…For I Believe God…

“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.”  Acts 27:22-25 (KJB)

Instruction for Pastors

“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.  And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified.  I have coveted no man’s silver, or gold, or apparel.  Yea, ye yourselves know, that these hands have ministered unto my necessities, and to them that were with me.  I have shewed you all things, how that so labouring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how He said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’” Acts 20:27-35

The Gospel Preached in the Midst of Religious Superstition

“Then Paul stood in the midst of Mars’ hill, and said, ‘Men of Athens, I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious. For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription, TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, Him declare I unto you. God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that He is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands; neither is worshipped with men’s hands, as though He needed any thing, seeing He giveth to all life, and breath, and all things; and hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation; that they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after Him, and find Him, though He be not far from every one of us: for in Him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, ‘For we are also his offspring.’
Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man’s device. 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 Man whom He hath ordained; He hath given assurance unto all, in that He hath raised Him from the dead.”  Acts 17:22-31  (KJB)

Rise and Pray

“And when He rose up from prayer, and was come to His disciples, He found them sleeping for sorrow, and said unto them, ‘Why sleep ye? Rise and pray, lest ye enter into temptation.’” Luke 22:45-46 (KJB)

“And being in an agony He prayed more earnestly…” says verse 44.  He was in agony because of what lay before Him.  His flesh was growing weak because of the agony.  He longed with all His heart to fulfill the task which lay before Him, and He prayed.

The disciples were sleeping, due to sorrow, yet needed to pray.  Peter needed to pray for strength in what lay ahead for him in a few short hours; for then he would deny he even knew Jesus.  He needed to pray, rather than sleep.

It is with all sincerity I say this,  I do not believe that any human being has experienced the agony equal to that Jesus was suffering on the Mount of Olives that night.  We could not have born that sorrow, that agony.  I too would probably just go to sleep.

O how I need to pray.  We need to be in agony for our lost, condemned, and dying neighbors.  Are we willing to pray for them?  Are we willing to do what it takes to see that they hear the message of Jesus Christ; that He died for our sins, was buried, and He rose again?  Are we willing to share with others what He has done and is doing for us?

Let us rise from our stupor of sleep, and pray.

All Things That are Written by the Prophets

“Then He took the twelve, and said unto them, ‘Behold, we go up to Jerusalem, and all things that are written by the prophets concerning the Son of Man shall be accomplished. For He shall be delivered unto the Gentiles, and shall be mocked, and spitefully entreated, and spitted on: and they shall scourge Him, and put Him to death: and the third day He shall rise again.’
And they understood none of these things: and this saying was hid from them, neither knew they the things which were spoken.”  Luke 18:31-34  (KJB)

One of the great things we can learn in the gospels is that Jesus the Son of God, the Son of Man; who is God the Son; had a great admiration, love, for the prophets, and desired to see that those prophecies concerning Himself were fulfilled.

Even after His resurrection He spoke with two on the road to Emmaus about believing the words of the prophets (Luke 24:25-26).  Consider Isaiah 53 as an example of the prophecy of His death, and our salvatiion.

Jesus speaks of His impending suffering, crucifixion, and death; and the disciples do not know what He is speaking about.  They were still dreaming of living in splendor, authority, and power reigning with Him on earth.

Why should the Christian of 2019 read the writings of the Prophets?  As a matter of fact why should we read the whole Old Testament?  My answer to both of those questions is “Because they are the only Bible Jesus had to read, and know; as well as the apostles.”  Those Scriptures are the ones that testify of Jesus.  That is why.

Without Observation

“And when He was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, He answered them and said, ‘The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: neither shall they say, ‘Lo here!’ or, ‘Lo there! For, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.’”  Luke 17:20-21  (KJB)

The coming kingdom of God is more than an event that is celebrated with pomp and circumstance.  For many years the religious leaders of Israel had been pronouncing the coming of Messiah as an event where He would show up in power and glory and give the land of Israel back to the people of Israel.

The Person of the kingdom of God was standing in front of them.  He had done many mighty deeds; giving sight to the blind, making the lame walk, healing lepers, raising the dead, calming storms, walking on water; and yet they could not see.

Jesus tells the disciples in the following verses how it will be.  Even that He will be killed.

The coming of the kingdom of God was without much notice at all.  If they would not believe Moses and the Prophets they would not believe even though One would rise from the dead.

The kingdom of God shows up in the soul that is redeemed.  Do we notice? He is present within us.

I realize that this is so much deeper than I can know.  The whole thought is that Jesus can be missed if those who desire Him are looking for signs rather than Jesus Himself.

To the Little Flock

The verse we are about to read, study, and contemplate is to the small group of 12 of Jesus Disciples, and to all the Church of the Lord Jesus down through the years.

Jesus said,

“Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” Luke 12:32  (KJB)

This fits well with and for a small local congregation [local Church, Body of Christ] of believers joined together; a people who loves God through His Son Jesus, loves His word, and endeavors to live for the honor and glory of Jesus Christ; also having a burden for others who are lost in their sins.

The following is commentary from the late Matthew Henry on this verse…

“They have better things to expect and hope for: Fear not, little flock, Luk_12:32. For the banishing of inordinate cares, it is necessary that fears should be suppressed. When we frighten ourselves with an apprehension of evil to come, we put ourselves upon the stretch of care how to avoid it, when after all perhaps it is but the creature of our own imagination. Therefore fear not, little flock, but hope to the end; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. This comfortable word we had not in Matthew. Note, [1.] Christ’s flock in this world is a little flock; his sheep are but few and feeble. The church is a vineyard, a garden, a small spot, compared with the wilderness of this world; as Israel (1Ki_20:27), who were like two little flocks of kids, when the Syrians filled the country. [2.] Though it be a little flock, quite over-numbered, and therefore in danger of being overpowered, by its enemies, yet it is the will of Christ that they should not be afraid: “Fear not, little flock, but see yourselves safe under the protection and conduct of the great and good Shepherd, and lie easy.” [3.] God has a kingdom in store for all that belong to Christ’s little flock, a crown of glory (1Pe_5:4), a throne of power (Rev_3:21), unsearchable riches, far exceeding the peculiar treasures of kings and provinces. The sheep on the right hand are called to come and inherit the kingdom; it is theirs for ever; a kingdom for each. [4.] The kingdom is given according to the good pleasure of the Father; It is your Father’s good pleasure; it is given not of debt, but of grace, free grace, sovereign grace; even so, Father, because it seemed good unto thee. The kingdom is his; and may he not do what he will with his own? [5.] The believing hopes and prospects of the kingdom should silence and suppress the fears of Christ’s little flock in this world. “Fear no trouble; for, though it should come, it shall not come between you and the kingdom, that is sure, it is near.” (That is not an evil worth trembling at the thought of which cannot separate us from the love of God). “Fear not the want of any thing that is good for you; for, if it be your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom, you need not question but he will bear your charges thither.”” MATTHEW HENRY COMMENTARY

I love hearing Jesus say to us “Fear not…” Here He is saying it to His little flock. Let us be very encouraged, and live for the cause; the kingdom of Jesus Christ.

The Plough Man

I grew up on a farm.  A small farm by some’s reckoning; and large to others thinking.  It was mostly a Dairy farm, and we had beef cattle too for some of the time.  It still required plowing ground once in a while to sow Alfalfa hay, and certain others types of grass hay.

To plough [plow] in a straight line requires looking ahead.  If you look back, for whatever reason, you will end up with a crooked row.  Having said that let us look at our Bible text for today:

“And it came to pass, that, as they went in the way, a certain man said unto Him, Lord, I will follow Thee whithersoever Thou goest. And Jesus said unto him, ‘Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man hath not where to lay His head.’ And He said unto another, ‘Follow Me.’ But he said, ‘Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father.’ Jesus said unto him, ‘Let the dead bury their dead: but go thou and preach the kingdom of God.’ And another also said, ‘Lord, I will follow Thee; but let me first go bid them farewell, which are at home at my house.’ And Jesus said unto him, ‘No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.’” Luke 9:57-62  (KJB)

For  the two men in the text, they wanted to follow Jesus, but they had other things to do.  The first would have had to wait for his father to die, then bury him. The second evidently had guests in his home, and saying their farewells would have taken much time away.

The lesson of the story, of these two men, and their desire to follow Jesus is this;  If you are going to follow Jesus, then follow Jesus, preach the kingdom of God – and that is Jesus – and do not look back.

Let me leave you with the commentary of John Gill on the “is not fit for the kingdom of God” closing of verse 62…

is not fit for the kingdom of God: that is, to preach the kingdom of God, as in Luk_9:60. He cannot serve God and mammon, his own interest, and the interest of Christ; he cannot rightly perform the work of the ministry, whilst his thoughts and time are taken up in the affairs of the world.” John Gill’s EXPOSITION OF THE BIBLE

They Watched Him

Jesus had a way, His way of aggravating the religious crowd of His day.  That religion was steeped in legalism, and little mercy or grace.  It seemed they knew nothing about grace for their people; but allowed much, with loopholes around some of their traditions for themselves.

When the disciples with Jesus were walking through a field of grain, and they were scooping their fingers through the heads freeing the grains seeds from the tops, rolling the grain in their hands to free the good from the chaff, then blowing the chaff away with a strong breath; and they were doing it on the sabbath day [Saturday]; then, the scribes and Pharisees considered that a violation of the sabbath.

On another sabbath day Jesus had entered a synagogue to worship, and there was a man there with a withered right hand.  The Pharisees and the scribes watched Jesus to see what He would do.  Our verse today…

“And the scribes and Pharisees watched Him, whether He would heal on the sabbath day; that they might find an accusation against Him.” Luke 6:7  (KJB)

They watched Him with ill intent.  They watched Him to bring harm.  They watched Him to eventually kill Him.  Why?  They hated Him, His life, His teaching, and probably His boldness and authority with which He spoke.  He put religion on notice as well.

Those who follow Jesus, are faithful to Him, and His teaching- His doctrine will be watched too.  Sometimes for the same reasons as those who were watching Jesus. What are we to do?  Live faithfully for Christ.  Put Him on daily (Romans 13:12;  Galatians 3:27;  Ephesians 4:24; 6:11) all the things of Christ Jesus.  Do not fear; be faithful.

I will leave with you a quote from the Matthew Henry Commentary on Luke 6:7…

“Among those who were the hearers of Christ’s excellent doctrine, and the eye-witnesses of his glorious miracles, there were some who came with no other design than to pick quarrels with him, Luk_6:7. The scribes and Pharisees would not, as became generous adversaries, give him fair warning that, if he did heal on the sabbath day, they would construe it into a violation of the fourth commandment, which they ought in honour and justice to have done, because it was a case without precedent (none having ever cured as he did), but they basely watched him, as the lion does his prey, whether he would heal on the sabbath day, that they might find an accusation against him, and surprise him with a prosecution.” From the MATTHEW HENRY COMMENTARY

What Fishermen and Fishers of Men Need to Know

Now, just for your information, I am no fishermen.  In other words, I am not an expert on the topic of fishing, with a net or a line.  I am seeing this in my reading of Scripture for today. Which was Luke 3 – 5.

In the first three verses of chapter five we see Jesus being crowded by people, and wanting to hear more of His teaching.  He borrows Peter’s boat, is rowed off the shore a bit, and teaches them.  Peter and the others had been fishing all night, and had caught nothing.  The place in the text is called the Sea of Gennesarat; also called the Sea of Tiberius (John 6:1; 21:1), and the Sea of Galilee. It is a large, inland freshwater lake.

Let us hear our text for today…

“Now when He had left speaking, He said unto Simon, ‘Launch out into the deep, and let down your nets for a draught.’ And Simon answering said unto Him, ‘Master, we have toiled all the night, and have taken nothing: nevertheless at Thy word I will let down the net.’ And when they had this done, they inclosed a great multitude of fishes: and their net brake. And they beckoned unto their partners, which were in the other ship, that they should come and help them. And they came, and filled both the ships, so that they began to sink. When Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, ‘Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord.’ For he was astonished, and all that were with him, at the draught of the fishes which they had taken: and so was also James, and John, the sons of Zebedee, which were partners with Simon. And Jesus said unto Simon, ‘Fear not; from henceforth thou shalt catch men.’
And when they had brought their ships to land, they forsook all, and followed Him.”  Luke 5:4-11  (KJB)

What do Fishermen and Fishers of Men need to know? Simply this.  We must have our net (or line) in the water; and we must hear the words of the Master; and we must know that it is the Master who gives the catch.

The Ministry of the New Born Prophet

“And his father Zacharias was filled with the Holy Ghost, and prophesied, saying,
‘Blessed be the Lord God of Israel; for He hath visited and redeemed His people, and hath raised up an horn of salvation for us in the house of His servant David; as He spake by the mouth of His holy prophets, which have been since the world began: that we should be saved from our enemies, and from the hand of all that hate us; to perform the mercy promised to our fathers, and to remember His holy covenant; the oath which He sware to our father Abraham, that He would grant unto us, that we being delivered out of the hand of our enemies might serve Him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before Him, all the days of our life. And thou, child, shalt be called the prophet of the Highest: for thou shalt go before the face of the Lord to prepare His ways; to give knowledge of salvation unto His people by the remission of their sins, through the tender mercy of our God; whereby the Dayspring from on high hath visited us, to give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.’
And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, and was in the deserts till the day of his shewing unto Israel.”  Luke 1:67-80  (KJB)

The ministry of the prophet John was strong and in the Spirit of the Lord heralding the Lord Jesus as the Messiah of Israel; and preparing many in Israel to receive Him.

That is the ministry of the Biblical preacher and pastor in 2019; declaring the Lord Jesus, His life, His death on the cross, His burial, and His resurrection.  If we let ourselves stand in the way…  Well you finish the sentence.

Lift up the Dayspring.  He is Jesus.

Our Hearts Burn Within Us

“And their eyes were opened, and they knew Him; and He vanished out of their sight. And they said one to another, ‘Did not our heart burn within us, while He talked with us by the way, and while He opened to us the Scriptures?’
And they rose up the same hour, and returned to Jerusalem, and found the eleven gathered together, and them that were with them, saying, ‘The Lord is risen indeed, and hath appeared to Simon.’ And they told what things were done in the way, and how He was known of them in breaking of bread.” Luke 24:31-35  (KJB)

When we are first introduced to these two from Emmaus we are told, “But their eyes were holden that they should not know Him” (v. 16).  On the way the resurrected Lord spoke the Scriptures of Moses and the Prophets, and taught them of the Christ.  It was not until He broke bread with them in their home that their eyes were opened.

Jesus disappears from their sight.  They get up from their table, and return to Jerusalem to find the others, and share with them about their personal encounter with Jesus.

As I read this, this morning, it was fresh and new to me like I was reading it for the first time.  Though nothing new was revealed to me, but it was like the Lord Jesus was very very near to me, and He always is, but like a refresher filling of the Spirit. He is near.  He is always near.

He is risen just as He said.  Remember the Scriptures.  They tell us of Him.  That is when our hearts burn within us.  Our hearts burn, yearning, longing, desiring to see our Lord, and to hear Him speak to us.  Is your heart burning for Him?  The fuel for the fire is the Scriptures.

When Things are Tough and You Sit Down With the Crowd

“And when they had kindled a fire in the midst of the hall, and were set down together, Peter sat down among them. But a certain maid beheld him as he sat by the fire, and earnestly looked upon him, and said, ‘This man was also with Him.’ And he denied Him, saying, ‘Woman, I know Him not.’ And after a little while another saw him, and said, ‘Thou art also of them.’ And Peter said, ‘Man, I am not.’ And about the space of one hour after another confidently affirmed, saying, ‘Of a truth this fellow also was with Him: for he is a Galilaean.’ And Peter said, ‘Man, I know not what thou sayest.’ And immediately, while he yet spake, the cock crew.
And the Lord turned, and looked upon Peter. And Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how He had said unto him, ‘Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny Me thrice.’ And Peter went out, and wept bitterly.”  Luke 22:55-62 (KJB)

Peter had said to the Lord, “I will not deny You.”  Jesus had confirmed that Peter would; Peter did (Matthew 26:31-35).  Is there any way Peter could have avoided this tragedy of denying the Lord?

The first thing Peter did wrong was doubt the Lord’s words when He spoke it concerning his denial.  The second thing is at Jesus’s trial at the house of the high priest; he sits with the crowd who is wanting Him crucified.

If we desire to walk with the Lord and to be faithful to Him when we sit with the crowd in times of trial, and trouble we will cave to the pressure of the crowd.

O, Lord, give me strength to always stand and to be faithful to  You.  Amen.

The Visitation

“And when He was come near, He beheld the city, and wept over it, saying, If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace! But now they are hid from thine eyes. For the days shall come upon thee, that thine enemies shall cast a trench about thee, and compass thee round, and keep thee in on every side, and shall lay thee even with the ground, and thy children within thee; and they shall not leave in thee one stone upon another; because thou knewest not the time of thy visitation.’” Luke 19:41-44  (KJB)

I looked up the word “Visitation” and it is found at least 15 times throughout the Bible; from Numbers through First Peter.  Much of the time it is speaking of God’s showing Himself unto His people in mercy; however when they do not hear, and believe Him the visitation is in judgment.

The following is from exposition by Alexander MacLaren…

“Who can venture to speak of that infinitely pathetic scene? The fair city, smiling across the glen, brings before His vision the awful contrast of its lying compassed by armies and in ruins. He hears not the acclamation of the crowd. ‘He wept,’ or, rather, ‘wailed,’-for the word does not imply tears so much as cries. That sorrow is a sign of His real manhood, but it is also a part of His revelation of the very heart of God. The form is human, the substance divine. The man weeps because God pities. Christ’s sorrow does not hinder His judgments. The woes which wring His heart will nevertheless be inflicted by Him. Judgment is His ‘strange work,’ alien from His desires; but it is His work. The eyes which are as a flame of fire are filled with tears, but their glance burns up the evil.
Note the yearning in the unfinished sentence, ‘If thou hadst known.’ Note the decisive closing of the time of repentance. Note the minute prophetic details of the siege, which, if ever they were spoken, are a distinct proof of His all-seeing eye. And from all let us fix in our hearts the conviction of the pity of the judge, and of the judgment by the pitying Christ.” From the EXPOSITION OF HOLY SCRIPTURE by Alexander MacLaren Luke19:41-44

May the Lord always remember mercy toward us.  The cross of Christ is the evidence that He does.

Will you repent of your sins today, turn to Him and be delivered from the guilt and condemnation of your sins?

The Kingdom of God

“And the Pharisees also, who were covetous, heard all these things: and they derided Him. And He said unto them, ‘Ye are they which justify yourselves before men; but God knoweth your hearts: for that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God. The law and the prophets were until John: since that time the kingdom of God is preached, and every man presseth into it. And it is easier for heaven and earth to pass, than one tittle of the law to fail.’” Luke 16:14-17  (KJB)

Be blessed today reading God’s Holy Bible, His Word to us today; which shows the way to Himself, and to life eternal.

The Gate

“And He went through the cities and villages, teaching, and journeying toward Jerusalem. Then said one unto Him, ‘Lord, are there few that be saved?’ And He said unto them, ‘Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able. When once the Master of the house is risen up, and hath shut to the door, and ye begin to stand without, and to knock at the door, saying, Lord, Lord, open unto us; and He shall answer and say unto you, I know you not whence ye are: then shall ye begin to say, We have eaten and drunk in Thy presence, and Thou hast taught in our streets. But He shall say, I tell you, I know you not whence ye are; depart from Me, all ye workers of iniquity. There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when ye shall see Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets, in the kingdom of God, and you yourselves thrust out. And they shall come from the east, and the west, and from the north, and the south, and shall sit down in the kingdom of God. And, behold, there are last which shall be first, and there are first which shall be last.’” Luke 13:22-30  (KJB)

The gate is narrow.  Jesus speaks of the narrow gate in another place as well (Matthew 7:13-14) which seems to imply with difficulty, due to blockages, hindrances, or obstacles in the way.

The needle’s eye passage of Scripture could apply here as well,

Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven. And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.” Matthew 19:23-24

Though this passage is speaking directly of the rich who are encumbered with the dangers of wealth toward the spirit; it can also apply to the religious but lost crowd.  Letting, like the Pharisees, the knowledge of Scripture, theology, and pride keep them from knowing the Person of the great salvation that is available to all who will receive Him as a little child.

The end result of rejecting God’s plan of grace and salvation is not good.  Read again the words of Jesus.  Jesus is God’s plan of grace and salvation.

The Greatest

“Then there arose a reasoning among them, which of them should be greatest. And Jesus, perceiving the thought of their heart, took a child, and set him by Him, and said unto them, ‘Whosoever shall receive this child in My name receives Me: and whosoever shall receive Me receives Him that sent Me: for he that is least among you all, the same shall be great.’” Luke 9:46-48 (KJB)

Within the world in which we live there are many who seek to be seen, and known as “The Greatest”.  This notion even fell upon the disciples of Jesus; and in many cases; it still does.  Jesus was dealing with this in the above verses.

When I was a child there was a man in the sports world who liked to see himself as the greatest; he was the one who used the poetic phrase, “Float like a butterfly; sting like a bee”. He is no longer the greatest, neither was he ever the greatest.  He met death as well; and just as every human being will.

Who is the greatest? Jesus answers that question above.  Whoever receives a child in His name receives Him, and whoever receives Him receives Him (God the Father) who sent Him.  The least among us is the same who shall be great.

Let us think on that one for awhile, believe it, receive it, and do it.

Forgiving Most

“And Jesus answering said unto him, ‘Simon, I have somewhat to say unto thee.’ And he saith, ‘Master, say on.’
‘There was a certain creditor which had two debtors: the one owed five hundred pence, and the other fifty. And when they had nothing to pay, he frankly forgave them both. Tell me therefore, which of them will love him most?’
Simon answered and said, ‘I suppose that he, to whom he forgave most.’ And He said unto him, ‘Thou hast rightly judged.’”  Luke 7:40-43  (KJB)

To get a better look at the story I pray you have read Luke 7.

Simon, a Pharisee, a very religious Jewish leader in the Law, has invited Jesus into his home, and has shown him no hospitality as was the expected thing of the day – washing the feet of their guest, etc.

Comes in a woman off the street who breaks a very expensive alabaster box of fragrant anointing oil, and this cause a ruckus with Simon.

This woman knows who Jesus is.  Her very act puts her in the category of the “one forgiven most” that is concerning the parable Jesus speaks.  Simon has not demonstrated the respect to Jesus that would be given to any other guest, but this woman brings a perfume that would, by some accounts, be as costly as a years wages.

This woman demonstrates her faith, and shows she needs forgiveness.

Simon NO!  The woman Much forgiveness.

Let us demonstrate our need for forgiveness by loving Jesus with all our hearts, all our souls, all our minds, and all our strength.

He Preached With Authority

“And came down to Capernaum, a city of Galilee, and taught them on the sabbath days. And they were astonished at His doctrine: for His word was with power.” Luke 4:31-32 (KJB)

Speaking of Jesus of course; He spoke amazing things.  His doctrine [teaching] was with power and authority which is probably a redundancy, but for strength and clarity it is repeated.

I pray that I will grow so in love with the Lord Jesus and His word and walk [live] in the fullness of His Spirit [the Holy Spirit] that I too will have that authority.  I do not desire it for myself, but for His name’s sake; and that others might come to know Him as their own personal Lord and Savior.  I pray this for every pastor, every man and woman of God, and every youth who has given their lives to Him.

Let us grow in the Spirit and power of Christ our Savior and Lord.  Amen.

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.

No One Knows the Son…

“In that hour Jesus rejoiced in Spirit, and said, I thank Thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that Thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes: even so, Father; for so it seemed good in Thy sight. All things are delivered to Me of My Father: and no man knoweth who the Son is, but the Father; and who the Father is, but the Son, and he to whom the Son will reveal Him.”  Luke 10:21-22 (KJV)

Jesus rejoiced in the Spirit because of what He had previously said.  He saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven and had given the ones whom He sent out power to tread on the evil forces of hell.

Now He speaks to the Father, thanking Him for His revelation to others of who the Son is and that no one can know the Son except the Father, and no one can know the Father except the Son.  Now if I were to leave it there that would leave us all lost.

Jesus says,

“…And he to whom the Son will reveal Him”.

To Know God the Father and God the Son is not done by our choice.  To know Him is revealed by the Son through the Holy Spirit who is Christ in us until Jesus returns again (Matthew 16:13-19).

If you know the Father you will know the Son, and if you know the Son you will know the Father.  If you deny the Father you deny the Son.  If you deny the Son you deny the Father.

See these references –  1 John 2:22-23;  4:14-15;  5:12-13

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 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).

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.

…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.

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.