A Christian Journey

Archive for May, 2015

Go, Take Your Stand

“But during the night an angel of the Lord opened the prison doors and, leading them out, said, Go, take your stand in the temple courts and declare to the people the whole doctrine concerning this Life, the eternal life which Christ revealed.”  Acts 5:19-20 Amplified

We see in our verse today that the persecution of the early church started early. Our prior verse told us that the reason was because the religious leaders of the day were jealous.

This verse can apply to us today as we see the persecution of today’s church. When we got saved an angel of the Lord opened the prison doors of our heart and freed us from the slavery of sin. So now we must go and take our stand in the temple courts, the court of our culture, and declare to the people eternal life through Christ. We must in this day take a stand for God and what He says in His word.

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The Affliction of Pride

“But the high priest rose up and all who were his supporters, that is, the party of the Sadducees, and being filled with jealousy, indignation and rage. They seized and arrested the apostles and put them in the public jail.” Acts 5:17-18

We’re studying the first church in the book of Acts. The apostles are preaching and healing, the people are joining their group, and the religious leaders are unhappy.

Our verse today says the religious leaders were filled with jealousy, indignation and rage. Why weren’t they happy that the sick were being healed? Why weren’t they believing in Jesus? Pride.

Pride is a carnal emotion and affliction that affects our spiritual eyes.  It makes us blind to what is pleasing to God and what His will is. It is the root cause of such issues as jealousy, indignation and rage. The religious leaders couldn’t accept the fact that God would speak and use ordinary people to do His work.

How does pride affect us every day? Do you feel like someone is using you or that you’re not getting your needs met? Do you feel like someone else got what you should have? If we truly trust God and put our complete faith in Him, then we can know He will take care of us, so there is no need for pride.

Let’s examine our lives and our daily walk. When instances come up where you don’t feel you are being treated fairly, take it to God and ask Him to handle it. He will take far better care of you than you ever could.

Devote Yourself

“More and more there were being added to the Lord those who believed, those who acknowledged Jesus as their Savior and devoted themselves to Him joined and gathered with them, crowds both of men and of women.”   Acts 5:14  Amplified

Our study of the book of Acts sees the church continuing to grow. Again we ask why it was growing, was it because of the miracles being performed by the apostles or by the change in the people themselves? I would imagine it was both. We see in the verses after our key verse for today that people were even putting their sick in the streets hoping that at least when Peter passed, his shadow would fall on them and they would be healed.  It’s hard to imagine Peter had greater healing power than Jesus, for this wasn’t said about the Savior. Remember, though, that Jesus Himself told His disciples that they would have greater power than Him, John 14:12.

The great miracles would surely bring the people in, but something had to keep them with the group. Our verse today says the people being added were those who acknowledged Jesus as Savior and devoted themselves to Him. We all know of people who get saved and then we never see them again in our churches, so it has to be the second part that is the key, they devoted themselves.

In our Christian circles this devotion would be called sanctification which means separating or setting apart. The Merriam Webster dictionary defines devotion as “a feeling of strong love or loyalty, the use of time, money and energy for a particular purpose.” There are many now and probably back then as well that wanted the benefits of salvation but not the sacrifice of devotion or sanctification. I would merely point out that it is a sacrifice of love to turn my whole life over to the Lord, He has done so much for me, He gave His life for me.

I urge anyone reading this to become like the believers in the early church and devote yourself to God, you will be the better for it.

Held In High Regard

“And none of those who were not of their number dared to join and associate with them, but the people held them in high regard and praised and made much of them.”  Acts 5:13  Amplified

We continue our study of the first church as described in the book of Acts. The group of believers are meeting at the temple, we’re not sure how often, but likely as often as the Jews. Our verse today states that those people who were a part of the believing group would not join or associate them. We can only assume that the group was ostracized because of what had happened to Jesus. Interestingly though, the verse says “but the people held them in high regard and praised and made much of them.” Some might say it was due to verse 12 of this same chapter that says, “Now by the hands of the apostles numerous and startling signs and wonders were being performed among the people.”

The spectacular always gains much attention, but I’d like to think there was more to it than that. Are you held in high regard, praised and made much of? As Christians we are to be Christ-like; trustworthy, faithful, honest, steadfast, joyful, peaceful.

Let us be like the first believers and imitate Christ by letting Him dwell in us and in all we do so that people will hold us in high regard, praise Jesus and make much of Him.

Do Animals Go To Heaven?

“And the wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid, and the calf and the young lion and the fatted domestic animal together; and a little child shall lead them. And the cow and the bear shall feed side by side, their young shall lie down together, and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.”  Isaiah 11:6-7  Amplified

I am making a personal diversion from my normal blogging on scripture to discuss animals in heaven. With the loss of my pet cat of 16 years, and comments made by some, I decided to review the scriptures with regard to animals in heaven.

Let me first say that I know animals don’t have a soul and can neither be lost or saved, that’s not the point of my discussion today. I suppose you could say that if animals are in heaven for eternity then they have eternal life like us and thus have a soul. However, in order to have a soul a being must have free will to decide right from wrong, animals don’t have that. In Genesis it states God breathed into Adam’s nostrils the spirit of life, his soul. Today I’m merely looking at whether animals will exist in heaven, much like angels.

The verse quoted at the top is from Isaiah, in his prophecy of heaven he lists the animals that will be there and how they are coexisting peacefully. Some might say that the prophecy is just representative of the peace in heaven and not literal. As for myself I take the Bible literally, all of it. I would add the fact that when God created the Garden of Eden no blood had been shed, therefore the animals coexisted peacefully.

There is another verse that doesn’t necessarily talk about animals in heaven, but just talks about animals in general and it is Numbers 22:28.  This is the story of Balaam taking a journey on his donkey, but the Lord wanted to stop him. The Lord put an Angel in his path, but only the donkey saw it and she refused to move. Balaam got mad with her and started whipping her. The verse says, “And the Lord opened the mouth of the donkey, and she said to Balaam, What have I done to you that you should strike me these three times?”  Now who has ever heard a donkey or any other animal speak? No one that I know of except in cartoons. I thought of this story, though, only to point out that God will do whatever He wants to, even making an animal speak, so why can’t there be animals in heaven?

Finally, my favorite verse is Revelation 19:11, “After that I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse appeared! The One Who was riding it is called Faithful, Trustworthy, Loyal, Incorruptible, Steady and True, and He passes judgment and wages war in righteousness.”

The King of Kings, and Lord of Lords will return to earth on a white horse and not only that, but His army will be riding white horses too! I look forward to riding my white horse again that day and I hope you are by my side.

A Tale of Two Hearts

“Now Joseph, a Levite and native of Cyprus who was surnamed Barnabas by the apostles, which interpreted means Son of Encouragement. Sold a field which belonged to him and brought the sum of money and laid it at the feet of the apostles.” Acts 4:36-37

In our verse today we see that rich landowners, like Barnabas, who had converted to Christianity sold their lands to share it with the apostles and other believers. They gave from their heart.

In chapter 5 of Acts we see the story of Ananias and Sapphira who also sold land to give to the believers, their offering was different. While the fact that they wanted to give the money from the sale of this land was good, their motive wasn’t. The Lord always looks at the heart, the attitude or reason why we do something. In verse 5:2 of Acts we see that the couple connived to keep back some of the proceeds. It is apparent from this that they had said they were giving it all but didn’t, they lied. If they had been truthful and just stated that they would give a portion then that would have been truthful, it was the conniving and lying that did them in. Peter confronted them about it, as God had revealed it to him, and they paid a heavy price – death.

Jesus said in John 4:24, “God is a Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and in truth.”

People may not know when you are lying, you may not know when people are lying, but God always knows.

Live life from the heart and worship Him every day in spirit and in truth.

Of One Heart And Soul

“Now the company of believers was of one heart and soul, and not one of them claimed that anything which he possessed was exclusively his own, but everything they had was in common and for the use of all.” Acts 4:32  Amplified

As we continue to look at the first Christian church we see the wonderful spirit they had. Wouldn’t each of us as believers want this to be said about our church? I know I would, especially the part about being of one heart and soul. Too often we focus in on the other, the possession part. We tend to cling to what WE own when in all actuality everything belongs to the Lord, it’s only on loan to you. That’s the spirit this new church had, they realized that God was Lord of ALL.

When we tithe it is in the spirit of sharing what we have with others to help spread the gospel and meet needs. This verse is a good example of how the tithe has actually changed from being a tenth of what you have, to being anything you possess. A tenth is a good place to start and please let me urge you to always take the tenth off the top otherwise it won’t be there. Give God your first fruits and He will make sure you have enough to meet your need. Then above the tithe be a giver, sharing your blessings with others. You can’t out give God.

Let’s get back to the first part though, about the believers being of one heart and soul. How do we get everyone to think alike? It’s hard enough in any relationship even with just two people for them to think alike, how do you get a large group? It seems to me that in any relationship you have to be focused on the same thing. Chapter 4 of Philippians is an excellent place to see where your focus should be, on Jesus. My favorite part is verses 8 and 9, “For the rest, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is worthy of reverence and is honorable and seemly, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely and lovable, whatever is kind and winsome and gracious, if there is any virtue and excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think on and weigh and take account of these things, fix your minds on them. Practice what you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and model your way of living on it, and the God of peace, of untroubled, undisturbed well-being, will be with you.”

Keep your eyes upon Jesus.