February 15, 2019

BIBLE READING: ACTS 18

SERVING GOD TOGETHER
Acts 18:
1 After these things Paul departed from Athens, and came to Corinth;
2 And found a certain Jew named Aquila, born in Pontus, lately come from Italy, with his wife Priscilla; (because that Claudius had commanded all Jews to depart from Rome:) and came unto them.
3 And because he was of the same craft, he abode with them, and wrought: for by their occupation they were tentmakers.
18 And Paul after this tarried there yet a good while, and then took his leave of the brethren, and sailed thence into Syria, and with him Priscilla and Aquila; having shorn his head in Cenchrea: for he had a vow.

Aquila and Priscilla were tent makers. Paul had spent time in that occupation, so God immediately gave Paul a connection with them. This is an interesting couple. We don’t hear anything of them having children. I don’t know if that means that they never had children, or if they’re just not mentioned. This couple gradually became more and more dedicated to the Lord. I notice something admirable about them.

THEY WENT WHERE GOD SENT
They had already been uprooted from Rome, which was their home. They were kind of what we would call refugees. Claudius had kicked all the Jewish people out of Rome. They had just put down roots in Corinth. They had just begun to build a life and business there. They were just becoming successful, but when they met Paul, they saw that there was a need to help him in his ministry. So, we find Paul heading out on his journey and Priscilla and Aquila by his side. May we be willing to drop everything and go where God sends us.

THEY WERE HOSPITABLE
26 And he began to speak boldly in the synagogue: whom when Aquila and Priscilla had heard, they took him unto them…
There was a man name Apollos that was preaching in the synagogue. The Bible says that when Aquila and Priscilla heard him, they invited him to their house and showed him hospitality. Why is that?

THEY WERE WILLING TO DISCIPLE OTHERS
“They took him unto them and expounded unto him the way of God more perfectly.” They wanted to help Apollos learn even more about the Word of God and help him to become a greater witness for the Lord. They saw potential, and they wanted to further that. May you and I desire to invest our time to disciple. Is there anyone you could make an effort to disciple a little bit today?

February 14, 2019

BIBLE READING: ACTS 17

2 And Paul, as his manner was, went in unto them, and three sabbath days reasoned with them out of the scriptures,
3 Opening and alleging, that Christ must needs have suffered, and risen again from the dead; and that this Jesus, whom I preach unto you, is Christ.
4 And some of them believed, and consorted with Paul and Silas; and of the devout Greeks a great multitude, and of the chief women not a few.

“REASONED WITH THEM OUT OF THE SCRIPTURES”
Paul had established a habit in his life. His “manner” was to always discuss spiritual matters with people by opening God’s Word, and seeing what God had to say about things.

He had a habit of “OPENING” God’s Word. So often we use our own reasoning, our own experience, and our own knowledge to try to convince people of spiritual truth. That never seems to work. And if it does work, it will only be temporary. But when we use God’s Word, it makes all the difference. Why? Because God’s Word is alive, and sharp, and powerful as a two-edged sword. It pierces even to the dividing asunder of a person’s soul and a person’s spirit.

He had a habit of “REASONING” out of God’s Word. Paul would study it, and figure it out, and learn how to make things clear. Paul would not only use God’s Word, he would explain God’s Word, and then let God‘s Word do the changing. That is what you and I should be doing.

He had a habit of “ALLEGING” the truth of God’s Word. This word means to literally present something to someone else, to commit to someone, to literally lay something in front of someone. Paul would lay out the truth of God’s Word to individuals and leave it with them. What was the truth that he laid out? “That Christ must needs have suffered, and risen again from the dead; and that this Jesus, whom I preach unto you, is Christ.” Paul would present the gospel clearly from God’s Word, and leave it to the individual, and let God‘s Word work on them. What was the result? “Some of them believed…a great multitude, and of the chief women not a few.” Notice not everyone believed, but many did. May you and I be faithful to “reason from the scriptures”. May we open it, teach it, and share it.

February 13, 2019

BIBLE READING: ACTS 16

14 And a certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple, of the city of Thyatira, which worshipped God, heard us: whose heart the Lord opened, that she attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul.
15 And when she was baptized, and her household, she besought us, saying, If ye have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come into my house, and abide there. And she constrained us.

There are some things we need to learn from Lydia, not only that affect our life, but the lives of our “household”:

SHE HAD OPEN EARS
“And a certain woman named Lydia…..heard us”. We must be willing to listen. We must be willing to hear instruction. We must be willing to admit that maybe we need to change some things. Being a preacher, I often experience people that just will not hear. It’s not that they do not have ears, it’s just that they do not listen. Lydia’s life was changed by the truth she heard, and the most important thing is that she was willing to hear it.

SHE HAD AN OPEN HEART
“Whose heart the Lord opened”. She was willing to change. She was willing to hear instruction and humble enough to apply instruction. When God gets our hearts, He gets our wallets, our future, our plans, our resources, and our homes. When God gets our heart, He gets everything.

SHE HAD AN OPEN MIND
“She attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul.” This Greek word “attended” means to hold the mind towards, to pay attention to, be cautious about, to apply oneself to, to adhere to. So many people hear the truth, know that it’s right, know that they need to change, and yet never decide to do it. Somehow in their mind, they never really obey.

SHE HAD AN OPEN HOME
15 And when she was baptized, and her household, she besought us, saying, If ye have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come into my house, and abide there. And she constrained us.
Notice the way she treated the disciples is exactly how our home should treat the Lord. Our home should be a place where God is INVITED. She said, “come into my house”. Our home should be a place where God INDWELLS. She said, “abide there”. She wanted them to stay. Not just visit temporarily but to stay. That’s how we should feel about the Lord. Our home should be a place where God is IMPORTANT. This passage says she “constrained” them. That means she would not let them go. The most important thing in her life was for them to teach her the truth. We should “constrain” Christ today to be in every aspect of our life. Do not let Him leave!

February 12, 2019

BIBLE READING: ACTS 15

7 And when there had been much disputing, Peter rose up, and said unto them, Men and brethren, ye know how that a good while ago God made choice among us, that the Gentiles by my mouth should hear the word of the gospel, and believe.
8 And God, which knoweth the hearts, bare them witness, giving them the Holy Ghost, even as he did unto us;
9 And put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith.
10 Now therefore why tempt ye God, to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear?
11 But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved, even as they.

THERE WILL ALWAYS BE DISPUTING
If you and I think we will go through life and never find people that disagree with us, we are in for a surprise. As convinced as we are of something and cannot see how anyone could feel differently about it, people will have different viewpoints. As Christians, we need to learn how to disagree with each other, and yet not divide each other.

GOD MAKES THE DECISIONS
“God made choice among us”. I have my opinion, you have your opinion, and God’s opinion is the only one that matters. While everyone was arguing, Peter stood up and reminded them of what God had decided.

GOD KNOWS THE HEARTS
Well, the men were bringing up all the differences between each other, Jew and Gentile, Peter was bringing up the one thing we all have in common. God knows our heart. We do not know our heart, and we do not know the heart of our brother, but God does. We tend to look on the outside, but God looks on the inside. We tend to focus on the surface of something, but God looks at the heart of something.

WE ARE TO REST IN GRACE, NOT BE BURDENED BY YOKES
These men were trying to require the Gentiles, who had become believers, to be circumcised now that they were believers. As if some traditional work would complete their salvation. Peter explains to them that it would be unnecessary for them to put a yoke on these men that would be unbearable. He was speaking of the requirements of the law. It was not necessary. Peter said neither you nor your fathers have been able to keep the law, why make them try. We can all have our opinions, but we cannot add to or take away from salvation. Isn’t it just like us to take it personal? Just be the same and try not to change them and make them into what we think they should be. Peter said, “we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved”. Amen!

February 11, 2019

BIBLE READING: ACTS 14

1 And it came to pass in Iconium, that they went both together into the synagogue of the Jews, and so spake, that a great multitude both of the Jews and also of the Greeks believed.
2 But the unbelieving Jews stirred up the Gentiles, and made their minds evil affected against the brethren.
3 Long time therefore abode they speaking boldly in the Lord, which gave testimony unto the word of his grace, and granted signs and wonders to be done by their hands.
4 But the multitude of the city was divided: and part held with the Jews, and part with the apostles.

Whenever God is doing something great, there’s always individuals that are used by Satan to discourage and to divide. I absolutely believe that saved people cannot be demon possessed. I do believe that a Christian can be demon “oppressed”, but not “possessed”. However, there have been many times where I have seen Satan use even God’s people, to discourage those that are doing God’s will. Satan will use believers and nonbelievers if they let him. Here in this passage, “unbelieving” Jews had stirred up the Gentiles. We are given more detail of what that means. It means that they had “made their minds evil affected against the brethren”. That word “affected” literally means in the Greek to “injure”. Through their words and influence, they had literally brought an evil injury to the minds of many of the people. In verse four, we are told the result of that. The city became “divided”. So, in verse two and verse four, we see that these unbelievers DISTRACTED, DAMAGED, and DIVIDED a city against The Lord.

Here is our challenge for today. First, please don’t let anyone or anything injure your mind with wrong words, wrong thoughts, the wrong attitude, the wrong spirit, and the wrong way of thinking. It can happen. Before you realize it, your mind has been injured. The wrong people can get you stirred up about things that had not been issues till they brought it up. Then they affect the way you think and poison your psychological processing. Suddenly, you find yourself divided, confused, and unstable. You now don’t like people that you always loved. You now question the agenda of people you’ve always trusted. In the meantime, God is trying to do a work in your life and in the lives of those around you and junk like this always squelches it.

Second, please make sure that you are not the kind of person that injures the mind of others with your wrong words, thoughts, or attitude. Make sure that you don’t cause division in a church, a group, or a family because of your negative, cynical, prideful opinion. Would it not be horrible to be an individual that somehow brought division to a group that God was trying to unify. Wouldn’t it be horrible to damage the mind of an individual that God was trying to reach. Wouldn’t it be horrible to distract someone with our negative input that God is trying to build for His glory. That would be heart breaking.

February 08, 2019

BIBLE READING: ACTS 13

2 As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them.
3 And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away.
4 So they, being sent forth by the Holy Ghost, departed unto Seleucia; and from thence they sailed to Cyprus.

This is the church at Antioch. This church was blessed with some amazing, godly men. Every church needs men like these. Notice first that “they ministered to the Lord”. It does not say here and that they ministered “for” the Lord. Obviously in all that they did, they were all involved in ministering for the Lord but even more importantly, they took time to minister “to” the Lord. What does this mean? This word “ministered” means that they “worshipped” The Lord. You and I need to learn something from this. Our “worship of God” is literally our “ministry to God”. We always think of “ministry” as that which we do for other people, but literally you and I have a ministry to the Lord Himself, and that ministry is our worship.

Secondly, we see that they fasted. This was a regular, vital part of their life. It should be to ours also. Notice that they worshipped, fasted, prayed, and then God called Paul and Barnabas to the ministry of church planting. It is no coincidence that God always seems to call men that are already serving. God calls men that are already praying. God seems to call the men that are already sold out to Him. These men didn’t get called to the ministry and then suddenly decide that they needed to get serious about the Lord, and start praying and fasting. Notice in verse two that we are told that God had called Barnabas and Saul for the “work” that He had called them to. It did not say the fun, the comfort, the salary, or the popularity He called them to. It is “work” that God has called us to.

Finally, notice the protocol that was followed in this chapter. The men prayed, fasted, and worshiped, then God called them. After God called them, they prayed, fasted and worshiped. Then they took off on their journey to serve the Lord, and you will find through the rest of their ministry that they regularly prayed, fasted and worshipped. The result is that in verse four, they were sent forth “by the Holy Ghost”. We have enough mama called, people called, family called, and popularity called men. Those that really make a difference are “Holy Ghost called”.

These were just a bunch of men that had been saved by the grace of God, and decided that God is worthy to be worshiped, that they would be committed enough to pray, and that they were desperate enough to start fasting. God took it from there.