February 28, 2019

BIBLE READING: ACTS 27

40 And when they had taken up the anchors, they committed themselves unto the sea, and loosed the rudder bands, and hoised up the mainsail to the wind, and made toward shore.
41 And falling into a place where two seas met, they ran the ship aground; and the forepart stuck fast, and remained unmoveable, but the hinder part was broken with the violence of the waves.
42 And the soldiers’ counsel was to kill the prisoners, lest any of them should swim out, and escape.
43 But the centurion, willing to save Paul, kept them from their purpose; and commanded that they which could swim should cast themselves first into the sea, and get to land:
44 And the rest, some on boards, and some on broken pieces of the ship. And so it came to pass, that they escaped all safe to land.

This is a reminder that even when you serve the Lord, you will see storms. This is a reminder that even when you are in the middle of God’s will, you will face difficult times. This is also a reminder that when you are in the storms, and you face the difficult times, you can trust the Lord.

Earlier in this passage, Paul told the men on the ship that nobody would die, even though they faced a storm called Euroclydon. Paul told them to go ahead and that they would be safe as Paul tended to believe what God says. I guess an experience like Paul had on the road to Damascus convinces you to believe what God says.

It says here in verse forty-two that because the ship was getting ready to crash, the soldiers decided they would go ahead and kill the prisoners instead of risking them getting free. Paul was one of those prisoners. I love verse forty-three: “But the centurion, willing to save Paul, kept them from their purpose”. God kept his promise again.

Then the ship breaks in pieces and all of them fall in the water in different directions. The Bible says that some of them swam to safety, some of them grabbed onto boards, and some of the men grabbed onto “broken pieces of the ship”. But they were all saved. God kept His promise again. Just a reminder that there are times when God uses “broken pieces” to save us. This ship might not have been in one piece, but God used every “broken” piece to bring someone to safety. May I encourage you today, even when it seems that everything in your life is broken, God can use it somehow to keep you safe in the middle of that storm. He has promised that!

February 27, 2019

BIBLE READING: ACTS 26

4 My manner of life from my youth, which was at the first among mine own nation at Jerusalem, know all the Jews;
5 Which knew me from the beginning, if they would testify, that after the most straitest sect of our religion I lived a Pharisee.
6 And now I stand and am judged for the hope of the promise made of God unto our fathers:

It is really the same story for each of us that know Christ. There is what we were, what we are, and what we will be. What has made the change is “the hope of the promise made of God”.

Before Christ, we had no hope. Even if you were a so-called good person, you had no hope without Christ. Paul said he lived “after the most straitest sect of our religion”. He had been educated, disciplined, dedicated, and accomplished. He had followed the rules, done all the requirements, and yet he still had no hope. It is the same for you and I. We can talk all day about what we were, how good we were, or how bad we were, but either way we had no hope without Christ.

For those of us who are believers in Christ, life changed when we heard and believed a promise. Specifically, a promise from God’s word. The promise that “whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life”. A promise that “whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved”. The promise that “He will never leave us nor forsake us”.

The promises of God have changed everything. My hope is placed in Christ. My confidence is built on the fact that I trust the promises that Christ has made. Thank God I’m not what I was. Through Christ I am what I am. Praise God, I know what I am going to be, where I am going to go, and who I am going to be with. AMEN!

* John 14:1 Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. 2 In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.

February 26, 2019

BIBLE READING: ACTS 25

7 And when he was come, the Jews which came down from Jerusalem stood round about, and laid many and grievous complaints against Paul, which they could not prove.

Today is just a reminder of some things you may face as you strive to serve the Lord.

Paul had spent much of his life abusing, persecuting, and even killing Christians. It just does not seem that anybody was complaining about Paul then. Nobody had any accusations against him when he was violently, relentlessly chasing people for simply believing that Jesus Christ was the Messiah. But now that Paul was peacefully preaching the love of Jesus, now they had a problem.

They “laid many and grievous complaints against Paul”. Really? Paul was not chasing, killing, or hurting anyone. Here is a man in bad health, with little money, that was healing sickness and infirmities in people. He was helping people more than these religious leaders were, but they had “grievous complaints” against him.

Just a reminder when you serve the lord, there will be some unfair things you will face. This world does not know how to handle the truth of God’s Word. Every one of the complaints against Paul, the Bible says “they could not prove” them. There was no validity to their complaints. They literally had to come up with something, even if they had to make it up. If you watch the news, you will see exactly what happened here. It’s the same old thing. Nothing new under the sun. Satan is still using the same tactics. No truth, no validity, and no reason to come against Christ and His followers. You will hear “grievous complaints” about Christ, Christians, and any Biblical truth. If God said it, the world does not like it. Just a reminder that there will be false accusations. Just a reminder that there will be complaints that cannot be proved, and hatred that cannot be justified.

* Matthew 5:11 Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.
* Matthew 10:18 And ye shall be brought before governors and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them and the Gentiles.
* Matthew 10:39 He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.

Just a reminder not to be discouraged when it happens, because we are not home yet. “I’ve read the back of the Book, and we win”.

February 25, 2019

BIBLE READING: ACTS 24

2 And when he was called forth, Tertullus began to accuse him, saying, Seeing that by thee we enjoy great quietness, and that very worthy deeds are done unto this nation by thy providence, 3 We accept it always, and in all places, most noble Felix, with all thankfulness. 4 Notwithstanding, that I be not further tedious unto thee, I pray thee that thou wouldest hear us of thy clemency a few words.
5 For we have found this man a pestilent fellow, and a mover of sedition among all the Jews throughout the world, and a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes:

Ananias the high priest, and others, were desperate to silence Paul. They came to Felix the governor, and they called up a so called “orator” named Tertullus. He begin to try to accuse Paul, and convince Felix that Paul was dangerous. You can imagine the ridiculous, unfair scene as it all unfolds. What I found interesting is what Tertullus said about Paul:

“WE HAVE FOUND THIS MAN A PESTILENT FELLOW”
What a complement. Paul had made a pest of himself to those who had perverted religion, twisted the spiritual Law, and manipulated people. This word “pestilent” literally carries the connotation of a swarm of locusts. It seemed that Paul was everywhere. Always busy serving the Lord. Always giving it his best. Always sharing the gospel. If only you and I would make a pest of ourselves. If only we would agitate evil doers.

“WE HAVE FOUND THIS MAN……A MOVER”
In our day and time, we brag on businessman, celebrities, and politicians as the “movers and shakers” of society. Tertullus accused Paul of being a “mover”. This means that Paul changed things. He had changed the minds of those with the changed hearts. He had created quite a stir among the Jews and Gentiles. He was not a “sitter”, or a “complainer”, or a “compromiser”, he was a “mover”. Are you a “mover”? The religious leaders did not like what he was doing, but thankfully Paul was doing something.

“WE HAVE FOUND THIS MAN………A RINGLEADER”
Paul was a leader. Paul was a thermostat, while others were a thermometer. It is amazing to me how many people can be leaders in so many areas of their life, but when it comes to spiritual things, they seem to become shy. They are a leader at the Little League game, a leader at work, a leader at the club, a leader at the school PTA, a leader of the blog, a leader at Mary K, a leader at the Boy Scouts or Girl Scouts, but for some reason are not able to be a leader at church. When the Lord saved Paul, Paul determined to give God everything he had. Paul became a “ringleader” for Christ. Have people found us to be a leader in spiritual things?

February 22, 2019

BIBLE READING: ACTS 23

9 And there arose a great cry: and the scribes that were of the Pharisees’ part arose, and strove, saying, We find no evil in this man: but if a spirit or an angel hath spoken to him, let us not fight against God.
10 And when there arose a great dissension, the chief captain, fearing lest Paul should have been pulled in pieces of them, commanded the soldiers to go down, and to take him by force from among them, and to bring him into the castle.
11 And the night following the Lord stood by him, and said, Be of good cheer, Paul: for as thou hast testified of me in Jerusalem, so must thou bear witness also at Rome.

No one could ever accuse Paul of being afraid of confrontation. Of all the zeal Paul had displayed when fighting against Christ, it paled in comparison to the zeal that he displayed for Christ. The scene in this passage is utter chaos. You have the Pharisees arguing with the Sadducees, and then you have both along with the chief priest accusing Paul. Things became so violent that the chief priest was concerned that Paul would be torn to pieces. Let me stop right here and make a comment. These are supposed to be religious men, the so-called spiritual leaders. What a testimony for religious men. Arguing, fighting, and shoving. Unfortunately, sometimes Christians do not act like Christians. Sometimes men of God are not very godly men.

As Paul is taken into the residence of the chief priest, we have an intimate look at the love, compassion, and concern of our Lord. “The night following the Lord stood by him.” I’m not sure why, but when you are facing trials in your life, nighttime is the hardest. Maybe because everything has stopped, and you have nothing but time to think about the situation. It feels as if everyone else is sleeping while you are troubled with your trials. But if you dive into God’s Word, and call out in desperation to Him, that is the time when you feel the Lord quietly slipping His comforting arms around your confused heart and mind. That is when you experience firsthand that the Lord ‘stands by you’. That is when you have the sweet times of fellowship with the Great Comforter.

Here is Paul at night. No one else is with him except for Satan and the Savior. Isn’t it great to know that wherever we are the Lord is there with us? I’m sure Satan was recalling to Paul’s mind how much better it was to be on the other end of persecution. How cushioned Paul’s life was, and how awarded he was for his accomplishments. And what had all this becoming a believer done? It had landed him in a mess. I’m sure Satan had a long list of things that he was passionately trying to proclaim to Paul. Meanwhile, the Lord had a precise yet powerful proclamation of His own. “Be of good cheer, Paul.” I think even as meaningful as what the Lord has to say, is the fact that He is there to say it. We are never alone. He’s always with us. Paul I’m sure recalled the suffering that Stephen went through as he remained faithful, and I’m sure Paul even rehearsed the suffering that Jesus went through on the cross. Surely Paul could stay faithful through this. I encourage you today, whatever trials you are facing, “be of good cheer”.

February 21, 2019

BIBLE READING: ACTS 22

19 And I said, Lord, they know that I imprisoned and beat in every synagogue them that believed on thee:
20 And when the blood of thy martyr Stephen was shed, I also was standing by, and consenting unto his death, and kept the raiment of them that slew him.
21 And he said unto me, Depart: for I will send thee far hence unto the Gentiles.

Paul was giving a “defense” to the chief captain there in Jerusalem after he had been arrested. Everyone had begged Paul not to go because of the dangers he would face, but Paul went anyway, and Paul was arrested. As Paul was giving his testimony to everyone that was gathered, he recalls something and someone that had impacted his life greatly before he became a follower and minister of Christ. He speaks of the murder of Stephen.

Paul was on top of the world at that time. He was a successful enforcer of spiritual law. He had created havoc in the early church, persecuting and imprisoning Christians. Paul had quite a reputation. All the followers of Christ feared his total commitment to the cause of capturing believers. Paul could not be stopped. That is, until he was traveling the road to Damascus. And then Paul came face-to-face with God. As Paul was humbled and changed by the grace of God, he was also impacted by the death of Stephen. Paul was there in person and witnessed as Stephen was murdered for the cause of Christ. Paul was pushing for his death as much as anyone. Paul even kept Stephen’s garment as a trophy that day. But there was something about that dedicated, humble servant of God, Stephen. Paul saw something real in him that deep down he knew was not in himself. Now, after all that has happened, Paul is the one now bound and testifying of Christ to others.

Paul was a living example of a heart that was changed. Paul was a living example of a mind that was changed. Paul was a living example of a life that was changed. Just imagine the change from cheering on the death of a Christian, to being willing to give your life for the cause of Christ. What kind of change has God brought into your life? How far has the Lord brought you? It would do us all good to remember today all that the Lord has done in our lives. Paul says, in verse 19, that he told the Lord all the bad that he had done, and yet the Lord in verse 21 calls Paul to take the gospel to the Gentiles. May we thank God today that he takes us from where we were and changes us into what he wants us to be. That’s why the Bible calls it “so great salvation”.