Passion and Love for Christ

“And now, behold, I go bound in the spirit unto Jerusalem, not knowing the things that shall befall me there: save that the Holy Ghost witnesseth in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions abide me. But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God.” Acts 20:22-24 (KJV)

The apostle Paul was bound by his own spirit to go to Jerusalem to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ to his people of Israel.  He had been chosen by God as the apostle to the Gentiles, but he still had a heart for Israel

My question is to myself.  Am I willing to go to my people willing to lose my life, for the sake of the gospel?  For the sake of Jesus Christ?  They are people who are perishing in their sins.  They too need Jesus as their Lord and Savior.  I cannot save them, but I can tell them the glorious news of God’s love through the cross of Jesus, His burial, and resurrection.

The passion of Jesus was the cross.  He had His eyes set on Jerusalem; and that means to go to the cross and die for the sins of the world, that those who will believe might have everlasting life.  He was willing to die that we might have a personal relationship with God.

Lord God, may my passion be to tell all I meet of the glorious Christ Jesus who died on the cross, was buried and rose again.  May I also tell them that same resurrected Jesus is coming again.

The Unending Journey

In the study of the book of Acts you can see that the early Church grew, and continued to grow.  It grew not because of the men who  had given their lives to following Jesus Christ; but it grew due to the power of God in the Person of the Holy Spirit within and upon them.

One of the chief apostles named in the book of Acts is first introduced in the Acts of the Holy Spirit book.  It is God who increases His Church.  It is God who regenerates those who come to Him.  It is God who keeps the Church growing even in 2017.

After Paul had arrived in Rome many Jews (at Paul’s invitation) came to him to question him concerning the charges against him from Jerusalem.  They wanted to hear what he preached and taught…

“And when they had appointed him a day, there came many to him into his lodging; to whom he expounded and testified the kingdom of God, persuading them concerning Jesus, both out of the law of Moses, and out of the prophets, from morning till evening. And some believed the things which were spoken, and some believed not.” Acts 28:23-24 (KJV)

The apostle spoke clearly of the place of Jesus as the Messiah of Israel from the Law and the Prophets all day long.

Paul believed the gospel.  He lived the gospel,  He proclaimed the gospel and God blessed, and gave results.

Sadly, today’s Church is much weaker in stature, faith, and power with God; yet God is still redeeming souls, regenerating them, and bringing us into His kingdom.

The Church today needs the Spirit of God at work; not entertainment, or showmanship from its pastor, music director, or any other director.  That is fire under the altar (1 Kings 17).  Let us call on the fire of God to come down on us.

We must have the power of God for perseverance.  We need to be servants of God first; then willing to serve others as well.  When we are in the will of God through His Spirit, His word, and in prayer then we will have peace.

The Church today needs to understand that all provisions will come from God for His work and ministry to progress.  In the early Church every member was provided for due to persecution (Christians were losing their employment, their homes, etc.), and those who were able made donations for the cause of helping those who suffered.  God provided the need for the apostle Paul to get to Rome.  He also provided encouragement for Paul by giving him friends.

Too many times the Church today, and their preachers do not challenge the opposition of the gospel.  Paul did.  He called them to come and hear what he had to say, and they came.  Some of them “Believed” and some of them did not.  Are we too afraid of being turned down?  When we present the gospel, and it is rejected it is not us who is being rejected; it is in fact Jesus being resisted.

Now, Church, is not the time to stop preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ.  It is time to preach it clearly, with the power of the Spirit unlike any other time.  It is time for Christians to rise up and say in public places “I believe that Jesus is the Christ the Son of the Living God, and God the Living Son”, then live like we are children of the King of kings.

The preaching of the gospel must continue, be unending until that day when we see Jesus face to face.  Paul could have said, “I am a prisoner. What can I do”, but he did not he preached the gospel.  His heart was set on Jesus, because Jesus was his treasure (Matthew 6:21).  He preached with confidence; not in his own abilities, but with confidence that God fulfilled every word He has ever spoken, and will continue to do so.  Though in prison Paul was free.

Although the book of Acts is a book of history we can also get the way the Lord would have us operated His Church.  To operate any other way would not be a New Testament Church.

The Lord’s way is 1) Jesus is the Head;  2) The Body submits to His Lordship;  3) We are to operate as one even as Jesus and the Father are One;  4) We are to walk in the Spirit of Christ Jesus.

Avoiding Shipwreck

The following thoughts are not original with me.  I heard it from another preacher, teacher, and apply my own thoughts and words to it; with the exception of the verses of Scripture.

Avoiding tragedy is not always possible, but if we would keep our eyes open, and our ears attentive we could see the way God is working, and hear His words of warning.

If we, like the men on board, the captain of the ship as well as the crew, with Paul ignore the warning, we have put ourselves in great danger.  The danger these had gotten into was life threatening to all on board the ship.  Paul was on  his way to stand trial in Rome, and he was going there by ship through the Med.

There are some great spiritual, as well as practical truths we can learn from these verses in chapter 27, and the journey by ship through the Med Sea.

“Now when much time was spent, and when sailing was now dangerous, because the fast was now already past, Paul admonished them, and said unto them, Sirs, I perceive that this voyage will be with hurt and much damage, not only of the lading and ship, but also of our lives. Nevertheless the centurion believed the master and the owner of the ship, more than those things which were spoken by Paul. And because the haven was not commodious to winter in, the more part advised to depart thence also, if by any means they might attain to Phenice, and there to winter; which is an haven of Crete, and lieth toward the south west and north west. And when the south wind blew softly, supposing that they had obtained their purpose, loosing thence, they sailed close by Crete. But not long after there arose against it a tempestuous wind, called Euroclydon.” Acts 27:9-14 (KJV)

From verse 9 we can learn that there is danger in being impatient.  Impatience can definitely endanger life.  As Christians it shows a lack of trust and unbelief in God’s providence, and His knowing what is best for His children.

See Proverbs 3:5-6 and Isaiah 40:31

Secondly we can learn that not all expert advice is godly or right (Acts 27:11).  The “Expert” may know the natural, but not the supernatural power of God.  The centurion was being a good soldier, and trusted the ship master and the owner, but did not believe the servant of God.  Check out 1 Corinthians 1:20-21.  Many an expert has been wrong.  God is never wrong.  See Luke 5:3-6.

Third, the places we may see of no comfort, may be a place of refuge (v. 12).  Comfort may be a peril of its own.  We Christians, especially in the U. S. of A.  are addicted to our comforts.  Comforts can draw us away from our faith which must be continually growing.  Killing our peace of heart and mind.  We must learn to be content with however God blesses us.  Read 1 Timothy 6:6-10.

Fourth, following majority opinion may not be the direction God would have us take (v. 12).  Sometimes, if there is even one who is in disagreement; that one individual may be the one who is being led by the Spirit of God.  To make life changing decisions, even life saving decisions, and for growth, there should be “All in one accord” within the body of Christ (Acts 2:1).

Fifth,  favorable circumstances may be a sign of worse to come (v. 13).  Such times are times to be aware, and alert to other possibilities.  There are times to remain where we are; to stay put and not weigh anchor.  We must learn that judging by circumstances; whether good or bad can be disastrous.  Read 2 Corinthians 6:1-10.

Sixth, the surest way to avoid shipwreck (v. 10).  Listen to God’s word, from God’s messenger.  Pay attention to the signs.  Delays in schedule.  Some of these may be “Closed doors”.  Remember that God knows what is best.

Though the ship master and owner did not listen to Paul, God’s servant, they made it to safety by the grace and providence of Almighty God.  The ship wrecked, but all were saved alive, by following the direction the apostle Paul gave through the Spirit of God (vv. 31, 43, 44). Blessed be the name of the Lord.

The Heavenly Vision

King Agrippa has come into Jerusalem, and now tells the apostle Paul that he may speak for himself.  What a wonderful opportunity to share with a king the gospel of Jesus Christ.

In Acts 26:2-23 is Paul’s testimony of what had come into his life, and changed his direction; the cause for his being on trial in the city.

Let us focus on…

“…Whereupon, O king Agrippa, I was not disobedient unto the heavenly vision: but shewed first unto them of Damascus, and at Jerusalem, and throughout all the coasts of Judaea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, and do works meet for repentance. For these causes the Jews caught me in the temple, and went about to kill me. Having therefore obtained help of God, I continue unto this day, witnessing both to small and great, saying none other things than those which the prophets and Moses did say should come: that Christ should suffer, and that He should be the first that should rise from the dead, and should shew light unto the people, and to the Gentiles.” Acts 26:19-23 (KJV)

In the verses just prior to these we find what happened on the “Road to Damascus” when he came face to face with God in the Person of the resurrected Jesus Christ, Son of God and God the Son.  This is the vision he speaks of in verse 19.

The apostle has not violated the Law of Moses, or the prophets.  He is in fact fulfilling them.  The One who is just, holy and righteous sent His Son to die for the sins of the world [Mankind], He was buried, and He bodily arose and came out alive; and He ever lives as our Advocate, and Redeemer.

Let us, with Paul, say, “I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision…”  That is it.  That is our life.  That is my vision.  I pray that it is yours as well.

Citizenship – Using What God has Given Us

Are you thankful for your earthly citizenship?  Whether it is to the United States of America or to the nation of Israel, or Russia, or the United Kingdom, etc.  Are you truly thankful for your citizenship?

In at least one point in time the apostle Paul was grateful for it.  Reading from Acts 25 today…

“But Festus, willing to do the Jews a pleasure, answered Paul, and said, Wilt thou go up to Jerusalem, and there be judged of these things before me? Then said Paul, I stand at Caesar’s judgment seat, where I ought to be judged: to the Jews have I done no wrong, as thou very well knowest. For if I be an offender, or have committed any thing worthy of death, I refuse not to die: but if there be none of these things whereof these accuse me, no man may deliver me unto them. I appeal unto Caesar. Then Festus, when he had conferred with the council, answered, Hast thou appealed unto Caesar? Unto Caesar shalt thou go.” Acts 25:9-12 (KJV)

Paul is on trial. Something to consider;  if Paul consents to go to Jerusalem he may be consenting to his death, before he reaches Jerusalem.  He has no assurances that he will reach that city.  However, with the protection of Roman guards, he is fairly certain he will reach Rome.

I am going to let a scholar from many years ago comment on these verses…

IV. Paul’s appeal to the emperor, and the occasion of it. This gave the cause a new turn. Whether he had before designed it, or whether it was a sudden resolve upon the present provocation, does not appear; but God puts it into his heart to do it, for the bringing about of that which he had said to him, that he must bear witnesss to Christ at Rome, for there the emperor’s court was, ch. 23:11. We have here,
1. The proposal which Festus made to Paul to go and take his trial at Jerusalem, v. 9. Festus was willing to do the Jews a pleasure, inclined to gratify the prosecutors rather than the prisoner, as far as he could go with safety against one that was a citizen of Rome, and therefore asked him whether he would be willing to go up to Jerusalem, and clear himself there, where he had been accused, and where he might have his witnesses ready to vouch for him and confirm what he said. He would not offer to turn him over to the high priest and the sanhedrim, as the Jews would have had him; but, Wilt thou go thither, and be judged of these things before me? The president, if he had pleased, might have ordered him thither, but he would not do it without his own consent, which, if he could have wheedled him to give it, would have taken off the odium of it. In suffering times, the prudence of the Lord’s people is tried as well as their patience; being sent forth therefore as sheep in the midst of wolves, they have need to be wise as serpents.
2. Paul’s refusal to consent to it, and his reasons for it. He knew, if he were removed to Jerusalem, notwithstanding the utmost vigilance of the president, the Jews would find some means or other to be the death of him; and therefore desires to be excused, and pleads, (1.) That, as a citizen of Rome, it was most proper for him to be tried, not only by the president, but in that which was properly his court, which sat at Caesarea: I stand at Caesar’s judgment-seat, where I ought to be judged, in the city which is the metropolis of the province. The court being held in Caesar’s name, and by his authority and commission, before one that was delegated by him, it might well be said to be his judgment seat, as, with us, all writs run in the name of the sovereign, in whose name all courts are held. Paul’s owning that he ought to be judged at Caesar’s judgment-seat plainly proves that Christ’s ministers are not exempted from the jurisdiction of the civil powers, but ought to be subject to them, as far as they can with a good conscience; and, if they be guilty of a real crime, to submit to their censure; if innocent, yet to submit to their enquiry, and to clear themselves before them. (2.) That, as a member of the Jewish nation, he had done nothing to make himself obnoxious to them: To the Jews have I done no wrong, as thou very well knowest. It very well becomes those that are innocent to plead their innocency, and to insist upon it; it is a debt we owe to our own good name, not only not to bear false witness against ourselves, but to maintain our own integrity against those who bear false witness against us. (3.) That he was willing to abide by the rules of the law, and to let that take its course, v. 11. If he be guilty of any capital crime that deserves death, he will not offer either to make resistance or to make his escape, will neither flee from justice nor fight with it: “I refuse not to die, but will accept of the punishment of my iniquity.’’ Not that all who have committed any thing worthy of death are obliged to accuse themselves, and offer themselves to justice; but, when they are accused and brought to justice, they ought to submit, and to say both God and the government are righteous; as it is necessary that some should be made examples. But, if he be innocent, as he protests he is, “If there be none of these things whereof these accuse me,—if the prosecution be malicious and they are resolved to have my blood right or wrong,—no man may deliver me unto them, no, not the governor himself, without palpable injustice; for it is his business as much to protect the innocent as to punish the guilty;’’ and he claims his protection.
3. His appealing to court. Since he is continually in danger of the Jews, and one attempt made after another to get him into their hands, whose tender mercies were cruel, he flies to the dernier resort-the last refuge of oppressed innocency, and takes sanctuary there, since he cannot have justice done him in any other way: “I appeal unto Caesar. Rather than be delivered to the Jews’’ (which Festus seems inclined to consent to) “let me be delivered to Nero.’’ When David had divers times narrowly escaped the rage of Saul, and concluded he was such a restless enemy that he should one day perish by his hands, he came to this resolution, being in a manner compelled to it, There is nothing better for me than to take shelter in the land of the Philistines, 1 Sa. 27:1. So Paul here. But it is a hard case that a son of Abraham must be forced to appeal to a Philistine, to a Nero, from those who call themselves the seed of Abraham, and shall be safer in Gath or Rome than in Jerusalem. How is the faithful city become a harlot!

MATTHEW HENRY COMMENTARY

Let us be thankful for the blessings of our freedom we have; and make use of them as God and this life provide.

I want you to remember that the best citizenship is the Heavenly citizenship available only through the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  Call on His name, and He will give you the New birth (John 3:3, 16).

The Gospel at Work

The apostle Paul is defending himself; and it is yet to be determined what his penalty will be for preaching the gospel to the hard hearted religious leaders who hated Jesus.  Accusations are hurled of “Heresy”, and maybe to the religious Jew, with their strict adherence to the Law; it probably was.  None the less the gospel of Jesus Christ is the truth.

Hear Paul’s defense (Acts 24:10-21)…

“But this I confess unto thee, that after the way which they call heresy, so worship I the God of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the law and in the prophets: and have hope toward God, which they themselves also allow, that there shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust.” Acts 24:14-15 (KJV)

Paul did not deny the heresy charges, but rather confirmed what he believed concerning the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ (Romans 9:32-33).

Paul had not changed his belief’s concerning the Law and the Prophet, he had only received the One of whom the Law and the Prophets had spoken.  His name is Jesus the Messiah of Israel; and that is not what the religious establishment wanted to hear.

Thing we Christians need to realize is that no matter what kind of thing happens in our lives we must be ready to present the gospel of Jesus, without fear, favor or compromise.  On trial for our faith?  Share the gospel.  Laying in a hospital bed?  Share the gospel.  Stopped for speeding?  Respect the officer, and share the gospel.  Before the traffic court Judge?  Take your medicine, and share your faith – if not by words, at least by your actions toward the verdict.  You get the point.

Your life; whether there is a chaotic event, or no specific event in your life; is a witness.  Make it a good one.  When your life testifies to the genuineness of your faith, then share the words.

The Prisoner of the Lord

During Paul’s life as a witness of the Lord Jesus Christ he was beaten, and left for dead; he was whipped; he was shipwrecked; he suffered at the words of false brethren, and he endured it all for Christ sake.

My heart’s desire is that I could have that said of me.  Someone could say it, but would it be true?  It is true of Paul.  Everything that happened should be seen as the closing or opening of a door by the Lord as He directs our paths.  That is the way  Paul viewed things. He was truly a PRISONER OF THE LORD.

“And when there arose a great dissension, the chief captain, fearing lest Paul should have been pulled in pieces of them, commanded the soldiers to go down, and to take him by force from among them, and to bring him into the castle. And the night following the Lord stood by him, and said, Be of good cheer, Paul: for as thou hast testified of Me in Jerusalem, so must thou bear witness also at Rome.” Acts 23:10-11 (KJV)

The prisoner of the Lord often encounters problems with the religious crowd.  The Sadducees, and the Pharisees were united against the apostle at first.  Then Paul realized their differences, he used that to proclaim the truth of the gospel of Christ (Acts 23:6).  At issue was the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

If Jesus is alive then the religion that crucified Him is greatly in error.  One group did not believe in resurrection, or anything spiritual.  These religions who are stuck on religion, but not the truth completely miss out on Christ Jesus and the salvation that is available to all who will believe.

In verse 11 where the Lord speaks to Paul giving him assurance that he will go to Rome and be a witness of the resurrection of Jesus.  He receives a message for the Lord that he might be courageous.  It is also a message of commendation for ministry and the power of the Holy Spirit within him and upon him.  Can you imagine what this did for Paul’s confidence?  Wonders.

When people do not like the truth being spoken they will more often than not attack the one speaking it (vv. 12-22).  Get this in your heads:  The messenger is not the one making you the way you are.  The truth often hurts, and if the truth makes you angry then you are the problem.

These are some who hate the truth; no matter where it comes from.  They are blind to the providence, and sovereignty of God.  Enraged mobs are thoughtless and heartless.

Some things we can learn from chapter 23 of Acts:

  1. Most times God uses what some would call “Unapparent means”;
  2. God uses time, that seems wasted, as a time for ministry to others;
  3. God uses people to accomplish His ways.

The following are the persons He uses:

  • The government;
  • The rebellious;
  • Satan;
  • Willing servants.

Let us be willing to trust the Lord.  Trust Him in such a way that He will work in our lives changing us, then work through us to change the lives of others.  Every open door should be viewed as an opportunity provided by God unless by going through it you would be violating His Word, His Spirit, or your conscience.

Citizenship Responsibilities

I have been blessed to have been born in the United States of America.  It has been called “The land of the free, and the home of the brave”.  Some have called the U. S. of A.  a “Christian nation”, some “Not a Christian nation”.

I want all to know, however, that I am a citizen of two Nations.  The nation in which I was physically born; and the Nation of Heaven into which I was born again through faith in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  I could not; neither can any other person, get into that nation without new birth through faith in Christ Jesus (John 3:3).

Now to the point of Acts 22…

“The chief captain commanded him to be brought into the castle, and bade that he should be examined by scourging; that he might know wherefore they cried so against him. And as they bound him with thongs, Paul said unto the centurion that stood by, Is it lawful for you to scourge a man that is a Roman, and uncondemned? When the centurion heard that, he went and told the chief captain, saying, Take heed what thou doest: for this man is a Roman. Then the chief captain came, and said unto him, Tell me, art thou a Roman? He said, Yea. And the chief captain answered, With a great sum obtained I this freedom. And Paul said, But I was free born. Then straightway they departed from him which should have examined him: and the chief captain also was afraid, after he knew that he was a Roman, and because he had bound him.” Acts 22:24-29 (KJV)

The apostle Paul was also the citizen of two, actually  three nations, though one [Israel] was not recognized as a nation at that time.  He was on trial for his witness; his testimony he has shared in verses 1 – 22 of this chapter.  They were about to beat him with a whip, and he was a Roman citizen, a born free Roman citizen.

As a citizen he was not to be beaten, whipped; at least not without a legal trial.  Yet, that is what was about to happen; so Paul uses his Roman citizenship.

In many nations the citizens of that country has rights and freedoms foreigners do not have in that country.  Citizens of the U. S. of A. have rights and freedoms that foreigners do not have.  That is being tried daily in our press, and in our government; and of that I will say only this.  Rights and freedoms of this country belong to citizens of this country.

Our earthly citizenship is a tool of God to bring others to Christ Jesus; so we can use our rights and freedoms to see others gloriously redeemed through the blood of Jesus.  As with Paul,  “God was using the great power of the Roman Empire to protect His servant and eventually get him to Rome.  God’s missionary did get to Rome — and the Romans paid the bill.”  Warren Wiersbe

Our earthly citizenship – not matter what nation we live in – should not be used to cause shame toward our Savior, or to our heavenly citizenship.  Let us live faithfully for our Lord and Savior in this world.  Our first responsibility is to our Lord.  That means being good citizens in the world in which we live.

Committed to the Gospel

The apostle Paul was greatly burdened for his people Israel.   He was burdened for Jerusalem, and was set to return there, despite continued warnings from others who were speaking for the Holy Spirit (Acts 21:4).

Paul’s response to loving people for him is a breaking heart, yet he is determined to go to Jerusalem.

“Then Paul answered, What mean ye to weep and to break mine heart? For I am ready not to be bound only, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus. And when he would not be persuaded, we ceased, saying, The will of the Lord be done.” Acts 21:13-14 (KJV)

The following is the commentary from the Believer’s Bible Commentary…

  • 21:12–14 When the apostle’s companions and the Christians in Caesarea heard this, they pleaded with him not to go up to Jerusalem. But he could not sympathize with their concern. Their tears only served to break his heart. Should the fear of chains and imprisonment restrain him from doing what he considered to be God’s will? He would have them know that he was ready not only to be bound, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus. All their arguments proved of no value. He was determined to go, and so they simply said, “The will of the Lord be done.”
    It is difficult to believe that Paul’s parting words were spoken by a man who was knowingly disobeying the guidance of the Holy Spirit. We know that the disciples in Tyre told him through the Spirit that he should not go to Jerusalem (v. 4). But did Paul know they spoke through the Spirit? And did not the Lord later seem to approve his trip to Jerusalem when He said, “Be of good cheer, Paul; for as you have testified for Me in Jerusalem, so you must also bear witness at Rome” (23:11)? Two things are clear: First, Paul did not think his personal safety was the main consideration in serving the Lord. Second, the Lord overruled all these events for His glory. From the BELIEVER’S BIBLE COMMENTARY

Paul is the one who inspired by the Holy Spirit wrote….

I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me.” Galations 2:20

Let us live faithfully for the Lord Jesus Christ that we might die faithfully in His name.

…Night and Day With Tears

There was something on Paul’s mind as he stated these recorded words.  Luke sensed it, saw it first hand, then wrote it down for the Church through every age might to read, and to know that there are things which happen in the Church, in every local congregation which will need to be addressed.  The Church in every age needs to hear the warnings of Scripture, and to heed them.

“Wherefore I take you to record this day, that I am pure from the blood of all men. For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God. Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which He hath purchased with His own blood. For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears.” Acts 20:26-31 (KJV)

As Paul, so should the Bible preacher, Bible teacher, Bible Christian of 2017  proclaim “All the counsel of God”.  Not part, but all.  Far too often men stand in the pulpit saying words people want to hear, rather then being the preacher of God saying what God says; what God wants us to hear.  May God forgive us.

The apostle had not shunned the responsibility to warn of “Wolves” fierce liars, deceivers, scam artists who would come in to lead people astray, and devour them; devour you if you do not live by the word of God.

Men of God have the responsibility to speak to the Church, who is bought with the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ; and Jesus is the Son of God and God the Son; so yes God has purchased us with His own blood (also see 1 Corinthians 6:20; 7:23).

It is imperative that the flock learn to identify the false teachers [the wolves] who are coming in to deceive, destroy, steal and kill.  You must know the truth of the word of God.  Read it. Study it. Apply it to daily living.  Know who Jesus truly is; and when you know Him, having the Holy Spirit in you you will not be deceived, but will know a lie when it is about to strike.  Then, you will reject it.  You will warn others of it, and like Paul “…night and day with tears”.

What makes you weep?  Maybe I need to ask, “What makes me weep?”  I have wept about many things; including not having enough money to pay the rent or the house payment.  I have wept over a broken down car, because I did not have the means to get it repaired.  I have wept over the sickness of a child because we had no insurance or money to take them to the doctor.  I am glad to say, though, that I have wept over lost souls as well.  I have wept when I have noticed brethren in Christ being led astray, going down the path of sin and shame; and into false doctrines, and living.

O for my heart to weep over the wayward sheep of Christ Jesus.  If you are a Christian today get into the Word of God, and most of all let the word of God get into you.  There is a place for rejoicing, always.  There is also a time for weeping, and that time is now.

Weep for the deceived.  Weep for the perishing.  Weep for the word of God to have a powerful affect on the lives of all the people you know through the Lord Jesus Christ who has purchased us with His own blood.

Magnifying Jesus the Lord

The power of the gospel of Christ is evident as we read the book of Acts.  The work of the Holy Spirit is seen as the word of God is proclaimed, and people’s lives are dramatically changed.  People who were lame are not walking, some who were possessed by demons are now delivered and walking, working, going about in their own mind.  Sicknesses, and diseases have been healed.

Some unwise Jewish chaps who thought they had the power try and imitate the Holy Spirit and Paul, and find themselves overrun and overpowered by the spirits they supposed could be cast out by evil men (Acts 19:14-16).  Woe be to anyone today who thinks they can act for or do the work of the Spirit of God.

“And this was known to all the Jews and Greeks also dwelling at Ephesus; and fear fell on them all, and the name of the Lord Jesus was magnified. And many that believed came, and confessed, and shewed their deeds. Many of them also which used curious arts brought their books together, and burned them before all men: and they counted the price of them, and found it fifty thousand pieces of silver. So mightily grew the word of God and prevailed.” Acts 19:17-20 (KJV)

When these foolish Jews took on themselves to cast out demons, they did not know the Son of God Jesus Christ.  They did not have the Spirit of God within them, or upon them.  They even attempt to use the name of Paul, not the name of Jesus to do this empty deed.  Rather than overpowering the demons, the demons overpower them; and they run from the house “naked and wounded”.

I love that sentence, “So mightily grew the word of God and prevailed.”  When things look dark and evil that is when the light of the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ will shine the brightest, and the darkness is overcome.

“The name of the Lord Jesus was magnified.”  This is greatest of all.  To magnify the Lord Jesus Christ is the greatest thing for a Christian to do.  If you are laboring to gain fame or fortune; you are laboring for the wrong thing.  You may get those things but you will find “leanness of soul” (Psalm 106:15) rather than fulfillment in the Lord.

The greatest thing the child of God can do is live to magnify the Lord Jesus, and worship, and glorify His name in all that we do.

O Christian let us decide today to live to be a blessing to His name.  If we do with a “Got to” attitude we fail.  When we do it with a “Get to” attitude, because we love Him and His word, then He is glorified.  And the word of God grows mightily and prevails.

The Only Bible They Had

Several years ago I read a book by Philip Yancey titled “The Bible Jesus Read”, and it opened my eyes concerning the Scriptures.  I began looking at the Bible in a whole new way.

When we read the New Testament which is the revelation of the Lord Jesus Christ to mankind, we see Jesus.  The Old Testament was the only Scriptures which Jesus had, and the only Scriptures which the apostles had; because the New Testament was only a work in progress.

Many a New Testament Christian in our day wants to shun the Old Testament, and not even use it for reading, or study; however, the Christian does herself, or himself a great disservice by doing so.  Let us look at the last five verses of Acts 18…

“And a certain Jew named Apollos, born at Alexandria, an eloquent man, and mighty in the Scriptures, came to Ephesus. This man was instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in the spirit, he spake and taught diligently the things of the Lord, knowing only the baptism of John. And he began to speak boldly in the synagogue: whom when Aquila and Priscilla had heard, they took him unto them, and expounded unto him the way of God more perfectly. And when he was disposed to pass into Achaia, the brethren wrote, exhorting the disciples to receive him: who, when he was come, helped them much which had believed through grace: for he mightily convinced the Jews, and that publickly, shewing by the Scriptures that Jesus was Christ.” Acts 18:24-28 (KJV)

Apollos was a Jew who was an eloquent speaker, and “Mighty in the Scriptures” meaning that he was quite familiar with them, could quote much, if not the whole of them, and defend them.  He, in our day, might have been called an “Apologists of the Scriptures”.  However, this is not about Apollos.  I want us to focus on the Person of the Scriptures.

After Priscilla, and Aquila had “Expounded unto him the way of God more perfectly” then the Scriptures did a work in him, and by his greater understanding and the presence of the Holy Spirit convinced other Jews that Jesus was the Christ.

The Scriptures, the Old Testament, is about Jesus the Christ – the Messiah of Israel, the Savior of all mankind.  Some have said that you can find Jesus Christ on every page of the Old Testament.  In the Law;  In the Prophets;  In the Historical books;  In the Wisdom/Poetry books you find Jesus.

Someone put it this way:  “The Old Testament is the New Testament concealed; and the New Testament is the Old Testament revealed.”

The human author of the Revelation of Jesus Christ has written;

“And I fell at his feet to worship him. But he said to me, “See that you do not do that! I am your fellow servant, and of your brethren who have the testimony of Jesus. Worship God! For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.”” Revelation 19:10 (NKJV)

When we read the Old Testament we read of Jesus who was to come to die for the sins of the world; then to return as a reigning King.  When we read the New Testament we read of Jesus who had come, who died on the cross for our sins, was buried, and arose from the grave; and has said, “I will come again, and receive you unto myself…” (John 14:3).  So, as Christians, we await His return.  Be ready by getting into the Scriptures, and grow in Him.

The Times of Ignorance

Are they back?  Did they ever leave?  The times of ignorance, that is.

Biblical ignorance seems to be on the rise; not just among the unbelieving, but those who profess to be Christian.  When we have people believing that at their babies death they become an angel; people believing their dead loved one has become an angel, then there is definitely Biblical ignorance.  Just stating some things I have noticed.  Do not mean to be ugly or mean, just truthful.

“And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent: because He hath appointed a day, in the which He will judge the world in righteousness by that Man whom He hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that He hath raised Him from the dead.” Acts 17:30-31 (KJV)

Idol worshiping is what Paul has been addressing in this seventeenth chapter of Acts.  On Mars Hill he noticed that they worshiped many gods, and one in particular “The Unknown God”.  He tells them about the One who made the earth and the heavens; all things (vv. 23-29).

There is such ignorance in the world today.  I do not intend to insult anyone with the word “Ignorance”.  Ignorance is fixable.  It is not a bad thing to be ignorant.  It is a bad thing to remain that way though.  Willful ignorance, however, is not fixable.

Now, God calls for all people to repent.  There is coming a day when Jesus Christ the Son of God, God the Son will judge this world, and all who are in it.  The righteous Son of God will judge.

When you believe in Jesus, trusting His finished work on the cross, you will never need worry about judgment in the fires of Hell.  You were judged through Jesus on the cross.  All God’s wrath of sin was poured out on Him.  Your sins are forgiven.  Your sins have been washed away.  You are clean in the eyes of God.  Forgive.  For sure.  For ever.

The Saving of Sinners

“And so were the churches established in the faith, and increased in number daily.” Acts 16:5 (KJV)

The early Church of the Lord Jesus Christ is reaching further and further into the then known world.  People are coming to faith in Jesus in notable numbers.  Lives are being changed wonderfully, powerfully, and God is being glorified.

They are being “Established in the faith”,  they are also “Increasing in number daily”.  If we stop to think about it the Church of 2017 is being established in the faith more and more, and increasing in number as well.  We are just not so aware of it; maybe as we ought to be.

In chapter sixteen we have the witness of three individuals being delivered from the power of evil and sin;

  1.   There is Lydia (vv. 14-15) who has been called “A Cultured Sinner”;
  2.   Then, we have the sorceress (vv. 16-24) who has been called “A Captive Sinner”;
  3.   Finally, there is the Philippian Jailer (vv. 25-34) who has been called “A Calloused Sinner”.

As the Christians of that day went about sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ many people came to Jesus believing that He alone paid their sin debt.

The Philippian Jailer came asking, “What must I do to be saved?” (v.30).  That is an appropriate answer for all to ask.  You may need to ask that today; and the answer is… “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, and your house.” (v. 31).  When the jailer believed, then his whole household believed too.

God is still saving souls through the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus the Christ, Son of the Living God, God the Living Son.

“Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, and your house”.

No Yoke

Sometimes there is strife, and arguments in the Church.  Maybe that is whey there are so many different denominations; but I think it probably goes beyond our differences.

Even in the early Church there was conflict.  Since the first members of the first Church were Jewish, having believed the Law, the Prophets, and the Wisdom literature – all of Scripture; then they had to deal with how the Gentiles fit into their beliefs.  That is what the conflict was over in Acts 15.

“And the apostles and elders came together for to consider of this matter. And when there had been much disputing, Peter rose up, and said unto them, Men and brethren, ye know how that a good while ago God made choice among us, that the Gentiles by my mouth should hear the word of the gospel, and believe. And God, which knoweth the hearts, bare them witness, giving them the Holy Ghost, even as He did unto us; and put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith. Now therefore why tempt ye God, to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear? But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved, even as they. Then all the multitude kept silence, and gave audience to Barnabas and Paul, declaring what miracles and wonders God had wrought among the Gentiles by them.” Acts 15:6-12 (KJV)

There were some in the Jerusalem Church who were teaching that the Gentile believers which had believed needed to agree with the law of Moses, and follow Jewish practices.  The verses above are the apostles defense of salvation by grace through faith in Christ alone.

The Holy Spirit had been given to the Gentile believers without the Law.  Why would, or why should they be expected to be put under the “Yoke” of the Law, “…Which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear…”.

We must understand, however, that freedom from the “Yoke of the Law” does not mean freedom to sin.  Since Jesus Christ died on the cross for our sins, was buried carrying sins death, condemnation, guilt, and bondage with Him; then rising from death leaving those things far away; we are free.  It does mean freedom from sin, and its yoke of bondage and death.

It is stated again in the text above.  “…We believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved, even as they…”  Jews and Gentiles are saved by grace through faith in the work of the Lord Jesus (Ephesians 2:8-10).

Continuing the Work of the Resisted Cross

The world today needs the cross of Jesus Christ just as the days of the past.  ‘Today is the day of salvation” not tomorrow.  Today.  We as Christians have the most urgent message for people; men, women, children, and their families to get our of their condemnation of sin through the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ and be saved.

Today is not the day to cease.  Today is the day of salvation…

“And when they had preached the gospel to that city, and had taught many, they returned again to Lystra, and to Iconium, and Antioch, confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.” Acts 14:21-22 (KJV)

Christian as we look at the above verses we see the early Christian and their leaders never ceased preaching.  They just moved on.  They moved on to other places, and sometimes they may have stayed where they were.

We read of Paul (who had been Saul who hated the gospel of Christ) being stoned, and they supposed to death, and drug out of the city (14:19-20).  Then, Paul got up and went to another city.  Why did he go to another city?  To preach the gospel of Jesus Christ.  O for the passion of Paul for Jesus and His love.

The gospel of Jesus Christ is God’s love for us on display at the cross where Jesus bled and died for our sins.  He was buried in a tomb, and three days later arose from that grave alive.

Nothing real good comes without a price.  We are bought with a price (1 Corinthians 6:20; 7:23).  It cost me nothing.  It cost you nothing.  God paid the price for you; because we do not have the price to pay.  The price for sin is death, and if we were to pay our own sin debt through death, then there would be no eternity except Hell’s fire.

As a Christian today we are called to live the gospel, spread the gospel, share the gospel, preach the gospel.  Where?  Wherever we may be.  What ever we may be doing.

Notice Luke’s words in the verses… “exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.”  No one; not even Jesus ever said that the Christian life would be easy, but we are told “Through much tribulation…”  “In the world you will have tribulation”; and “Yea all who live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution” (John 16:33;  2 Timothy 3:12).

Just as with the early Church, so too in the Church today, where there is trial, persecution, or tribulation because of the cross of Jesus Christ God will be blessing and increasing the kingdom

On this Valentine’s Day start it off right by loving the Lord Jesus Christ with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength; because that is how He loves you.

Religions Resistance

There are many times when the message of Christ is clearly presented that there will be resistance, even persecution, because the gospel of Christ turns religion upside down.  It is as true in 2017 as in the days of the apostles of Jesus.

“Then Paul and Barnabas waxed bold, and said, It was necessary that the word of God should first have been spoken to you: but seeing ye put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles. For so hath the Lord commanded us, saying, I have set thee to be a light of the Gentiles, that thou shouldest be for salvation unto the ends of the earth. And when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified the word of the Lord: and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed. And the word of the Lord was published throughout all the region. But the Jews stirred up the devout and honourable women, and the chief men of the city, and raised persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them out of their coasts. But they shook off the dust of their feet against them, and came unto Iconium. And the disciples were filled with joy, and with the Holy Ghost.” Acts 13:46-52 (KJV)

Paul and Barnabas were in a town where there was a Jewish synagogue, and they went there to fulfill the word of God, “To the Jew first…”.  They were made bold by the power of the Holy Spirit within them and upon them.

They had shared the history of the people of Israel; reminding them of the power of God on the people, His love, His grace, His mercy; upon the people in their journey in the wilderness.  All these as well with the Judges and the Kings of Israel, and how the LORD had called the Jews to be the messengers of God to the whole world.

Religion of men seeks to control men, women and children, and keeps people in bondage of sin.  Christianity, following Jesus frees men, women and children from the bondage, death, and scourge of sin.

What should the messenger of Christ do when opposed by the religious elite?  Do as Paul and Barnabas did.  Keep on preaching, teaching, living for the Lord.  “Shake the dust off your feet”, and go on doing the work of the ministry.

Praying For Others

“Peter therefore was kept in prison: but prayer was made without ceasing of the church unto God for him. And when Herod would have brought him forth, the same night Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains: and the keepers before the door kept the prison. And, behold, the angel of the Lord came upon him, and a light shined in the prison: and he smote Peter on the side, and raised him up, saying, Arise up quickly. And his chains fell off from his hands. And the angel said unto him, Gird thyself, and bind on thy sandals. And so he did. And he saith unto him, Cast thy garment about thee, and follow me. And he went out, and followed him; and wist not that it was true which was done by the angel; but thought he saw a vision.” Acts 12:5-9 (KJV)

Prayer, in the early Church was not a means for changing the will of God, but the means of getting into the will of God, and doing it.  God works and moves when His people pray.

Puritan Preacher Thomas Watson is quoted

“The angel fetched Peter out of prison, but it was prayer that fetched the angel.”

Peter’s life lay in the balance; yet he lay peacefully in prison, lying in chains, and bound to a prison guard.  He had confidence in the Lord God, and peacefully slept while God was at work delivering him from a cold dark, damp and dank prison. Yet, he slept so soundly the angel needed to smite him on the side to awaken him, and it seems “Raised him up”.

There is no place the child of God can get where God is not there.  God was in prison with Peter that day.  Why was Peter in prison? For preaching Jesus and Him crucified, buried and resurrected fulfilling the will of God for His life.

Peter was being an obedient servant of the Spirit of God.  We must learn to be praying for all those who do the will of God; and pray that we be doing the will of God, and glorifying His name.

Warren Wiersbe has written

“God works when churches pray, and Satan still trembles when he sees the weakest saint upon his knees.”

Peter was delivered from prison.  When the Church prays, when we who love the Lord Jesus Christ prays, heaven pays attention, people’s lives change, things change, and God is glorified.

 

…The Hand of the Lord was with Them…

“Now they which were scattered abroad upon the persecution that arose about Stephen travelled as far as Phenice, and Cyprus, and Antioch, preaching the word to none but unto the Jews only. And some of them were men of Cyprus and Cyrene, which, when they were come to Antioch, spake unto the Grecians, preaching the Lord Jesus. And the hand of the Lord was with them: and a great number believed, and turned unto the Lord.” Acts 11:19-21 (KJV)

There was a problem with the salvation of the Gentiles, of which we read in chapter 10.  Peter’s defense is read in 11:1-18.  The Jewish apostles, and brethren had that problem.  There was no Biblical difficulty, if they were willing to see it, because God intended that all the nations know “He is the LORD” (a theme mentioned throughout the Old Testament).

Due to the persecution of the Church at Jerusalem the Christian community was spread to other countries, and areas on the map.  It was how the Spirit of God was moving.

Those being persecuted did not cease preaching the gospel; rather they kept on preaching, but only to the Jews, in synagogues as God allowed it.  The gospel was given first to the Jew and also to the Greek [Gentiles] (Romans 1:16; 2:10). The “Grecians” would be the “the Greek speaking non-Jews” MacArthur Study Bible.  That would mean Gentiles.  They too were hearing message of the gospel of Jesus Christ; which God has meant for all to hear.

When “The hand of the Lord was with them” they prospered and grew in great number.  We must be sure when we are seeing a growth that it is of God.  That there are truly regenerated  people coming into our congregations, and not just an entertainment seeking, soft skinned, self made gods, but truly turning to the One who saves us from sin, and gives us eternal life.

Turn to the Lord, and live.  Reject Him and perish.  You reject Him by refusing to believe what He has said.

 

God is no Respecter of Persons

“Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons: but in every nation he that feareth Him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with Him. The word which God sent unto the children of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ: (He is Lord of all:) that word, I say, ye know, which was published throughout all Judaea, and began from Galilee, after the baptism which John preached; how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with Him. And we are witnesses of all things which He did both in the land of the Jews, and in Jerusalem; whom they slew and hanged on a tree: Him God raised up the third day, and shewed Him openly; not to all the people, but unto witnesses chosen before of God, even to us, who did eat and drink with Him after He rose from the dead. And He commanded us to preach unto the people, and to testify that it is He which was ordained of God to be the Judge of quick and dead. To Him give all the prophets witness, that through His name whosoever believeth in Him shall receive remission of sins.” Acts 10:34-43 (KJV)

This chapter begins by telling us of a man named Cornelius, a centurion of the “Italian band” (v. 1), a devout man who feared God, but did not know the Savior.  God does marvelous things to get His Chosen to Himself.

The verses we look at today are the words of Peter which he spoke after leaving Simon the tanners house, going to the house of Cornelius in Caesarea, and now he shares the gospel of Jesus Christ with the household, from the Old Testament – it was the only Testament they had at the time.  Something we must not forget.

Note Peter’s words given by the Spirit of God;

  • He exalts the Father and the Christ above all things or anyone;
  • Peter tells us of the work and ministry ob Jesus Christ;
  • Peter declares the work of salvation which Jesus performed
  1. His work of the cross;
  2. His burial;
  3. and His resurrection.

It was the Spirit of God who caused all the Old Testament prophets to speak of the Christ, and it is the Spirit of God who leads us to Him for the remission [forgiveness] of sins.

Many of Cornelius’s household were born again that day.  They also who believed were baptized in the name of the Lord.

As Christians we need not look too far to see the work of God.  We need only look into our own lives, and see Him at work.  We can look into our families, our community, our State, our Nation and the world to see the Spirit of God is moving, working.  It is only the blind who cannot see.

Reverence, Rest and Results

“Then had the churches rest throughout all Judaea and Galilee and Samaria, and were edified; and walking in the fear of the Lord, and in the comfort of the Holy Ghost, were multiplied.” Acts 9:31 (KJV)

Chapter nine begins by telling us of Saul.  He is known as Saul of Tarsus a Pharisee, passionate about the Hebrew religion, and the death of any who spoke of the Christ as the Lord Jesus.

In his endeavors of religious lust he set out to kill, and destroy the Christian faith, and was very aggressive in doing so.  This chapter deals mostly with his glorious conversion to faith in Christ Jesus, believing in His death, burial and resurrection.

The early Church was fearful of Saul.  They fled from Jerusalem because of him; not knowing it was the will of God to scatter the Gospel of Christ into the world.  It is amazing and wonderful and marvelous how the Spirit of the Lord moves and works in our lives.

I have, for many years, found verse 31 of chapter 9 fascinating, and enlightening.  After Saul’s conversion the churches of Judea and Galilee and Samaria experienced “Rest” – the persecution had lightened up.

I want you to notice what happened, and this is a lesson for the Church of all ages;

  1.  They were walking (the Church was walking) in the fear of the Lord;
  2.   They were experiencing the comfort of the Holy Spirit;
  3.   The Church was multiplying in number – people were coming to faith in Jesus.

What does that mean for the Christian Church today?  We must walk in the Spirit of God; that means with reverence, fear of God, His Spirit and His Word; believing His Word, loving His Word, and applying it to our lives, in daily living.

If we are to experience the “Comfort of the Holy Spirit” that comes also loving God, and His Word.  How can a child of God through Jesus Christ grow in faith in Him without a daily diet of God’s Word?  We cannot.  Neither will their be any comfort of the Holy Spirit.

Finally, the Christian Church today can only rightly increase in number as people come to Christ, not necessarily “To Church”, but to Christ Jesus through His death, burial and resurrection.

When the Church; which is the Body of Christ – has Reverence and Rest, then there will be Results.

…Purchased with money

“But Peter said unto him, Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money. Thou hast neither part nor lot in this matter: for thy heart is not right in the sight of God. Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee. For I perceive that thou art in the gall of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquity. Then answered Simon, and said, Pray ye to the Lord for me, that none of these things which ye have spoken come upon me. And they, when they had testified and preached the word of the Lord, returned to Jerusalem, and preached the gospel in many villages of the Samaritans.” Acts 8:20-25 (KJV)

There are two men of God in this chapter.  Philip seems to be the one who was preaching when Simon the sorcerer makes a decision, and speaks, “This man is the great power of God” (v. 10).

Sorcery has always been rejected by God because it distracts from God, His power and authority and Spirit.  In the case of this sorcerer it appears to mean “Magical arts” or the “work of a magician”.  For Simon it was used to deceive people purposely for his own personal gain.  In our day we might call him a “Scam artist”.  He did, however, recognize Philip as a man of God.

The words of the verses above were spoken by the apostle Peter.  He had spoken and laid hands on some of the believers of Samaria, and they received the Holy Spirit.  For clarity the Holy Spirit comes into, is given by God to an individual when receive the gift of God in Jesus Christ for salvation.

Simon saw this laying on the hands, as a “Power” which could be bought with money; and Peter rebukes him, even heavily condemns him for believing such a thing.

The gift of the Spirit of God has no price.  He is given by the grace of God upon one’s salvation through faith in Jesus Christ, His death on the cross, His burial and His resurrection.  He is given as “Christ in you,” empowering us to live by the Spirit, and when we live in the Spirit we walk with God in full agreement with Him.

I do not know the outcome of Simon.  He did ask for prayer “…That none of these things which you have spoken come upon me..”   I do know that God is gracious and merciful, and if this Simon truly was born again through faith in Christ Jesus he is forgiven, and walking with Jesus in glory today.

No matter what you have done know today that God loved you so much that He gave His only begotten Son that if you will believe in Him you will never perish, but have eternal life with Him.

The LORD and His Truth

“When they heard these things, they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed on him with their teeth. But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God, and said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing on the right hand of God. Then they cried out with a loud voice, and stopped their ears, and ran upon him with one accord, and cast him out of the city, and stoned him: and the witnesses laid down their clothes at a young man’s feet, whose name was Saul. And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit. And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep.” Acts 7:54-60 (KJV)

Stephen was one of the seven men chosen by the Jerusalem Church to serve the people (Acts 6:5).  He was a man full of the Holy Spirit, loving the Lord Jesus and His Word with a passion to share the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ with all.

This event in the life of Stephen begins in chapter six shortly after the Church ordains him as one of the seven.  He begins telling the religious elite, the priests and all about their origin as a nation (vv. 1-8a); he reminds them of their envy and their bondage (vv. 8b-36); he told them of Jesus of whom Moses and the Prophets proclaimed (vv. 37-53);  he told them of the crucified, buried, and resurrected Savior whom they had rejected, and is now seated at the right hand of God the Father;  he taught them of the forgiveness of Christ upon the cross (vv. 57-60) by showing it himself as he died, saying, “Lay not this sin to their charge”.

Why did Stephen die?  Why was he stoned to death by an angry mob?  Because of his love for God, His Son Jesus, His faith in Him, and His love for the Word of God which is the Truth of God.

Love for God means loving His Word, His truth, and that comes through the faith of the death, burial and resurrection of His Son Jesus.

You do not know, nor trust, nor love God the Father or God the Son unless you love His truth.  See what Jesus said in John 14:21.

Ministry Led By the Holy Spirit

“But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word.” Acts 6:4 (KJV)

In chapter six there was some contention over the neglect of some of the Grecians because their widows were not being cared for; at least the way the families thought they ought to be.

The Church in Jerusalem was growing.  People were being delivered from sin and condemnation.  The apostles were loaded with many responsibilities, thus the accusations of neglect.

The apostles were chosen by the Spirit of God to be preachers of the gospel; so in that they would, and should give themselves to the ministry of prayer, and the preaching of the word.  O that the preachers of God’s word today would get that burden; for if we are not in the word of God and prayer we will be powerless, and find ourselves struggling with emptiness of heart and soul, wondering about if we are doing what we are called to do or not.

It is not that the apostles, or the preacher today would be neglecting their duties of service, and ministry; they are rather giving themselves to the greater responsibility of calling people to Christ, and His work in and through them.

With every Christian gifted by the Spirit of God to serve one another, the Church is blessed and it grows as God blesses and leads.  See Romans 12:3-15;  1 Corinthians 12.

The Church chose seven men.  The most remembered one is Stephen.  These seven men were full of the Spirit of God, they did the work they were chosen to do, and the apostles were able to do the work they were called and chosen to do, and the Church was blessed…

“…Whom they set before the apostles: and when they had prayed, they laid their hands on them. And the word of God increased; and the number of the disciples multiplied in Jerusalem greatly; and a great company of the priests were obedient to the faith.” Acts 6:6-7

You will note also, that, many priests of the Hebrews became believers as well.  Is God good, great, marvelous or what? He is.  He is indeed.

Great Fear on the Church

“And great fear came upon all the Church, and upon as many as heard these things.” Acts 5:11 (KJV)

When you read verses 1- 10 of chapter five you will understand why “Great fear came upon all the Church, and upon as many as heard these things.”  It would certainly cause me to set up and notice, but then I pray today that there was such fear for the Church  of God, and His people.

It all began (in this chapter) with a couple name of Ananias and Sapphira who were Christians in the new Church of the Lord Jesus Christ.  There was such a move of the Spirit of God that many of the congregation had sold all that they owned and given the whole amount of the sale to the Church to support one another and the missions of that congregation.

This couple took it upon themselves to sell what they owned, keep back part for themselves; and there would have been nothing wrong with that; except they told the apostles – thus telling the Spirit of God – that they were giving all that they had received for the property; lying to them.  Therefore the wrath of God fell on them, they died for their lies to the Lord, initiating the fear that we read of in verse 11.

Would to God that there was more slaying by the Spirit of those who hope to gain personally from the work of God in our churches. Is it any wonder that there is no fear of God, nor His people in the world today.  That is due, at least in part, to the allowance of the world and its ways in the Church across our Nation.

May God help us and forgive us and lead us in His Spirit to be the catalyst of His great salvation once again.

Maybe if the Lord would do that again in His Church people would quit coming into worship the Lord with the attitude of “What can I get our of attending Church today?”, and start thinking with an attitude of gratitude of what the Lord  has already done for us on the cross, and what He does for us daily in our lives; happy to be in the presence of the Lord… no matter what we get out of “Church”.  It does need to be a matter of us dying to self, being crucified with Christ (Galations 2:20), and Christ living in us.

Turn to Jesus Christ today, and watch the power of God in you start to work.

 

The Word of God, the Spirit of God, and the Man of God

“Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus. And beholding the man which was healed standing with them, they could say nothing against it.” Acts 4:13-14 (KJV)

I use the word “Man” above in a generic sense; so I pray none of you feminist ladies get up in arms about it.  Smile.

These verses are a continuation of chapter three, and the healing of the lame man at the temple gate.  Peter and John were taken by the Sadducees, and “Put them in hold…” (4:1-3), because they were preaching the resurrection of Jesus; and the Sadducees do not believe in the resurrection, or anything spiritual.

People were believing as a result of Peter’s message – “About five thousand” men came to faith in Jesus the Christ.

If you go back through chapter three you will see that the message Peter preached was the Scripture the Word of God.  Throughout the book of Acts when there is a move of the Spirit of God it is due to the preaching of the Word of God, and the influence of the Word of God through the Spirit of God; never without it.

Peter and John were tried by these unbelievers, and the unbelievers were put on trial as well, by the Word of God, the Spirit of God, and the men of God.

Peter and John, not being educated in the education system of that day were ignorant of the things of the religious elite, but they had a far greater Person in their hearts and lives; and He is the All wise One; the All Knowing One.  When the Word of God is put to the test; it will stand.  When the Spirit of God is put to the test; He too will stand.  When the man of God, who is in the Word of God, filled with the Spirit of God is tested; he too will stand, and he will not fall at that point in his testing.

This is the testimony of the Spirit of God, and the Word of God —  “…And they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus.”  Let that be my testimony.  Let that be your testimony.

The Power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ

“Then Peter said, Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk. And he took him by the right hand, and lifted him up: and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength. And he leaping up stood, and walked, and entered with them into the temple, walking, and leaping, and praising God.” Acts 3:6-8 (KJV)

Peter and John, the apostles of Jesus Christ were going into the temple at the time of prayer, and there was a lame; a crippled man, at the gate begging for money, in order that he might live.

Too many times emphasis is put on the miracle, rather than the Giver of the grace of the miracle.  In this case, as in the case of all true miracles the Giver is God in and through His Son Jesus; and in the above situation through the Holy Spirit in Peter and John.

The greatest miracle that has happened to me is the day Jesus became my Lord and Savior as He gave me grace to believe that His Son Jesus died on the cross for my sins, was buried, and arose bodily from that grave.  He lives today.

That is the message of this event in Acts.  Jesus is alive.  He is being preached to His own people, and some are receiving the gospel of Christ as the Spirit of God opens their blinded eyes, and heals their lame feet.

Note the words of Peter as he preaches…

Ye are the children of the prophets, and of the covenant which God made with our fathers, saying unto Abraham, And in thy seed shall all the kindreds of the earth be blessed. Unto you first God, having raised up his Son Jesus, sent Him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from his iniquities.” Acts 3:25-26

See also Romans 1:16

The Power of the Spirit of God

“And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.” Acts 2:1-4 (KJV)

As we enter the book of Acts via chapter one, and looking at Luke’s Gospel, we find the disciples hiding away,  uncertain of what to do.  Nothing is going on in their lives.  At least that is the way it appears.  Forty days after His resurrection Jesus ascends into heaven in their sight, and for their witness of it.

On the day of Pentecost, about 10 days later, an amazing thing happens.  We must remember Jesus’s own promise “I will not leave you comfortless. I will come to you.” (John 14:18).

What takes place on the day of Pentecost was a day of the fulfillment of that promise, and power; the power of God descending upon all who were following Jesus Christ the Son of God, God the Son.

Many have made a big to do, about the tongues, but it is not about “tongues” it is about Christ Jesus and His promises.  He keeps His word.  The tongues is more in the hearing – when you read the verses following those above.

“Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language.” verse 6

Peter who had been quiet for these fifty days was suddenly given the power, authority of the Spirit of God, and his discourse is heard, and people are changed by that same Spirit of God.  It is that same Spirit of God that dwelt in Jesus Christ, and raised Him to life, and brought Him forth from the grave.

On this day there were three thousand souls added to the Kingdom of Christ (v. 41), and their lives were changed forever.

The real “Miracle” is not the tongues but the thousands of changed lives.  Jesus Christ the Son of God and God the Son is still changing lives today; because He died for our sins, was buried, and rose again.  That same Jesus is getting ready to return and that could happen any moment now.

Christian live for Christ in the power of that Spirit of Christ.

After His Passion

“The former treatise have I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach, until the day in which He was taken up, after that He through the Holy Ghost had given commandments unto the apostles whom He had chosen: to whom also He shewed Himself alive after His passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God: and, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but Wait for the promise of the Father, which, ye have heard of Me. For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence.” Acts 1:1-5 (KJV)

A great many people are familiar people are familiar with the movie called “The Passion” made for the movie screen several years ago; but not everyone is very familiar with the Person of the Passion; and that is Jesus Christ.

The Acts are the continuing accounts of the Physician named Luke who also penned down the Gospel account of Luke.  Luke was not only a physician, but a historian as well.  The verses above show us that continuing account of the crucified, buried and resurrected Lord Jesus Christ.

I just want to leave you with some thoughts on phrases and words through this first chapter;

  1. “Taken up”  and “As He went up”  verses 2, 9, 10, 11;
  2.   “After His passion”  v. 3;
  3.   The continuing of the Gospel of Christ… “But ye shall receive power…” verses 7-8;
  4.   “These all continued with one accord in prayer…”  v. 14;

In verse 11 it should be noted that the admonition is to be telling people about Jesus, His passion, and that He is alive, and one day, soon, returning; and not to be gazing at the skies, and enamored with the signs.

Of course there is much more for chapter one. This will not be a …

Coming For February

I am planning on a short daily study from the book of Acts for the month of February. Beginning with chapter one for the first day, and a chapter for each day following.
I pray these studies will be fitting, encouraging, constructive and full of instruction and correction for those in the Body of Christ today.

Christmas Day Two Hundred Twenty and Three

What do I want for Christmas?

I want to be a Holy Spirit filled  pastor, undershepherd in Christ Jesus to the people I preach to each Sunday at Shiloah Baptist Church, and minister to the people of Jenkins, Missouri; to lead them in the way of Scripture, God’s Son Jesus Christ, His cross, burial and resurrection.

And when they were come to him, he said unto them, ‘Ye know, from the first day that I came into Asia, after what manner I have been with you at all seasons, serving the Lord with all humility of mind, and with many tears, and temptations, which befell me by the lying in wait of the Jews: and how I kept back nothing that was profitable unto you, but have shewed you, and have taught you publickly, and from house to house, testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.” Acts 20:18-21 (KJV)

“Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which He hath purchased with His own blood. For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.” Acts 20:28-30

Day Three Hundred and Eight

What do I want for Christmas?

I want to have the boldness of Peter and John as they entered the Temple in Acts 3; and for my life to be lived that others will notice that I have been with Jesus.

Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated and untrained men, they marveled.  And they realized that they had been with Jesus.”  Acts 4:13 (NKJV)

Day Three Hundred and Nine

What do I want for Christmas?

On this LORD’S Day I want the presence of the Lord Jesus to be evident in our Church at Shiloah Baptist Church of Jenkins, Missouri; and for the Holy Spirit to move in conviction where it is needed, comfort in the hearts which need comfort, encouragement, and give all boldness and courage to be the witnesses for Him that we ought to be.

Then the churches throughout all Judea, Galilee, and Samaria had peace and were edified. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, they were multiplied.” Acts 9:31 (NKJV)

What Do I Want For Christmas? Day 357

What do I want for Christmas?

I want every pastor who believes the Bible to be the inerrant, infallible word of God, and that Jesus is the Christ the Son of the Living God; and God the Living Son to begin writing on a weblog [Blog] such as this; and share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with the possibility of reaching millions, maybe billions of souls for the name of Christ.

Jesus said,

“All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20

But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” Acts 1:8 (NKJV)

Christian Persecution

There are a few people I know who have jail, and prison ministries. They do it because they believe God has called them to go to the places where men and women are incarcerated for crimes against God and humanity. Yet, these minister to the men and women who are willing to listen to the message of Christ; the hope for all mankind; even the murderers and rapist and child molesters.

The event from Acts which we read today is not of criminals who have violated God’s laws, but violators of men’s laws which are against God. The apostles had preached when they were ordered not to preach in that name of “Jesus”; yet, they did. Hear what they said:

“Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men. The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom ye slew and hanged on a tree. Him hath God exalted with His right hand, a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins. And we are His witnesses of these things; and so is also the Holy Ghost, whom God hath given to them that obey Him.” Acts 5:29-32 (KJV)

This takes place following their arrest, and imprisonment. An “Angel of the Lord” has come to them in the “common prison” and opened the doors, and sent them to preach in the temple. They went, and that is where they are found the next morning. Doing as they had been told by God.

When men’s laws are against God’s law, then Christian men and women are to continue their practices of being Christian; obeying God’s Word, His commandments, His statutes, and His judgments. I do not think we Christians should be surprised by persecution in a dark world. We ought rather, be surprised that we are not; because the apostle Paul has written, “Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution” (2 Timothy 3:12 NKJV). Now, I do not want to be persecuted, but really, if I am not; am I really living a godly life? The apostles were.

As Peter stated above; “We ought to obey God rather than men”. That begins through our faith; trusting Jesus Christ as our Lord and Saviour; obeying Him in our lives; being His witness.

One thing this passage of Scripture teaches is that the freedom of speech is from God, not men; therefore men cannot take it away. Let our speech be always with words that glorify our God and Saviour Jesus Christ.

The Greatest Need the World Has; that You Have Today

There is nothing new about evil. It has been in the world from the beginning of Creation. Since Adam and Eve fell in the garden of Eden there has been evil in the hearts of humankind.

We are a fallen race. We are born into the world separated from God; and our hearts are evil. The words of the prophet Jeremiah; “The heart is deceitful abouve all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17:9). The words of the apostle Paul, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). But God has intervened, and sent us His Son.

The apostle Paul speaking to Jews in a synagogue said,

“For so hath the Lord commanded us, saying, I have set thee to be a light of the Gentiles, that thou shouldest be for salvation unto the ends of the earth. And when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified the word of the Lord: and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed. And the word of the Lord was published throughout all the region.” Acts 13:47-49 (KJV)

The Lord Jesus Christ was meant to be a light to the Gentiles; all the rest of the world; as well as to the Jewish people. The Gentiles of Paul’s day rejoiced in that.

O, people, the world needs Him today. We do not need our own conception of Him; we need the Biblical Jesus. The One who came to die for our sins, was buried, and bodily arose and came out of the grave alive.

We Jesus the Christ the Son of the Living God, God the Living Son. You need Him today if you have not fallen on your knees and face before Him. Believe Him today.

Evangelism and Creationism

The following is an article from Kairos Journal…

23 For as I passed along and observed the objects of your worship, I found also an altar with this inscription, ‘To the unknown god.’ What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you. 24 The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, 25 nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything. 26 And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place. . .
Acts 17:23-26 (ESV)

In 1799, the German theologian Friedrich Schleiermacher published On Religion. His seemingly noble aim was to promote Christianity to its “cultured despisers,” people who had moved on from religion. Yet, to remove stumbling blocks, he eviscerated the gospel of many key truths. For similar reasons, in 1984, the then Bishop of Durham, David Jenkins, denied the bodily resurrection of Jesus. In an effort to appeal to skeptics, it is all too tempting to downplay “incredible” biblical truths. Today, this temptation is nowhere more apparent than over the doctrine of creation.

Although Paul’s evangelism consistently centered on Jesus, the crucified and risen Messiah, the precise way he presented the gospel varied from audience to audience. When evangelizing Jews, he emphasized the biblical text (e.g. Acts 13:13-41), but when preaching to pagan polytheists, he emphasized the doctrine of creation (Acts 14:15-17; 17:22-31). For Paul, the fact that God created everything is foundational to the gospel.

Amongst the Athenian altars to Zeus, Athena, and Demeter, Paul spotted one to the “unknown god” (v. 23); Athens kept its options open and tried to cover every base. Yet, in the midst of this plurality of idols, Paul went on the offensive, proclaiming that the God whom the Athenians did not know is the true Creator of all, the only God. Unlike their pathetic idols, He does not require housing or food (vv. 24-25). Rather, He gives life and a dwelling place to humans (vv. 25-26). In other words, He is not man’s debtor—He does not depend upon the religious devotion of humanity to provide His needs. Quite the reverse: all people depend on Him; all are indebted to Him. Only with this foundation in place could the Athenians have any hope of grasping their debt to their Creator; only then would they fear His coming judgment and repent (vv. 30-31).

The doctrine of creation is integral to the gospel. Modern men and women will never understand their need of Christ as a Savior from God’s wrath if they do not first have some comprehension that they owe their generous Creator everything. Nor will they grasp the wickedness of rejecting Him and running life their own way. Divorced from belief in a sovereign, holy, gracious Creator, the gospel makes no sense at all.

In the face of frequent public ridicule, holding on to the truths of creation requires clear-thinking courage. But, if the gospel is to grow and spread in the modern West, Christians dare not follow Schleiermacher and Jenkins by cutting and pasting the Bible to appeal to the modern mind. Embarrassed silence concerning creation will help no one; if God did not create, Christians have no gospel.

When we “Cut and paste the Bible to appeal to modern mind” we are actually making a god after our own image.  Let us stick to the God of the Bible as He presents Himself.

-Tim A. Blankenship

 

Day 77 – Shipwrecked, Sin, and Slavery

The world we live in with all the conveniences, comforts, and wealth is not often viewed with slavery, or sin in mind.  As a matter of fact most of the human race would just as soon forget the idea of sin and chalk it up to being an antiquated idea.  An ancient superstition or fear that was in the hearts and minds of people of times long ago.  We are beyond that are we not?  We are a civilized, educated, knowledgeable and technological society free of this “sin idea”.

We better back up and rethink this thought of sin.  My reading this morning of April 17, 2012 was Acts 26-28 and Romans 1-7.

In the reading we find Paul on his way to Rome by ship and the lives of the people on board are in great jeopardy, fear, and loss of life is seemingly imminent.  (I use the word “seemingly” because there is a divine factor involved.)

“Now when much time was spent, and when sailing was now dangerous, because the fast was now already past, Paul admonished them, and said unto them, ‘Sirs, I perceive that this voyage will be with hurt and much damage, not only of the lading and ship, but also of our lives.’   Nevertheless the centurion believed the master and the owner of the ship, more than those things which were spoken by Paul.”  Acts 27:9-11 (KJV)

The godly wisdom of Paul told him, and I am pretty sure the Holy Spirit gave him enlightenment in the situation as well, that there was great harm awaiting the people and ship if they set sail at this time.  The “Centurion” (Roman soldier) did not listen to Paul, but rather to the captain of the ship.  That seems like the logical thing to do, but it was not the right thing to do.

The ship ends up in a storm.  For fear of their lives cargo, much of the ships gear is cast overboard.  They were in this storm for many days, going without food, and began losing hope of ever seeing land again (Acts 27:20).  Paul has received a visit from “the angel of God” and gives them assurance,

“But after long abstinence Paul stood forth in the midst of them, and said, ‘Sirs, ye should have hearkened unto me, and not have loosed from Crete, and to have gained this harm and loss.  And now I exhort you to be of good cheer: for there shall be no loss of any man’s life among you, but of the ship.  For there stood by me this night the angel of God, whose I am, and whom I serve, saying, ‘Fear not, Paul; thou must be brought before Caesar: and, lo, God hath given thee all them that sail with thee.  ‘Wherefore, sirs, be of good cheer: for I believe God, that it shall be even as it was told me.  Howbeit we must be cast upon a certain island.”  Acts 27:21-26

It was just as Paul told them.  They shipwrecked upon an island, are served by the people, and Paul preaches the gospel to them.  Paul goes to Rome, and it is from Rome we receive the Roman Letter.

In Romans 1 Paul deals with the issue of the sins of the nations.  In chapter two the sins of Israel, including the Jewish religious leaders.  We are told that our sins have brought us short of the glory of God (3:23), and that is God’s intent for humanity, ie. to glorify Him.

The idea of slavery comes into this post by way of  chapter 6 and verse 16 through 18,

“Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?  But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you.  Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness.”  Romans 6:16-18

Some people do not like to think about, and there may be some who honestly do not even know it; but there is slavery in our technological society.  There is still evil in this world.  There is a slavery where women, children and some men are kidnapped, and taken and sold for outrageous prices (Of course selling people at any price is outrageous).  These are often sold as sex slaves, placed on streets in foreign cities and in the United States.  However, there is a slavery which we all need to deal with on a personal basis; and that is slavery to sin.

Apart from Jesus Christ there is no real freedom.  If sin has dominion of your life you are in bondage.  People say things like, “Religion is bondage” or something like that and try to present the picture that freedom is “Doing as one pleases with their lives”.  One’s who are in Christ Jesus are truly free to do as they desire, because it is God who gives us our desires when we are walking with Him (Psalm 37:4).

Paul says at the end of chapter 7,

“O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?  I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.”  Romans 7:24-25

Turn to Jesus Christ.  The only source of peace, joy, freedom and forgiveness.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Day 76 – The Spirit of God and Paul

I often see that my walk with God is not what it ought to be.  Sometimes I am not so sure that I have ever really walked with God in the same way the apostle Paul, or even John Mark may have.  I read the gospels, the New Testament, and even the Old Testament and see many of those saints with such strong faith that mine falls so short.  There are times I have the thoughts, and I know they only come from the enemy, “What is the point of all this?”  The answer is  the FAITH of Jesus Christ.

My reading this morning was Acts 16 – 25.  The reading deals much with journeys of Paul; his missionary journeys.  There are others who are with him in his travels.  Luke is the one writing, so we know he is with him.  Timothy, a young man, comes into the picture as well.

The question could be asked, “How does Paul know where to go on these journeys?”  Let us look at some events that took place:

“Now when they had gone throughout Phrygia and the region of Galatia, and were forbidden of the Holy Ghost to preach the word in Asia, after they were come to Mysia, they assayed to go into Bithynia: but the Spirit suffered them not.  And they passing by Mysia came down to Troas.  And a vision appeared to Paul in the night; There stood a man of Macedonia, and prayed him, saying, ‘Come over into Macedonia, and help us.’  And after he had seen the vision, immediately we endeavoured to go into Macedonia, assuredly gathering that the Lord had called us for to preach the gospel unto them.”  Acts 16:6-10 (KJV)

The way I am seeing this is that Paul, being led by the Spirit of God, believed he should go to Asia, but there was some event, or circumstance which the Holy Spirit placed in the way to prevent it.  They “were forbidden by the Holy Spirit to preach the word in Asia”.  I find it rather odd that many missionaries pay no attention to circumstances or events, and wade right into situations, because “We have a call”.  Could it not be that the Holy Spirit is trying to prevent you from doing it?

We must go by the leading of the Spirit of God, and I am certainly not one to give advice in this matter; however, we do need to pay attention to circumstances, events, and counsel from others, as well as our own calling from God.  Where God calls he leads and provides.

By the time we reach the 25th chapter we find Paul arrested, and getting ready to go to Rome.  Paul had felt a need to go to Rome, but the opportunity had not presented itself.  He went to Jerusalem where he is accosted by his peers in the Jewish religion, falsely accused arrested by Roman soldiers; witnesses to the governors Festus and Felix; telling them of his faith in Christ, and his experience on the road to Damascus to capture and chain Christians for the return to Jerusalem.

If you will notice Paul is about to be tried in Jerusalem –

“But Festus, willing to do the Jews a pleasure, answered Paul, and said, ‘Wilt thou go up to Jerusalem, and there be judged of these things before me?’  Then said Paul, ‘I stand at Caesar’s judgment seat, where I ought to be judged: to the Jews have I done no wrong, as thou very well knowest.  For if I be an offender, or have committed any thing worthy of death, I refuse not to die: but if there be none of these things whereof these accuse me, no man may deliver me unto them. I appeal unto Caesar.’  Then Festus, when he had conferred with the council, answered, ‘Hast thou appealed unto Caesar? unto Caesar shalt thou go.'” Acts 25:9-12

Paul was going to see the fulfillment of what the Lord Jesus had promised in a vision,

“And the night following the Lord stood by him, and said, ‘Be of good cheer, Paul: for as thou hast testified of Me in Jerusalem, so must thou bear witness also at Rome.” Acts 23:11

When the Spirit of the Lord is leading God will bring it about; in His own way, His own time, and it will be accomplished with glory to Him, not to the flesh.

Let us walk in the Spirit of our Lord.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Day 75 – Loving The Lord Unto Life

We have heard it said, “I will love the Lord, even unto death”; Peter said something similar to that; even as the Lord told him “You will deny Me three times”.

My reading this morning was in Acts 6 through chapter 15.  These events give us some details of the work of the Holy Spirit at work in people’s lives.  Even the life of a young Pharisee who was intent on killing those Christians has his life dramatically changed when he meets Jesus Christ as he is on his way to Damascus to capture, chain and return to Jerusalem with them for trial and death (Acts 9).

Stephen was one of the men who were chosen in chapter six by the church to be a servant, feeding the Greek widows among them.  Stephen was also an evangelist proclaiming the word of God, the gospel of Jesus Christ and showed his love for the Lord even unto life.

Hear what Luke writes in his accounts of the work of the Spirit of God –

“And Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and miracles among the people.  Then there arose certain of the synagogue, which is called the synagogue of the Libertines, and Cyrenians, and Alexandrians, and of them of Cilicia and of Asia, disputing with Stephen.  And they were not able to resist the wisdom and the spirit by which he spake.  Then they suborned men, which said, ‘We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses, and against God.’  And they stirred up the people, and the elders, and the scribes, and came upon him, and caught him, and brought him to the council, and set up false witnesses, which said, ‘This man ceaseth not to speak blasphemous words against this holy place, and the law: for we have heard him say, that this Jesus of Nazareth shall destroy this place, and shall change the customs which Moses delivered us.’   And all that sat in the council, looking stedfastly on him, saw his face as it had been the face of an angel.”  Acts 6:8-15 (KJV)

Stephen was full of faith and power, by the Holy Spirit.  He stood strong for the gospel even though it could mean the loss of life for him.  His love for Jesus Christ and the gospel was stronger than his love for this world, and the life he now had.  He stands in chapter seven with conviction and proclaims the word of God from the Old Testament; and they fall under conviction.

Do we know what “conviction” is today?  The conviction I speak of is where you feel some guilt for your sin; and shame for your behavior; there is repentance; and you are drawn to see that Jesus is the Christ the Son of the living God; and that through Him alone there is forgiveness, peace and eternal life.  Sometimes this conviction, with those who hate God, will cause them to do cruel, evil and vile things; in rebellion against God and His children.  Just as it happened with Stephen.

Luke records the sermon Stephen preached, and records these final words,

“Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye. Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted? and they have slain them which shewed before of the coming of the Just One; of whom ye have been now the betrayers and murderers: who have received the law by the disposition of angels, and have not kept it.”  Acts 7:51-53

This was the final straw for this rebellious crowd.  They were “cut to the heart” then they ran upon him, and Stephen saw  “Jesus standing on the right hand of God” (v. 56).  In the home going of Stephen we can see traits of the Lord Jesus in him.  As he is being stoned by the mob he says, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit” (v. 59).  Then as he breathes his final breath on earth Stephen cries out with a loud voice, “Lord, lay not this sin to their charge” (v. 60).

There is another who loved not their life unto death, and that was that young Pharisee; who has now become a Christian, preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ.  His name was Saul and he was from Tarsus.  His name became Paul and he has written 14 of the New Testament Epistles.

In a place called Lycaonia Paul and Barnabas were believed to be gods, because they had healed a crippled man, but Paul and Barnabas rejected the worship and tried to convince them they were not gods, but only men.  When some Jews came from Antioch they stoned Paul, dragged him out of the city, believing him to be dead;

“And there came thither certain Jews from Antioch and Iconium, who persuaded the people, and, having stoned Paul, drew him out of the city, supposing he had been dead.  Howbeit, as the disciples stood round about him, he rose up, and came into the city: and the next day he departed with Barnabas to Derbe.”  Acts 14:19-20

The apostle Paul did not quit; nor did he soften the gospel message.  He got up from where they left him, went back into the city, shook the dust off his feet (Matthew 10:14;  Mark 6:11;  Luke 9:5), and went on preaching the gospel; loving the Lord unto life.

Let the Christians of our day Love the Lord unto Life.  Eternal life.

-Tim A. Blankenship