley Added 35 0 0

    In God we find One whose power and authority is unmatched. We find One who has always been and will always be. We find One holy and set apart. And we need a God who is all of those things. We need a God who is in control. We need a God who can defeat our enemy. We need a God, constant and sufficient, who merits our trust and praise. Without Him and all that He is, we would have no hope. However, the truth about who God is also poses a pressing problem. In light of all His power and goodness, we find ourselves undeniably lacking. As we spend time in the majestic presence of the Most High and Eternal God, we will delight to find that in all His splendor, He has also undertaken all that was necessary to invite us to come, to worship and to enjoy Him. May He leave us to wonder at His holiness from the safety of the shadow of His wings.

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    • 20130924 - Prepare for Life: Lesson 1 - He IS


      from Colin Rowley Added 34 0 0

      In the dark of night, a man named Jacob was left alone with God. He came from a family of faith and dysfunction. He carried stories of a faithful God and memories of a father who’d overtly favored his twin brother. Jacob lived a life of deceit and despair, often mingled with an undertone of holy that might leave the audiences of Genesis a little perplexed. But here, on this night, all his scheming and all his toiling gave way to darkness. “Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him until daybreak” (Genesis 32:24). The man was God Himself.

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      • 20130430: Prepare for Life - Lesson 23: The End?


        from Colin Rowley Added 23 0 0

        Acts 28 Today, we come to the close of our story. As we’ve peered into the life of the early church through the eyes of Luke, we have been challenged and puzzled and encouraged. I have grown admittedly attached to some of these characters, and Luke was not particularly concerned with tying up loose ends. Acts 28 ends with no fanfare. There is no finality, no closure. It hardly seems fair to have drawn us into the narrative and then shut the book in the middle of the action. What will we do with what we have seen? What will we do with our stories in response to theirs? There is a temptation, I think, to write these men off as heroic, to see their stories as unique and almost other-worldly. That is to have missed the entire point. These men and their circumstances were not fables or fairytales. God didn’t give us His Word to show us how things used to be. He hasn’t changed! The same purpose and power that were available to those early apostles are available to us. Looking to Peter and Paul and James and John, might we be encouraged to live lives of purpose for the honor and glory of Jesus Christ? Looking to the Holy Spirit, might we find the same grace and power that was available to the early church? When it’s His power and His grace that changes us, well, that changes everything. May the twenty-eight chapters of Acts stir in us a hunger for the Lord who still writes stories for His glory in the lives of those who seek Him.

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        • 20130423: Prepare for Life - Lesson 22: The Shipwreck


          from Colin Rowley Added 17 0 0

          Acts 27 Gentle, rolling waves give way to white caps. Ocean spray turns to crashing tide. The sun slips behind the clouds, and a cold shiver replaces the contented comfort of its rays. Quiet concern swells to fear. Feet slip on the soaked deck. Hands grasp for something steady. Heads turn, shielding their eyes from the whipping wind. In the midst of the storm, our hearts long for safety, crave security, ache for the shore. And if we were warned ahead of time of the impending danger, our minds play cruel tricks – what ifs and if onlys mock our desperation. Things we’d clung to in calmer days reveal their uselessness. We toss them aside in haste to save ourselves. If we aren’t careful, fellow travelers are mistaken for excess baggage, and should-be teammates square off in opposition. There is a madness in the storm. Chaos fuels fear. Desperation clouds judgment. Hopelessness threatens faith. On his way to Rome, Paul encountered such a storm. And in the midst of it, an angel of God stood before him saying, “Do not be afraid, Paul; you must stand before Caesar; and behold, God has granted you all those who are sailing with you” (Acts 27:24). The voice of calm reassurance in the height of the storm. A word of steady encouragement as the tempest swirls. Perhaps you need to hear it. Hold tight to His Word, and lean hard into His Spirit. Let’s seek the very Maker of the seas.

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          • 20130409: Prepare for Life - Lesson 20: Paul's Imprisonment in Caesarea


            from Colin Rowley Added 23 0 0

            If anyone has had cause for bitterness, for skepticism, for indifference toward men, surely Paul did. Persecuted, imprisoned, plotted against, the man was a continual target for unjust treatment. And yet we see time and time again that Paul’s desire was for the very men who were mistreating him to come into a saving relationship with his Lord. It’s easy to begin to see him as super-human, but he wasn’t. He wept. He wondered. He got hungry and tired and probably irritable. But he sought to live at peace – to neither offend nor to be offended. If he wasn’t super-human, there is only one way he could have lived in such a way – the very power of God dwelling in him through the Holy Spirit. Paul wrote in Romans 5:5: “the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” That same Spirit dwells in us as believers. Lord, fill us with Your love, through Your Spirit, that it might overflow to those around us regardless of our circumstance.

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            • 20130402: Prepare for Life - Lesson 19: Paul in Jerusalem


              from Colin Rowley Added 15 0 0

              Acts 21:17 - 23:11 In spite of the warnings, Paul marched boldly on to Jerusalem, “ready not only to be bound, but even to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus” (Acts 21:13). He didn’t walk naively or defiantly. He went willingly. He went courageously. Words of the Lord from Joshua 1:9 ring in my ears: “Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Here we have an example of that. Wherever you walk this week, whatever you encounter, I pray you know the presence of the One who goes with you. I pray the Lord makes Himself particularly tangible to you and to me. He did it for Joshua. He did it for Paul. He loves us no less.

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              • 20130326: Prepare for Life - Lesson 18: The Third Missionary Journey Continues


                from Colin Rowley Added 22 0 0

                Acts 20:1 - 21:16 Although Luke focused primarily on Paul’s journey and ministry in this latter part of Acts, we will see this week that Paul had many co-laborers whom he loved dearly and respected greatly. Part of Paul’s mission was to equip other leaders, encouraging them also to continue making disciples and ministering to the church of God. Though we might think he cast a large and looming shadow, he didn’t expect others to dwell there. Instead, he invited them into the shadow of the Almighty and encouraged them to find their lives and purposes there. It is easy and tempting at times to fall into the shadow of another. As we witness Paul’s encouragement, may we see an invitation to find ourselves only in the shadow of the Almighty, to find our lives and purposes in Him alone.

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                • 20130305: Prepare for Life - Lesson 17: The Third Missionary Journey Begins


                  from Colin Rowley Added 32 0 0

                  Acts 18:23 - 19:41 Throughout our reading this week, we will meet men whose hunger for the Lord far surpassed their pride. We will meet a man named Apollos who graciously responded to correction. We will meet twelve disciples of John the Baptist who welcomed further revelation of the Lord Jesus Christ. We will meet magicians and sorcerers willing to leave their ways for the opportunity to know the God of real power. They were willing to submit their lives to the conviction of the Holy Spirit. They were anxious for a more complete encounter with the Living God. My heart yearns to be that humble. Though my instinct is to fight against it, something deeper longs to be willing to bend graciously under the weight of the Truth of God, to embrace Him even when it means forsaking me. Will you join me this week in imploring our Mighty God to break our prides and soften our hearts – that we might more fully and fervently hunger after Him?

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                  • 20130212: Prepare for Life - Lesson 15: The Jerusalem Council


                    from Colin Rowley Added 41 0 0

                    Acts 15:1-35 According to our text this week, when Paul and Silas landed in a Philippian prison, they sang “hymns to God” (Acts 16:25). They had been beaten with rods and thrown into the inner room of the prison – their feet chained in the stocks. I imagine they were bruised and bloody, singing words of worship through split and swollen lips. And then, in the midst of their song, an earthquake shook the ground to which their feet were chained, and “all the doors were opened and everyone’s chains were unfastened” (Acts 16:26). I wonder what burdens we bring today to a Lord inviting us to lay them out before Him, to “lay them on the Word.” He invites us to come to Him to find peace and rest and joy. He dares us to find “a song to sing in the darkest night.” To look up through tear-filled eyes. To reach for Him with weary hands. To choose to worship Him even in the midst of circumstances that tempt us to do otherwise. Could it be that when we do, we might find that the earth’s shaking around us is just enough to open the doors of our prisons and unfasten the chains of our bondage?

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                    • 20130205 - Prepare for Life: Lesson 13 - The First Missionary Journey Continues


                      from Colin Rowley Added 20 0 0

                      Acts 14 At the end of this first missionary journey, Paul and Barnabas retraced their steps through the cities they’d visited to strengthen the souls of the disciples there and to encourage them to continue in the faith (Acts 14:22). I don’t know about you, but that sounds so good to me. Who couldn’t use a little soul-strengthening encouragement? Sometimes we find encouragement directly from the Lord, alone with Him. Sometimes His Spirit infuses strength directly into our weary or troubled hearts. But sometimes we need another to be the hands and feet of Christ, the tangible presence of Him in our midst. Let’s pray this week that our fellowship would be one in which we remember to strengthen and encourage one another. Let’s be eager to give. Let’s be hungry to receive.

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