January 31, 2019

BIBLE READING: ACTS 7

9 And the patriarchs, moved with envy, sold Joseph into Egypt: but God was with him,
10 And delivered him out of all his afflictions, and gave him favour and wisdom in the sight of Pharaoh king of Egypt; and he made him governor over Egypt and all his house.

The “patriarchs” mentioned here were the brothers of Joseph. Here in the New Testament, we are given some history from the Old Testament. We are reminded about the life of Joseph. We learned so much from Joseph’s life, which is why he is such a large part of the Old Testament and is brought up at different times in the New Testament. Today let me just give you a quick, crash course reminder of how Joseph’s life can help you today.

JOSEPH HAD PROBLEMS
He had family that did him wrong. He had an employer that did him wrong. He had friends that did him wrong. He had people make promises that they did not keep. He had problems.

JOSEPH HAD GOD’S PRESENCE
Despite all the problems that Joseph faced, “God was with Him”. That is a reminder today, as I’m sure you may face a few problems today, that God is with you. We are never alone, and we never face anything alone.

JOSEPH HAD GOD’S PROTECTION
God “delivered him out of all his afflictions.” What is interesting, it does not say that God made it where Joseph never had to face any afflictions. Some of the afflictions Joseph not only faced but was in them for a long period of time. The passage tells us that God eventually delivered him out of all of them. It doesn’t say how, when, or where God will do it, we just know that He will. What a wonderful promise for us to remember today.

JOSEPH HAD GOD’S PROVISION
God “gave him favour”. It doesn’t matter what wrong others are trying to do to you, when God gives you favor, that overcomes everything else. Why don’t we ask for God’s favor today. Let’s live in a way where God can give that to us.

GOD GAVE JOSEPH PERSPECTIVE
God gave Joseph “wisdom in the sight of Pharaoh”. This wisdom did not change Joseph’s circumstances, it changed how Joseph viewed his circumstances. It changed how Joseph reacted to his circumstances. It changed Joseph’s attitude about his circumstances. We sure do need God’s wisdom today.

GOD GAVE JOSEPH POSITION
God “made him governor over Egypt and all his house”. Talk about God giving you victory over your circumstances. God literally put Joseph above the very ones that had done him wrong. Do you know that’s the position that you and I have in Christ? Because of Christ, we have a position above our enemies, above our circumstances, and above our problems. We are already there. We just don’t act like it sometimes. I encourage you today that God has given you a position through Christ today. God has positioned you above the things that normally bring you down.

January 30, 2019

BIBLE READING: ACTS 6

8 And Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and miracles among the people. 9 Then there arose certain of the synagogue, which is called the synagogue of the Libertines, and Cyrenians, and Alexandrians, and of them of Cilicia and of Asia, disputing with Stephen. 10 And they were not able to resist the wisdom and the spirit by which he spake.

The church in Jerusalem and grown quite a bit but had developed some issues. There were certain things in the church, especially ministering to some of the widows, that was not getting accomplished. They had some people complaining about it, so the disciples felt the need to appoint some men to do some of the visiting and serving so that the disciples could give themselves to prayer and to ministering the word of God. It is sometimes a difficult thing, as a pastor, when you have many people that all have different opinions of what they think the pastor should be doing all throughout the day. Often, they don’t see all the things that must be done, but they notice the one or two things that they feel has not been done. Regardless, they felt the need to address the issue.

These men that they appointed are the models for what we would call deacons. They were there to visit, serve, minister and to do much of the time-consuming ministering for many in the church. That way, those who’s calling it was to preach the Word, would have time to study and to pray. Stephen was one of those men, and what a man he was. Apparently, one of the responsibilities for the men that the church had appointed was to handle those who wished to argue or debate about certain things. Notice what the Bible says about Stephen:

* “they were not able to resist the wisdom and the spirit by which he spake.”

Isn’t that interesting? It doesn’t say that they were not able to resist his “logic”. It does not say that they were not able to resist his “fluency”. What they could not seem to overcome was his wisdom and his spirit. I will tell you this, wisdom is not something that Stephen could produce or come up with himself. Wisdom is not something that Stephen could educate himself enough to get. Wisdom only comes from the Lord. That only comes from spending time with God, and spending time in God’s word. Spending time in God’s Word gives you the wisdom, spending time with God gives you the right spirit. Stephen had both. I encourage you, why not get both today.

* Proverbs 4:7 Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding.

January 29, 2019

BIBLE READING: ACTS 5

34 Then stood there up one in the council, a Pharisee, named Gamaliel……….
38 And now I say unto you, Refrain from these men, and let them alone: for if this counsel or this work be of men, it will come to nought:
39 But if it be of God, ye cannot overthrow it; lest haply ye be found even to fight against God.

After all the miracles that God was using the disciples to perform, the religious leaders and Pharisees obviously became really nervous. This chapter tells us that at one point the people were literally lining the streets with sick people on beds and cots just waiting and hoping that maybe Peter would walk by and just his shadow would touch them. That is the kind of power that God had given His disciples. Knowing all these people were being healed caused the people to begin to rally behind the disciples. This made the religious leaders even madder. They were plotting to kill the disciples.

Then a man named Gamaliel stood up and said his mind. He reminded them that there were other men that claimed to be religious saviors of some sort, but as they one by one were killed, their followers disbursed never to be heard of again. His advice was to let the disciples live and see how things turned out. What he said, although with mixed agenda and motives, could not be truer. He said if the works that these men have displayed are simply worked up by the men themselves, then it would not last. How true that is. Anything that is created by the flesh, no matter how impressive it is, will not continue long. I have seen it over the years as I am sure you have also. So many people are impressed by certain individuals and organizations, only to see the fading fruits of the flesh instead of the stable stirring of the Spirit. The flesh produces immediate, quick, but temporary results.

Then he said this, “if it be of God, ye cannot overthrow it”. If it is centered on man it will die on its own, but if this is coming from God, you will never be able to stop it. What a lesson for us to remember today. We can either go out and do things on the resource of our own flesh and we will produce nothing but the illusion of substance. Or we can rely upon the Lord, follow His guidance, depend on His power, and watch God accomplish things that would be impossible for us. Gamaliel then says that if you fight against God’s work, it’s like trying to fight against God Himself. Don’t fight against God today. Don’t try to accomplish anything without God today. If you do God’s work, in God’s way, it is impossible for Satan to stop it.

January 28, 2019

BIBLE READING: ACTS 4

13 Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus.
14 And beholding the man which was healed standing with them, they could say nothing against it.

America has turned into a very cynical nation. I cannot really say that I blame people for being that way. There is a lot to be cynical about. There is so much “out there” in our day, on all ends of the spectrum, and people are confused. We believe that we have the truth, but when we share it with people, they are skeptical. And I understand why. There are some things, though, that even unsaved, unchurched people can figure out. The verse here uses the word “perceived”. It means even though they did not agree or like what Peter and John did or said, they could not argue with the result.

What can people always perceive?

1. OUR INABILITY
These people could see that they were “unlearned and ignorant men”. People can normally see right through our attempt to portray ourselves as something we are not. Now Peter and John were just being themselves here and these people could see that they were uneducated in certain things. What people can easily see is our shortcomings. It is better for you and I to simply be ourselves, admit that we are nothing without Christ, and never act like we are above anyone else.

2. GOD’S ABILITY
This passage says that when they saw the man that was healed, and they saw that he was standing there, there was nothing they could say. People can always perceive when something is of God. They might not always agree, or like it, but they can’t argue against it when it is God’s doing.

3. GODLY INTIMACY
These people, the Bible says, “marveled” because they saw that Peter and John were unlearned and ignorant, and yet they saw all the boldness and confidence that Peter and John had. They saw that their confidence was not in themselves, because they had nothing to be confident in, but they saw that they had boldness. That is when these people could tell that “they had been with Jesus“. A person can always tell if you have been with Jesus. And usually they can always tell when you haven’t. It’s hard to have boldness in Christ, when you have not spent time with Christ. I encourage you, spend some time with Jesus today.

January 25, 2019

BIBLE READING: ACTS 3

2 And a certain man lame from his mother’s womb was carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, to ask alms of them that entered into the temple; 3 Who seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple asked an alms.

I would hate to tell this man, but if you’re really wanting a handout from people, I don’t know that the church is the best place to hang out. Many times we “church people” are a little too busy to be bothered with things like that. We can cynically think of everything wrong that the person would probably use the money for. I mean we’re busy, and we have things to do. We will try hard to not make eye contact as we hurry by to go do something for the Lord. I know I’m being a bit sarcastic, but unfortunately there is an element of truth. Thankfully, Peter and John stopped to talk.

6 Then Peter said, Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk.

There is nothing we could give anyone that would be more important than to give them Jesus. And everything we do for people should always be in the name of Jesus.

8 And he leaping up stood, and walked, and entered with them into the temple, walking, and leaping, and praising God.

Isn’t that amazing? Peter and John were the ones there, the ones that talked with the man, the ones who took him by the hand, and the ones who commanded him to rise and walk. And yet as this man miraculously walked away, he was praising God. he was not praising Peter and John, he was praising God. You and I need to do everything within our power to make sure that we are not praised but that God is. He is the one that deserves it. Listen to what Peter said when people begin to come to him with admiration of the miracle:

12 And when Peter saw it, he answered unto the people, Ye men of Israel, why marvel ye at this? or why look ye so earnestly on us, as though by our own power or holiness we had made this man to walk?

“As though by our own power…we had made this man to walk”. Peter was saying not to waste one second entertaining the thought that this miracle had anything to do with Peter and John. As Peter was giving the praise to Jesus, here is what he tells them:
* 16 And his name through faith in his name hath made this man strong, whom ye see and know:

That is how miracles happen: through faith in the name of Jesus. Jesus has the power, and our faith in Jesus unleashes that power. Do you need a miracle today?

January 24, 2019

BIBLE READING: ACTS 2

22 Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know:
23 Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain:
24 Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that he should be holden of it.

Notice in this passage that it says that Jesus was a “man……. among you”. We are told that Jesus was “approved of God” and that he was “among” them. God came down to man. This word “approved” means to display, to set forth, or literally to show off. God the father was so pleased with His Son that He wanted everyone to see Jesus, and to behold Him. It is kind of like when new parents have a baby, they’re so proud to show that baby to everyone. It is also much like grandparents that simply must pull out the picture album, or nowadays pull out their phone, and show you pictures of their grandchildren. They love them, and they are proud of them, and they want to let everyone know that.

Jesus Christ, God in the flesh, the precious only begotten son of God the Father, humbled Himself to be “among” sinners like us. Now the passage takes a different direction. In verse 22, we see how God the Father was so pleased to “display” His Son. And now in verse 23, we see that He “delivered” His Son to the wrath of man to be crucified. This decision was made by God’s “determinate counsel and foreknowledge”. This means that God had ordained and planned this according to His purpose long before it happened. What was the purpose? It was the redemption of our souls. He “loosed the pains of death”. The whole purpose was centered on you and me. We were the reason.

God was pleased to “DISPLAY” Jesus, God purposed to “DELIVER” Jesus, and praise God He had the power to “DEFEAT” death, hell, and the grave. You talk about power, look what the Bible says about affect death would have on Jesus:
* “it was not possible that he should be holden of it.”

It was not even “possible” that death and the grave could have ever held Jesus. Defeating Jesus is what we would call “MISSION IMPOSSIBLE”. That is why David was quoted in this chapter when he said:
* 26 Therefore did my heart rejoice, and my tongue was glad; moreover also my flesh shall rest in hope: 27 Because thou wilt not leave my soul in hell, neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy to see corruption.