You Be the Judges! Acts 4 Part 2

The religious leaders were truly clueless. They really thought that the authority of the office was truly greater than the power of God.  These were stinking fishermen, after all.  What did they know of matters of God.  Well, after blustering and blowing on about how much trouble Peter and John faced, the Sanhedrin was astonished by the amazing and direct answer given By Peter and John. “Which is right in God’s eyes: to listen to you, or to him? You be the judges! As for us, we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.” It was no longer a hobby for the men to grow the body, it was a mission—compelling and forever driving them to share the great news of Christ’s resurrection.  That compulsion was contagious.  It drew this church to pray, to share and to be a community that was undaunted by religious oppression.

 

Today’s church needs to be similarly compelled.  We need to be compelled to speak, compelled to pray and compelled to share and serve one another.  Our culture is literally one election away from completely forsaking the God of our fathers. Once separate, the freedoms to speak, worship and honor God will disappear.  When that happens, it will be critical for the community of believers to pray, share and speak boldly of the Kingdom of God. We must not be afraid. Instead, we must stand firm and follow closely.  If we do, we could see revival in our land and peace in our lifetime—what seems impossible to men is completely possible with God!

 

God Bless You

When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus. 14 But since they could see the man who had been healed standing there with them, there was nothing they could say. 15 So they ordered them to withdraw from the Sanhedrin and then conferred together. 16 “What are we going to do with these men?” they asked. “Everyone living in Jerusalem knows they have performed a notable sign, and we cannot deny it. 17 But to stop this thing from spreading any further among the people, we must warn them to speak no longer to anyone in this name.”

18 Then they called them in again and commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. 19 But Peter and John replied, “Which is right in God’s eyes: to listen to you, or to him? You be the judges! 20 As for us, we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.”

21 After further threats they let them go. They could not decide how to punish them, because all the people were praising God for what had happened. 22 For the man who was miraculously healed was over forty years old.

23 On their release, Peter and John went back to their own people and reported all that the chief priests and the elders had said to them. 24 When they heard this, they raised their voices together in prayer to God…31 After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.

By Whose Authority-Acts 4 Part 1

If ever there was a case of asking the obvious question, it was the day the Sanhedrin questioned Peter and John about the healing of the lame beggar.  The people in the temple saw a man who had never walked in his life walking and jumping and praising God.  Peter had just preached the sermon of his life and added another couple thousand folks to the church. Then, the religious leaders as if waking from a fog, realized something was not quite right and have Peter and John arrested…Then, they asked the men, “By who’s authority did you heal this man?” Really? It was as if they expected Peter and John to file the correct paper work!

The question they should have asked was how did we miss this? How did we, the leaders of the chosen nation of priests miss God and his handiwork when he was standing before us? How could more than 5000 people see and know God and we do not?  The religious leaders had become so entrenched in their religious structure, traditions and authority that they completely lost sight of God.  They killed the Lord to protect their personal kingdom built upon his very name?  These men asked the very people that knew God personally by whose name were they changing the world.

In our culture, the church is on the verge of repeating the same mistake.  We have become so entrenched in our traditions and desire to cater to the world, that we have lost the desire to make a difference in the world around us. So when people make an effort to stand for our faith we call them radicals and ask the same question—“By what authority do you do these things?”

The answer was, is and will always be the same—Jesus, our Savior, Lord and leader. If we choose to follow him and pattern our lives after him, then we will look strange to the world and a bit offensive to the traditional church.  But, much like Peter, if we follow him filled with his spirit, then he will do the work of changing the world.  Help me, Lord to simply follow you!

God Bless You

4 The priests and the captain of the temple guard and the Sadducees came up to Peter and John while they were speaking to the people. They were greatly disturbed because the apostles were teaching the people, proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection of the dead. They seized Peter and John and, because it was evening, they put them in jail until the next day. But many who heard the message believed; so the number of men who believed grew to about five thousand.

The next day the rulers, the elders and the teachers of the law met in Jerusalem. Annas the high priest was there, and so were Caiaphas, John, Alexander and others of the high priest’s family. They had Peter and John brought before them and began to question them: “By what power or what name did you do this?”

Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them: “Rulers and elders of the people! If we are being called to account today for an act of kindness shown to a man who was lame and are being asked how he was healed, 10 then 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. 11 Jesus is

“‘the stone you builders rejected,     which has become the cornerstone.

Making the Most of Every Opportunity–Acts 3 -Part 2

It is very difficult to argue with facts.  It was  obvious the Jewish leadership would gladly argue with theological issues all day long, but, how does one argue with a lame beggar restored to full strength.  He was walking and jumping and praising God. I am sure that the people were, in fact, mystified that these two disciples could complete such an act and were giving the glory to the recently executed prophet.

But, Peter was compelled to tell the story of the amazing Savior and Messiah.  The Savior he had denied knowing now captured his every waking thought.  And, when the opportunity arose he shared the one message of hope to any and all that would listen.  Jesus lives and Jesus saves! People could not deny what they were seeing.  There was power in that amazing name.

The great news is that there is still power in his name.  Even now, when it seems the world has literally lost its mind; the Savior’s message of hope still rings true.  He still has the power to heal and save that which is sick and lost.  We simply need to believe He is God and ask to be in relationship with Him. Then, like the lame beggar, we too can experience His power to save heal and restore us. It is no secret formula, it is a commitment to return to God and follow His plan for our lives. That was, is and will always be the greatest miracle of all.

God Bless You

While the man held on to Peter and John, all the people were astonished and came running to them in the place called Solomon’s Colonnade. 12 When Peter saw this, he said to them: “Fellow Israelites, why does this surprise you? Why do you stare at us as if by our own power or godliness we had made this man walk? 13 The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of our fathers, has glorified his servant Jesus. You handed him over to be killed, and you disowned him before Pilate, though he had decided to let him go. 14 You disowned the Holy and Righteous One and asked that a murderer be released to you. 15 You killed the author of life, but God raised him from the dead. We are witnesses of this. 16 By faith in the name of Jesus, this man whom you see and know was made strong. It is Jesus’ name and the faith that comes through him that has completely healed him, as you can all see.

17 “Now, fellow Israelites, I know that you acted in ignorance, as did your leaders. 18 But this is how God fulfilled what he had foretold through all the prophets, saying that his Messiah would suffer. 19 Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord, 20 and that he may send the Messiah, who has been appointed for you—even Jesus. 21 Heaven must receive him until the time comes for God to restore everything, as he promised long ago through his holy prophets. 22 For Moses said, ‘The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own people; you must listen to everything he tells you. 23 Anyone who does not listen to him will be completely cut off from their people.’

I Don’t Have Any Coins for You–Acts 3 Part 1

So many times, we are faced with choice of trusting God to provide what we need or what we want. Sadly, and usually, what we want is not really what we need.  Our life, its struggles and disappointments–bring us to a place where we lose sight of his overall plan. We ultimately begin to become content to survive and exist rather than to truly live.  Such was the case for the lame beggar at the temple gate.

He was never able to walk, and so, for his entire life, he had been dependent on the help of family and the kindness of strangers.  Such a life made him helpless and hopeless and his expectations were limited to the few coins he received daily from kind strangers. Then Peter and John came to the temple gate.  Peter saw the beggar and was led by God to give him what he truly needed—but would never seek. With a touch of his hand and the Holy Spirit’s power–he lifted a beggar from the ground and released a God-praising free man from a life of dependence.  What a great story, what a beautiful scene.

In our lives, God leads, guides and directs us through a difficult journey.  Many of the twists and turns are at best difficult and often heart breaking.  We live in a fallen world, filled with sin and destruction.  Sadly, it is almost impossible to finish the journey unharmed.

BUT, we serve a risen Savior, he empowers us to navigate the journey and face those trials and tribulations–knowing that he will prepare us for what is ahead, provide for what we need and lead us where we need to be to fulfill his plan for our lives.

Often we ask for God to give us a pittance so that we may survive—when, his desire is to free us from the things that enslave us and allow us to be valiant soldiers in the battle for Heaven. We must never give up or give in to the enemy’s push to render us broken and useless! “Seek first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you!” Matt 6:33

God Bless You

One day Peter and John were going up to the temple at the time of prayer—at three in the afternoon. Now a man who was lame from birth was being carried to the temple gate called Beautiful, where he was put every day to beg from those going into the temple courts. When he saw Peter and John about to enter, he asked them for money. Peter looked straight at him, as did John. Then Peter said, “Look at us!” So the man gave them his attention, expecting to get something from them.

Then Peter said, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.” Taking him by the right hand, he helped him up, and instantly the man’s feet and ankles became strong. He jumped to his feet and began to walk. Then he went with them into the temple courts, walking and jumping, and praising God. When all the people saw him walking and praising God, 10 they recognized him as the same man who used to sit begging at the temple gate called Beautiful, and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.

True Community-Acts 2 Final

Imagine a world where people actually lived completely for serving others and knowing Christ deeply.  That was what was happening with the new Church.  Now, well over three thousand strong, they were actually living and working together as one family. When they were not earning a living they were seeking God and serving others—much like Christ. They were living in an amazing time, watching God do amazing things and were thrilled to see his handiwork as they grew daily.

It is a bit different in 2016—We live in a world coming apart at the seams.  We watch our community of believers ripped apart over silly differences, internal strife and lack of trust in God or each other.  We are torn between trusting God and fending for ourselves.  It simply does not have to be that way.

We are still capable of being selfless, God honoring, people of faith.  We can be set apart as those that serve one another and trust God for our very lives and existence.  When we live like that, we experience the freedom that God intended.  He will provide our needs, He will prepare and protect us on the journey, and he will give us the spirit to guide and direct us to live a life worthy of the Gospel.  All we are required to do is ask and trust him.—As the him clearly says, “Trust and obey, for there is no other way to be Happy in Jesus, but, to trust and obey!”

God Bless You

Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.

They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.

Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles.

All the believers were together and had everything in common.

They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need.

Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts,

praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.

Jesus, Messiah and Lord–Acts 2 Part 3

Now Peter, the one who had denied Jesus 3 times on the day of his arrest—stood and acted as the first evangelist for the Church. He spoke simply and articulately about the messiah and how David himself spoke of Jesus coming. The result was astonishing—the once fearful fisherman was now full of God’s spirit and ready to tell the world of Christ and his mission.  The crowds were also amazed.  his message and God’s spirit pierced their hearts.  They had but one question—“What Do We Do Now?”  The answer was as simple as the question—Commit your life to following Christ!

Two thousand years later the message remains the same.  Jesus was, is and will forever be our Messiah—the Savior.  His sacrifice restored the means for us to be in relationship with God. Our charge is simply to believe in him. Not historically, believe he existed; but actively believe in his role and follow him all the days of our lives. Making that commitment will transform you as it did Peter.  It will give you a full and meaningful life here and eternity with Christ in heaven.  It is an amazing gift—one there for the asking, we simply need to ask and follow!

God Bless You

 22 “Fellow Israelites, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know. 23 This man was handed over to you by God’s deliberate plan and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross. 24 But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him. 25 David said about him:

“‘I saw the Lord always before me.  Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken. 26 Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest in hope, 27 because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead, you will not let your holy one see decay. 28 You have made known to me the paths of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence.’

29 “Fellow Israelites, I can tell you confidently that the patriarch David died and was buried, and his tomb is here to this day. 30 But he was a prophet and knew that God had promised him on oath that he would place one of his descendants on his throne. 31 Seeing what was to come, he spoke of the resurrection of the Messiah, that he was not abandoned to the realm of the dead, nor did his body see decay. 32 God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of it. 33 Exalted to the right hand of God, he has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit and has poured out what you now see and hear. 34 For David did not ascend to heaven, and yet he said,

“‘The Lord said to my Lord: Sit at my right hand 35 until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet.”’

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

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

38 Peter 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. 39 The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.”

Words That Change the World-Acts 2 Part 2

So all at once, God steals the show. These very concerned, very confused followers of Christ were clinging to their faith and all at once, God shows up in a big way.  As is always the case with God, his timing could not have been better.—It was the Feast of Pentecost, God fearing Jewish people from across the known world were gathered to celebrate God.  Little did they know, they were going to see him live and in action. 

Jesus followers appeared and started sharing the good news and all the people heard it in their own language.  It was mystifying to most–that these country folks, were explaining to the world that there was hope in Christ.  It was equally mystifying that these fearful followers were now speaking with authority and courage. Yet, in the midst, there were still people that completely missed the message and all they could see were a group of drunks.

In our world and in this time, we are still called to speak the word boldly and with passion.  Many that hear it will be mystified and changed forever.  Still others will miss the message and cling to the skepticism of their lack of faith in God.  For us, his chosen, we are simply to speak the truth in love.  It is God’s job to communicate the message in a language people will understand.  It has never been our job to convert—only to communicate.  God then takes over and begins to change the world.

God Bless You

Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard their own language being spoken.

Utterly amazed, they asked: “Aren’t all these who are speaking Galileans? Then how is it that each of us hears them in our native language? Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia,

Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome both Jews and converts to Judaism; Cretans and Arabs—we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!” Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, “What does this mean?” Some, however, made fun of them and said, “They have had too much wine.”