Saturday, October 17, 2009

“Jesus Christ heals”

Today’s Reading Acts 9:32-35 (NIV): 32As Peter traveled about the country, he went to visit the saints in Lydda. 33There he found a man named Aeneas, a paralytic who had been bedridden for eight years. 34"Aeneas," Peter said to him, "Jesus Christ heals you. Get up and take care of your mat." Immediately Aeneas got up. 35All those who lived in Lydda and Sharon saw him and turned to the Lord.

God does not beat around the bush to get to the main point of His message! Only 4 sentences was needed here. Jesus heals…… believe……..

From this we can come to know that giving your testimony does not have to be lengthy or full of profound words that are difficult to understand. God’s sermon for this day is wrapped up nicely in this truth! I am encouraged by this passage, for I need healing – everyday healing that is supernatural beyond my understanding. Those experiences grow my faith and acceptance of the love Jesus Christ has for me.

Jesus Christ has healed previous wounds in my life and turned them into a way for me to draw closer to Him. To be healed, one must pray. Pray with the steadfast hope that we know God will answer our prayers in His time and in His will. Pray to accept that will and to trust that it is perfect!

We need nothing else, but God’s perfect will for our lives to be healed! Now go and tell someone.

Dorothy Drago Brucks
Aldersgate UMC
Nixa, Mo.

Friday, October 16, 2009

"Acts of Boldness"

Today's Reading Acts 9:29-31 (NIV): 29He (Saul) talked and debated with the Grecian Jews, but they tried to kill him. 30When the brothers learned of this, they took him down to Caesarea and sent him off to Tarsus.

31Then the church throughout Judea, Galilee and Samaria enjoyed a time of peace. It was strengthened; and encouraged by the Holy Spirit; it grew in numbers, living in the fear of the Lord.

When our youngest son Matt was in his early teens we use to tell him that when he started driving his own car we were going to get personalized license plates that read “I R GUE” – because he was so good at debating both of us. My husband has a bold personality, a large presence and very loud and distinguishable voice. He has a powerful whistle that can be heard down the street. He spoke and whistled boldly on the soccer field in a lot of different ways. Matt is very much like him, bold and loud and I love them both for who they are! (Don’t be made guys)

It takes a personality like that, which Saul also had, to debate the Greek speaking Jewish people in Jerusalem. It wasn’t one on one debating either, it was one on hundreds probably, which helped the Jews to believe they had the right to try to kill him. You and I know differently, they were not taking on just one Saul; they were debating the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace. They stood no chance.

However, the band of brothers didn’t want to risk it, so they took Saul away. The rest and peace was needed among the believers to prepare them to be used by God to spread the gospel message. God knew they needed this time to grow in numbers, become stronger in their faith, learn how to help one another and work together because it wouldn’t be long before Saul would return and his ministry would begin.

The church (believers in Christ) was filled with the Holy Spirit and when that happens to a group of people (our congregations) blessings are abundant and ministry happens. A congregation that depends on God as their foundation of strength will overcome any thing that could harm them. Believers that are bold speak of the miracles God provides and their faith is real and seen by others around them. They speak of the power of God working in their congregations and they pray in thanksgiving.

Matt continued to grow in stature and age and determination and is a fine young man, a believer that doesn’t argue his faith. He challenges people by the way he expresses himself and Saul did also. Over the years I have learned from my husband and my son that being bold and expressive is an attribute that is needed in important situations. Growing the body of Christ over the next several decades was going to need boldness from everyone.

The work of this first congregation is so exciting to read and study; let’s continue our spiritual journey with these early missionaries of deep abiding faith. Jesus commissioned His disciples with the Holy Spirit to take the message of salvation to all and He is calling you and me today. Glorify Jesus in all that you do and His eternal peace will be with you always.

Dorothy Drago Brucks
Aldersgate UMC
Nixa, MO

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Personal reference

Today’s Reading: Acts 9:27-28 NIV

27 But Barnabas took [Saul] and brought him to the apostles. He told them how Saul on his journey had seen the Lord and that the Lord had spoken to him, and how in Damascus he had preached fearlessly in the name of Jesus. 28 So Saul stayed with them and moved about freely in Jerusalem, speaking boldly in the name of the Lord.

Good morning!

A personal reference can make all the difference when it comes to finding a new job. When I was hired three years ago by my present employer, one of the attorneys I had worked with at a former law firm took the time to send an email reference to the legal team I was meeting with in advance of my scheduled interview. It was a positive personal reference, citing several instances where I had made a positive impact with their legal team. I have no doubt of the weight it carried when I received a job offer. A good personal reference can carry far greater weight than even a professionally prepared resume, especially when the endorser speaks from the heart.

It is really hard to live down a negative reputation. By God’s grace, people can and do change every day. Yet, human nature teaches us to bear grudges, not trusting that the person who may have previously misled or disappointed others had actually changed! The Apostles and new believers were understandably hesitant when it came to trusting Saul. His reputation for killing new Christian converts preceded his alleged instantaneous conversion. Was it possible that this man, who had hurt so many, was now saved by Jesus Christ?

Thank God for Barnabas. He recognized Saul’s transformation and knew, without a doubt, that he had accepted Jesus as His Lord. Barnabas was well aware of Saul’s tarnished reputation in the Christian community. More than anything else, Saul needed someone who was well-respected to vouch for him in the inner circle. Barnabas was not afraid to bridge the gap between Saul and his skeptics. Have you ever had someone, who knew of your past mistakes, stand up and speak in your favor simply because they believe you are no longer the same?

If you find yourself longing to serve the Lord, yet, do not know how to adequately convey your change of heart to the inner circle, you need a rock-solid endorsement. Let the power of the Holy Spirit speak for you. Time and again, doubters were convinced that someone who may not have been a trustworthy candidate has, in fact, been changed by faith.

Christ is calling you to be a Barnabas to someone who needs a word of encouragement and support today. Do you believe it is possible for a person to truly change? Are you willing to risk your life on it? Father, help us to discern and acknowledge the faith You have planted in the hearts of your servants today. Help us not judge each other on the past mistakes we’ve made, but on the life-changing power that transforms sinners into saints for kingdom work. In Jesus’ name, I pray, Amen.

Grace and peace,

Deb Spaulding

Faith UMC - St. Charles, MO


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Wednesday, October 14, 2009

“What about reputation?”

Today’s reading: Acts 9:23-26 (NIV) 23After many days had gone by, the Jews conspired to kill him, 24but Saul learned of their plan. Day and night they kept close watch on the city gates in order to kill him. 25But his followers took him by night and lowered him in a basket through an opening in the wall.

26When he came to Jerusalem, he tried to join the disciples, but they were all afraid of him, not believing that he really was a disciple.

Celebrities have a following and they also have a reputation. Does it matter which comes first? Perhaps Saul’s reputation prior to becoming a believer was daunting and his reputation after he began preaching was in question. The footnote in the Bible I use states that when Saul left Damascus preaching he went to Arabia (north) and was there for three years. I don’t think I ever picked up on that before. I look at Saul’s calling a little differently now knowing he spent three years with God before he began to fulfill his ministry.

Jews were still plotting to kill Saul even though he had developed a following, he had to be careful. Others risk their lives to help Saul stay out of reach of the Jewish people who wanted him dead. I can’t imagine living with a bounty on my head! I can’t even comprehend what that might be like. The fear he and his followers must have had caused issues for them all. God was in charge of this though, we know that, for Jesus spoke to Saul and Saul was changed. He had plans unknown for Saul, He had you and me in mind.

When he made his way to Jerusalem, he longed to be with the disciples who had lived and served with Jesus. His reputation impacted his acceptance and they were afraid to believe if his transformation was real or would he revert to his old ways.

You and I need to live our lives so that our reputations do not hinder the spread of the gospel. Reading and studying God’s word daily helps us to be able to share biblical examples with others. Truths such as creation, prophecy, chosen people, temple building, leadership of Kings, lineage of David, immaculate conception, birth, life, crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

The page is turning now; Saul has come to Jerusalem and will use his leadership skills and knowledge with the divine guidance of the Holy Spirit.

Dear Saul, I am so glad that I don’t have to look for an opening in the wall so my friends can bring me in to share the gospel message. Thank you Saul for doing that for us.

Your friends in Christ,
All Christians

Dorothy Drago Brucks
Aldersgate UMC
Nixa, Mo.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

"Jesus is the Christ"

Today’s reading Acts 19:20 – 22: “Saul spent several days with the disciples in Damascus. 20At once he began to preach in the synagogues that Jesus is the Son of God. 21All those who heard him were astonished and asked, "Isn't he the man who raised havoc in Jerusalem among those who call on this name? And hasn't he come here to take them as prisoners to the chief priests?" 22Yet Saul grew more and more powerful and baffled the Jews living in Damascus by proving that Jesus is the Christ.”

For several years now, I have attended the Women of Faith Conferences, a weekend retreat of sort, with inspiring speakers and worship and praise music - a day and a half with other Christian women. A Walk to Emmaus weekend is a time away with other believers to re-vitalize your walk with Jesus and gain a better understanding of God’s grace. Saul too spent several days with the disciples, perhaps, learning about Jesus on a personal and spiritual level.

We all need energizing sometimes and there is nothing wrong with that. What is important is that we recognize when we need to draw nearer to the Lord and not ignore whatever signs there are that indicate we have this need.

I know I fall short of living the way that pleases the Lord. Perhaps time away with other disciples would help me free myself of judging others or complaining about people and circumstances that I find myself in. I tend to lean towards being an opinionated person and sometimes my expression isn’t that of living a Christ-like example.

What I desire, is that everyday someone might say, I see love in Dorothy, I see that she has compassion and a caring heart. I don’t want these things for me personally; I want them so that others see Jesus and not Dorothy.

Surrounding myself with other Christians’ feeds my soul, but if I only use that time for myself to grow, the ultimate purpose is wasted. We must be like Saul was at this juncture in his life; spend time with other disciples, grow spiritually and intellectually, go and share what Jesus has done for you and how your life has changed as a result. Share it in acts of compassion and kindness, being open and honest, humble yourself from pride and show love to others in genuine ways. Jesus will change the lives of others when they are introduced to Him. Don’t let them miss out because of your actions. Jesus is the Christ!

Dorothy Brucks
Aldersgate UMC
Nixa, Mo.

Monday, October 12, 2009

"Let your journey begin today"

Today’s reading Acts 9: 17 – 19: “ 17Then 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." 18Immediately, something like scales fell from Saul's eyes, and he could see again. He got up and was baptized, 19and after taking some food, he regained his strength.”

After my first mission trip to Mexico, I was hooked. I had learned that I too could serve with what skills that I had and the Holy Spirit would provide the place. I have to admit, I was terrified crossing the border, praying for green light rather than red light so we would not be pulled aside to be searched. On each of the four mission trips to Mexico that I was part of, our luggage was filled with lots of different items for the community; clothes, diapers; medicine, books and more, items that could have caused an issue at the border. Only on one trip did our entire bus have to unload and walk through the line, but only a few were searched with no issues. Praise God!

I imagine Ananias was fearful just as I was when the voice came to him for his mission to go and greet Saul. Saul’s reputation preceded him and fear was in the minds of both Jew and Gentile. We know from these verses that Ananias indeed heard God’s voice and followed Him. His tender greeting of “Brother Saul” shows the compassion and genuine man of God that Ananias was.

In my life time I have had some disagreements with others that turned pretty ugly; some of you may have also. What I learned from those situations is that it takes time to heal, it takes time to regain trust, it takes time to see again, to see the real person inside and it takes time for the spirit to work. I have also found that it is worth every ounce of energy I put into it to experience the God ordained result. Which is what Ananias is witnessing, the God ordained baptism of Saul and his filling of the Holy Spirit. What a privilege for Ananias and those around him.

Saul was a religious man, well taught and feared the Christian movement would ruin Judaism. God was now ready to use all of Saul for the gospel. It is indeed a privilege to serve Jesus, to respond unconditionally to God’s calling; we are changed forever. No matter how religious we think we are how much we know about scripture and truth, the way we serve Jesus Christ, must be His way. We must serve the Lord with gladness and for the Glory of God.

Your missionary journey today is to go and share the gospel with someone. Will you say yes?

Dorothy Drago Brucks
Aldersgate UMC
Nixa, Mo.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

"To hear the voice of God"

Today’s reading: Acts 9:9-11 9For three days he was blind, and did not eat or drink anything.
10In Damascus there was a disciple named Ananias. The Lord called to him in a vision, "Ananias!" "Yes, Lord," he answered.

11The 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. 12In 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. 14And he has come here with authority from the chief priests to arrest all who call on your name."

15But the Lord said to Ananias, "Go! This man is my chosen instrument to carry my name before the Gentiles and their kings and before the people of Israel. 16I will show him how much he must suffer for my name."

Singer, songwriter Wayne Watson sings a song that contains these lyrics - “For such a time as this, I was placed upon the earth, to hear the voice of God, to do his will, whatever it is,…” I fell in love with this song about 1997 and for me it became my mission statement, to use a catch phrase from the business world. I played that song over and over, listening with an intent heart and soul. If you aren’t familiar with it, take a few moments and listen to it from this link Wayne Watson - For Such A Time As This or Google the title.

The spoken word of God came to Ananias – pure, divine, and clear. Even as Ananias questioned the Lord, Ananias still heard the voice of God declaring that this horrible man Saul is to be healed to become a follower of Jesus Christ and God’s chosen one to lead.

The very first mission trip that I went on to Mexico was not by my choice. I had said no many times, then 7 days before a departure to build a church, someone became ill and I was asked if I could go. I had no passport, no building skills, feared flying and worked fulltime, so I knew I could not go. For some reason, I asked at work if I could get off, and everyone was fine with it, I was assured a passport at that time was not necessary for we were within a certain radius of the border. Nothing stood in my way, so I said yes.

God intended for me to serve Him and made every obstacle able to be overcome. Jesus’ divine message toward the cold, heinous hearted man named Saul struck him blind for three days. You see, God can change whatever and whomever He chooses. He sent me, he sent Ananias and He chose Saul. “For such a time as this, I was placed upon the earth, to hear the voice of God to do His will!”

Each of us is here for God’s purpose and nothing else. Follow where He takes you because it is in His will, whatever it is.

Dorothy Brucks
Aldersgate Church
Nixa, Mo.