A Christian Journey

Archive for April, 2015

Spiritual Death

“Constantly praising God and being in favor and goodwill with all the people; and the Lord kept adding to their number daily those who were being saved from spiritual death.” Acts 2:47  Amplified

We see in chapter two of Acts, verses 42 – 47, the new church of Jesus Christ growing, both in number and in fellowship. These verses tell us how this group of more than 3,000 souls were steadfastly persevering, being devoted, having a sense of awe, united, shared their possessions, regularly assembled, broke bread, and held the Lord’s supper. These are all the things we as believers today should be doing.

Additionally we are told that they partook of their food with gladness, simplicity and generous hearts. How often do we partake of things with gladness, simplicity and generous hearts? All too often we moan and complain that what we have could or should be better. We always want the biggest and best of whatever we have, and we tend to hoard our stuff. I know for myself on payday I feel I should reward myself with something, it may only be an iced coffee, but I feel I deserve it for all my hard work. God calls us to be givers, not receivers. This isn’t to say buying yourself an iced coffee or anything else is wrong, but it’s that attitude of being deserving and receiving a reward that is the error.

I suppose that’s the point of our verses today, attitude. Let’s look again at our list of what the new church’s attitude was – steadfastly persevering, being devoted, having a sense of awe, united, shared their possessions, regularly assembled, broke bread, and held the Lord’s supper.  Lest we forget they also were constantly praising God.

Let’s try to emulate the early church in our attitudes as well, maybe then we will see people added to the body of Christ.

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What Shall We Do

“Now when they heard this they were stung to the heart, and they said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, Brethren, what shall we do?” Acts 2:37 Amplified

We continue looking at the first church, Peter has just given his first sermon to the crowd of Jews gathered together. He quotes the Psalms to them, the prophecies given by David. He also accuses them of being the killers of Jesus the Messiah. Their response? “What shall we do?” Peter answered them, “Repent, change your views and purpose to accept the will of God in your inner selves instead of rejecting it, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of and release from your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” Acts 2:38, he gave them the plan of salvation.

The first step in getting right with God is to repent, Jesus said that Himself many times. The one that sticks out for me is when He told the woman caught in adultery who was about to be stoned. After her accusers walked away He told her, “neither do I condemn you, go and sin no more.” We live in a fallen world and even when we ask our Lord to forgive us, the temptation to sin still exists, but it’s the next part that Peter told these Jews that is the key. Change your views and purpose to accept the will of God in your inner selves instead of rejecting it. Once we bow to Jesus as Savior, we must look to Him as Lord from that point forward. We must view our lives through the lens of What Would Jesus Do, WWJD. That is the will of God. Before we accepted Jesus as Savior we ran our own life and in the process often if not always rejected what God said was best.

Finally, our inner self is that part of you that no one else knows. All the conversations you have with your self over all the issues in your life. The decisions you make, directions you go in, things you do. If you will bring God into those conversations and ask Him to be a part of all you do then you will be in the will of God. Then you will know true peace and joy.

Call Upon The Name

“And it shall be that whoever shall call upon the name of the Lord, invoking, adoring and worshiping the Lord – Christ, shall be saved.” Acts 2:21  Amplified

The apostle Peter has just stood up among the people to explain to them what has taken place on the day of Pentecost. He starts out by quoting from the prophet Joel regarding the return of the Messiah and the events that take place during the last days. Some might say, but the last days weren’t back then, the last days have still not yet come. For the Jewish people during the time that Peter was speaking it WAS the last days for them in their relationship with God. Jesus was the Messiah and they had rejected Him, this is the birth of the church, He has begun a new thing. That’s what Peter was telling them.

Lastly He quoted to them the way to restore their relationship with God, was by calling on the name of the Lord, Jesus, and worshiping Him.

Many today believe we are in the last days of planet earth, we’ve even had three blood moons and the fourth will come by the end of this year, which is part of this prophecy. Accept Jesus as Messiah and confess Him as your Savior. If you already know Him as Savior than make Him Lord of your life.

The prophet Joel also said “And it shall come to pass in the last days, God declares, that I will pour out My Spirit upon all mankind, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams.”

The time may be drawing close, don’t wait, call upon the Name.

Amazed And Bewildered

“And all were beside themselves with amazement and were puzzled and bewildered, saying one to another, What can this mean?” Acts 2:12 Amplified

As we continue in our study of the new church, we come to a very controversial part, the second chapter. Interesting how the church has always had controversy and it started as soon as it began.

Some believe the tongues resembling fire that is mentioned and the subsequent language spoken was an unknown language given by the Holy Spirit which indicated the filling of God’s Spirit. Others believe the tongues enabled the people gathered together to understand each other since they were from various parts of the known world. I don’t want to necessarily debate anyone on this, but I will agree that whatever it was came from God’s Holy Spirit.

One of the amazing things to me is that the gospel had spread so quickly that there are people from far away in attendance. Also, in verse 41 it says, after Peter preached his first sermon, 3,000 souls were added that day. That tells me there were likely more than that number in attendance who were already believers.

The Lord orchestrated all of that for our benefit. How can we doubt He doesn’t orchestrate the events in our lives today. I encourage you to read Peter’s sermon in 2:14-36, so that you can be lifted up in the Holy Spirit.

What Is Love

“And you shall love the Lord your God with all your mind, heart, and your entire being, and with all your might.” Deuteronomy 6:5 Amplified

Who doesn’t want love? We all want to be loved, accepted, respected, included. Our verse today says that our first love should be to God. Even Jesus said, when asked about the greatest commandments, that you should love God and your neighbor as yourself (Matthew 22:37-39).

Some people have a hard time loving God because, though He is all around us, He is unseen. I think that’s why Jesus told us the second greatest commandment is to love your neighbor, because you can see your neighbor. Jesus also said that when you did anything for someone else you did as if it were for Him (Matthew 25:40).

So what do you do when your neighbor is in sin? Jesus ate and drank with sinners. We should be loving to those in sin since we were once sinners, knowingly doing what God declared wrong.

Some people like to think the Bible has no rules, that it’s all about love. They believe that if we just love people enough they will turn to God. I agree that the best way to bring people to know God is with love, but even Jesus told the woman caught in adultery that though He did not condemn her, he told her to go and sin no more (John 8:11).

Returning to our verse today we must look at how we love God. Yes, we love Him by loving others, but we also show our love for Him by being obedient children. Proverbs 21:3 says, “To do righteousness and justice is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice.” There are rules in every household, parents love their children, but order must be maintained and rules obeyed. God is our Abba Father and loves us dearly, rules keep us safe.

Life is all about balance, love is – obeying God and doing it out of love for others.

Determining God’s Will

“And they prayed and said, You Lord, Who know all hearts, their thoughts, passions, desires, appetites, purposes, and endeavors, indicate to us which one of these two You have chosen.” Acts 1:24

In continuing to look at the new church God created we see that the disciples have returned to Jerusalem and are waiting for the Holy Spirit to come. They are all gathered together, verse 15 states there were about 120 believers there. Peter takes the lead for the group in a decision to select another person to take Judas’ place. Two men are nominated, Justus and Matthias. They pray and ask the Lord for guidance on which man He would want. The scriptures say they drew lots, similar to flipping a coin, and Matthias won.

Some question the use of drawing lots to make this choice, but with the Lord ascended and the Holy Spirit having not descended yet this practice was used. The apostles were human and this method was used in old testament times generally by the high priest. Though they may have jumped the gun a bit, they were trying to do what they could while waiting for God’s next move. They did pray over this decision and believed that the Lord ordained the selection.

This speaks to me about wanting to move before the Lord is ready. It may be that the Lord didn’t want to replace Judas, but we often do what we think we should. The good news is, it doesn’t seem to have adversely affected the new church. It just shows old habits die hard.

So when making a decision, wait and pray, casting lots is not the recommended practice for determining the Lord’s will.

Don’t Just Stand There

“And while they were gazing intently into heaven as He went, behold, two men dressed in white robes suddenly stood beside them, who said, Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing into heaven? This same Jesus, Who was caught away and lifted up from among you into heaven, will return in the same way in which you saw Him go into heaven.”  Acts 1:10-11

The disciples have just seen Jesus ascend into heaven and stand amazed watching, wouldn’t you? The angels appear and ask them why they’re just standing still gazing into heaven. If I were there I would have probably asked them, didn’t you see what just happened?!? Maybe the angels were used to seeing things like that and I’m sure they were well acquainted with the Lord, but those men had never seen anything like that.

I feel like the angels weren’t telling the disciples not to be amazed, but they were telling the men to take action. As humans we tend to be hesitant to take action for fear of making a mistake. The only action they needed to take at this time, though, was to go back to Jerusalem, that’s what Jesus had told them.

We often look for the “big” step to take for the Lord when all He wants from us is to take a small step of faith. The big step may come later, but start with a small step. Keep your eyes on Jesus and take that small step out of the boat of your comfort zone, trust Him.