Timothy

Acts 16:1
“. . .  a certain disciple was there, named Timothy”

The Scriptures are filled with men and women who had a tremendous impact upon their world for the kingdom of Heaven. Timothy is one of those men. We are first introduced to him here, in Acts 16. He is described as a disciple who was well-spoken of throughout the cities of Lystra and Iconium. The word disciple means, a learner and a follower. It describes a person who has chosen to surrender to Christ, follow Him, and allow the Word of God to write upon the tablet of his heart. The disciple lets God’s Word direct his private life, public life, family life and church life. Timothy was a disciple of Christ, and set an example for the believers around him on what it meant to follow Jesus. As we continue to follow Timothy’s story, we find he became a traveling companion of Paul and Silas; bringing the Gospel throughout Asia minor and into Europe. Later we learn he became the pastor of the church in Ephesus, and was the recipient of two New Testament letters.

What an amazing life this young man lived; and what an impact he had, and continues to have, for the Kingdom of God. How did he become such a man? Notice, he grew up in a mixed household, with two contrasting influences. His mother was a believer and his father was not. It can be very difficult for children living with two completely different standards. Mom does not allow certain behaviors because she is a follower of God, but dad allows them, and the children become very confused. In many such cases, we find the children grow up only to conform to the ways of the world, and struggle to follow God. Timothy was different, he went on to follow the Lord and impact the world. How was he able to overcome the dual influences upon his life? What did his mother do to influence him to follow God?

We know that his mom made a bad relationship decision. She, being a Jew, defied the Word of God, and got involved with a man who was not a believer. Whatever course they followed, they ended up married and having a son. But she did not allow that bad decision to keep her from turning back to the Lord, and making godly decisions. We read later in Scripture, how she raised her son on the teaching of God’s Word. From his earliest childhood days, Timothy was raised on a healthy diet of Scripture. Moses instructed parents how to teach the Bible to their kids. Instead of lecturing them, he said they should first live it, then use everyday experiences to teach it. Timothy grew up with a mom who lived it. We are also told of the great influence his grandmother had upon him. Instead of her being devastated by her daughters poor relationship choice, she determined to have a positive influence on her daughter and grandson (2Timothy 1:5). The result of forgiveness, godly choices, and the Word of God, was a young man who wanted to follow the Lord.

Regardless of your past, determine today that you are going to make positive godly choices in pursuit of following the Lord. We never know what a great influence we may have upon those around us.

Deuteronomy 6:4-9 “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”

Pastor Jim

Questions for Acts 16

  1. Sometimes our “good intentions” lead us down wrong paths. As Paul, Silas and Timothy were headed on their missionary journey; the Holy Spirit stopped them from going to Asia (good intentions). The Holy Spirit then gave Paul a vision as to where He wanted them to go. What was Paul’s response to this instruction? What is your response to God’s leading when He changes your direction?
  2. What happened to Lydia and her household? What was Lydia’s profession?
  3. Paul and Silas are teaching, a slave girl “proclaiming truth” is rebuked and set free from a demonic spirit. We need to be very careful about what we hear or see in the religious world. Read 1 John 4:1.
  4. The owners of this slave girl were quite upset with Paul and Silas, they had them beaten and thrown into prison, verses 20-24. Did you notice that Paul and Silas do not defend themselves? They chose to pray and sing instead of complaining and defending themselves. What does God do for them?
  5. Looking at things from Gods perspective changes everything. The end result of this situation brought more people into the kingdom. What are we willing to go through that someone might come to know the Lord?
  6. The officers and magistrates came to Paul and Silas and asked for them to leave secretly. They knew that what they had done to Paul and Silas was illegal. We sometime do things that we know isn’t right. Instead of trying to hide it, confess it before the Lord. God promises to forgive you! 1 John 1:9, If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. Live in the freedom of the Lords grace and forgiveness today!

Old Testament:
Joshua 21- A Place To Stand
Joshua 22- Separation

It Seemed Good

Acts 15:28-29
“For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things: that you abstain from things offered to idols, from blood, from things strangled, and from sexual immorality. If you keep yourselves from these, you will do well.”

A great controversy arose in the early church as a result of the Gentiles coming to faith in Christ. Some of the church leaders in Jerusalem were suggesting that after coming to Christ, these new converts must be circumcised and keep the ceremonial laws. I think their motives were probably sincere. They wanted to see these new believers behaving correctly, and determined the best way for them to do so, was to make rules. We see the same thing happening in the church today. A young woman may come to Christ, and still dress the way she did before she believed, so the church is pressured to have a dress code. Or a young man comes to Christ and still listens to the music he did before coming to Christ; the church wants to establish a ban on secular music. Now it is true, there are people who dress inappropriately, and listen and watch things that they shouldn’t, but the question is, what is the best way to help them grow? The legalists, from Jerusalem, thought it was through the establishing of a system of rules to keep them in check. The apostles came up with a different plan, they wrote a letter exhorting the Gentiles to abstain from three things.

Abstaining from things offered to idols was important because they had been saved out of idolatry. In a sense, they are being encouraged to stay away from things that would lead them back into sin. Too often, a new believer will hook up with the friends they ran with before coming to Christ. That road leads them back into the activities from which Christ had set them free. If we want to succeed in following Christ, we need to stay away from the things that lead us to sin.

Abstaining from blood or things strangled was important because once they put faith in Christ, they became part of a family. The Jewish Christians were their brothers and sisters. To the Jew, eating something that had not been killed properly, or eating blood, was an abomination. If the Gentile Christians ate like they used to, they would offend their brothers in Christ. Essentially, this letter is encouraging them to follow the law of love, which requires us to do nothing that would cause someone else to stumble. We have great liberties in Christ. Some Christians may be able to partake in activities with no temptation, but if that activity causes someone else to sin, we must refrain. We need to be more important to one another, than our liberties are to us (1 Corinthians 8:4-13).

Finally, abstaining from sexual immorality was important because it is clearly forbidden in the Word of God. The legalist were adding rules not found in Scripture. These rules would suck the life out of Christianity, and distract believers from obeying the clear commands of Scripture. The Pharisees had that problem. Remember when Jesus rebuked them for tithing their spices and neglecting the weightier matters of the law (Matthew 23:23)? We can put rules on each other that distract us from doing the things that are well pleasing to the Lord. Also, sexual immorality was rampant in the Roman world, as it is today. It is a sin that carries with it grave consequences. Whenever two people are involved sexually, it clouds their ability to look at their relationship properly. They become connected in a way that is difficult to break. They end up emotionally attached to someone who is perhaps not best for them. God’s ways are better than man’s. If we choose to live well pleasing to Him, we will find that life is better.

Let’s be sure we are staying away from sin, things that lead to sin, and things that cause others to sin.

Pastor Jim

Questions for Acts 15

  1. A “different” teaching was coming down from Judea, what was this teaching?
  2. How was this different teaching handled by the church?
  3. The apostles and elders came together to discuss the matter (verse 6). What was their conclusion and how did they come to their decision? (verses 8-11)
  4. Read Psalm 139. God is not far away looking down at us as little beings. What does this chapter speak to you about God’s relationship to us?
  5. James quotes Amos 9:11-12 confirming the decision of the council. God’s word will never contradict itself; God will confirm His word to you with His word.
  6. The council also concluded to write to the Gentiles to abstain from 4 things so that it “would be well with them”, what were they?
  7. We see an argument between 2 leaders in the last verses. Sometimes God allows these disagreements to happen. The end result here was that 2 teams went out to teach instead of 1. What can this teach us about conflict?

Old Testament:
Joshua 19- Fellowship
Joshua 20- City Of Refuge

They So Speak

Acts 14:1
Now it happened in Iconium that they went together to the synagogue of the Jews, and so spoke that a great multitude both of the Jews and of the Greeks believed.”

We read, they spoke in a way that resulted in many believing in Christ; which in turn, results in eternal life. It is worth noting that there is a way to speak which will have an impact upon others for eternity. Their speaking included at least three things:

First, they spoke with boldness. Having experienced persecution in Cyprus and Antioch, Paul and Barnabas refused to cower, but confidently continued to share Christ with the people of Iconium. For some reason, people react to the name of Jesus. Many receive Him gladly and watch as He transforms their lives. Others become angry, even hostile, once the name of Christ is mentioned. Any who have attempted to share Christ, have experienced this hostility in one form or another. If we want to speak in a way that results in people coming to Christ, we must be willing to endure the backlash and persecution.

“Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake.” Matthew 5:11

Second, they spoke the Gospel. Paul later wrote to the Roman Christians and declared that the Gospel is the power of God that results in salvation (Romans1:16). When people hear the truth (that they are sinners separated from God, but that God loves them, and Jesus died for them), something stirs in their hearts. There is a realization, that although they may have never heard the Gospel before, they know it to be true. Faith is being ignited as a result of hearing the Good News of Christ. Too often, when we are attempting to win someone to Christ, we allow ourselves to get sidetracked. We end up arguing over politics, origins, or the church. If we want to win others with our speech, let’s be sure to share the simplicity of the Gospel.

Finally, their speech was empowered by the Holy Spirit. Paul was a brilliant man. He was well educated, not only in the Scriptures, but in the philosophy of the day. He was also, what the Victorian era referred to as a gentleman. Later, when he spoke in Lystra, they compared him to Hermes, the Greek God of oration. Yet, even with all of these natural abilities, Paul did not rely upon his human wisdom. He wrote to the Corinthian Christians about how to speak when sharing Christ.

“And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.” 1 Corinthians 2:4-5

When sharing Christ, we can be confident that God will show up and provide us with words that are able to penetrate the heart, stir up faith, and lead a person to decision time.

If we want to speak in a way that leads people to Christ, we must step out in faith, unhindered by the opposition we may receive. We can be sure, sharing the simple truths of the Gospel, and relying on the fact that even if we are not sure what to say, the Holy Spirit will give us what we need.

Until the whole world hears…

Pastor Jim

Questions for Acts 14

  1. Iconium, the city that becomes divided. James 1:8 “A double minded man is unstable in all his ways”. Are there things about your beliefs that are confusing or uncertain? Dig into God’s word, call your pastor. God’s word is clear. Are you willing to be obedient to God’s word?
  2. In Lystra, a man is healed. God does a miracle through Paul and Barnabas, but it is misinterpreted by the people. Why do you think they were confused about this miracle?
  3. Because of the differences (Jews from Antioch), Paul is stoned, dragged out of the city and left for dead. Doesn’t sound like a wonderful Christian life, does it? Paul rises up and he goes to Derbe with Barnabas. THEN RETURNS to Lystra……..what does he do there?
  4. Verse 26 says they went back to Antioch. They moaned, groaned and complained about all that had happened to them. NOT…..what did they do? What do we do in our trials of life? May we all learn to speak of the good things in our lives, read Philippians 4:8?

Old Testament:
Joshua 17- Greatness
Joshua 18- Neglect

Call Of God

Acts 13:2
Now separate to Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.”

This is one of the most important events in history. It marks the beginning of the missionary campaign to the church in Antioch. The results of this event brought the Gospel throughout the Roman Empire, and changed the face of Western Civilization. History would forever be changed as a result of these two men responding to the call of God. A few things strike me about God’s call.

First, it did not seem, at the outset, to be something grand. We read that God spoke; probably through one of the men with the gift of prophecy. He was to tell Barnabas and Saul to do what the Lord told them to do. That is far from a life altering experience. No mention is made of the room shaking, or lights coming from heaven. It may have happened much like this . . . while they were praying, one of the guys might have said, “I think the Lord is telling Barnabas and Saul to do what He already told them to do.” It was a message reaffirming what Barnabas and Saul had already sensed; what God wanted for them. So the saints of Antioch laid hands on them and sent them away. It would not be until they walked in faith-filled obedience to His call, that they would realize what God had in store for them.

I am also struck by where God called them. Again, we read that before this prophecy was given, Barnabas and Saul had already sensed a desire, or call of God to go . When it was confirmed, they packed their bags, and headed off to Cyprus. Cyprus is an island that sat out in the Mediterranean Sea and was the home town of Barnabas. They were called to share Christ with the people Barnabas grew up with. I think it is natural that as we grow in Christ, we develop a desire to see our friends and loved ones come to Christ; and that is exactly where God called them.

Finally, notice how they received the call of God. We read they “ministered to the Lord and fasted.” Ministering to the Lord would include worshipful prayer, and fasting (denying of the flesh’s desires). They heard from God when they got their eyes on Him and sought Him. The call of God comes when we spend time with Jesus. Too often, we want to determine what God wants for us, and spend all our time asking others. If you want to hear from God, get alone with Him, seek Him until He speaks, then do what He says.

Who knows what God may call you to, and how that may change the world forever.

Pastor Jim

Questions for Acts05 13

  1. “Ministering to Lord”, sometime we think of ministry as to people, yet in verse2 Luke tells us that they “ministered to the Lord”. The Lord created us for His glory that through us (the church); He might receive praise, honor and glory. Read Ephesians 1:5-6. How can you minister to the Lord today?
  2. Verses 4-5, they were sent out by the Holy Spirit to preach the word. Sometimes we wonder what God is calling us to do. Did you know that you are called to preach the word? Maybe not as a pastor but as a believer in Christ, we are all called to proclaim the gospel. Read Matthew 28:19.
  3. Verses 6-12, we read of an interesting account of Bar-Jesus (Elymas the sorcerer). We read that Elymas withstood them and sought to turn Sergius Paulus away from the faith. Saul was filled with the Holy Spirit and rebuked him. Sergius was astonished, not at the miracle but at what?
  4. Paul’s first teaching starts in verses 16-41. What similarities do you see here compared to Peter’s first teaching in Acts 2?
  5. The death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus, a story all of us can tell. When was the last time you told this story (gospel means good news)?
  6. Teaching God’s word brought many Gentiles to the Lord (verse 48). The Jews filled with envy; contradicting and blaspheming, they opposed the thing Paul spoke (verse45). Acceptance and rejection. They grew BOLD! Are you growing bold or letting feelings dictate your attitude?
  7. What does the last verse of this chapter say about Paul and Barnabas’s attitude?

Old Testament:
Joshua 15- Daily Walk
Joshua 16- Not Strong Enough

Constant In Prayer

Acts 12:5
“. . . but constant prayer was offered to God . . .”

Things looked very bleak for Peter. Persecution was on the rise throughout Israel. Many of his friends had been forced to flee to other nations for their safety and survival. James, perhaps his closest friend, had been killed by Herod, as a way to increase his political status. Now Peter found himself arrested and awaiting what was sure to be a mock trial and certain execution. He had watched this scene develop once before. We read that these events transpired during the Feast of Unleavened Bread which followed Passover. It was during this time of year Peter had watched his Savior arrested, condemned and crucified. If ever there was a desperate hour in the life of Peter, it was now. Until we read,

“. . .but constant prayer was offered to God . . .”

In the seemingly hopeless situations that life brings, prayer is the answer. The church in Jerusalem had no resources. They had no money for a high-powered attorney to represent Peter, nor did they have any sway with the authorities. Apart from God doing something, the fate of Peter was sealed. Until we read,

“ . . .but constant prayer was offered to God . . .”

No matter how hopeless our situation, there is always hope when we look heavenward. Instead of looking at the power of Rome, or the rage of the religious leaders, the church chose to look up to the Throne of Grace. Seated there, is the One who calmed the sea, healed the sick, raised the dead, cast out demons and saved the lost. He is also the One who gave His life on Calvary’s cross to save us. They could be absolutely certain that Jesus, not only had the power to rescue Peter, but also the desire. So they prayed and prayed and prayed, until finally, they heard a knock on the door and saw the face of Peter.

I think it is also worth noting, they did not pray alone. While God hears us when we get alone with Him,  something special happens when we call the saints and seek Him together. Jesus spoke of the added power when two or more agree together in prayer. Perhaps you are facing great difficulty. Perhaps, like Peter, you have no resources and there seems to be no way out. Don’t be discouraged. Instead, call to arms your Christian friends, and seek the Lord until you hear the knock on the door and are delivered from your prison.

Pastor Jim

Questions for Acts 12

  1. Herod has killed James, the brother of John and has put Peter into prison. As we read on, Peter was delivered from his chains in prison. Here is an interesting example; sometimes the Lord delivers and sometimes He doesn’t. Regardless, these 2 men were serving the Lord. This is great insight to how the Lord works. We never know what He is going to do, but we do know He always has a plan and a purpose. Read Romans 8:28. Try to look at your life today from a different perspective; you may gain some great insight?
  2. We read in verses 9-11 that this deliverance for Peter was so amazing, he thought he was dreaming. God loves you and wants you to experience Him in amazing ways! Do you know how much he loves you? Read John 3:16-17.
  3. What a wonderful story of Rhoda, her excitement overcomes her common sense to open the door and let Peter in. Scripture always gives us insight about God. What characteristic of our Lord are you seeing in this passage?
  4. Herod thought that putting the church leadership to death or in prison would stop the growth and please the Jews. We see the sovereignty of God unfolds Herod’s plan and removes him. Check out verse 24.
  5. Barnabas and Saul returned after had _____________ their ministry. How are you doing in the current tasks that the Lord has instructed for you? Are you ready for the next opportunity to serve?

Old Testament:
Joshua 13- Wait There’s More
Joshua 14- Giant Slayer

Legalism

Acts 11:3 
“You went in to uncircumcised men and ate with them!”

There are many churches I would love to visit and observe the work God is doing. The church in Jerusalem was one of those churches. In the early chapters of Acts, we read about this church that began as a work of the Spirit, was birthed in revival, emphasized outreach, focused on discipleship, and even sent out saints to impact the world. We read that they gathered at Solomon’s Porch (an area adjacent to the Temple), to worship, pray, and preach. No building in the city was large enough to house the multitudes who were coming to Christ, so the believers met together in homes throughout the city for prayer, study, fellowship and communion. What a thrilling time it must have been to be a part of that work of God. Sadly, by the end of the book of Acts, the church in Jerusalem had changed. No longer was it the hub for ministry that it once was. Instead, it had become a place filled with internal conflict brought about by legalism. The seed of that is found here.

Imagine the scene. Peter arrives back from his trip. He has had a vision in which God spoke to him. That is exciting!  They should be intrigued and celebrate how amazing God is; that He would interrupt Peter’s sleep and speak to Him. Beyond that, Peter had just led a whole family to Christ. The kingdom of God just got bigger! In addition, this family was not Jewish, they were Gentiles. Their acceptance of Christ was now opening up the entire world to the Gospel message. The church should have been ecstatic; celebrating the fact that the whole world was now their mission field. Instead, what these guys took away from Peter’s story was, “you ate with Gentiles!” That blows my mind! How sad, that this once vibrant church could become so legalistic.

Legalism could be defined as putting restrictions upon us that the Bible does not place on us. Now, it is clear, there are certain restrictions that the Bible does place on us. Those restrictions are the driving force behind many who refuse to come to Christ. John wrote that “. . . light came into the world but men loved darkness more than light because their deeds were evil” (John 3:19). We must understand, the restrictions Scripture places on us are for our best. God is, in fact, trying to keep us from something, and that something is unnecessary suffering.

That being said, the legalist is the one who puts restrictions on us beyond what the Bible teaches. They focus on what we wear, what we eat, the day we worship, the style of music, and the list goes on and on. Once legalism enters a person’s life, or a church body, people no longer measure their Christian life by growth in Christ, but instead, by adherence to the rules. Instead of clinging to Christ and seeking for others to know Him, we become focused on making sure the women are wearing the right clothes and the men eating the correct foods.

It is abiding in Jesus, not adhering to a set of rules, that will transform our lives and attract the world to the Gospel. If we want to see Christ continue to work in us, we must continue to abide in Christ.

Pastor Jim

Questions for Acts 11 

  1. Peter is getting grief for going to “uncircumcised men” and eating with them. How does Peter defend himself?
  2. How did the Jews in Jerusalem respond to Peters answer?
  3. Barnabas was described as?
  4. Barnabas brought Saul back to Antioch and they taught there for a year. This was the first place that people of the church were called __________?

Old Testament:
Joshua 11-Ganged Up On
Joshua 12- Remember When…

A Town Called Joppa

Acts 10:5
“Now send men to Joppa, and send for Simon whose surname is Peter.”

Joppa was a port city in Israel with a wealth of history. It serves as a powerful illustration of the heart of God for the world at large. Over 700 years before Peter slept on the rooftop of the tanner’s house, another famous character passed through Joppa. His name was Jonah, and he is infamous as Israel’s most reluctant prophet. Most of us are familiar with his story of disobedience. We read, he was commissioned by God to preach a message of mercy to Nineveh, but instead, he traveled to Joppa, boarded a ship, and attempted to run from God. His story is a fascinating one, as God goes to great lengths to win the heart of this wandering servant. One of the key lessons in Jonah is, God loves the world even when His people don’t.

Over 700 years later, we find another servant of God resting quietly in this same port city. While he sleeps, his world is interrupted with a vision form heaven. The vision was simple, but the message profound. He saw a sheet filled with all kinds of animals, which he was commanded to kill and eat. Peter’s initial response was to refuse, for many of the animals were in a category marked as “unclean” by old testament standards. His rebuke was met by a further command, “What I have cleansed do not call common.” While this passage is freeing the believer to eat whatever he wants, the message is much deeper. Peter needed to learn that the Gospel was intended for all people.

As he pondered the meaning of the message, a band of men arrived, inviting him to visit Cornelius, in the city of Caesarea. Peter would soon be faced with a great dilemma, he would stand at the threshold of the house of a gentile and have to decide whether, for the sake of the Gospel, he would put aside his cultural fears and enter a gentile home.

Cornelius and his family were loved by God and needed to hear the message of salvation in Christ. Peter, like Jonah before him, would have to set aside his own personal feelings for the sake of the kingdom of God.

All mankind is loved by God, and needs to hear the message of salvation found in Christ. It is time we set aside anything that keeps us from declaring the message of the cross to a dying world.

Pastor Jim

Questions for Acts 10

  1. The Roman centurion Cornelius had some interesting character traits. Being a Christian in a secular world can be tough, list the traits the bible gives us about Cornelius.
  2. God spoke and Cornelius responded. How do we respond when the Lord is speaking to us?
  3. For a Jew, Gentiles and certain foods were considered “unclean”. Peter was being stretched to do something that tradition stated was wrong as the early church taught that Gentiles had to become Jews (proselytize) first before becoming a Christian. Do you have any traditions in your life that may be good, yet not scriptural? What is the Lord speaking to you about your traditions?
  4. Peter heeded the vision from the Lord and did something that tradition said was wrong, moreover he speaks the acceptance of God to all (verse 34-35). What does this acceptance speak to you as your walk with God continues?
  5. Gentiles receive the Baptism of the Holy Spirit as Peter is teaching them. Sometimes we feel we need to be in a certain place or doing a certain thing before God can speak to us or use us. Ask God to do something in your routine today….”God interrupt me, speak to me, and use me wherever I am, no matter what I am doing.”

Old Testament:
Joshua 9- Treaty
Joshua 10- Allies

Pick Me

Acts 9:10
“Now there was a certain disciple at Damascus named Ananias; and to him the Lord said in a vision, ‘Ananias.’ And he said, ‘Here I am, Lord.’”

A disciple named Ananias is a somewhat obscure character in the narrative of Acts. We do not know how he first heard about Christ, what his occupation was, or his role in the local church. All we know is, when he was called to service, he rose to the occasion, and became an influential player in the life and ministry of Paul, the Apostle.

We read that Ananias had a vision. A vision is much like a dream, but happens while a person is awake, instead of when they are sleeping. There are many cases in Scripture of God speaking to His people through visions.

We are not told what Ananias was doing when God interrupted and commissioned him. We only know he obeyed. Notice, his obedience was not without trepidation. In fact, we might even say, he was a little reluctant to obey; and it is not difficult to understand why. Saul of Tarsus was the greatest human threat the early church had ever faced. He had authority to arrest and imprison Christians; and like a wild animal, was threatening them with death.

We read in Acts 8 that he was the driving force behind the death of Stephen. God was calling Ananias right into Saul’s line of fire. It does not surprise me that he would say,“Lord, I have heard from many about this man, . . .” Acts 9:13

I know it is my desire to hear from the Lord. I want my life to count for the kingdom, and to have a positive impact upon the lives of others. I also understand, that sometimes, the Lord asks us to do hard things. Sometimes, the call of God will take me outside my comfort zone and ask me to do what will make me very uncomfortable, and may even put me at some level of risk.

I think it is important to follow the example of Ananias, whose willingness to obey the Lord resulted in helping in the growth of one of Christianity’s greatest heroes. Let’s all live by the motto of, “Here I am Lord.”

Pastor Jim

Questions for Acts 9

  1. Why was Saul headed to Damascus?
  2. Saul’s response to the Lord was interesting considering his opposition to Christians. How do you respond when the Lord is calling you to repent?
  3. How many days was Saul blind?
  4. The Lord spoke to Ananias, what did God ask him to do?
  5. In verse 13, this is the first time in scripture that the church is referred to as “saints”. Did you know you were a saint?
  6. In verse 17, Saul is filled with the Holy Spirit and in verse 18, he is healed then baptized. Verse 20, he starts preaching. Do not think you have to wait to be used by the Lord. What is He tugging on your heart to do?
  7. Who took Saul in when he returned to Jerusalem?
  8. What was so special about Tabitha?

Old Testament:
Joshua 7- Banned
Joshua 8- A Little Help

Unsung Hero

Acts 8:5

“Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria and preached Christ to them.”

Philip was one of the men selected to serve tables at the church in Jerusalem. Now we find him heading out to Samaria as a missionary and winning many souls to the Kingdom. His ministry became so effective, it drew the attention of the apostles, who came to aid him in discipling those who had been saved. As quickly as he arrived in Samaria, Philip leaves.  God calls him away from the masses, to reach an individual with the message of salvation through faith in Christ. After a muddy baptism in the desert, he headed out once again, this time making his way to Caesarea, where he settled down and raised a family of followers of Jesus.

Philip’s story is a fascinating one, filled with application for our daily lives. One of the most important lessons he teaches us is, in God’s economy, all service is the same. When Philip was serving tables, raising children, or leading revivals, he was simply doing what God had called him to do. Sometimes, I think we lose sight of how God wants to use us today, by being overly consumed with what the future holds. Spending all my time thinking about how God wants to use me tomorrow, will cause me to miss the opportunities He has placed in front of me today.

Keep your eyes open! Perhaps, today, God may lead you right into an opportunity to share Christ with someone like the Ethiopian, a man who God had prepared in every way for Philip’s arrival.

Pastor Jim

Questions for Acts 8

  1. What was Saul doing to the early church?
  2. Because of the persecution, the church scattered. Yet they continued to do what?
  3. Hebrews 7:25 ‘Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.” Simon believed and he was baptized. What was his previous profession?
  4. We see in verses 14-16 that receiving the Holy Spirit and baptism are 2 separate experiences. How did Peter and John address this?
  5. Simon is rebuked by Peter for his lack of understanding of his faith in verse 20. What word continues to be a theme throughout the teaching in the early church (verse 22)?
  6. The angel of the Lord spoke to Phillip, what was his response?
  7. Because of Phillips obedience, what happened with the Ethiopian Eunuch?

Old Testament:
Joshua 5- Victory
Joshua 6- Walls

Jesus Standing

Acts 7:56
“Look! I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!”

Stephen’s story is a common one with an uncommon ending. All who have attempted to share the love of Christ with others have experienced the crowd turn on us. The very ones we have prayed for, and stepped out in faith to share with, have accused us of wrong doing, and lashed out against us. Unfortunately for Stephen, these men lashed out not only with words, but also with stones. Stephen was taken outside the city, as if he were a false prophet, and stoned to death. A martyr could be defined as one who lives for Christ, even if it means dying for Christ. Stephen is not the only martyr the church has ever seen, but he was the first.

As Stephen is facing his execution, he looks up, and for a moment the veil separating the eternal from the temporal is removed, and he is able to see the Throne of Grace. Something fascinating happens; Jesus, who sat down at the right hand of God after his ascension, is standing. We know that the work of salvation was completed on the cross, so He is standing for another purpose. That purpose was to honor the one who was honoring Him; to welcome Stephen into glory.

From earth’s perspective, Stephen failed. He attempted to share Christ with a group of people while only making them angry, and losing his life. From Heaven’s perspective, he receives the highest honor, as Jesus stands to welcome him home. It is my personal desire, that each of us will receive that welcome when we step into glory. That we, like Stephen, will choose to live, not for acceptance in this age, but in the one to come. You never know whose life you may impact. It was after Stephen’s death that Paul is first mentioned. It seems that this young man’s bold stand for Christ was one of the influencing events in winning Paul to Christ.

Let’s seek to live for Christ today, keeping our eyes on the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

Pastor Jim

Questions for Acts 7

  1. Verse 1, the high priest asked, “Are these things so?” What an opportunity to share Jesus! How can you share your faith today?
  2. As the stoning was about to begin, Stephen saw Jesus doing what?
  3. At whose feet did the witnesses lay their clothes?
  4. What was Stephen’s final prayer?

Old Testament:
Joshua 3- Entering In
Joshua 4- Remember