Paul says we Christians are running a race. Here's what I'm looking at on my run toward Christ.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Acts 4- Sovereignty, Fear and Prayer

When we last left Peter and John they had just healed a man and were preaching to a large group of people.  They were preaching the resurrection through Jesus and this angered the Sadducees (the Sadducees don't believe in the resurrection of the body.  So, they are sad you see.).  So Peter and John were arrested and brought to trial the next day.

Peter and John were not given a fair trial by a jury of their peers.  Rather, the same folks who condemned Jesus to death put them on trial.  This was a grave situation for Peter and John.

As we read we find that God made everything work out and Peter and John went free because they had done no wrong.  So, let's take a look at a few things we can learn from Acts Chapter 4.

I believe we can learn about: 1) God's sovereignty, 2) The Fear of God and 3) Prayer.

1) God is sovereign.
Peter and John were in a pickle.  The men who killed Jesus were looking to silence them.  These men killed an innocent Jesus and therefore would have no problem killing an innocent Peter and John.  However, God didn't want this.  God wanted Jesus to die.  He didn't want Peter and John to die, or at least not yet.  God willed both trials as He saw fit.

2) Fear God, not men.
Peter and John were in a pickle.  Men were threatening to harm them and commanding them to be silent.  This is how they responded in verse 19: "Judge for yourselves whether it is right in God's sight to obey you rather than God."  They feared God more than men.  God has really been pressing this with me, "Do I fear Him more than anything else?"  Do you fear God?

3) Prayer.
When the Bible spotlights a prayer we should look at it.  The prayer in this chapter is not a template for all prayer, rather just one template for prayer.  Let's look at what we can learn from the believers' prayer in verses 24-30.
A) They prayed together.
B) They adored God first.
C) They prayed scripture.
D) They asked God for strength in their situation, not for God to remove the situation.
E) They asked God to show His greatness.

Take time to read Acts 4.  Focus on the sovereignty of God, learn to fear God more than men and pray like the believers did today.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Acts 3- Priceless

What do you have in your life that is worth something?  What would you run back into your burning house to get?  Would it be family photos?  Your guitar?  Would it be your safe?  Your quilt that your grandma made you?  What would you say you value?

What do you have in your life that you protect at all cost?  Is it your status?  Your wealth?  Is it your safety?  Your connection to family?  What do you value?

In Acts 3 we have a story about Peter healing a crippled man and the crowd's reaction to that healing.  At its root this story is a story of value.

The crippled man in the story was doing what beggars in Jerusalem did.  He was sitting at the temple gate asking for money.  When people gave him money, or any cripple for that matter, it blessed both him and the giver.  Giving to the beggars in the temple court was a good thing to do.

However, when this man asks Peter and John for money this was Peter's reply.  Verse 6 "Silver or gold I do not have, but what I have I give you.  In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk."  And the man stood up and walked and ran and jumped around praising God.

"Silver or gold I do not have, but what I have I give you."

What is it that Peter and John had?  Do we have what they had?

Peter and John had the power of the name of Jesus.  They had a cure to the root of the problem, not the symptom.  They had something better.

I can imagine the gleam in Peter's eyes as he looked at this man and thought, "Money?  Oh you have no idea.  I have something so much better for you."

Do we have something better?  You bet!  We have the power of the name of Jesus.  When we see hurting in the world everything but Jesus only cures the symptoms.  Nothing else gets at the root of the problem... Jesus does.

So, what we have is priceless.  Friends, silver or gold I do not have (trust me), but what I have I give you.  In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, be free!

We have something of great value.  Protect it.  Treasure it.  Savor it.  Share it today.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Acts 2- Church 101

Acts 2 is one of the more dramatic chapters in the Bible.  We see the arrival of the Holy Spirit, the first Gospel message, 3,000 new believers in one day and the blueprint of a successful church.  Please read this awesome chapter.

When we last left the disciples Jesus had asked them to wait.  Waiting is tough but in this chapter we see why God's timing was/is perfect.  Much of me wants to write this blog post on the beauty being on His timing.  However, I'm going to write about the basics of the church.

In verses 42-47 Luke writes about the first church.  Below are the basics for a successful church.

A successful church:

1) Teaches and is taught.
Any church worth its salt will be full of solid teaching and preaching and listeners.

2) Fellowships.
Do you want your church to be successful?  Then hang out and uplift one another.

3) Has communion.
Communion is essential.  The first church had communion.

4) Prays.
They devoted themselves to prayer.  Is your church devoted to prayer?

5) Knows that everything is God's and act like it.
To have success a church must treat possessions as "His" and "ours" not "mine".

6) Fulfills needs.
The Church has dropped the ball here.  It is not the governments job, rather it is ours.

7) Meets together.
Church is not an individual sport.  Man was not made to be alone.

8) Eats together and loves it.
Do you eat with people in your church just because you love being with them?

9) Loves God and loves each other.
You can sense this prominently in a healthy church.

When the first church did these nine things "The Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved."

The Church is the bride of Christ and the key tool used by God here on earth.  Let's be the way He intended her to be.  Do your part to be a member of a successful church today.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Acts 1- Waiting

I'm getting back to what I really enjoy doing in a blog, that is expository writing.  Last year I walked through the book of Matthew with some pit stops in Malachi, Proverbs and other more random posts.  This year, or at least for 28 posts, I will walk through Acts.  I'm excited for this study because I truly believe that my generation is eager to get back to an Acts kind of Church.

Please read Acts 1 because I will never be able to touch on all of it.  However, I do want to land on one verse.

Acts 1:4 "On one occasion, while He was eating with them, He gave them this command: "Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about."

Do you like to wait?  I'm guessing none of you do because I hate it.  Saturday I was stuck in a rain delay during a football game I was calling for three hours.  I went nuts!  I hate to wait.  I especially hate to wait when I know I'm supposed to do something.

This is where the disciples are in Chapter 1 of Acts.  Jesus tells them to wait.

Why on earth would Jesus tell them to wait?  He had died on the cross for the sins of the world.  He had risen again, conquering death in the process.  Why wait now?  I mean the disciples have good news a.k.a. gospel to share with everyone.  Why wait on a good thing?  But Jesus said, "Wait".

Some of you are in this spot with the disciples.  God has told you that you are going to do something good and then He said, "Wait".  Maybe you know that you are supposed to have a job that will do good for others and He says "Wait".  Maybe you know that you are supposed to be a husband and a father and He says "Wait'.  Maybe you are supposed to be a missionary somewhere and He says "Wait".

Why on earth does Jesus ever say wait?  Doesn't He say "Go"?  I mean, I've read the Great Commission and He told the disciples "Go", right?

I believe Jesus said "Wait" to the disciples for the very same reason He says "Wait" to you and I.  Jesus was preparing them for the task.  "... but wait for the gift my Father promised."  He wanted the disciples to be fully equipped with the Holy Spirit.  If they hadn't been equipped the miracles Luke writes about later in Acts might not have occurred.

So, while we wait Jesus is preparing us for the task.  Ask yourself how you can allow Him to prepare you.  Maybe this involves spending time in the Word so He can speak preparation to you.  Maybe you need to be in prayer like the disciples were in Chapter 1.  Maybe you need to do similar, smaller tasks to get prepared.  Whatever it is we need to wait actively so that we can be prepared for the task we are waiting for.

Waiting isn't fun, but waiting is for our good.  Remember the song, "Strength will rise as we wait upon the Lord."  His timing is right.  Actively wait today.