Wednesday, December 29, 2010

In the Shadow of Thy Wings


Recently, we flew to New England for the holidays. After all the hustle bustle of the week, sitting way up miles above the earth flying seemingly suspended and motionless, it was like somebody had pressed the mute button on the clatter of the holidays. Flying is something I enjoy. Amazingly you can fly through the skies (in this case the friendly skies) with a pilot that puts it all in motion and a fuselage that protects one from the elements and balances the pressure so we don't explode as we climb into areas of thin air.  The pilot gets direction and instruction from the airport tower ( I like to listen to the pilot channel on the head phones during flight to hear the conversation back and forth between the pilot and the tower). It is really a great analogy on God's provision for us in providing His son the pilot and indwelling spirt of God. Not that the inside of the plane is exactly like the throne room of God. but it offers a relatable analogy.

It really was through God's provision of His son that we can claim the wings of God.
In Acts 3 Peter explained it to the Judeans what was  newly available from God from the day of Pentecost.
Acts 3:19 (Amplified Bible) So repent (change your mind and purpose); turn around and return [to God], that your sins may be erased (blotted out, wiped clean), that times of refreshing (of recovering from the effects of heat, of reviving with fresh air) may come from the presence of the Lord; 
The same thing is true for us today.  When we acknowledge the final sacrifice for sins in Jesus Christ and that the victory of that sacrifice emerged as  he rose from the dead, we are ushered into the times of refreshing in the presence of a very loving God that we love to turn to. Like the psalmist said in Psalm 36:7:
How excellent is thy lovingkindness, O God! therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of thy wings.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Ok It's Crunch Time! Joy Joy Joy!

Don't worry, be happy! Our culture has concocted all this hoopla! The fresh smell of pine and chestnuts roasting on the fire have become symbols of the good life! Yet this is the time of the year you see people who are tired, stressed and maybe a tad bit isolated. Even gift-giving frenzy has moved to a new level. We get daily reports of how the sales are going and influencing the economy. If you are frustrated you haven't found the right gift yet or  feel enticed to spend a lot of money to get it right, stop! Whoa Rudolf!


I have talked with several wonderful people this week about "purpose" in life and what it is.  These same people are some of the most purposeful people I know. They have blessed my life in so many ways and they will continue to do so forever. I am surrounded by some of the most enjoyable people and family to be around. They love God, they don't limit Him; they think outside the box. They just know the moment to call, post a link on Facebook, or throw a snowball on Farmville or remind me to feed the sheep! They invite me to Starbucks and shopping, help me land a volunteer job at the local college, or quote Kenyon and Psalm 119 to me. They send notes about what  friendship means. They listen when I am excited about something and add their own excitement. They help me figure out plans for the holidays. They bring over the cutest little kids to play with. They send me pictures of rainbows that remind me how big God is. They tell  the truth and love in the best way possible. These are the greatest gifts.


Ok,  Jesus Christ was actually born on September 11, 3 BC. It was in December the magi visited. Those are true points. What he brought was his "purpose" in life and is the most important point to get. He said it himself:
John 10:10b I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.
We can abundantly live blessing others in the most significant ways, just being who God called us to be and not being afraid that we are doing something wrong.  In Micah 6:6-8, God says:
Wherewith shall I come before the LORD, and bow myself before the high God? shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves of a year old? Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams, or with ten thousands of rivers of oil? shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?
Now that is "purpose"!  

                                                         

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Who Are Those Guys? Very Wise Men!

Who were the wisemen? It was the the magi who figured out exactly where to find the child, Jesus.  How did they know who he was, when the political and religious leaders of the day didn't realize who he was? It is interesting that these men who were 'Gentiles' saw a pattern in the stars and saw  significant events involving the planet Jupiter and knew to follow it's path to Judea. They were astronomers. Astronomy can be a precise science when it pertains to the motions of the planets and position of the stars in relation to the earth night time sky.

Magi were advisors to the oriental kings. They carried tremendous power and influence in there own kingdoms, that often they were influential in the designation of a king. We can read about them during the time of Daniel when certain ones of Judea were carried away captive to Babylon and became part of the Persian court where the magi served. Daniel exhibited tremendous spiritual insight as he listened to God and spoke for Him among these people. The king respected and gave glory to the God of Daniel and made him president over the magi. Daniel would have taught them the Word concerning a coming Messiah. Daniel had a huge impact on these men as they watched him believe God in some very severe challenges.

Several years ago, I taught Astronomy at the local high school and the deeper I got into studying the stars and planet motions I knew there was no accidental design involved in their display. It is  a truly humbling experience. I imagine those magi saw and understood the same thing. Can you imagine the great conversations with Daniel they had. It must have been exceedingly rich interaction.

On one occasion at an Astronomy teacher's conference, someone asked about the Bethlehem star. At that moment we were looking at a computer program that could come up with the exact replica of the night time sky, once you programmed in latitude, longitude and a range of dates. So I told the computer operator to type in August/September  3BC over Bethlehem and up came a representation of the sky  around the time of Jesus Christ's birth.  The sky spoke for itself. There had been a couple of beautiful conjunctions involving the constellation Leo (the king constellation) and Regulus (king star in the constellation located between the feet of Leo the lion) and the planet Jupiter (the king planet). It was beautifully represented!

It is also beautifully spoken of in the Word in Genesis 49:9-10
Genesis 49:9-10 Judah is a lion's whelp: from the prey, my son, thou art gone up: he stooped down, he couched as a lion, and as an old lion; who shall rouse him up? The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be.
God is the designer of the universe. In Psalm 147:4, the psalmist says:
He telleth the number of the stars; he calleth them all by their names.
Who were the magi? They not only journeyed to see him, they also provided wonderful gifts to support the new king. I'd say they were very humble, respectful men of action.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Fellowship

Recently, we welcomed a large number of friends and family into our home for a family celebration.  There were some people that were there that we had met at various showers and weddings that I didn’t know very well. I was pretty busy taking care of putting out food, answering the door,  refilling coffee etc, so I did not have much time for the proverbial chitchat. As the party started to wind down and people started leaving, I walked a woman to the door and talked to her as she gathered up her children. It wasn’t a very long conversation, but the gist of it was about how much we have to be thankful to God for! It was instant friendship! How quickly and easily friendships are started on, “We have a lot to be thankful for!”

The book of Acts is a book about the life in the first century. In it’s records are snapshot views into people lives after Jesus Christ’s ascension to the right hand of God.  Even the last 40 days of his presence on earth was remarkable (and you can imagine how many people were remarking to each other about all that had happened!) He died, arose, walked around for 40 days and took off. Then to top it off, a phenomenal event happened on the annual feast of the day of Pentecost in the temple with the 12 who were left behind along with all the others who had followed him. At the end of the second chapter of Acts we see a summation of how some people handled it. (See 'Fellowship' in 'Digging Deeper')
Acts 2:46b-47a They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. (NIV 2010)
Thankful people are thankful for thankful people. Thankful people like to hang around thankful people.
Acts 2:47b And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.
It is not hard to understand, I like thankful people, especially people who are thankful and recognize how God has truly blessed them.

In the book of Galatians some of the first century citizens lost sight of this and Paul wrote to remind people who love God about this thankfulness in their dealings others. The Galatians had forgotten God's abundant grace and had focused on their  works, judgement, and lofty comparisons. Paul reminded them that it is God's love that we love each other with.
Galatians 6:10 (Amplified Bible)So then, as occasion and opportunity open up to us, let us do good [morally] to all people [not only being useful or profitable to them, but also doing what is for their spiritual good and advantage]. Be mindful to be a blessing, especially to those of the household of faith [those who belong to God's family with you, the believers].
God's family is huge! We don't have time to be anything but thankful!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Unity of the Spirit

When Jesus was alive he said  “I and my Father are one” and then later prayed in John 17: 20-21; 
Neither pray I for these [apostles] alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.
 Paul later taught in regards to the unity of the spirit of God:
Ephesians 3:4-6There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.
In the first century, life was physically very different from the life we know today. Yet the major happening on the day of Pentecost right after the ascension of Jesus Christ brought the unity of the spirit of God into the lives of willing people. Peter was the first to speak about what had happened. He did not have the whole picture yet but what God showed him he shared. The people had gathered from all across the known world at that time to celebrate one of three yearly feasts.  Jerusalem had a huge population at this time of the year. Many of the people who responded to Peter’s magnificent sermon drastically changed their lives.
Acts 2:41-47 Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. And they continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. And fear [respect] came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles. And all that believed were together, and had all things common; And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need. And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.
 Our culture is different today, but the unity of the spirit is the same. We don’t travel to the temple in Jerusalem to the feasts. We now have a written record of the apostle’s doctrine. We have the seven church epistles by Paul explaining the gift of holy spirit and what we are to think and do about it. We too can praise God and share in God’s grace in one  with the thinking of the first century church!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

What difference does it make if you’re a dork? What difference does it make if you are Joe Cool? We were all given access to the same measure of faith by way of Jesus Christ.  A new cable line was laid down on the day of Pentecost in the arrival of holy spirit when God poured out His very essence to those who believed. It doesn’t matter how old, what nationality or culture you are, whether you are male or female, or even whether you are a democrat or republican. Believers have high speed access to God.

Just look at the record of that notable day way back in 3 BC.
Acts 2:5-13 And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven. Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language. And they were all amazed and marvelled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galilaeans? And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born? Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and in Judaea, and Cappadocia, in Pontus, and Asia, Phrygia, and Pamphylia, in Egypt, and in the parts of Libya about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes, Cretes and Arabians, we do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God. And they were all amazed, and were in doubt, saying one to another, What meanest this?
Almost two months prior to the day of Pentecost, the veil in the temple had been ripped open from top to bottom (Who did that? Think about it, top to bottom?) I’m sure people had questions about that!.
Exodus 26:33 And thou shalt hang up the vail under the taches, that thou mayest bring in thither within the vail the ark of the testimony: and the vail shall divide unto you between the holy place and the most holy.
It takes looking at the fine details in the Word like the torn veil, the multitude gathered at the day of Pentecost, to see the perfection of God’s communication of His heart and of His desire to have fellowship with man. Believing God comes from looking at the Word.
Since that day of Pentecost a person who chooses to believe is no longer isolated from the presence of God. Prior to that event, only the high priest could enter into the holy of holies. Now every believer regardless of his credentials has the right to enter into the holiest of holies. Why would anyone lack confidence or feel inferior with that kind of privilege! It doesn’t matter who or what we are, people who believe can confidently walk and help others in our own unique way because the spirit of God within. 



Saturday, November 27, 2010

Godly Teamwork - The Mystery

How many books, plaques, posters, cards and conferences are devoted to team-building?  Everybody has a theory on building a team, maintaining a team and making it more effective. Teamwork is such a common thread in our lives, we all ought to be  experts at it. I have been on curriculum teams, staff development teams, class teams, sports teams, political teams and many leadership teams. It takes a team to do a baby shower, raise a family, plan a wedding, run a home, grocery shop and worship God. You name it, everything involves teamwork.

On the day of Pentecost, 12 men sat down on their prayer rugs in a temple and manifested power that only God could give, holy spirit. It was the full measure of the spirit that Christ had and each man had an equal amount. Then Peter standing up gave one of the most significant sermons in the history of the world and said at the end:
Acts 2:38-39 Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the LORD our God shall call.
What started in the lofty temple on the hill in 12 men moved into everyday life in people who gladly received and became a part of the body of Christ. This team (homothumadon link) has the potential of being the most effective team on the face of the earth. God supplies the juice. People make it happen together.
Ephesians 3:16-20 That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man;That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God. Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us,
If people would just believe that God called each one of us uniquely, we would surely walk in the power and spirit of God. There would not be manipulation, power struggles, gossip and the damaging comparisons that go on in an uncommitted team. This group of people that emerged out of Pentecost were excited and motivated. They didn't understand completely what it all meant but as we will see as the book of Acts unfolds, many new and exciting revelations emerged as they started to effectively live and breathe in the new grace administration.

Friday, November 19, 2010


How many legs does a dog have if you call the tail a leg? Four. Calling a tail a leg doesn't make it a leg. ~Abraham Lincoln

Calling something God doesn’t necessarily make it God. The true God committed himself to His Word. His Word IS Him!
John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  
Jesus Christ showed us God by living His Word.
John 1:18 No man hath seen God at any time, the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him. 
On the day of Pentecost, God sent His spirit to reside in the apostles and it resulted in a manifestation in the senses world.
Acts 2:33 Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this (in broad daylight!), which ye now see and hear. 
Now it’s our turn:
Philippians 2:13-16 For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure. Do all things without murmurings and disputings (really, what do we have to complain about?): That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world; Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain. 
We’ve got God, His Word, Jesus Christ, and holy spirit. We’ve got four legs to stand firmly upon. There are others today who are one accord with what happened on the day of  Pentecost to the twelve apostles  and the three thousands souls that were with them....
Acts 2:1 And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord (homothumadon) in one place. 
We can drop the murmuring and disputing and wag our tails about that!!!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Choice

Judas traveled with the apostles after the resurrection of Jesus Christ.  When the gospels were finally written many years later, God refers to him as a betrayer more than 26 times. It is also recorded in Luke and John that the adversary had a hold of his thinking.  He covenanted with the chief priests whom Jesus had confronted. He spoke up about the precious oil poured on Jesus saying that the money which could have been gotten for it could help the poor. Judas traveled with Jesus and saw the many things that he did for people, healing, blessing, teaching, boldly proclaiming freedom for anyone who believed.  What was the matter with Judas!! Why does anybody refuse to see good? (I'm not going to answer that.)

Yes, he betrayed Jesus Christ and even  when he saw Jesus Christ up and alive, he still chose another path. None of us can judge the heart of a man.  It is the in Lordship of Jesus Christ that men and women exhibit their fruit.  Judas could have turned his life around and done what Jesus Christ said in Acts 1:8.
But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.
Instead he chose his own path again and that was it. I don't know why. Whatever his reasons were, the power of God was made available to anyone who believed. Paul spells it out in Romans 10:
Romans 10:9-10 (Amplified) Because if you acknowledge and confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and in your heart believe (adhere to, trust in, and rely on the truth) that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart a person believes (adheres to, trusts in, and relies on Christ) and so is justified (declared righteous, acceptable to God), and with the mouth he confesses (declares openly and speaks out freely his faith) and confirms [his] salvation. 
It is a free-will choice.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

New Testament Reformation

True reformation occurred because of the death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ. When one looks back at the gospels, it can be seen that Jesus Christ lived the Word as it was to be lived and God's desire for fellowship on a personal level was realized. He brought life into the temple not because of it's grandeur and symbolic history, but because of who he was. Whether he was in a home outside of Jerusalem, on the shores of the sea of Galilee, or traveling around Judea, that life was manifested.

Jesus Christ's ascension to the right hand of God brought in a new direction for people who love God. Acts is the historical record of the change from the old to the new as recorded by Luke. The apostles couldn't put together what had happened or where they were headed. Jesus Christ began showing them the direction in Acts 1:8
Acts 1:6-8 When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel? And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power. But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.
When Jesus Christ sent them out during the gospel period, they had the power upon them to carry out great works.  It had amazed them then, but now  permanent spiritual power was soon to be made available to them,to do even greater works.  They would be given spiritual authority. The day of Pentecost gave them what they needed to realize this power, holy spirit in each one of them.
John 14:12Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father. 
His ascension to the right hand of God secured the release of holy spirit through which anyone who believed could enter into the throne room of God. and have full access to creator for themselves and in helping others. We are privileged to be living in this new testament (see link)of God.









Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Influence

The apostle Paul is a great example of one of the greatest leaders of human history. (Read Ephesians if  you doubt this) In the course of his life he became more and more committed to God's infinite grace. He understood the way, Jesus Christ, and as a result grew to be one of the great influences in Christianity. He was a leader in the true sense of the Word (no pun intended). His leadership qualities of continuing to 'press toward the mark' drove his growth. The mark was the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. Paul's heart was:
Philippians 3:10-14 That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead. Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. 
A lot of books have been written on leadership in the hopes of isolating a set pattern to identify with. 'Leader' does not mean the same as a manager.  A manager maintains and directs the status quo. 'Leader' does not mean the same as head 'honcho' or 'super brain' or 'front man'. Leadership is not  necessarily positional.   A leader may not be a great salesman.  Salesmanship sells the moment, leadership instills enduring growth in others (Read Ephesians again!). A true leader is hardly aware of the tag 'leader' in his life. He is not a leader for the sake of being a leader, he is way too busy going somewhere.  Paul is a great example.

In the Old Testament, Israel was always looking for a King. Lots of problems resulted. It was not God's heart to set up a monarchy. Theocracy (God's in charge) was His first choice! Paul was not a king.  What position did he hold? At the end of his life he had absolutely no title! He only wanted to share his love for God and what God wrought through Jesus Christ.  The New Testament is quite different from the Old Testament.


The book of Acts tells the story of the growth of the 1st Century church as it matured and grew from the momentous day of Pentecost endued with the power of God. Men and women rose up to influence their day and time with the power of God as a vital part of their resume. The book of Acts ends with Paul in Rome:

Acts 28:30-31 And Paul dwelt two whole years in his own hired house, and received all that came in unto him, Preaching the kingdom of God, and teaching those things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ, with all confidence, no man forbidding him.
There are no more chapters in the book of Acts, but the ones we write today as we believe. As we read through the history of the first century church it points us in the direction of the seven church epistles written by Paul that tell us how to live with the same heart today.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Uttermost?


The book of Acts is a descriptive history of what happened after the ascension of Jesus Christ. When Jesus Christ walked the face of the earth he was involved with Israel. What would his disciples do after he left? He prepared them:
Acts 1:8 But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.
Their lives were going to extend farther geographically and culturally. They would receive from God spiritual ability to reach out far beyond the boundaries of Judaism. Every person who believed, believes or will eventually believe would be strengthened by the spirit of God within to carry it out. 
1 Corinthians 2:7-8 But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory:Which none of the princes (spiritual opposition) of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. 
Jesus Christ could only be in one place at one time. After the day of Pentecost, people with 'Christ in' could be anywhere! It started out in Jerusalem then Samaria and Judea and later, we find centers of outreach in Antioch, Asia Minor, Europe and eventually Rome. What does that mean for us today? Rome was not the uttermost part of the earth! Jesus Christ used a truly inspiring phrase in Acts 1:8: 'the uttermost part of the earth'! That is us today in ways that could hardly be imaginable in the New Testament time. They didn't have airplanes, buses or trains then. There were no cell phones (let alone telephones), printing presses, tv, radio, blogs, facebook, skype and whatever is coming next!

Blogger has a new data map that shows in what places someone has read your blog. I looked at my data map and was amazed. Here's a list: United Kingdom, Brazil, Japan, Poland, Ukraine, Finland, Taiwan, Burundi, Canada, Vietnam and the United States. (Burundi? I had to look this one up. It is in the middle of Africa!) On another list the Philippines, Australia, France, UAE, Latvia, Morocco and Russia showed up! I'm not sure how far uttermost is, but I guess when I get one from Antarctica, that will be close to uttermost. Who would have guessed it back in the first century?

Monday, October 18, 2010

'No Respecter of Persons'

‘All roads lead to Rome’ is common phrase used today in our culture.  It’s origin stems back to the time of the great Roman empire that was flourishing at the time of the Book of Acts. It was the time of Pax Romana.  Augustus Caesar set up a secure and functioning framework of government that provided for a strong centralized government while allowing independent governance in local areas. The strength of the central government provided safety, transportation, and prosperity through abundant safe trade routes and laws that protected the Roman citizen. The apostle Paul was a Roman citizen and it was advantageous to him when he encountered persecution for his beliefs.

In addition to the Roman civilization, Greek and Hebrew cultures contributed to the atmosphere and efficacy of the evolvement of the first century church. Naturally the Hebrew religion was a vital part of the changes made in moving from the Old Testament to the New Testament. The Greeks added language, communication, intellectual qualities and navigation to help the spread of the Word. Three uniquely different cultures provided the fertile ground for the seeds of the new administration that was ushered in after Pentecost.

The book of Acts opens in Jerusalem and closes in Rome. Chapters one and two which describe the ascension and day of Pentecost occurred in 28 AD. The record of the book of Acts ends between 61AD and 64 AD. The burning of Rome by Nero occurred in 64 AD.  The time span of the book is 33-36 years.

The new church in the New Testament was made up of people; not mortar, stained glass, and stone. It was a church very different from the cultures of pagan idolatry and the Pharisaical religion of the Judean world. It became the one body of Christ thus tearing down the walls between Judean and Gentile.
In Chapter 10, of Acts Peter referred the unity of Christians regardless of culture:
Acts 10:34-35 Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons: But in every nation he that feareth (respect) him, and worketh righteousness (Romans 10:9-10), is accepted* with him.
* Link - 'respecter of persons'  respecter of-Digging Deeper  

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

New Birthday!

A change came about as the result of the death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus Christ on the day of Pentecost. A new church was born and it was not a church made of mortar, stone or stain-glass windows! It was a group of people and how they grew into what God made available for the first time, holy spirit.

The book of Acts is a description of people, places and events in the post resurrection/ascension climate of the early church. There are a lot of people mentioned in the book of Acts. Two major influences in the early church were Peter and Paul.

Peter was a fisherman by trade.  He traveled with Jesus Christ. He was one of the twelve. In Acts 4:13, it is recorded:
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.
 Paul did not travel with Christ.  He actually persecuted the men and women who were filled with holy spirit after the day of Pentecost. His background was quite different from Peter’s. He received the spirit from God later as a result of a huge event that happened on the road to Damascus. His background is recorded in:
Philippians 4:4-6Though I might also have confidence in the flesh. If any other man thinketh that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more: 5Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee; 6Concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless.
Yet they had the same spirit of God in them and commitment to stay faithful despite their human shortcomings. Peter wrote of Paul:
2 Peter 3:15-16And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; 16 As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.
Paul wrote of Peter:
Galatians 2:7-8, 7But contrariwise, when they saw that the gospel of the uncircumcision was committed unto me, as the gospel of the circumcision was unto Peter; 8(For he that wrought effectually in Peter to the apostleship of the circumcision, the same was mighty in me toward the Gentiles:)
The common denominator for them was the gift of holy spirit.  It was God that worked in them. Some people call the book of Acts the Acts of the Apostles but in reality, spiritually it should more appropriately be titled The Acts of the Holy Spirit.  Holy spirit is available today for all Christians just as it was in later chapters in the book of Acts. Every person has access to the very same power when they declare Jesus Christ Lord and believe in his resurrection. 
As Peter said on the day of Pentecost:
Acts 2:38-39 Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the LORD our God shall call.




Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Purpose

In the movie 'The Graduate', Benjamin has the following  dialogue with his father:
Mr. Braddock: What's the matter? The guests are all downstairs, Ben, waiting to see you.
Benjamin: Look, Dad, could you explain to them that I have to be alone for a while?
Mr. Braddock: These are all our good friends, Ben. Most of them have known you since, well, practically since you were born. What is it, Ben?
Benjamin: I'm just...
Mr. Braddock: Worried?
Benjamin: Well...
Mr. Braddock: About what?
Benjamin: I guess about my future.
Mr. Braddock: What about it?
Benjamin: I don't know... I want it to be...
Mr. Braddock: To be what? 
Benjamin: [looks at his father] ... Different.

Haven't we all gone through this thinking at some time or another? Why are we here? What should we do? Haven't we all desired to have some meaning to our existence?  God, our very own Father, has provided some very satisfying answers to this question. 'Satisfying' is a very good descriptive of the following verse: 
Ephesians 2:10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.
Effective, productive work stimulates the mind. It is the 'meat and potatoes' of life. Are we supposed to guess about this? My earthly Dad (and Mom too!) wanted the very best for my life. Our Heavenly Dad can go beyond 'best', being the designer and creator of the universe. He has all the resources to go 'exceedingly' beyond anything we could ever ask of think (another Ephesians verse!)

To do what?  We enter into a relationship with the most powerful force in the universe to walk in His good works, in things that are satisfying and whole. God does not control us, He offers it to us. The only thing that limits us is the ceiling that we put on our own lives. Man has been around this world long enough to construct many limitations that end up controlling us in some way or another.  These things always end in over-doing and producing flat, dull outcomes.

There are plenty of wonderful things around to remind us of God's desire for man. Look at the sky on a beautiful fall day for example. It's color, crispness and overall immensity reminds us that it is not the limit!


Monday, September 27, 2010

GOD IS REAL!

Just recently, I was reading a book by Jay Adams, From Forgiven To Forgiving.  It is a tremendous book and many of his points reminded me of the Joseph record in the Old Testament. Several years ago, I did a study on Joseph, one of the sons of Jacob. Many chapters in Genesis are devoted to the events in this man's life. His life was not easy but to his credit he is described as a man on whom the spirit of God resided. Perhaps because of this he had huge challenges, but through them all God guided and strengthened him as he handled them one by one. He is an amazing example of how forgiveness is brought about. He handled things God's way.  He had the humility to not try to outdo God and thus was able to be an instrument of true deliverance.


Forgiveness is a much written about subject. There is no question in my mind that the adversary wants to muddle and twist people's ideas in this particular area.
Ephesians 4:32 (King James Version)And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you.
'Even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you'.  That sets the standard. Jesus Christ died for our sins once and for all.  This doesn't mean we have to be crucified to serve God but it does mean that we have answers to life's challenges and that we extend those answers to others. When we teach God's word to others and help them to apply God's word to every situation we are 'kind'.


Joseph's goal was restoration.  His brothers were pretty much a mess and had displayed very cruel behavior toward him in the past.  God worked in Joseph's heart to help facilitate the change that was necessary to cause them to see what changes they needed to make. God knew how to handle them and Joseph carried it out. God knew also that Judah would change and he showed Joseph how to bring that out. Several steps were needed. At one point Joseph spoke roughly to them and threw them in prison. It was there that they started to admit their lives had not been sterling and they repented of what they had done to their brother. It is a great record, one to be digested and re-digested.


God is real and he knows the best way to deal with life's issues. In the age that we live in of secular humanism, we need to take heed to a man like Joseph and how he did things. Our relationships with others should be based on truth, not feeling. Our goal is to help others come up and out of the quicksand of this world. It is  a world of competition, strife, ambition, greed and control. We can't just do that by patting someone on the head and saying nice things. We need to help people by giving them the words of God and telling them how Jesus Christ stood in the gap for us and that we have full access to the throne room of God. That is the promotion of true forgiveness!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Bloom where you are planted but don’t let any grass grow under your feet!

Speaking the truth in love involves a mature balanced approach to relationships. Ephesians 4:15 enlists God’s wisdom without which we could not flourish. In the Bible speaking the truth is really ‘truthing it’ in the Greek and it involves integrity, commitment  and oftentimes loving courage to carry out. As we lean on God and his magnificent gift of holy spirit we blossom into strong individuals capable of achieving more than we ever expected.

God’s sufficiency is ours for the asking by simply believing what he has made available. Believing is assertive action and is never static. We can never allow ourselves to become passive followers of God.  That condition is for ‘pew potatoes’. As we act by walking out on whatever limb is set in front of us, God supports us all the way. Think about when Jesus beckoned Peter to walk out on the water. As Peter kept his eyes on him he walked on water. He could have been the star of the Cypress Garden Water ski team!  The minute he looked down he went down! Human beings were designed to go towards the way they are looking. Just look at how the eyes are positioned in the human body. It is God’s sufficiency we look to in absolutely every situation  and our feet carry us toward that sufficiency by putting one foot in front of the other.
In Ephesians we are exhorted to walk in love, walk in light and walk circumspectly.
Ephesians 5:16-17(Amplified)Making the very most of the time [buying up each opportunity], because the days are evil. Therefore do not be vague and thoughtless and foolish, but understanding and firmly grasping what the will of the Lord is. 
We have the great reassurance of God, who He is and what he has done for us through the written word. We need not waste our time any longer in cringing insufficiency. In this administration we are not only able to walk on water. We are able to handle the ski jumps!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

September 11, 3 BC

Another September 11 has come and gone and the impact of that day 2007 years ago will continue forever to effect our lives. Of course, I’m talking about the birth of Jesus Christ: September 11, 3 BC.  No, I haven’t got my dates screwed up. Actually December 25 in those days was the time of the winter solstice, when the earth’s axis was pointed away from the sun. It was a pagan feast. It was longest night of the year too. Doesn't sound like too cool of a birthday date to me!

September 11, 3 BC was Rosh-sha-shana or the Feast of Trumpets in the Judean religion. It seems like that was a good day for God  to select for the birthday of His only-begotten Son. 
                                         ♫♥♪♫•♥♫♥♪♫•♥♫♥♪♫•♥
He is a proud Father and blowing trumpets would be a great way to celebrate.                                                                
The record shown in the stars is stellar (pun or no pun intended)! Adam named the constellations  back in Genesis. God gave Adam the names and groupings: 
Psalm 147:4 He telleth the number of the stars; he calleth them all by their names.
On August 12th, 3BC the king planet Jupiter and the 'bright and morning star' Venus were in conjunction in the king constellation Leo (the constellation of rulership in Judea). On September 14, the king planet, Jupiter and the king star, Regulus were in conjunction in the king constellation Leo. Coincidence? Hmmmmm...........
Happy Birthday to the Son of God!


Sunday, September 5, 2010

Commitment: The Integrity of the Word

Everybody knows what a bible is and represents. The words 'Holy Bible', however, written on the front cover are misleading. No version or translation of the Bible really can be called the Word of God because there are no original texts in existence today. At best all we have are copies of ancient scripts. The text from which the King James Version was translated is the Stephen's Greek text. The first copy is the translation, anything after that which is tweaked or modified is called a version. In fact if you look at everything, copies, translations, versions etc, you wonder whether any of them can be trusted to present the Word of God without bias, politics, and yes! religion. God knew this problem ahead of time (He's omniscient, all-powerful and all-knowing you know! That means He's pretty smart!) so he incorporated  in the Word certain keys to unlock it's undeniable truth. He has given us a totally ingenious search engine called holy spirit to magnify the truth in our hearts as we read. The Word is not just words on a page, it is a living breathing reality. The Word rightly divided has life!


Man has a tendency towards complication; with God things are simple.  The Word of God is not about man's ideas about God. It is about God and His love to man. God gives freely to those who ask, but many of us have been led to believe the common person cannot access God except through a certain translation or version, denomination, non-denomination or whatever.  People who have truly shown me how to access the Word for myself are people who are genuinely excited about God and it is pretty evident in the way they live! The Word of God is a living reality in everyday living. God is the most powerful force in the universe. Man really needs to believe that!


Real commitment is based on the integrity of God.  We love Him because He first loved us. How can we love Him if we don't know what He is about? The integrity of God can be seen by His creation. Included in His creation are His Word and His Son.

Psalm 138 I will praise thee with my whole heart: before the gods will I sing praise unto thee. I will worship toward thy holy temple, and praise thy name for thy lovingkindness and for thy truth: for thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name. 3In the day when I cried thou answeredst me, and strengthenedst me with strength in my soul.
Having the keys to tapping the Word of God is vital.  God meant us to know all about Him and in knowing all about Him we realize how much he has loved us, is loving us and and will love us. In the knowledge of God is true freedom and sufficiency!





Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Flattery, politico, ‘you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours’ ideology, secular humanism  are all examples of mental corruption that really tear into a person. What appear on the senses level seem nice and advantageous but in absolute reality are flimsy manipulations of the mind. Truth is what genuinely builds individuals up in strength, boldness and success.
Ephesians 4:29 Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.
What is corrupt communication? Like the verse says it is communication that doesn’t edify. So what is edification? It is life as it is built up on the strong, sound foundation of Jesus Christ.  All else is sinking sand. It is as simple as that!
To minister grace is to join someone to the power, rights and privileges of God.  It is the vital true way to walk in sonship and claim all the promises of God. As each member in the body of Christ rises up to his own individual trust, respect and love for God an environment of unfailing power prevails. It is a vital manifestation of the grace administration that we are now privileged to live.
We don’t need a huge cathedral with special lighting, pews, and a formal bell-ringing, liturgical service. God’s word says it take two or three gathered as the body of Christ to change the course of someone’s life. Maybe all you need is a living room, a coffee shop, hospital room, park, grocery store, school, dorm or wherever else people get together. It doesn’t matter. When God is in the middle of a small group of people, they can change the course of history!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Security and Esteem

"Most people with low self-esteem have earned it." is an interesting quote by George Carlin. It certainly has merit because it is about 'merit'. He is saying insecurity may be earned. It certainly doesn't come from grace! Thank God!

For people life may be a constant struggle to find security and meaning even when things are going well as well as when things are 
going bad. Without understanding what God really can impart to us when we believe, it can get pretty heart wrenching. Often well-meaning religious people push the hurt even deeper. 

I have met people who think they know all about God and their lives are wrapped up and focused on judgement and performance.
Because of what God wrought in Christ we don't have to swallow and accept this as 'life just as it is'!
Ephesians 2:8-10 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them. 
We don't have to earn anything, we just have to accept that something bigger than us has given us our value that is far greater than what we could gain from a title, wealth, prestige, education or from religion (Yes religion!). We just have to believe it and use it! It is not earned!Remember chapter 1:6 of Ephesians (What a book!) We are to be: 
Ephesians 1:6 To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved. 
So why waste all that effort on low self-esteem. Give it up! and read Ephesians!




Monday, August 9, 2010

Glory

In chapter 1 of Ephesians, the phrase 'to the praise of His glory' is used three times. In that chapter, there are some great things listed that God has done for us. A big one is that he has 'blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ'. We have been given the very nature of what He is in the form of a full measure of holy spirit. When we walk in the light and direction of this spirit we can do great things and bring the good pleasure of His will into view. That is why he makes us accepted when we trust the reality of the wholeness only He can provide for us and we become 'sealed with that holy spirit of promise'. It is all to be to the praise of His glory (His magnificent splendor). That is quite a privilege for us.
Ephesians 1:17-19That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power,
 We are a very blessed people! We have so much to offer people who are trapped or cornered or enveloped in heavy darkness. We are to the praise of His glory!

Isaiah 60:1-2 (Amplified Bible) ARISE [from the depression and prostration in which circumstances have kept you--rise to a new life]! Shine (be radiant with the glory of the Lord), for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you! For behold, darkness shall cover the earth, and dense darkness [all] peoples, but the Lord shall arise upon you [O Jerusalem], and His glory shall be seen on you.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Ephesians 4:15

Ephesians is a great book! It contains important keys to maturing as a Christian. You don't have to know Greek or Aramaic to understand its breath-taking truths. My favorite verse is Ephesians 4:15:
But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:
There is a beautiful 3-part  precept magnificently displayed in this verse. To grow up: 1) we speak, 2) the truth 3) in love. All three components are vital elements to our growth. We can speak the truth certainly. So can legalists, religionists, quoters; anyone can speak truth. We can speak in love, but we might be humanists, people pleasers, and even flatterers. We can love truth but how does that help anyone else or help us mature. We need all three elements if we want to really help people know God  better as we  mature  in the unselfish nature that Jesus Christ so exemplified.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Ephesians is Our Complete Package From God

Seated in the heavenlies

1:6 To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.
12That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ.
14Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.
2:5Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)
 6And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:
Walking worthy
5:2  And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour.
8For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light:
15See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise,
Able to Stand
10Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.11Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. 13 Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. 14  Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; 15And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. 17And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:

Monday, July 26, 2010

E=mc2 (Ephesians=mystery x completelycompletelycomplete)

According to Einstein and his theory of relativity, matter is a manifestation of energy. Energy can manifest itself in a number of ways, light, heat, sound, electrically, chemically, etc. You can’t see energy, only the effects of it can be seen in matter.

How has God manifested Himself?  Light shone out of darkness, creation, a bush burned, the Red Sea parted, a still small voice whispered to Elijah, a man was raised from the dead, tongues of fire showed up on the day of Pentecost, and many, many, many other examples; not to mention the ones not written about. Think about in your own life, all those wonderful moments that you knew that something bigger than you was in operation in your life.

The greatest move of God is in the heart of an individual when he accepts the real deal of Jesus Christ getting up, ascending and sitting down on the right hand of God.  God needs matter to express His spirit. When we change our citizenship from this world to the one from above, we, as individuals manifest the nature of God through the spirit that takes up residence in our hearts. Collectively when we gather with others who know and respect how God works in each individual, God has room to work even bigger.  It is absolute brilliance!

There are a lot of books written about teamwork, management and relationships and they all have some good points on how to work with others. There is no mistaking the dynamics of a group that has the energy of God working in it. It also can be just as evident when God is not the force behind something.

Romans 8:28 (Amplified Bible)28We are assured and know that [God being a partner in their labor] all things work together and are [fitting into a plan] for good to and for those who love God and are called according to [His] design and purpose.

Energy can neither be created nor destroyed but it can be transformed. Thank God! Every person who believes becomes a dynamic force as God comes into manifestation in the senses realm through that person. Put a couple of people together that think this way and it is out of this world. It is what it means to be truly seated in the heavenlies (Ephesians).

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Non-Conformist

In Romans 12:2 the Word says to not be conformed to this world. The word ‘conformed’ means molded or fashioned. We shouldn’t let the world mold our patterns of living. Instead be are to be changed by putting on the thoughts of God. Does this mean we run around acting pious and poor, flipping peace signs.  No! Emphatically No!

Someone who does not conform to this world has his thoughts well arranged.  He/she is secure in the love of God and does not enlist the tricks and tools of the fearful striving that goes on everywhere today.  There's no need to pressure, gossip, envy, suspect or compete with to become an achiever and insure his position in the world (II Corinthians 10:12). He is one who has God as the wind in his sails and enjoys the complete incredible freedom to live life to the fullest.

In Romans 8, the magna carta of freedom for the believer (our constitutional protection plan from God) , we can read that we are more than conquers in a number of situations, starting with mental pressure (tribulation). That is where everything starts. Ever feel like you are being pushed in a corner mentally? Or how about when things that seem to follow you around and push at you? (like the economy for example?)  Are there things that seem to hang over your head? Have you ever felt that like you are being carved up in little pieces (Romans 8:35)?  All the more reason to be persuaded to turn to God for answers. He is well aware of what’s going on and He provides excellent avenues of escape (I Corinthians 10:13).

Romans 8 feeds into Romans 12 (Romans 9-11 is a parenthesis dealing with Israel) In the understanding of what it means to be more than conqueror, we break out of the world's mold. Getting ‘born again’ (which  is a term much bandied about these days) gets us to the right place spiritually.  The location in which we are born determines our citizenship.  To be ‘born again’ changes our citizenship and our world. We have citizenship from someplace else. We are asked to become ambassadors from above. It is from this vantage point we can truly help others. Our heavenly culture is in our hearts and we share it with others who earnestly seek the freedom that we have.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Freedom

Recently, floating out on the Sound off the shores of Connecticut, I began thinking about the brave pilgrims and their courage and belief to worship God freely without bounds by traveling to an unknown land. Our ancestors focused on the promises and ability of God and pointed their bows to the clearing in the the sky with new hope for freedom. Sure there were a lot of clouds, but they looked for the 'sonshine'. That is what the renewed mind is. It is about  pointing your compass to the promised land of freedom allowing God to be the wind in your sails.


When I first heard about the renewed mind, my mind thought about the old days when heading out of the confessional feeling squeaky clean after having spilled the beans about how many sins I had committed. Oh glory, as if God is interested! He really is only interested in  repentance (oops, sorry, that word has been darkened and dramatized too). Repentance means a change of mind, a redirection to a more prosperous path, a path that He can shower one with blessings. He is happy about that!


The renewed mind is so much more than dealing with sin.  It is about the power of God reigning in your life without limits. Just look at Romans 12:2:
And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
Reading the rest of Chapter 12, we are encouraged to get functioning in the body of Christ. What a joy it is to do that! There is so much life in those verses to be lived. Don't let anyone talk you out it. If they try, lovingly tell them to get their own renewed mind and get busy with their own exciting work. You have the God-given right to hear from God and uniquely utilize holy spirit from Him to help people.  You don't have to wear a backwards collar, put on a pointy hat, walk around with a pious puss, or even have a fancy title to help you renew your mind. Just hold on to the Word in your mind, act accordingly and when you run into a 'truth seeker' say "Greetings pilgrim, your search has landed!" "This is the land of the free and the home of the brave!"