Don’t Oppose God

Acts 12 24

Acts 12

“But the word of God increased and multiplied.” Acts 12:24

In this chapter we see a showdown between Herod and God. Not Herod the Great who was in power when Jesus was born, but Herod’s grandson who is also named Herod. I know, confusing.

Here is a summary of the showdown and the ways God showed His power time and time again:

  1. Herod kills James (v. 2) -> angel of the Lord kills Herod by having him eaten by worms. (v. 23)

  1. Herod throws Peter in jail (v. 4). -> angel of the Lord frees Peter (v. 7)

  1. Herod seeks Peter and orders him to be put to death (v. 19) -> God protects Peter (v. 16)

  1. Herod doesn’t give glory to God (v. 23) -> The word of God increases and multiplies (v.24)

So what’s the point? I think it’s pretty simple – if you oppose God, you lose. Even if you are part of the most powerful empire on earth, have all the resources and money in the world, nothing can come close to the power of God.

-Grace Rodgers

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Oh No! Not Again!

Watch this video before reading!

Pets! If you haven’t seen the movie I recommend it. One of my favorite themes in the movie is Max’s devotion to Katie. It reminds me of my childhood and all the dogs I have had over the years. It also reminds me of how dedicated the Apostles were to Jesus and the building the Kingdom. Even though they were dedicated the Apostles didn’t always know exactly what was going on. This happened with two particular events we can see in the Bible that relate to the scene you just watched out of Pets. First Jesus’ death, and second His ascension to heaven.

For the majority of us reading this, we know Jesus died and was raised. We were given the whole story after the fact. But to the disciples the three days Jesus was dead were horrible and they missed him very much. They didn’t know what to do without him, but then he was raised from the dead and everything was perfect for the disciples. But you guessed it, Jesus, like Katie came back for what seemed like only a few moments.

Now Jesus did this so that people could understand God’s plan for the future. That one day the Kingdom of God would be restored here on the earth and the resurrection of the dead was real. Acts 1:3 says “To these He also presented Himself alive after His suffering, by many convincing proofs, appearing to them over a period of forty days and speaking of the things concerning the kingdom of God.” Even the disciples were asking him if he was going to restore the kingdom at that time, to which he said no one knows except the Father in Acts 1:6-7 But instead of establishing the kingdom at that point in time in its fullness Jesus gives instructions to those who believe in him in Acts 1:8 “but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.” He gives us this mission to go be witnesses of His resurrection. This also links the meaning of the kingdom with it by understanding now that resurrection is possible. (Although there are about 3 or 4 resurrections in the Bible.) After Jesus instructs the disciples to do these things they watch him ascend to heaven. The disciples, like Max, just waited at the door for some time thinking, “Oh No Not Again!” before Angels had to remind them that Jesus would be back, and to go be loyal to what he had told them. (Acts 1:10-11)

Here is my take away, GO! BE LOYAL TO JESUS AND BE HIS WITNESS. The Kingdom won’t come until this is fulfilled. He was raised from the dead so that you one day will also be raised from the dead.

 

May YHWH be with you always! Have a great Resurrection Sunday.

Jesse Allen

(Yesterday we finished reading the book of Matthew and now we will be reading through the book of Acts together – one chapter a day.  Having followed Jesus’ life through one gospel account, now we will read the account of the early church and Jesus’ apostles after he ascended into heaven. Keep reading and living and sharing His Word! )

Let Me Introduce You to the Thessalonians

SUNDAY

1 Thessalonians 1-2,3

Acts 17:11  These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.

This was one of my earliest memory verses. Back in that day, we called our youth group the Bereans because we searched the scriptures daily. That’s certainly a good idea, but the verse gives the Thessaloniki (this is the modern name of the still-existing city) church a bad rap. The preceding verses in Acts show that some exciting things happened during the three weeks Paul and company ministered in this ancient city.

 

Acts 17:1   After Paul and Silas had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where there was a synagogue of the Jews. 2 And Paul went in, as was his custom, and on three sabbath days argued with them from the scriptures, 3 explaining and proving that it was necessary for the Messiah to suffer and to rise from the dead, and saying, “This is the Messiah, Jesus whom I am proclaiming to you.” 4 Some of them were persuaded and joined Paul and Silas, as did a great many of the devout Greeks and not a few of the leading women. 5 But the Jews became jealous, and with the help of some ruffians in the marketplaces they formed a mob and set the city in an uproar. While they were searching for Paul and Silas to bring them out to the assembly, they attacked Jason’s house. 6 When they could not find them, they dragged Jason and some believers before the city authorities, shouting, “These people who have been turning the world upside down have come here also, 7 and Jason has entertained them as guests. They are all acting contrary to the decrees of the emperor, saying that there is another king named Jesus.” 8 The people and the city officials were disturbed when they heard this, 9 and after they had taken bail from Jason and the others, they let them go.

 

So, while the Jews in Thessaloniki did not receive the good news about Jesus, the non-Jews did. Something very exciting happened there in a very short time, so exciting that Paul wrote this in what was his very first letter:

 

1Th. 1:1   Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy,  to the church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ:  Grace to you and peace. 2   We always give thanks to God for all of you and mention you in our prayers, constantly 3 remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. 4 For we know, brothers and sisters beloved by God, that he has chosen you, 5 because our message of the gospel came to you not in word only, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction; just as you know what kind of persons we proved to be among you for your sake. 6 And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, for in spite of persecution you received the word with joy inspired by the Holy Spirit, 7 so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia. 8 For the word of the Lord has sounded forth from you not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but in every place your faith in God has become known, so that we have no need to speak about it. 9 For the people of those regions report about us what kind of welcome we had among you, and how you turned to God from idols, to serve a living and true God, 10 and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead—Jesus, who rescues us from the wrath that is coming.

 

This week we will look at this letter to a very young church in which the word of God exploded in a life-changing way.

 

-Greg Demmitt

The Resurrection

Thursday

I Corinthians 15-26

Everything hangs in the balance with the resurrection. Whether the claims of the resurrection are true or false, the outcome has unparalleled consequences. If true, then everything Jesus said about himself, about God, and about the human condition is true. If false, billions of people have been deceived into believing a lie and Jesus turns into another great moral teacher of history and nothing more. There has been work done to provide a defense for the historicity of the resurrection. If you are curious into learning more about this go to youtube and look up William Lane Craig or Gary Habermas, concerning the resurrection. The evidence they provide for the resurrection may surprise you. It is not something we just have to take on “faith”, but there is reasonable evidence to believe Jesus really did rise from the dead. For the purposes of our devotion, I’ll assume that we hold Jesus really did rise from the dead. The resurrection of Jesus is the next aspect of the gospel that we’ll look at.

In the gospels’ accounts the only gospel message that is being preached is the kingdom of God, which we have seen from earlier this week. However, after Jesus is raised his disciples for the first time proclaim Jesus’ death and resurrection as gospel alongside the kingdom message they heard and preached with Jesus. We see this most clearly in the book of Acts:

“…this man delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put him to death. But God raised him up again, putting an end to the agony of death, since it was impossible for him to be held in its power” Acts 2.23-24

“But you disowned the holy and righteous one…[and] put to death the prince of life, whom God raised from the dead to which we are witness” – Acts 3.14-15

“Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent, because he has fixed a day in which he will judge the world through a man whom he has appointed having furnished proof to all men by raising him from the dead” – Acts 17.30-31

For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures, and that he was buried, and that he was raised on the third day, according to the scriptures” – I Cor. 15.3

The resurrection is essential for many reasons, however today we’ll review two: one, the resurrection provides evidence that Jesus was who he really said he was. And two, because Jesus was brought back to life, those who are in Christ will rise again too. Acts 17.30-31 is a great verse because in it Paul says that God has given evidence to the world that Jesus is his son because he was raised back to life! This means everything Jesus said would be true then. Jesus said he is the way, the truth, and the life, he tells us to repent and believe in the gospel, and he says he will execute judgement.  And all this is true because God raised him back to life. Why should Jesus have authority over anyone’s life? Because God raised him from the dead and made him “Lord and Christ” (Acts 2.36).

Because Jesus is alive those who are in Christ will be raised back to life:

“…he who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus…” – II Cor. 4.14

“For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first” – I Thess. 4.16

Just as Jesus’ death is essential for us to be in the presence of God, so to is the resurrection. Without the resurrection, we would die forgiven, but there would be no future hope of any kind (I Cor. 15.15-19). At the resurrection those who are in Christ will be changed and given the gift of immortality (the ability not to die), this allows us to be in the presence of God and Jesus in the kingdom:

“Now I say this, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the last trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality” – I Cor. 15.50-53

The resurrection of Jesus is the most significant event in history and it resides in the greatest message the world has to hear, the gospel.

-Jacob Rohrer

 

Turn Away and Live

Sunday

Acts 3-19

No matter who you are, everyone has a cause or topic that they are passionate about, whether it be about social concerns, politics, or sports teams. I too am zealous for a particular topic: the gospel. For many years I thought I knew about the gospel, until I attended Atlanta Bible College, where for the first time in my life I read for myself how the New Testament described the message that is central to the Christian faith. However, I soon realized that many professing Christians were confused or ignorant about the gospel that our New Testament teaches. This is the inspiration behind this week’s devotions.

The components to the gospel message are: repentance, the kingdom of God, the cross, the resurrection, and obedience. Nobody, including yourself, has to possess a full scholarly understanding of each topic, but some knowledge of each is essential. The first component we’ll look at today is repentance.

Repentance is a word not used commonly today; however, it is widespread in the Bible. To repent is turn away from an aspect of your life that is not godly and pursue God’s way. Repentance is not a feeling and it’s not something you say. Repentance is action. The very first word of Jesus’ public ministry was “repent”:

 

“From that time Jesus began to preach and say “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” – Matt. 4.17

 

“The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel” – Mk. 1.15

 

Jesus speaks of repentance elsewhere in the gospels:

 

“I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance” – Lk. 5.32

 

“I tell you in the same way, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance” – Lk. 15.7

 

“I tell you no, but unless you repent you will all likewise perish” – Lk. 13.3

 

The desire of Jesus, is for those who hear his words to repent of their sin and turn to God. Repentance is intimately tied with the kingdom of God, which we’ll look at tomorrow. The reason a person should repent is because the kingdom is coming. An event when all evil will end and evil doers will be done away with (Rev. 21.8).

 

 

Forgiveness and repentance are sometimes confused as being the same thing, however they’re not. Take for example two sermons Peter preaches in the book of Acts:

 

“Peter said to them, ‘Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the holy spirit” – Acts 2.38

 

“Therefore, repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord…” – Acts 3.19

 

In other words, forgiveness is predicated on repentance. Or to say another way, without repentance there can be no forgiveness. Forgiveness is something we can say and ask God for, while repentance is our action in response to God’s forgiveness in Christ. We can ask for forgiveness many times, but do our actions reflect the plea we make to God?

What is in your life that you need to repent from? Porn, lying, seeking validation from other people, not honoring authority, selfishness, gossip, manipulation? Pray and ask God to bring things to mind that you need turn from. God strengthens you through his spirit to turn from these things and offers forgiveness and mercy when you fail. Repentance must be a part of the gospel message that you present to someone.

-Jacob Rohrer

Boldly Be His

Saturday –

Boldly Be His & Who He Made YOU to Be!

Let’s recap who you are.

You are a new creation in Christ, created with a purpose.

You are God’s masterpiece, His poem.

You are an overcomer!

Once we begin to see who God had in mind when He created us, and we agree with Him to lean in to that (as opposed to running from it), we are then able to start living boldly for Him.

One of the dominant themes of the book of Acts is the boldness of the believers.

A short aside here:  Boldness does not mean crazy, irrational, illogical, or rude behavior.

Boldness is when we truly know something and our actions are determined by that belief.  The Greek word translated as ‘boldness’ in Acts is “parrhesia” and it conveys the idea of confidence, assurance, courage and acting without fear.

Remember Peter, who we talked about the other day.  The early Peter was characterized by bold intentions followed by timid actions.  (Example, “Hey Jesus, everyone else may abandon you but not this guy, not me.”…..Proceeds to deny knowing Jesus repeatedly).  Yeah, that guy.

BUT, not long after that, Peter preached one of the boldest messages in history and said things like, “You are a corrupt generation.  Turn from your sin, repent and get baptized!”  (Acts 3-4)

When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus. (Acts 4:13)

The word that’s translated ‘ordinary’ is the Greek word “idiotas.”

Any guesses what that means?

Yup, Peter and John were idiots.  Idiots for Christ.  So we could give the book of Acts the subtitle, “The Idiots Guide to Boldness.”

When’s the last time someone was amazed at your boldness?

I think we often put the cart before the horse when it comes to boldness.  We want so badly to be used by God, to serve, to be bold…that we run ahead.  The key is that boldness that accomplishes something, boldness that matters, comes from knowing who we were created to be.  It comes from everything we’ve been talking about this week.

Your boldness won’t mean anything if you don’t know who you are…or should I say, whose you are.

And if I can offer one bit of advice from someone a bit further down the road…this process is not quick.  As we seek Him, God reveals bits to us.  It’s a lifelong pursuit, not an assignment to check off of our to-do list.

But that’s also kind of cool.  That there’s always more to know, more ways to grow.

Praying for you to see yourself through His eyes.

-Susan Landry

 

Note:  These lessons this week were drawn from Craig Groeschel’s book, “Altar Ego”.  If you’re looking to read more on the subject, I highly recommend it.

 

What’s Yours?

Acts 24-28

purpose

Monday, June 12

 

In this section of scripture, I was most impressed with Paul’s focus on his purpose, to preach the kingdom of God and to teach the things concerning the Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 28:31) all through confrontations, imprisonments, and wild storms at sea.  Throughout these major crises, Paul kept his cool and stuck to his mission.  He saw every crowd, every Jewish leader or government official as an opportunity to share the good news.

 

Many times in our lives, we face overwhelming situations or things that aren’t fair and each time we have a decision to make.  Do you lose yourself to the circumstances that surround you or do you stay focused on your mission?  Have you made a conscious realization or decision about your purpose in life? If not, take a moment to write down and define your purpose.  Here are a few scriptures that might help:

 

Matthew 22:36-40

“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?”

And He said to him, “ ‘YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.’

“This is the great and foremost commandment.

“The second is like it, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.’

“On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.”

 

Matthew 28:19-20

Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

 

These sections of scripture give a basis for our purpose.  Love God, love your neighbor, go and preach the gospel to all creation and baptize them, and teach them all that Jesus taught.  Paul was entirely focused on this, so much so, that being accused by leaders in the Jewish community did not deter him, nor did he get shaken when the governor imprisoned and questioned him.  He still maintained his calm and focus as he appealed to Caesar.  He used each situation as an opportunity to speak truth.  I found this section to be confrontational personally because there are times when I do lose my focus.  I only see what is happening around me and start to feel overwhelmed instead of putting my attention on God and the purpose He has given me!  We have power through the holy spirit just as Paul did.

 

We can harness our minds, no matter what our situation whether it is good or bad, to accomplish our mission.  We may be unjustly accused, people may lie and scheme against us, or we may even be imprisoned or face major storms in life…but we can look beyond the surface and fulfill our purpose by loving people enough to share the gospel and spread the truth.  Go be a Paul!

-Ruth Finnegan