Taking the Epistle

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The ACTS Files – Eleven become Twelve – Matthias replaces Judas Iscariot – Acts 1:21-26

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The ACTS Files – Eleven become Twelve – Matthias replaces Judas Iscariot – Acts 1:21-26 – 12/21/2015

This is a series in the Book of Acts which looks to visit the text from the Book of Acts on a line by line and verse by verse teaching and Lord willing we will get through the full book of Acts, this is part of a New Testament bible study series that you can read all other studies in this section on this link.

Acts 1:21 (ESV) So one of the men who have accompanied us during all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, 22 beginning from the baptism of John until the day when he was taken up from us—one of these men must become with us a witness to his resurrection.” 23 And they put forward two, Joseph called Barsabbas, who was also called Justus, and Matthias. 24 And they prayed and said, “You, Lord, who know the hearts of all, show which one of these two you have chosen 25 to take the place in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas turned aside to go to his own place.” 26 And they cast lots for them, and the lot fell on Matthias, and he was numbered with the eleven apostles.

This is the last in our article that looks at the disciples in the “pre-Pentecost” stage of their lives where we have seen that they have been growing in that since Jesus ascended to heaven they have been the following…

•       Obedient in that they went straight to Jerusalem and went to where they were supposed to be
•       They prepared their hearts and covered everything in prayer (devoted themselves to prayer)
•       Had faith that God would supply what they would need
•       Peter quoted scripture that Judas would have to be replaced

And here is where we begin this article, I have always maintained the belief that the reason such great things were done at Pentecost was because man and God were in such union and the disciples were willing tools to be used by God. Can we say the same in our day to day lives? We start midway through what Peter had said and in order to get it all in context let us look at the full text of what was said.

Acts 1:15 (ESV) In those days Peter stood up among the brothers (the company of persons was in all about 120) and said, 16 “Brothers, the Scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit spoke beforehand by the mouth of David concerning Judas, who became a guide to those who arrested Jesus. 17 For he was numbered among us and was allotted his share in this ministry.” 18 (Now this man acquired a field with the reward of his wickedness, and falling headlong  he burst open in the middle and all his bowels gushed out. 19 And it became known to all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, so that the field was called in their own language Akeldama, that is, Field of Blood.) 20 “For it is written in the Book of Psalms, “‘May his camp become desolate, and let there be no one to dwell in it’; and “‘Let another take his office.’ 21 So one of the men who have accompanied us during all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, 22 beginning from the baptism of John until the day when he was taken up from us—one of these men must become with us a witness to his resurrection.” 23 And they put forward two, Joseph called Barsabbas, who was also called Justus, and Matthias. 24 And they prayed and said, “You, Lord, who know the hearts of all, show which one of these two you have chosen 25 to take the place in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas turned aside to go to his own place.” 26 And they cast lots for them, and the lot fell on Matthias, and he was numbered with the eleven apostles.

I had my own reasons for splitting it into two articles as there is a lot to look at and I wanted to keep it in an article that was a decent length as well as easier to read if you had never read the passage before. In this article we will focus on the last six verses and if you wish to read back on the first portion then please click “here” and you will see this article. If you have read my articles before you will know that I like to look at the text on a verse by verse basis and this article is no different.

V21 So one of the men who have accompanied us during all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, V22 beginning from the baptism of John until the day when he was taken up from us—one of these men must become with us a witness to his resurrection.”

So as we stated earlier they had direction from God’s word, the Holy Spirit was to come in chapter 2 and that is a great example to us because we would either do one of two things:

•       Procrastinate and not do Gods will because we are not confident that we are doing the right thing
•       Carry on and do what we believe but we have to make sure we have confirmation from the Word of God otherwise we would end up in error and not doing what God wants us to do.

Peter states that the candidates had to meet a certain criteria “one of the men who have accompanied us during all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us beginning from the baptism of John until the day when he was taken up from us—one of these men must become with us a witness to his resurrection.” And this tells me that he wanted from a disciple one who had seen it with his own eyes. I believe that even although there were no Holy Spirit revelation because they were in communion with God in prayer and reading scriptures they understood the type of man that God wanted in the twelve and the qualifications that would be required for what would be a tremendously difficult task ahead.

They were about to declare to the world at the biggest Jewish festival of the year that Jesus Christ had not only been crucified but had risen from the dead and was the Son of God. They wanted that testimony to be true, accurate and from primary witnesses to the events that have happened.

V23 And they put forward two, Joseph called Barsabbas, who was also called Justus, and Matthias. V24 And they prayed and said, “You, Lord, who know the hearts of all, show which one of these two you have chosen V25 to take the place in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas turned aside to go to his own place.” V26 And they cast lots for them, and the lot fell on Matthias, and he was numbered with the eleven apostles.

They chose Matthias in the following way.

1 – In prayer
Verse 24 tells us that they first prayed, they exhorted the Lord and sought the correct foundation for this really important decision by covering it in prayer. They followed Jesus example in choosing a disciple, let’s look at that example in the Gospel of Luke:

Luke 6:12 (ESV) In these days he went out to the mountain to pray, and all night he continued in prayer to God. 13 And when day came, he called his disciples and chose from them twelve, whom he named apostles: 14 Simon, whom he named Peter, and Andrew his brother, and James and John, and Philip, and Bartholomew, 15 and Matthew, and Thomas, and James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon who was called the Zealot, 16 and Judas the son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor.

It is fundamentally simple and easy and when we look at this we agree that that is how we should begin, however in practice how many of us start that way? This is an application question as opposed to a condemnation question. I am looking to help you correct deficiencies rather than make you feel bad.

2 – They cast lots!
So they threw dice to determine the winner! Is that an acceptable way to choose the disciple number 12? I would say that it was and here is why. First of all there is a biblical precedent for doing so in the book of Proverbs:

Proverbs 16:33 (ESV) The lot is cast into the lap; but the whole disposing thereof is of the LORD.

And here is why, the disciples were relying on the LORD to show them who of the two candidates the one to be chosen was. They did not rely on many of the methods that we use today such as emotional attachment, likability, being a team player, syncing up with the current leadership, popularity or any of the flawed methods that we use today.

3 – The lot fell on Matthias
God wanted the vacancy filled and although Paul was later named as an apostle, God was keen that when the truth was told about Jesus and the church was to begin that there was a full complement of apostles. Jesus picked 12, some say the number of completion but one came up short and betrayed him and another had to take his office.

We could be contentious all day about the use of lots or whether the disciples should have waited for the Apostle Paul or whether the criteria they used was acceptable. What I do know is that these apostles were in prayer, they had devoted themselves to the scriptures and were genuinely seeking the will of God and had prepared their hearts for Gods outpouring, they did what Jesus did in a similar situation and were in obedience to the father in a way that they never were prior to the crucifixion. Because of this God was planning something amazing and he would use them as the tools to make that happen, if the LORD wills then please join us as we look at the first four verses of Acts 2 in the next article we look at the book of the Acts of the Apostles.

God bless and I pray this was a blessing and please feel free to like, share or comment on here or whatever social media platforms you use as the Lord leads you to
TTE
TGBTG
SDG

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The ACTS Files – The beginning of the mission – The disciples look to replace Judas Iscariot

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The ACTS Files – The beginning of the mission – The disciples look to replace Judas Iscariot – Monday 11/23/2015

This is a series in the Book of Acts which looks to visit the text from the Book of Acts on a line by line and verse by verse teaching and Lord willing we will get through the full book of Acts, this is part of a New Testament bible study series that you can read all other studies in this section on this link.

Acts 1:12 (ESV) Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a Sabbath day’s journey away. 13 And when they had entered, they went up to the upper room, where they were staying, Peter and John and James and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot and Judas the son of James. 14 All these with one accord were devoting themselves to prayer, together with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers.

When we last looked in on the disciples Jesus had just ascended into heaven and Luke spares no details to advise that the historical account picks up exactly when that finishes. We see this in the location that they returned from the mount and they travelled back to Jerusalem which was a short distance away as it is described as a “Sabbath day’s journey away” being still in the Jewish culture they would not be permitted to take certain elongated journeys that would involve a work like endurance.

You also have to remember that these guys are not rich guys and often times walked everywhere so that again would reduce the distance as they would not be on any mode of transportation and there is no boat mentioned so you would have to assume that they went by land and walked.

Obedience to the Lord Jesus Christ

We could learn something from the disciples obedience here because by doing so they followed Jesus words when he said in the last article…

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

And they went where the lord had told them to go (Jerusalem) as soon as he ascended to heaven. We also could learn something about their desire to get on mission right away, how often have you dear Christian procrastinated even although you knew the Lord was pointing you clearly to go in a certain direction. I know I have and I have lamented over my actions when I have thought about it. These disciples knew that Jesus was who he said he was, no longer were these men quiet followers but they were maturing into the trailblazers they were going to be.

They also knew that they had to be in Jerusalem because that is where the Holy Spirit was going to come upon them, and sometimes our obedience to God would be as simple as being ready, willing and available to be in the right place at the right time in order to be used by God.

They went together

Christianity is not meant to be a solo sport and often times God gives you people who are on the same mission as you to co-labor with and this is no different. The thing that strikes me about this passage is that they were all in this together. The common faith or common bond that they shared knowing that Jesus was in fact the Messiah united them and gave them a unity that pastors for years have tried to replicate.

The fact that they were in one accord and on the same mission allowed them to be mobilized in great numbers (we read in verse 15 in the next article we do in this series that the number was 120) and the God we serve is a big God, he can work in a small number or large, but we as humans do sometimes require validation that we are on the right path and as it states in Proverbs 27 that iron sharpens iron and I know the blessing and the benefit of having people who are on the same mission as me being able to mentor me and conversely I have had the benefit of being used in others’ lives to help them maintain a closeness in their relationship with Jesus.

For me this was like the “perfect church” a family of families that were on mission together and moved together as one to move the needle and show the love of Jesus to a world that thought they had crucified Jesus. Today we could learn so much from this in our churches today, I am not going to blast todays church but even myself as the most ardent defender of the church system we have today, we could do so much better to utilize people and have everyone involved using the gifts that God has given them.

They were ready for the Holy Spirit

These were not the disciples of when Jesus was alive, Peter had a hugely humbling experience of running his mouth saying he would die with the Lord and then being humbled a few hours later by denying him three times. There was no arguing or bickering over who was number one in the group and who should sit where in paradise.

What was different? Was Matthew any less the Roman collaborator? Was Simon any less of a Zealot? Was Peter any less a sufferer of “foot in mouth” disease? No, however they had seen the risen Lord, they had confirmation in their eyes and hearts as a personal living witness that Jesus had done what he said he was going to do and risen from the dead!

Again we could learn so much here about our assemblies today, I am sure there are people who meet with me on a Sunday that are more conservative theologically than I am, some could be replacement theologist, some could be Calvinist, some could be more Pentecostal than me but these are not what bind us as brothers and sisters, it is our common faith that Jesus is our Messiah.

They prepared in prayer

Like I said previously, they were in one accord and devoted themselves to prayer, they knew the climate outside, the Romans were still in charge, the Jewish leaders were not going to like their message and they tried to crucify Jesus for that message so what would they do to them?

They strengthened themselves in the same way that Christ did the night he was betrayed in Gethsemane, we read the following in the Gospel of Matthew chapter 26…

Matthew 26:36 (ESV) Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to his disciples, “Sit here, while I go over there and pray.” 37 And taking with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, he began to be sorrowful and troubled. 38 Then he said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with me.” 39 And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.” 40 And he came to the disciples and found them sleeping. And he said to Peter, “So, could you not watch with me one hour? 41 Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” 42 Again, for the second time, he went away and prayed, “My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done.” 43 And again he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were heavy. 44 So, leaving them again, he went away and prayed for the third time, saying the same words again. 45 Then he came to the disciples and said to them, “Sleep and take your rest later on. See, the hour is at hand, and the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. 46 Rise, let us be going; see, my betrayer is at hand.”

What an example given directly from Jesus through his disciples to us and it is as relevant today as it was then. We will go through things that we will not be able to handle and challenges that we will have to tap into the fount of eternal wisdom, James chapter 1 tells us where we get wisdom from…

James 1:5 (ESV) If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. 6 But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. 7 For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; 8 he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.

If we require something to do the will of God he will supply it for us, we do however have to have faith. The disciples prayed in faith in the upper room that night and we read on in the next article of our Book of Acts series what happens next. I prefer to do it to the best of my ability and leave the results up to God.

God bless and I pray this was a blessing and please feel free to like, share or comment on here or whatever social media platforms you use as the Lord leads you to
TTE
TGBTG
SDG

Columbus, was he a just a biblical scholar, an explorer or just a man of great faith?

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Columbus, was he a just a biblical scholar, an explorer or just a man of great faith?

Isaiah 40:21 (NKJV) Have you not known? Have you not heard? Has it not been told you from the beginning? Have you not understood from the foundations of the earth? 22 It is He who sits above the circle of the earth, And its inhabitants are like grasshoppers, Who stretches out the heavens like a curtain, And spreads them out like a tent to dwell in. 

Today in the US is Columbus Day and they celebrate the man who was looking for the Indies and came across the Americas. There has been a lot written about the Portuguese mercenary sailor who petitioned the King of Spain to sponsor and fund his journey to the Indies with tales that he could bring back a bounty of riches from the Indies.

This was not a popular opinion in that day with some Catholic theologians who still preached that the earth was flat and you could sail off the end if you went far enough, hence why Columbus had issues finding someone to fund his expedition. He was right in the idea but where he fell short was the measurement of the world, seasoned sailors were of belief that the earth was not flat a belief that Pythagoras popularized before the days of Christ. The bible as stated above does state long before telescopes or exploratory sailings that the earth is a circle, it is spherical and that it was created by the one who knows it best, God!

Which is why I laugh when I hear atheists call Christians “Flat earth society” or decriers of science because in many ways the scientific community is catching up to what the bible has been stating for many years.

I do wonder where Columbus got his unshakeable faith that the world was round despite what the people who were controlling the money of the Crowns of Europe were telling him, I have never met the chap and have very little literature to tell me if this is the case or not but it may just be possible that he had heard this prophet in Isaiah, written a good length of time prior to the birth of Christ, it is a good question and may be the case, however I wish we as Christians had such unshakeable faith at times.

Jesus said all we need is a mustard seed faith, a mustard seed one of the smallest seeds that grows into the tallest of plants! Let’s look at two examples of faith from two disciples Phillip and Andrew…

Mark 6:30 (NKJV) Then the apostles gathered to Jesus and told Him all things, both what they had done and what they had taught. 31 And He said to them, “Come aside by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.” For there were many coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat. 32 So they departed to a deserted place in the boat by themselves. 33 But the multitudes saw them departing, and many knew Him and ran there on foot from all the cities. They arrived before them and came together to Him. 34 And Jesus, when He came out, saw a great multitude and was moved with compassion for them, because they were like sheep not having a shepherd. So He began to teach them many things. 35 When the day was now far spent, His disciples came to Him and said, “This is a deserted place, and already the hour is late. 36 Send them away, that they may go into the surrounding country and villages and buy themselves bread; for they have nothing to eat.” 37 But He answered and said to them, “You give them something to eat.” And they said to Him, “Shall we go and buy two hundred denarii worth of bread and give them something to eat?” 38 But He said to them, “How many loaves do you have? Go and see.” And when they found out they said, “Five, and two fish.” 39 Then He commanded them to make them all sit down in groups on the green grass. 40 So they sat down in ranks, in hundreds and in fifties. 41 And when He had taken the five loaves and the two fish, He looked up to heaven, blessed and broke the loaves, and gave them to His disciples to set before them; and the two fish He divided among them all. 42 So they all ate and were filled. 43 And they took up twelve baskets full of fragments and of the fish. 44 Now those who had eaten the loaves were about five thousand men.

They werein a pickle huh? They had real need that 5,000 men required fed, and Jesus knows the hearts of the guys he is working with and knows who still needs work and his disciples first reaction was to move the problem away and send them away once the preaching was over, and as Christians we will often times choose the path of least resistance but will that bring glory to God? Jesus had other plans to show the power of the father.

We have two responses and if you do additional reading in the Gospel of John 6 verses 4-9…

John 6:4 (NKJV) Now the Passover, a feast of the Jews, was near. 5 Then Jesus lifted up His eyes, and seeing a great multitude coming toward Him, He said to Philip, “Where shall we buy bread, that these may eat?” 6 But this He said to test him, for He Himself knew what He would do. 7 Philip answered Him, “Two hundred denarii worth of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one of them may have a little.” 8 One of His disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to Him, 9 “There is a lad here who has five barley loaves and two small fish, but what are they among so many?”

Answer one is Phillip who saw it from the world’s perspective and was calculating what they DID NOT HAVE and how this could not be done, for me this was an astounding lack of faith in Jesus based on what they had seen at this point. Contrast this to Andrew who had that mustard seed of faith and stated what they DID HAVE  and despite not fully understanding how it could be achieved, he presented the loaves and fish to Jesus saying “from my perspective this isn’t much LORD but I submit these into your hands”.

How much more abundant would our lives be if we were like Andrew? If we had “faith like Columbus” that God could achieve heights in our lives that everyone had told us could not be achieved then many more modern day miracles would be achieved and God would be given much more glory! I am reminded of a story that involves the legendary preacher Charles Spurgeon…

Spurgeon was mentoring a young pastor who said to him, “I have been preaching for a few months now and no-one has got saved,” to which Spurgeon replied “Do you expect them to be saved?” and the young pastor replied “no” and Spurgeon replied “that is your first problem”.

We have to be real in our faith, be all in and allow God to work within us and achieve such heights that it is obvious that God did it, sometimes I believe that is why God uses us because he knows that despite our talents he will get the glory.

My exhortation to you is to have faith like Columbus, sail to the edge of your boundaries and allow God to work and do that work in your life.
SDG
TGBTG
TTE

How many of Jesus disciples would pass a pre-employment screening?

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How many of Jesus disciples would pass a pre-employment screening?

(The example is borderline satirical so please do not be offended) 

1st Corinthians 1:26 (ESV) For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. 27 But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; 28 God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, 29 so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. 30 And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, 31 so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”

When you are hiring for a high profile appointment, you will screen you prospective candidates and Jesus selected a “small group” before small groups were popular, this small group would turn the world on their head and lets imagine for a second that Jesus had chosen his twelve candidates at the beginning of his ministry to a background agency like most companies who have desirable positions do so consider the possible results…

ALPHA AND OMEGA BACKGROUND CHECK LLC.

Client – Jesus of Nazareth.

Position – Disciple and follower to change the world.

Candidate 1) – Simon Peter – We have reviewed Simon Peter and found him to be ill mannered, prone to rage, prone to boasting, promises much but delivers little and we would find him to not be well equipped to deal with a crisis or stressful situation. Candidate really needs to learn when to stay quiet at times. – NOT APPROVED

Candidate 2) – James (son of Zebedee) – Seemed to be overshadowed a little by John, he seems inseparable to him, unsure whether he could be an individual in the group, decent character and appears faithful but his courage may be his undoing as he could end up getting himself killed. – NOT APPROVED

Candidate 3) – John – Here is a man who would be too emotionally involved and would stick closer than a brother, he is a keen writer and has a bit of a temper so we are not convinced he would change the world – NOT APPROVED

Candidate 4) – Andrew – Brother of Simon Peter, keen fishermen and is more of a follower than a leader, perhaps may not stick with mission as a recent acquisition from the disciple school of John the Baptist, a possible plus point is he would wish to be closely taught by you. – NOT APPROVED

Candidate 5) – Thomas – Nervous character who did not say much and is more of a follower than a leader. Gives impression that he would doubt easily. – NOT APPROVED

Candidate 6) – Phillip – Is easily led and will follow with just a few words, possibly teachable but a man of simple education and worked his days as a fisherman, unlikely to be accepted by the Religious people – NOT APPROVED

Candidate 7) – Bartholomew – son of Talmai lived in Cana of Galilee, of noble birth so would have concerns whether he could relate to the common people of Jerusalem. He is an Israelite with some interesting opinions of regions in Galilee, this could be problematic. – NOT APPROVED 

Candidate 8) – Simon (Zealot) – A real political radical, could upset the whole mission with his anti-Roman rhetoric, this may be an issue with reaching Jews with ties to Rome. – NOT APPROVED

Candidate 9) – Thaddeus/Jude – Another Zealot who is fiercely nationalistic, a political tinderbox who may undo all of the good works you plan to do here. Would not sit well with the reigning Roman authorities, he wishes his Messiah to be crowned King – NOT APPROVED.

Candidate 10) – James (son of Alphaeus) – Good strong character but is not assertive or push himself forward in a large group setting, his real flaw is that he does not speak up as much as the others and is lost in a large group setting. – NOT APPROVED

Candidate 11) – Matthew – Former tax collector and colluder with the occupying forces from Rome, who is hungry for profit and universally disliked, would never gain popular opinion with the religious types in Jerusalem due to flawed character, blacklisted by the Greater Jerusalem Better Business Bureau. – NOT APPROVED

Candidate 12) – Judas Iscariot – Now this is a candidate that we could get behind, good connections with both Roman and Jewish leaders, good with money, sound business acumen and zealous for the cause at hand, this man should be your right hand man – APPROVED

Isn’t it crazy how the world see’s differently to God? This of course is humor with a little artistic license and Jesus never sought out a background investigation on his disciples as he had something better – he could see their hearts. Imagine that, as he was choosing Peter and listening to Peter’s big promises, he knew he would deny his three times. Likewise when he was choosing Judas Iscariot he knew he would be betrayed and he knew to the exact coin how much. Yet he still chose them?

If he (who is sinless and perfect) made such choices in his inner circle, in his small group, in the cell group he would use to turn the world upside down, what makes you think that he would not choose you, with your minor indiscretions to do his work today.

One of the biggest disqualifications to the work of the Lord today is ourselves, we are like Thomas and doubt, we are like Simon and are a nationalistic political zealot, we are like Peter and run off at the mouth and make promises we cannot keep. I recognize characteristics in each of the disciples I would rather not have.

A question that I would have to ask you dear reader is “What handicaps do you put on your service to God?” What do you put before God as an excuse to not serve him? I would encourage you to not do so, God can get his will achieved without you but imagine the blessing of being used by God in the way you were called? That is why God asks us, because as a father I know how cool it is to do things with my kid!

If you have disqualified yourself due to sin then you have to do the following…

REPENT – Apologize to God and repent, make yourself right with God and apologize to anyone you have sinned against, get back to square one with God and get right with him, that is the foundation.

REVISE YOUR ACTIONS – Simply take a U turn and let go of that sin and give it to God. Change the harmful direction that caused you to sin in the first place.

REJOIN THE FIGHT – The Lord wants to use you and has given you talents, Jesus himself said that “the harvest is plenty but the laborers are few”. Dedicate your talents to his will and his glory and rejoin the fight unless you are biblically disqualified then you will be blessed in the long run.

I hope that today’s article was a challenge, a blessing or even an exhortation, please like, comment or share on whatever social media platforms you use. I pray this message is used to the glory of God.
SDG
TGBTG
TTE

Teaching and preaching that the Christ is Jesus

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Teaching and preaching that the Christ is Jesus.

Acts 5:17 (ESV) But the high priest rose up, and all who were with him (that is, the party of the Sadducees), and filled with jealousy 18 they arrested the apostles and put them in the public prison. 19 But during the night an angel of the Lord opened the prison doors and brought them out, and said, 20 “Go and stand in the temple and speak to the people all the words of this Life.” 21 And when they heard this, they entered the temple at daybreak and began to teach. Now when the high priest came, and those who were with him, they called together the council, all the senate of the people of Israel, and sent to the prison to have them brought. 22 But when the officers came, they did not find them in the prison, so they returned and reported, 23 “We found the prison securely locked and the guards standing at the doors, but when we opened them we found no one inside.” 24 Now when the captain of the temple and the chief priests heard these words, they were greatly perplexed about them, wondering what this would come to. 25 And someone came and told them, “Look! The men whom you put in prison are standing in the temple and teaching the people.” 26 Then the captain with the officers went and brought them, but not by force, for they were afraid of being stoned by the people. 27 And when they had brought them, they set them before the council. And the high priest questioned them, 28 saying, “We strictly charged you not to teach in this name, yet here you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching, and you intend to bring this man’s blood upon us.” 29 But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men. 30 The God of our fathers raised Jesus, whom you killed by hanging him on a tree.31 God exalted him at his right hand as Leader and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. 32 And we are witnesses to these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.” 33 When they heard this, they were enraged and wanted to kill them. 34 But a Pharisee in the council named Gamaliel, a teacher of the law held in honor by all the people, stood up and gave orders to put the men outside for a little while. 35 And he said to them, “Men of Israel, take care what you are about to do with these men.36 For before these days Theudas rose up, claiming to be somebody, and a number of men, about four hundred, joined him. He was killed, and all who followed him were dispersed and came to nothing.37 After him Judas the Galilean rose up in the days of the census and drew away some of the people after him. He too perished, and all who followed him were scattered. 38 So in the present case I tell you, keep away from these men and let them alone, for if this plan or this undertaking is of man, it will fail; 39 but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them. You might even be found opposing God!” So they took his advice, 40 and when they had called in the apostles, they beat them and charged them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. 41 Then they left the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name. 42 And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they did not cease teaching and preaching that the Christ is Jesus.

Apologies (in advance) for the long introduction)

For me this is a super exciting piece of Scripture. Not because my predecessors in the faith suffered, but more that it is proof that once you become a Christian, it is not all light, airy and fairy, that God will act like some big genie in the sky and grant all of our wishes because we are “the real ones”, there are 2 reasons why God won’t do that:

1)    The heart (even the Christian one) is deceitfully wicked and we would be corrupted easily if that were the arrangement.
2)    We really have no idea what we want and what is best for us. I liken it to a toddler who is throwing a fit because there is no apple in the fridge and the store is closed, we may want it but it will not be fulfilled.

Which is why, for me at least, (and hopefully for you also) that the “name it and claim it” preachers are wrong, you know the guys, the ones who promote a prosperity driven gospel, a gospel that is good when you are making bank from it. The type of messages that contain notions such as “whatever you give God, he will give you TEN TIMES back” (I think they mean a super spiritual reverse tithing celestial building society account with the creator)

Now I am of the belief that you cannot out give God, however my faith is not dependent on me owning a Mercedes Benz, wearing Nike trainers, a Ralph Lauren shirt and a pair of Levi Jeans. Such faith will see very quickly your mettle. To quote a good old Scottish saying you would disappear like “snow off a dyke” (means when it gets hot the snow will not endure the change in conditions and melt on the top of a wall not built by cement)

This is something we are still learning in the Western church, the mission church, where we quite literally have to “equip the saints for the work of the ministry” (otherwise the Pastor would do everything) with the possible exception of small churches/house churches and smaller church plants, people are hiding in plain sight, either not serving or not having their gifts used by inept leadership at the local church level.

Now I have a confession to make, I stink at evangelism! I can quite literally talk someone’s ear off for hours on end about topics that will not matter and have no eternal relevance (or relevance in the next five minutes) but if you had me cold call on a person to discuss eternal life, I try hard but I am not relevant, unless they have similar struggles to what I have had. I understand the pull of addiction, I understand what a sinful life is, I understand what it is like to have your brain think the dishonest route is the primary route, I have been through that and I emphasize with those people. I get what they are going through,

Lets get to the passage huh?

Apologies for the random thoughts, but as I look at my Mac Book and see the time on the top right hand corner it currently reads 02:33 AM, I am currently writing this while caring for my sick child, I have been sick all this week and I think that I gave it to her. This article will either be one of the best I have written, or one of the worst.

As I ponder this I am reminded of an account that I heard when listening to a radio program I catch most days on my way home from work, the radio host said that a prominent preacher that he respected was having a conversation with him and he reminded him of a poignant truth.

He said “Remember the Donkey” to which the host replied “The Donkey?” and the preacher said, “Even the Donkey knew the celebration and palm leaves were for the one he was escorting into the city”

We have to remember that! As much as we may get kudos, or thanks for a message delivered, we are simply the vessels that God chooses to use. In the same way I can do most jobs around my house far quicker and far easier flying solo, it is so much fun to show your kids how to do stuff. That is why God uses us to do his work!

Point by point through this passage

Can you imagine the scenes in this story, lets break it down.

1)    Religious people get jealous, they are not getting the kudos (maybe not being seen as the holy ones anymore)
2)    Prison time for the Apostles, if we can’t shut them up then we will lock them up.
3)    Heavenly jailbreak, doors flung open and they are told from above to keep preaching.
4)    Obedience, they went out and preached again
5)    Brought back before the religious rulers and accused
6)    God or man? Whom should I follow?
7)    Jesus is proclaimed and the full counsel of the gospel is delivered
8)    Religious leaders consider their options, jail cannot hold them
9)    If it is of man it will fail, if it is of God it will not
10)  Went from house to house proclaiming Jesus is LORD

Why it is encouraging to me

Because I don’t face a religious court for proclaiming Jesus Christ is LORD. No one has sued me for my opinions or what God has put on my heart for me to say. I stick to Conservative Christian theology mainly so I doubt I will ever end up in the situation of these apostles.

I kind of wish I did though, in the Western church we have lost our edge, I feel that although we are called to a battle, perhaps a heavenly war as it were. I do wonder about the urgency we have to save souls. I am not tarring all Christians with the same brush, I do think that sometimes we blow it unintentionally, but there are times when we are missing clear open doors to help someone and talk to them about Jesus. (I am talking to me first)

What is stopping you dear Christian?

In this historical account, the apostles are tried, convicted, jailed, released, threatened, beaten and then they continue on with their mission. Have you faced any of that in the last year? I know I sure haven’t, I haven’t even been mocked for having the beliefs I have. So really, with no gun to my head or knife on my throat, I have erred in this task.

Please be reminded (or if you did not know then please be aware) these are not educated men, they are tradesmen from Galilee, some fishermen, a physician and a tax collector. Jesus did not choose 12 Pharisee best of the best scholars who were brave men and fantastic orators. He chose the man in the street, the coward, the wimp, the doubter, most famously he chose the betrayer and then much later he chose the former persecutor to evangelize the Gentiles.

What I am saying is that despite the reputation you believe you have or the ways you have excused yourself from service with God. God wants you to do your part, when Moses tried to use the “slow of speech” argument, God had none of that! Pray about what you are called to and get in there and get dirty doing the LORD’s work.

I love how the last verse is worded. “And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they did not cease teaching and preaching that the Christ is Jesus.” No breaks, no me time, no reassessment of priorities, every single day, wherever they were, temple, market, street, whoever’s house they were allowed into they had one purpose and one purpose only:

TEACHING AND PREACHING THAT THE CHRIST IS JESUS

I really need to reevaluate how I spend my time, how about you? That’s the challenge in this 2000 word article should you chose to accept it. Some will see it as good words and pass over it, some will ponder it a little while and have no resolve to implement it, but others will pray, meditate on these words. They will look for application and seek God’s will how they too can be teaching and preaching as often as possible. I pray you are in the third category.

God bless you one and all and I pray that this was a blessing for you, please like, share or comment below and please share this article on any social media platforms that the LORD leads you too. If you have any comments about this or any other article then I would commend you to use the comment function at the bottom of the page.
TGBTG
TTE