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10/20 Acts 26-28

Well, when we left Paul yesterday he was preparing to speak before King Agrippa.  Starting out in chapter 26 he does just that.  Sure is amazing that all of these people keep coming to Paul to listen to him preach.  After Paul is finished he adopts an attitude that would serve us all well.

28Then Agrippa said to Paul, “Do you think that in such a short time you can persuade me to be a Christian?”

29Paul replied, “Short time or long—I pray God that not only you but all who are listening to me today may become what I am, except for these chains.”

After the somewhat negative response he gets, Paul states that he will pray for the King and all those listening.  I think that is a great follow up for those that we talk to about Jesus.  Don’t badger them, just present the Gospel message through your life and let it go at that.  Then pray for them, maybe without ceasing.

Again without any resolution Paul is sent on to Rome just as the Lord commanded.  Do you feel like you are talking and no one seems to be listening.  I’m guessing that is how Paul is beginning to feel. Follow this link to keep reading

October 20, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | Leave a comment

10/19 Acts 23-25

These three chapters deal with Paul’s defense of himself and the gospel message.  What I did find interesting throughout was that every time Paul asked what crimes he has committed the Jews had nothing.  They continued to make up charges, but none that could be proved.  Each time the Roman in charge finds that Paul has done nothing wrong.  So transferring Paul up the chain of command seems the easiest way for them to get out of the situation.  This whole process appears to take about 2 years so far.  Sure seems like a huge waste of Paul’s missionary skills, but maybe not.  The end of chapter 25 still leaves us hanging for Tuesday’s reading.  I did find the following verse in chapter 23 both comforting and challenging.

11The following night the Lord stood near Paul and said, “Take courage! As you have testified about me in Jerusalem, so you must also testify in Rome.”

How comforting is it to have the Lord stand near you and say “Take courage.”  If you can’t hear Him, stop and quiet your heart and listen. At the same time there was more to be asked of him, more to be asked of us.

October 19, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | Leave a comment

10/18 Acts 22

Many times when we encounter a nonbeliever who has an interest in learning more about Jesus.  We stumble for the words or we fear we don’t have enough bible knowledge to talk to them.  We think that this is a job better suited for Robin or one of the staff.  Listen to what Paul has to say when he addresses this crowd:

6“About noon as I came near Damascus, suddenly a bright light from heaven flashed around me. 7I fell to the ground and heard a voice say to me, ‘Saul! Saul! Why do you persecute me?’

8” ‘Who are you, Lord?’ I asked.

” ‘I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom you are persecuting,’ he replied. 9My companions saw the light, but they did not understand the voice of him who was speaking to me.

10“‘What shall I do, Lord?’ I asked.
“‘Get up,’ the Lord said, ‘and go into Damascus. There you will be told all that you have been assigned to do.’ 11My companions led me by the hand into Damascus, because the brilliance of the light had blinded me.

12“A man named Ananias came to see me. He was a devout observer of the law and highly respected by all the Jews living there. 13He stood beside me and said, ‘Brother Saul, receive your sight!’ And at that very moment I was able to see him.

In this chapter Paul lays out his life story for this group of people.   Most any time you find yourself in a situation with others who are inquiring about Jesus there is a simple and easy way to talk about him to them.  Just tell them how you came to know Jesus.  Talk about what your life was like before.  How you were saved and how you are different today.  Go ahead give it a try sometime.  Leading others to Christ is a responsibility for every Christian.

October 18, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | Leave a comment

10/17 Acts 21

The question of the day.  Would you do something you felt God wanted you to do even if you knew something bad was going to happen to you?  There was no doubt in Paul’s mind, full steam ahead.

10After we had been there a number of days, a prophet named Agabus came down from Judea. 11Coming over to us, he took Paul’s belt, tied his own hands and feet with it and said, “The Holy Spirit says, ‘In this way the Jews of Jerusalem will bind the owner of this belt and will hand him over to the Gentiles.’ ”

12When we heard this, we and the people there pleaded with Paul not to go up to Jerusalem. 13Then Paul answered, “Why are you weeping and breaking my heart? I am ready not only to be bound, but also to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.” 14When he would not be dissuaded, we gave up and said, “The Lord’s will be done.”

Paul’s willingness to be subjected to the will of God was without any reservations whatsoever.

30The whole city was aroused, and the people came running from all directions. Seizing Paul, they dragged him from the temple, and immediately the gates were shut. 31While they were trying to kill him, news reached the commander of the Roman troops that the whole city of Jerusalem was in an uproar. 32He at once took some officers and soldiers and ran down to the crowd. When the rioters saw the commander and his soldiers, they stopped beating Paul.

33The commander came up and arrested him and ordered him to be bound with two chains. Then he asked who he was and what he had done. 34Some in the crowd shouted one thing and some another, and since the commander could not get at the truth because of the uproar, he ordered that Paul be taken into the barracks. 35When Paul reached the steps, the violence of the mob was so great he had to be carried by the soldiers. 36The crowd that followed kept shouting, “Away with him!”

In our world today, most if not all of us really don’t have to face this type of situation.  We have rights.  We have freedom of speech.  We are allowed to proclaim the Gospel message just about anywhere we want to.  However there are places in this world that Christians do not have those rights.  Just ask any missionary in a foreign country especially the Middle East or a country dominated by another religion, what rights they are entitled to.  Take a moment this week to pray for those missionaries who are risking their lives to do God’s will.

October 17, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | Leave a comment

10/16 Act 18-20

In Acts 19 Paul spent 2 years in Ephesus arguing with the Jews and having daily discussions with both Jews and Greeks.  I wonder if he felt that this was what God had planned for him.  I would imagine that based on the way Paul moved around, 2 years in any one place seemed like an eternity to him.   I wonder if Paul was better suited to argue on behalf of God and truth or preach sermons to those searching for the truth.  Either way God was with him and what he was doing.

11God did extraordinary miracles through Paul, 12so that even handkerchiefs and aprons that had touched him were taken to the sick, and their illnesses were cured and the evil spirits left them.

13Some Jews who went around driving out evil spirits tried to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who were demon-possessed. They would say, “In the name of Jesus, whom Paul preaches, I command you to come out.” 14Seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, were doing this. 15(One day) the evil spirit answered them, “Jesus I know, and I know about Paul, but who are you?” 16Then the man who had the evil spirit jumped on them and overpowered them all. He gave them such a beating that they ran out of the house naked and bleeding.

It was interesting that some Jews didn’t know enough about Jesus to even have the faith necessary to do the things they were trying to do.  Yea, you know in the name of that guy Paul talks about.  It would be funny if it wasn’t so sad.  You would have to know you are in trouble when demons say to you “Jesus I know, and I know about Paul, but who are you?” It would look like something from a bad comedy movie to see these guys getting pummeled by a demon or two.

17When this became known to the Jews and Greeks living in Ephesus, they were all seized with fear, and the name of the Lord Jesus was held in high honor. 18Many of those who believed now came and openly confessed their evil deeds.

So what would we need to do in order to have the name of Jesus held in high honor?  I don’t think any of us will be driving out demons anytime soon and many times the only Jesus people see is us.  So maybe that’s the ticket.  If people hold us in high honor and we are imitating Jesus then maybe that could work.  Thoughts anyone?

October 16, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | Leave a comment

10/15 Acts 15-17

Acts 16 is the story of Paul and Silas getting into trouble in Philippi.  I have often wondered why Paul healed the slave girl of the evil spirit.  I mean after all she was going around telling everyone that these men are from God and have the truth of salvation.  Why stop the free advertisement?  What’s even more amazing is that if the owners of this fortune-teller believed that she could tell the future, why didn’t they believe what she was saying?  Why were they not afraid to mess with Paul and the others?  So many questions and so few answers.

16Once when we were going to the place of prayer, we were met by a slave girl who had a spirit by which she predicted the future. She earned a great deal of money for her owners by fortune-telling. 17This girl followed Paul and the rest of us, shouting, “These men are servants of the Most High God, who are telling you the way to be saved.” 18She kept this up for many days. Finally Paul became so troubled that he turned around and said to the spirit, “In the name of Jesus Christ I command you to come out of her!” At that moment the spirit left her.

Well as a result of this action of Paul’s, both he and Silas are beaten and thrown in jail.  Where, in spite of their pain and suffering, they are singing praises to God at midnight and others are listening. Follow this link to keep reading

October 15, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | Leave a comment

10/14 Acts 12-14

In Acts 12 Peter is rescued from certain death at the hands of Herod.  As the church is praying for God to help Peter in prison, God sends and angel to lead Peter out.

6The night before Herod was to bring him to trial, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains, and sentries stood guard at the entrance. 7Suddenly an angel of the Lord appeared and a light shone in the cell. He struck Peter on the side and woke him up. “Quick, get up!” he said, and the chains fell off Peter’s wrists.

8Then the angel said to him, “Put on your clothes and sandals.” And Peter did so. “Wrap your cloak around you and follow me,” the angel told him. 9Peter followed him out of the prison, but he had no idea that what the angel was doing was really happening; he thought he was seeing a vision. 10They passed the first and second guards and came to the iron gate leading to the city. It opened for them by itself, and they went through it. When they had walked the length of one street, suddenly the angel left him.

11Then Peter came to himself and said, “Now I know without a doubt that the Lord sent his angel and rescued me from Herod’s clutches and from everything the Jewish people were anticipating.”

Many times we find ourselves in situations not of our own making and we wonder how did we get there.  More than that we ask God to get us out of it or we ask others to pray for us.  Whether it is a health problem or relationship situation or worse we look to God for the answers and the solution.  While I don’t know if I have ever encountered an angel or not, I have heard others state that this person or that person must of been sent by God.  It was as if they were an angel.  They were there for me exactly when I needed them.  Have you ever encountered someone that you thought was sent by God just for you?

October 14, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | Leave a comment

10/13 Acts 9-11

The story of Saul is a familiar story especially in light of the many changed lives today.  We see individuals heading down a destructive road and when they encounter Jesus along the way, they in turn do a 180.  Much as Paul did when he encountered Jesus on the road to Damascus.  Paul was set on destroying the Christian church and was on his way when he ran smack dab into Jesus.

3As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. 4He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?”

5“Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked.

“I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,” he replied. 6“Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.”

7The men traveling with Saul stood there speechless; they heard the sound but did not see anyone. 8Saul got up from the ground, but when he opened his eyes he could see nothing. So they led him by the hand into Damascus. 9For three days he was blind, and did not eat or drink anything.

Paul’s encounter with Jesus had a physical side effect, blindness.  While in today’s cases we don’t see that type of side effect.  I think that Jesus really wanted to get Saul’s attention.  Which it appears he exactly did.  Follow this link to keep reading

October 13, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | Leave a comment

10/12 Acts 6-8

A lot going on in these three chapters.  The apostles appoint the first deacons, one of which is Stephen.  Stephen is brought before the Sanhedrin because evidently they didn’t like what he was saying.  After giving them a history lesson from Abraham to Jesus, he finishes it up with this:

51“You stiff-necked people, with uncircumcised hearts and ears! You are just like your fathers: You always resist the Holy Spirit! 52Was there ever a prophet your fathers did not persecute? They even killed those who predicted the coming of the Righteous One. And now you have betrayed and murdered him— 53you who have received the law that was put into effect through angels but have not obeyed it.”

54When they heard this, they were furious and gnashed their teeth at him. 55But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. 56“Look,” he said, “I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.”

57At this they covered their ears and, yelling at the top of their voices, they all rushed at him, 58dragged him out of the city and began to stone him. Meanwhile, the witnesses laid their clothes at the feet of a young man named Saul.

As a result of this, three things happen.  First Stephen becomes the first Christian martyr and second, Paul is introduced.  The third thing is that persecution of the church starts and the disciples begin to scatter.  This is important because up to that time Christianity only really existed in Jerusalem and the immediate areas.  Now we see evangelists starting their work outside of Jerusalem with Phillip, Peter and John preaching in Samaria.

With Jerusalem as the central point of Christianity, the rest of the world was a wide open mission field for the church.  While there is no central point for Christianity today, there is much work to do.   Yesterday I posted that there are 2.1 billion Christians in the world today.  The world contains almost 7 billion people according to this website.  Looks like there is still a wide open mission field.  Looks like we better get started.

October 12, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | Leave a comment

10/11 Acts 5

The apostles were teaching and healing the people and the rulers were not liking what was going on.  After all they managed to get rid of Jesus, why didn’t these people just go away?

17Then the high priest and all his associates, who were members of the party of the Sadducees, were filled with jealousy. 18They arrested the apostles and put them in the public jail. 19But during the night an angel of the Lord opened the doors of the jail and brought them out. 20“Go, stand in the temple courts,” he said, “and tell the people the full message of this new life.”

So the next day the Sanhedrin meets and orders the apostles brought before them.  Only one big problem, they’re not in jail anymore.  They are back at their work, teaching the people right out in the open of the temple courts.  So the guards go and gather them up again and bring them before the rulers, who then proceed to rebuke them.  But Peter explained to them that they obey God rather than man.  Naturally that didn’t go over to well.

29Peter and the other apostles replied: “We must obey God rather than men! 30The God of our fathers raised Jesus from the dead—whom you had killed by hanging him on a tree. 31God exalted him to his own right hand as Prince and Savior that he might give repentance and forgiveness of sins to Israel. 32We are witnesses of these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.”

Verses 34-39 are an interesting speech by Gamaliel, which once boiled down, is very simple.  The Jews killed their leader and history shows once that happens the followers will just fad away.  Of course on the other hand if Jesus did come from God and if God is behind this, then nothing they do will stop them and they will only be fighting against God.  So lets take a look at the outcome.  According to this website  Major Religions of the World there are 2.1 billion Christians in the world today.  Compare that to the number that follows Judaism.  So you be the judge, was it from God or not?

October 11, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | Leave a comment

10/10 Acts 4

Back in Chapter 3, Peter healed the crippled beggar and now the Sadducees have Peter and John arrested for teaching about the resurrection of the dead through Jesus.  So they are put in jail overnight and the next day brought before the rulers and High Priest.  They asked Peter by what power he healed the man.  This is his response:

8Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them: “Rulers and elders of the people! 9If we are being called to account today for an act of kindness shown to a cripple and are asked how he was healed, 10then know this, you and all the people of Israel: It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed. 11He is the stone you builders rejected, which has become the capstone.12Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.”

I don’t know about you, but I’m thinking Peter is on fire, nothing can shut him up.  They realized it too.  They realized that Peter was just an ordinary person with no schooling and no great oratory skills.  However after 3 years with Jesus you can never be the same.  I think that holds true today.

Follow this link to keep reading

October 10, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | Leave a comment

10/9 Acts 1-3

The book of Acts was written by Luke and it continues where the book of Luke leaves off.  Starting with Jesus being taken up into heaven.  Then the eleven filling Judas’s slot with Matthias.  On the day of Pentecost, the crowds are amazed as the the twelve were baptized with the Holy Spirit and fire.  This fulfilled the prophecy of John the Baptist from Luke 3:16 “John answered them all, “I baptize you with water. But one more powerful than I will come, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.”

Upon seeing the crowd wondering what was going on, Peter, boldly and full of the Holy Spirit gave the first sermon of the Christian Church.  After explaining everything to the people he ended it with these verses and results were amazing.

36“Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.”

37When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?”

38Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.”

40With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.” 41Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.

Follow this link to keep reading

October 9, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | Leave a comment