A Little Bit About Me...

My photo
I have many hats that I wear. I am a husband and father. I am pastor/teacher at my church. I am part of a team working on a large project at work. I am a friend. I am a budding visionary. I am a writer, an actor, and a director. I am an artist. I am a student of the Bible. I have a brain that comes up with some pretty crazy and interesting ideas, and I have a personality to match. I try to treat all people how I would like to be treated. I strive to be steadfast, immovable in my faith. I seek after the TRUTH, and I believe that it can be found, not just 'from my perspective', but for all people.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Acts 28.... And our last day!

So here we are at the last chapter of Acts and there is a lot of stuff going on.... still.

2013 Dodge Viper
There is a shipwreck, and Paul and the others are getting to shore.  When they arrive a fire is going to keep them warm.  Paul begins to assist in the gathering of wood and a poisonous snake  shoots out and bites Paul.  Most translations call it a viper... not like a Dodge Viper... just a snale that is known to be poisonous.  At first they seem to think that Paul is just getting what he is due as some kind of murderer, and then when he doesn't die, they think he is some kind of god.  Paul was able to give the glory to the true God, and healed many people there in that region.

Paul finally gets to Rome, and finds some other Christians that he is able to encourage, and then he is given his own private lodging... remember, he is still a prisoner.  He was under guard of course, but while he was there, (and he stayed for two years) he preached and had no further opposition.

Thanks for going on this little trip with me to get into the habit of spending time... Keep at it!

Acts 27... Day 27... Sorry this one is late...

This is a really long chapter!  I think that most of what you need to see  is in the actual chapter.  Just take some time to really read it, but what is going on here is that there is a major prisoner transfer.  You know what really stood out to me this time around?  I noted how big this boat had to have been.  If there were 276 prisoners being transferred, and then there would have been crew, well that is a bigger boat than I ever understood it to be in all the times that I have read this passage.

I also noted that the Apostle Paul was hearing from God about their safety the whole time they were on the water.  At first the people in charge ignore Paul, but eventually they listen to him when it becomes evident that he is indeed hearing from God.

When the ship was about to crash some of the guards wanted to kill all of the prisoners.  Paul had earned some favour though and again his life (along with the others) is spared.

Very interesting passage!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Acts 26 - Day 26

So this is Paul's chance to defend himself.  He is standing in the presence of King (Herod) Agrippa, with all of his attendants, and all the people that go along with him.  The King is an expert in things Jewish as he is the current knig of the Jews.  Paul explains how he is a Pharisee and how he now believes the God's promises have been fulfilled in the person of Christ.  He talls of how he used to oppose the name of Christ, but then how Jesus appeared to him.  When he gets to the point where he says that Jews and Gentiles are alike Festus loses it and tells Paul that his great learning is making him crazy.

Paul begins to speak to Agrippa and appeals to the prophets.  Herod sees where Pauls is going and he almost laughs and says that  Paul cannot convert him that quickly.  Paul sees that they are not ready to follow Christ. 

Whatever has happened, they establish that there are no charges for convicting Paul.  If he had not appealed to Caesar, he could have gone free. 

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Acts Chapter 25… and then three days to go!

So Felix is out, and the new governor, Festus, is in, and almost immediately he has to go to Jerusalem. New leader, so the Jewish religious leaders try to get this new guy to deal with Paul their way. They want Festus to bring him to Jerusalem (so they can secretly kill Paul along the way… not very creative… get a new plan guys). Festus says, “Nope” and that he is going where Paul is… if they want to bring a case against him, they may go to Caesarea with Festus.

I always think this Festus from the old TV show.
In court with Festus this time… The Jewish leaders try to accuse Paul, and again they have no evidence. Festus tries to please them by offering to take Paul to Jerusalem. Paul says, “No! This is the official Roman court, so I ought to be tried right here. You know very well I am not guilty of harming the Jews. If I have done something worthy of death, I don’t refuse to die. But if I am innocent, no one has a right to turn me over to these men to kill me. I appeal to Caesar!”

Festus agrees to send Paul to Caesar, but really he doesn’t know what the charges should be, so he asks for King Agrippa (who is there to welcome the new governor) what he thinks. These were not any of the crimes he expected to be trying in his court. They were all religious based, and about some dead man named Jesus (who Paul claims is alive). Agrippa gets his chance to examine Paul and his story… The Emperor will not want his time wasted if Paul goes to Rome. Festus has to get this right or face discipline.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The 24th Chapter of Acts.... and the 24th day of our study...

Ok.... Again with the false accusations!  The Pharisees put up all these charges against Paul, and then he gets to defend himself and point out that they have no proof.  They might have well said that he dressed up as the Easter Bunny... they would have had more proof.  The Jewish guys even brought in a lawyer to argue their case.

Paul admits he is part of the Way, and that he strives to keep a clear conscience before God.  Paul establishes that he is only on trial because he believes that the dead will rise.

He ends up having many discussions over the next few years with Felix (whose wife was a Jew), and Felix keeps bringing him back to him thinking that Paul might try to bribe his way out of jail.  But then Felix is finished his posting and Paul is left in prison.....

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Acts chapter 23… and yes, day 23.

So this chapter begins with Paul’s appearance before the Jewish council. These are the Pharisees and Sadducees that are the religious leaders. You can see the stage is setting for a bit of a verbal joust, and it’s like Paul knows them better than they know themselves. Paul tells them that he lives with a clear conscience before God, and they take this to be blasphemous. Paul attacks first and calls them hypocrites for slapping him. Unfortunately he snapped at the high priest. Just a question that comes to mind for me… Why would Paul have not known that this was the high priest of the time? Would he not have been dressed in ceremonial garb? Not sure what to think there. He backs down though.

Paul was a Pharisee, and he knows what a Pharisee believes. He also knows where a Sadducee disagrees… and he uses this to his advantage. Rather than trying him, they get into an argument over whether there is resurrection of the dead (where Paul’s hope as a Christian lies). I can almost see the smirk on his face as they get distracted, but then things turn violent and soldiers have to step in and remove Paul.
This really gets the council angry and they set aside 40 men that are not going to eat or drink until Paul has been killed… But there is a spy (Paul’s nephew), and he goes and tells the Roman Commander about the plot. Immediately he acts and sneaks Paul out a different way and this time Paul goes to the Governor’s palace. SO there are some guys that are all hungry, and Paul gets a chance to maybe spread the faith to the Governor.
It just goes to show how it may get intense in the life of a Christian, but no one will die until it is God’s time for them to die AND God moves people to the places where he wants them to go…

Monday, March 19, 2012

Acts 22 – Day 22… Into our final week…

This chapter opens with Paul addressing the crowd after they tried to beat him and (I would guess) kill him. Back near the beginning I said that this Pharisee was important. His name was Gamaliel. He was the one that told the others on the council to just let the disciples of Jesus do what they were going to do. If it was of God, they did not want to be fighting against it, and if the Gospel was not from God, then it would fizzle out. Wise man. He was Paul’s mentor… so how did Paul miss this part? Guess the Holy Spirit is better at his job that I would be. J
Paul describes his conversion experience on the road to Damascus. He describes how he had to integrate into the church community. He then tells the people here in Jerusalem that God sent him to go preach to the Gentiles. At this point, people freak out and start taking off their robes as if he spoke blasphemy, and the threw things at him.
It looks like the Romans were clueless as to why Paul was getting such a reaction from the crowd, so they drag him inside to have him whipped. The thinking here is that Paul might confess his crimes under pain. Paul has one card left to play though. He is a Roman citizen, and he has the right to a trial before punishment. The soldiers back off very quickly when they see that they almost beat a man protected by Roman law.
So Paul avoids a beating, but we also see how valuable it was to be a Roman citizen in that time in history. People paid a lot of money to be a citizen, while Paul was born into it. Now Paul goes before the Jewish council.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Day 21 - Acts chapter 21... Sorry it's late in the day....

Ok, so Paul gets on the boat.  He goes to minister to some believers in Tyre.  There is a prophetic word given to Paul that he should not go to Jerusalem.  It's like there is a building towards something.

He goes to the city of Ptolemais where they meet up with Philip the Evangelist.  It is said that he had three unmarried daughters that prophesied.  I remember teaching in the youth group when Leigh-Anne and I did that.  One young man said, "That's hot!" and then he got self conscious.  I know what he means though... as a young man should, he wanted to go after a woman that loved God more than she loved him, and a woman that was filled with the Spirit would definitely fall into that category.

Another prophetic word comes forth where someone comes and ties Paul's hands and says that he will be bound and given over the the Gentiles.  And here is the interesting part.  This was a personal, directive prophecy.... it told Paul about where he was going, but it didn't take him by surprise.  He already knew where God was leading him.  The prophetic word just CONFIRMED what he already knew.  He even knew that he was going to die for Jesus.  The people begged him not to go, but he knew what God had for him.

So Paul goes to Jerusalem... knowing it will threaten his life.  He encourages the believers there.  There are some men that have just completed a Nazarite vow.  They are reminded of the standard that was sent to the Gentiles in a letter....

Things don't go all that well for Paul.  He goes and speaks in the city and people start getting angry and making assumptions about him and things he has done or said.  Some things are correct and some things are not.  The crowd goes wild and they drag Paul outside the gates and begin beating him.  He must be thinking that this is the end, but a  Roman soldier and his squad comes to the rescue.  They can't sort out the truth so they bring Paul into the fortress while they sort it out.  They think that Paul is some rebel that took out 4000 assassins or something.  Paul explains and then asks to speak to the crowd.  This chapter is sort of like a cliffhanger....

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Acts 20.... Day 20

This chapter starts out with Paul out doing the work of the Lord and he discovers a plot to kill him by some Jews in the area.  He goes to his next city by another route.

For an interesting set of biblical illustrations see
Then there is this story about someone in Troas.  I remember finding this story when I was a kid when I thought the service was going too long at church.  Paul was leaving the next day and so he was talking until midnight.  This guy was sitting on the window.  It says that there were lots of lamps in the room, and it was late, so he falls asleep and falls three stories to his death.  Paul goes down and prays for him and they continue when he is revived.

This next section is Paul describing some of the things he has had to endure for the cause of Christ, and how the Holy Spirit often would warn him of what suffereing was coming.  He also felt that he was being drawn to Jerusalem, and he seems to be indicating that he knows that he will be killed for Jesus because he tells them that he will never see them again.

Take a few minutes to familiarize yourself with some of the things that are happening to Christians in today's world.  Voice of the Martyrs seems to be the best hub of information.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Acts chapter 19... Day 19

Ok... so this first part of the chapter is one of the places that clearly shows that there are two distinct baptisms... Water baptism and Holy Spirit baptism.  The people in Corinth had become Christians, but had not yet been filled with the Holy Spirit.  Paul taught them about it, and then put his hands on them, and they prayed and they received the Holy Spirit.  They spoke in tongues and prophesied too.

AGAIN... Paul is in the temple trying to preach the Gospel using the Scriptures to show who Jesus was.  He was made to leave so he was able to use a lecture hal to hold his meetings.  I did a little digging into this and it looks like it would have been some person in the area's school that he let Paul use.  He was holding meetings for his own purposes.

This is also the chapter that talks about how God gave special healing gifts to Paul.  Handkerchiefs that had been prayed on by Paul went out and healed people--not that there was anything special about the cloth... just the God who heals.

We also have this story about 7 men trying to cast out demons in the name of Jesus whom Paul preaches.  Things did not go too well for them because they did not know Jesus for themselves. 

We also see people getting out of evil things.  We see people repenting and burning all the evil things... not that I suggest you burn things, but if there is evil in your life, get rid of it.

And then there is this thing about people selling statues of the goddess Artemis.  Paul is teaching people that God is not a statue that should be worshipped, and this is cutting into their bottom line.  It's sort of like that now.  I remember when Kalan Porter was on Canadian Idol.  He was a really good singer.  He chose a song that represented his faith on a mainstream secular television.  The judges got really snippy about his song.  He did really well I thought, and one of the judges even goes as far as noting that he is criticising a song about someone's faith. 

Challenge the standard and you will find opposition ESPECIALLY if you do it for Jesus.  Here is his performance so you can see it... Oh, and by the way Kalan Porter won that season!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Day 18... Here we go to Acts 18!

Ok, quick rundown today!  Took me wel into my teens to realize that Pricilla and Aquilla were husband and wife.  I always thought that Aquilla sounded very womanly for a name.  They were tentmakers... So we also find out that Paul does this too.  (As a side note, some scholars think that they may have made prayer shawls, and not tents, but that is something for further research.)

AGAIN people begin to oppose Paul.  This time, though, it goes in his favour.  They drag him before the guy in charge... again... and they set him up to be the bad guy... again... But here is where the difference happens.  The Roman ruler says that it's really none of his concern and he throws them out of his court.  The Jewish people then beat up on the Jewish leader that tried to get Paul in trouble.

I had to look this part up.  Paul seems to have taken some sort of Nazarite vow, and wehn it came to an end he shaved his head as was custom... it would have been burned.  (Of course the most famous Nazarite vow would be Samson from the book of Judges.)

And then we have this new guy on the scene Apollos.  He knows about John's water baptism, and he is coverting many people, but Pricilla and Aquilla speak to him and teach him about the more complete Holy Spirit baptism.

Lots going on here!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Acts 17 - Day 17 of our 28 day study...

Ok... If I had to have one chapter of the Bible that I would say is my fun favourite, this would be it!  A few weeks back I had someone text me and say, "Did you know that you rname is in the Bible?"  I was like, "Of course I do!  And that Jason was a really good guy!"  So this is that chapter.  Acts 17.  Paul and Silas were in Thessalonica (The city that the letters of 1 Thessalonians and 2 Thessalonians are written to) and as usual, he was preaching the Gospel, and showing people from the Scriptures that Jesus was the Messiah.  Some Jews believed, and some Gentiles agreed.  But some Jews were jealous and started a mob to go and get Paul and Silas... who were hiding at Jason's house.  Eventually they had to pay a fine (Paul, Silas and Jason) and then they were let go.

Paul and Silas left that evening to go to Berea.  These are some of my favourite people in the Bible.... the Bereans.  They heard Paul, and they believed Paul's words, and they were eager to do it.  Here is why I love these people so much though!  They searched the Scriptures to see if what Paul was saying was true!  They looked in the Bible to see if what he was telling them was actually the true.  SO that means that they had to know their Scriptures, and study their Scriptures.  That is something that so many people need to do... ACTUALLY SPEND TIME IN THEIR BIBLE!  And then here is the next couple keys... Do what it says... Listen to the Holy Spirit when he presses you to change something.

Paul preaching in Athens also brings debate.  One of the things that was valued in the Greek culture was their philosophies, and their many gods.  They had tributes to many gods, but there was one to "An Unknown God".  Paul seized on that as his opportunity.  He reveals the God of Heaven... his power... has majesty... his desire to know people.  It kind of reminded me about our culture today.  there are so many ideas out there, and so many ways of thinking, and so many sort of think there is a 'god' out there, but they don't know how to know God.  It is the god of Hollywood... that loves everyone... requires no change.  Paul would share a different God.  And as usual, his preaching gets him in trouble, but this time he is brought before the Athenian council to speak the Gospel.  Some believed and some laughed at him.... par for the course.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Acts 16... Keep going... A chapter a day, and we are at Day 16...

In this chapter we are introduced to Timothy of the epistles later on 1 Timothy and 2 Timothy.

We also see how Paul (now travelling with Silas) is being lead by the Holy Spirit where to go.  He is allowed to preach in some areas, but not others.  He even has a dream about going to a certain area to preach where he does find people waiting to hear the Gospel, and he does lead people to Jesus, and then he even baptises them.

And there is this other interesting story, and reading it, it struck me how in the situations we live through we must stay close to God and hear his voice in it.  If we see the obstacles we can get discouraged, and I know that sometimes these people in the Bible get discouraged.  But if we keep our eyes on Jesus and we do things to help encourage ourselves and others we will keep staying in step with the Spirirt.

So there is this demon possessed girl.  She is a slave and is being used to make money for her owner.  She seems to have the ability to see the future.  Paul and Silas come into the city and she see them and says, "Look at these men! They serve the Most High God! They are going to tell you how to be saved!"  This goes on for a few days, and Paul becomes annoyed and using the gift of discernment it, he casts the demon out in Jesus' name!  INSTANTLY it goes!  Now the girl is free, but her master's source of income is gone.

Was the truth being spoken by the demon?  Yes.  But what would happen if people listen to the demon and see it a a source of truth?  How long would it be before the 'truth' it was speaking was only half true?  It could lead people away from those preaching the Gospel.

Of course, God does something and people react and get in a tizzy.  Paul and Silas are beaten publicly, and put in the inner parts of the prison, and chained.  Not exactly what they would have been expecting.... But in it they manage to find a way to stay strong in their faith.  They sing and pray, and even the other prisoners are listening to them.  There is a big earthquake and all the doors swing open, and the chains fall off all the prisoners' arms.  No one runs... Odd.  But God uses this to save the jailer from killing himself, and he and his family choose to follow Jesus.

Then there is the issue of the public beating.  See, there were some assumptions made about Paul and Silas becuase they were preaching Jesus.  In fact, though, they were Roman citizens, and were beaten without trial... publicly.  Some of the leaders tried to shoo them out quietly, but Paul insisted on a proper apology.  He got it, and then Paul and Silas left town.

Even in their suffering, God was working to call more people to himself!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Acts chapter 15 – Day 15… We’re into the last half now!

All over a little piece of skin. There is a huge dispute going on in the church. They are trying to establish the requirements of the faith as some come out of Judaism, while others are just coming out of other cultures to embrace following Jesus. One of the traditions that is being demanded by some in Judaism is that the new followers be circumcised. This creates a whole bunch of debate among the apostles and the elders and Paul and Barnabas. As it turns out circumcision was not needed for people to follow Christ.

So here is what they conclude from all the discussion:

“And so my judgment is that we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God. Instead, we should write and tell them to abstain from eating food offered to idols, from sexual immorality, from eating the meat of strangled animals, and from consuming blood.” (verse 19 & 20)

Also in this chapter, this always stood out to me. There was a “sharp disagreement” between Paul and Barnabas over John Mark. I think that “sharp disagreement” is Biblese for “they had a big fight”. It is like this one guy, John Mark, wasn’t as committed as Paul and Barnabas were, but Barnabas wanted to keep working to build up John Mark (remember, Barnabas is “Son of Encouragement”) while Paul was done with trying to keep working with this man… So they go their own way. Now Paul pairs up with Silas and he goes off to do something else.

Being someone that works with people in the church, I have seen sharp disagreements, and I have been part of sharp disagreements. We all have people and situations that bother us in the church, but it should not stop us from chasing what God has for our lives…. AND we have to remember that all of it should be done with love, and if we do step into the hurtful and angry, then we must do what is needed to make things right… and to love them… sometimes in SPITE of ourselves.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Acts 14.... Ok, so here we are on day 14!

I just wanted to draw attention to one thing that is going on in this chapter, and to emphasize why it is so import to make sure God gets the glory, and not you when amazing things happen.

Paul and Barnabas go to Lystra, and see a man that has been crippled since birth and unable to walk.  Through God’s power, they are able to heal the man.... They know where the power came from.   Right away though, people from the culture come out and see that this man has been healed.  They think that Paul and Barnabas are gods that have come to earth.  The two followers of Jesus become grieved that this is happening and they try to convince the people that God did this miracle.  People wanted to make sacrifices to them.  It takes all their convincing to make them stop.

Then something else happens.  Some Jews arrive in the area.  They hear what is going on and convince the people that Paul and Barnabas are evil.  They drag the men out and stone them.

So there are three sets of ideas going on here.  So when you pray, and when you share your faith, and when you see God answer prayers, be SURE the GOD gets the GLORY.  People will filter all of what they see through what they know.  Teach them the Bible.  Point them to God.

Acts 13 – Day 13, but I think that you are seeing the pattern, by now. ;)

OK, so I am behind a day here.... I’ll catch things up tonight though.

Paul and Barnabas are prayed for and launched into ministry!  So Paul goes from hunting people down that follow Jesus to being one of the most noted evangelists in the Bible!  Wow!
So they are out on the first missionary journey.  One of the first things that is recorded that they do is they run into a sorcerer, a false prophet.  It would seem that he is trying to present himself as the son of Jesus, AND he is trying to not let other people believe the message of the Gospel.  He is anti-evangelizing.   He uses a bit of discernment to see through this sorcerer, right to his heart.  He sees what is below the surface.  Then God allows the miraculous to happen.

So to quote it right from the Bible:
Saul, also known as Paul, was filled with the Holy Spirit, and he looked the sorcerer in the eye.  Then he said, “You son of the devil, full of every sort of deceit and fraud, and enemy of all that is good! Will you never stop perverting the true ways of the Lord?  Watch now, for the Lord has laid his hand of punishment upon you, and you will be struck blind. You will not see the sunlight for some time.” Instantly mist and darkness came over the man’s eyes, and he began groping around begging for someone to take his hand and lead him.  When the governor saw what had happened, he became a believer, for he was astonished at the teaching about the Lord.

Paul speaks to the Jews, and he approaches the Gospel by building on what they know from the (Old Testament) Scriptures.  He shows how all their history point to Jesus and how Jesus fulfilled the requirements of being the Saviour.
Then Paul turns his attention to the Gentiles (Non-Jews) and the Jews are jealous of all the attention the Gentiles are giving Paul.  They begin to complain and backstab him.  The Gentiles want God, and God even confirms again that the Gospel is for everyone.  They receive his Spirit there too.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Acts Chapter 12 (Day 12)

Ok, so it's a little late.  I saved it and forgot to post it.  Here is Acts 12!

We begin this chapter with further opposition to the Christians. One of the Apostles, James (one of the Sons of Thunder) is killed by the sword, and since Herod got some good response from the Jews, he captured Peter too. While he was in prison, the Bible says that the church was praying for him.

Here is another one of the miraculous jail breaks that happen in the bible. This one is an angel that comes and releases Peter and gets him outside the city, where he is able to get to a safe home. It is clear that Herod wanted to make sure that Peter did not escape. He was captured by several guards, and was chained to some guards in the cell overnight. Herod is not counting on an angel.

I remember a song from the early days of Amy Grant about this. Take a look (and love the 80's hair):

We end the chapter with Herod being struck dead… In quite a gross way… You’ll have to look it up.

As a pastor, they always tell you that there will be one of three ways that pastors tend to fall. They say, don’t touch the girls… the gold… or the Glory. So, dealing with people that are the opposite gender, should be done as though you are brothers and sisters. God’s money is God’s money. Don’t take any. Always point people to Jesus. It is never about them following you.

Chapter 13 brings a big shift for Saul.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Day 11! Phew! (Acts chapter 11)

This was a BIG DEAL! The Jews were God’s people. They alone had the ear of the Almighty. And now they hear that Peter… one of their own… one of their leaders is sharing Jesus with Gentiles?!? Really? How could he? He should know better they must have been thinking. So now Peter has to explain. He tells them all about God’s vision, and how he was there to see the Holy Spirit fill the Gentiles, and they knew that it was a sign from God.

This chapter also has some more of the aftermath from the persecution of the Jews after Stephen’s death. Followers of Jesus scattered under the persecution, but continued to preach the Gospel, and they were seeing large numbers of people choosing to follow Christ.

Barnabas (Joseph, nicknamed ‘Son of Encouragement’ remember?) was sent to see what was going on. And like the encourager that he was, he went to get Saul to work with him for a year teaching at Antioch. It is there, in that place that they were first called “Christians”. (I was being careful to call them followers of Christ to this point… and some scholars believe that the term was first used more to mock, but today, I can use it with conviction.)

We also read about a prophecy given to the church that a famine is coming to the Roman world. There in Antioch they begin to make plans to bring relief to the Church in Jerusalem, and Paul and Barnabas are entrusted with the gifts. There is a lot of emphasis on giving and helping those less fortunate. This is something that is lacking in many Christian lives today. It is something that needs to be more prominent.

Keep going.... Day 12 tomorrow!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Acts chapter 10! (Day 10)

Just a couple of things I wanted to note in this chapter.  There is a big shift here.  There is this Roman army officer—a Captain who chooses to follow Jesus.  He doesn’t really know how to do it, so he sends for some help, namely Peter.

At the same time Peter is being given a vision where all kinds of animals are before him and God is telling him to kill and eat.  You have to remember that Jewish people have strict eating rules.  They can only eat things that God has spelled out a clean.  Here God was telling him to eat any of the animals.  Peter is not sure what it means.
Knock, knock.  There is a servant telling of Cornelius and how he is a God-fearing man wanting to hear the Gospel... The message of Jesus.  Here’s the thing.  Cornelius is a Gentile (someone that is not Jewish).  To this point the Gospel was for the Jewish people. Peter should not be doing anything with this man, but soon Peter understands the vision God gave him.  The message of Jesus was for ALL people.  Cornelius arranges for his family and close friends to be there to hear all of what Peter says.  They are baptised right there.  Right after, God confirms that his message is for all people by sending his Holy Spirit to fill the Gentiles.

The message of the Gospel is for ALL people.  God’s plan for salvation is for everyone!  That means you!
Will you hear it?  Or will you ignore it?

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Acts Chapter 9! (Day 9)

Ok, so here is where this guy named Saul is dealt with. Remember… he has been out hunting down followers of Christ, and putting them in prison. Jesus deals with him directly this time. He is on the road to Damascus on his way to get permission from some of the synagogues to arrest the followers of The Way (That’s what the church was called).

Saul is walking down the road and this bright light shines all around him. He is afraid and falls to the ground. He hears a voice saying, “Why do you persecute me?” Saul has no idea who is talking to him. Jesus tells him who he is. He must have been stunned to hear that it was Jesus… the name whose name he was trying to squash. He is blinded, and has to be lead into the city where he will receive instructions.

God gives Saul a vision to show him how he is going to be healed, and he prompts another man named Ananias (not the one from earlier), who has been listening for God’s voice. He is able to pray and remove the scales from Saul’s eyes. Saul is a changed man!

Of course there are some problems with getting other Christians to trust him. He was one day going after them to put them in prison, and the next claiming that Jesus is the Messiah. Can that be possible? Often when people choose to follow Jesus in today’s culture, it takes some time for people to know that the change in their life is real and permanent. If that is where you are, keep going. Keep going after Jesus, and don’t worry about what the people think.

In this chapter there is a story about where a woman named Tabitha dies and the Apostle Peter prays and she is raised from the dead. The power of the Holy Spirit working through people can do amazing things!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Acts Chapter 8 – Week 2 – Day 1

I hope you love the story so far. There is a lot going on, but things are beginning to intensify in this chapter. It begins with the reaction to Stephen’s death and a great persecution in the area. There is this man named Saul that is leading the persecutions. He is a religious leader. He approved of the killing of Stephen, and he continues to hunt down the followers of Christ to imprison them… so much so that they scatter to avoid the persecution.

We also see some work being done by the Apostle Philip. It says that he did some great miracles and that many people were healed. It says that demons were cast out of people, and that they would shriek as they came out.

This goes to show how when someone becomes a follower of Jesus, that God does not expect that we live perfectly, but he does expect that we deal with sin. A man called Simon (the sorcerer) becomes a follower of Jesus, and is baptized, but when he sees the apostles lay their hands on people to impart the Holy Spirit, he wants to buy it so that he can do the same. Peter sees the error of Simon’s heart, and tells him to ask God for forgiveness, and repent of the thinking that God’s power can be bought with money. They pray and Simon has learned, and will adjust. It’s sort of how people get saved and begin to follow Jesus, but they have a lot of old mindsets to deal with. The Holy Spirit will expose those things, and help each of us to deal with them so that we can move more into line with God’s heart. It can take years to purge the junk. That is why the Christian walk is one that lasts a lifetime.

Here is another really cool passage. Philip is prompted by the Holy Spirit to go and speak with this man from Ethiopia. The man is reading from the book of Isaiah… and it is a prophecy about Jesus. Philip shows the man that this is talking about his Saviour. The man becomes a follower of Jesus, and they stop right there on the side of the road to baptize him. After that, the Holy Spirit snatches Philip away and takes him to another place.

What really troubles me is this guy Saul. Why would God allow him to be so terrible to followers of Christ? Sometimes I guess, we don’t see all of what God does in the moment that we live. I hope something is done to stop Saul.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Day 7, and the end of week 1 – Acts chapter 7

Just going to post a bit early...

Hope you are doing well with this attempt at a habit change.  If not, keep trying.  Having time with God where he speaks to you is SO important in the life of a Christian.
Here we are at chapter 7, and Stephen has been arrested for preaching, and when he is brought forth for trial, he has the opportunity to plead his case.  He shows them from the Scriptures how he believes Jesus is the Messiah.  He links a good chunk of Jewish history to Jesus, and that God is not a one that is held in the walls of a temple.  Some would even suggest that they took it to mean that he was going to try to destroy the temple.

Whatever it was, in verse 57, the Jewish leaders put their hands over their ears and started yelling.  I see temper tantrum here.... Kid with their hands over their ears telling their parents that they are not listening to them. 
They drag Stephen out and kill him by throwing rocks at him.  He has already had a vision of Jesus in heaven with the Father.  Now he is being killed for his faith and love for Jesus. 

Also of note: Because Stephen spoke against the temple they would have torn their clothes in the presence of blasphemy.  They laid their clothes in front of a man named  Saul.  Better keep an eye on that  guy.
--As they stoned him, Stephen prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” He fell to his knees, shouting, “Lord, don’t charge them with this sin!” And with that, he died.--

Acts Chapter 6… for Day 6! (At time of the original post, this entry falls on Saturday, the Jewish Sabbath)

As things go when things are not going someone’s way, the whining begins here in the early church. They’re getting better stuff than I am! How come he gets better stuff? As the church grows, more people are coming to the faith. Not all of them are Jews anymore. So a split happens between the Greeks and the Hebrews. As can happen, some things were going on that the leaders in the Church didn’t have the capacity to deal with. They needed help. Seven men were chose (who were wise, known for their good character, and full of the Holy Spirit) to help with some of the “work” items like giving out food. It allowed the apostles to focus on teaching and prayer.

One of those men is Stephen. The passage notes him specifically as being full of the Holy Spirit. He was arrested. Things seem to be intensifying between the Jewish leaders and the Christ-following Jews. If you look at some of the charges raised against him, you can see how they are a bit skewed from what he would have actually said. They keep watching for some sort of oppression or overthrow. But something happened. It’s like his face started to shine or something.

I hope everything works out for him…..

Friday, March 2, 2012

The Acts of the Apostles, Chapter 5… for Day 5!

Ok, so this is a really busy chapter! Lots going on. We start with Ananias and Sapphira. They had a piece of land. They sold the land. They gave some of the money to the Apostles, but told them that they gave all of it. The Apostles challenged them and when they did, they died. They lied to the Holy Spirit and died for it. Scary thought. It’s not that they didn’t give all of the money. It is just that they tried to make people think that they did. Have you ever told someone a lie to make yourself look batter then you really were?

Next is one of my favourite passages in the Bible. As the disciples were praying for people to be healed verse 15 says, “As a result of the apostles’ work, sick people were brought out into the streets on beds and mats so that Peter’s shadow might fall across some of them as he went by.” People were healed when the apostles’ shadows went over them! Imagine being so filled with the Holy Spirit that your shadow healed people!

Next is something that we see a few times in the book of Acts. The disciples were preaching, and then they were arrested. While in prison an angel comes and breaks them out, and they go back out and keep preaching. Of note… In China, today, there are areas where it is illegal to be a Christian. One of the requirements of being a pastor is that you have to have been in jail for the cause of Christ. We see this theme all through Scripture. There are men and women that resolve to follow Christ, and obey him even if the authorities say it is illegal.

Also one other thing… there is a mention of a man named Gamaliel. He seems pretty wise. Let them speak. If it is of God, it will do well, and you do not want to fight God. If not, it will not be successful. He is a mentor to man we will hear about a WHOLE bunch later in this book.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Day 4! Acts 4

Ok, so i don't know about you, but this chapter could be taken from two perspectives.... One is, "Oh, no, they got arrested for preaching about Jesus."  Two is, "AMAZING!  They preached and 5000 people got saved, and then they got a private audience with some very high profile people, and got to share Jesus with them!"

I prefer the second one.

This chapter is another example of how when someone is filled with the Holy Spirit, God gives them the words to speak and the courage to do what needs to be done.  There was a strong attempt at intimidation here.  The religious leaders were trying to silence these apostles... Peter and John.  But like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego of the book of Daniel, these men chose to follow Jesus no matter what. 

It is interesting to note that one of the things that stopped the argument was the formerly-crippled beggar standing outside.  The religious leaders could not argue with what they had seen.  They could not argue with what God had done in this man's life.  Same thing for you.  People can't argue with God is doing in your life.

Something I learned:  Later in the book we will hear about Paul and Barnabas... Barbanas' name is really Joseph.  Barnabas was more of a nickname.  :)  It would be neat to have someone call me something like "Son of Encouragement".

It is also interesting that people are selling off property so that the needs of the poor can be met.  It should be interesting to see how that goes.  I hope no one tries to take advantage of them.