Feed the Flock

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Today’s Passages – Acts 20 – 22 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

(Second Milers also read – Psalms 106 – 110; Proverbs 22)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture Song – Ephesians 4:32

Read the “1122 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

Read a previous post from this passage – “Farewell

“For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God. Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.” (Acts 20:27-28)

“Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind;” (1 Peter 5:2)

The message given to preachers by the Apostle Paul here in Acts 20:28 is to feed the flock. It is important to note that the preacher does not own the flock, but has simply been given a position of oversight by the One who purchased them, the Lord Jesus. Peter also tells us the same thing, and then adds some further qualifications for the one who would care for God’s flock. How does a preacher feed the flock? By preaching and teaching the Word of God.

1  First he must pray for God’s help and direction in selecting the right portions of Scripture to preach or teach. God will give the preacher wisdom as to what the particular needs of the people are.

2  Next, he must prepare. The preacher must immerse himself in the Scripture that he is preparing:

“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15 )

The preacher must not only prepare by thoroughly understanding the text, but he must also prepare how the text is to be delivered. He must also select illustrations that will help the flock understand the principles contained within the text.

3  Thirdly, he much preach and teach with clarity and boldness. He must know that he is merely a messenger of God, and the message itself is from God. He must understand his authority, and claim the power that is available to him through the filling of the Spirit of God. Along with preaching the principles contained within the text, the preacher must be careful to guide the congregation in application, declaring how the Bible principles can be put to practical use in their lives.

Of course it goes without saying that the preacher must be in the Word of God on a daily basis, feeding on its truths, and applying the principles to his own life. He also needs to be fed himself by allowing others to preach the Word of God to him.

What an awesome privilege it is to serve the people of God by feeding them from the Word of God.


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Repentance

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Today’s Passages – Acts 17 – 19 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

(Second Milers also read – Psalms 101 – 105; Proverbs 21)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture Song – Matthew 6:33

Read the “1121 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

Read  previous posts from this passage – “Mentoring” & “We Need the Bible

“And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent:” (Acts 17:30)

“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.” (Acts 2:38)

“Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord;” (Acts 3:19)

The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9)

This word “repent” has been the source of much dispute among Christians for as long as I can remember. On the one end there are those that say that repentance is simply a changing of one’s mind, and on the other end there are those who say that repentance is reformation, meaning a change in behavior. Many would also add that repentance involves a mourning over past actions, a sorrow for sin. I really do not think, however, that the concept of repentance is all that difficult to understand. The first thing that we need to clarify here is that we are referring to repentance as it regards salvation. Obviously the word repent, as any other word, can be, and is, used in a variety of contexts.

One dictionary defines “repent” (μετανοέω [metanoeō]) ” to think again”, or to think afterwards, like an afterthought. When I trusted Christ as my Saviour, I had to re-think all that I thought I knew about Jesus and salvation. I previously thought that salvation was somehow dependent upon my good works, but I learned that I was wrong. So repentance certainly involves a change of mind, and in a simplistic, literal sense I would wholly agree with the definition of repentance as a changing of one’s mind.

However, repentance as it regards to salvation is so much more than just a changing of mind. There also is a change of attitude about sin. Before I was saved, I didn’t think sin was such a big deal. I tended to minimize sin, instead of considering myself “exceeding sinful”. God had to bring me under conviction, which caused me to see sin more like God sees it, rather than the way I had previously viewed it. Then, when I realized my guilt and understood the penalty that I deserved for my sin there was also a change of heart, a brokenness, a humility. Unrepentant sinners tend to justify themselves. I finally saw my sin from God’s perspective, and there was guilt. Now, I must also state here that I believe it is possible to have guilt without repentance. Esau was sorry, but he did not repent. Sorrow will bring a person to the place where he can repent though. Guilt does not always lead to repentance, but repentance regarding salvation always involves guilt.

Finally, I knew that salvation would involve a change in direction. Don’t get nervous. I am not saying that I believed I had to work my way to Heaven, but I knew that saved people lived differently than unsaved people did. I knew that the direction that I was previously going was wrong, and I needed God to get me turned around. When I trusted Christ as my Saviour, he changed my direction. I have not perfectly followed His plan at all times, but my desire is to stay within His will for my life, which was not even the slightest concern before I was saved.

So here goes. I am going to give you my best definition of the word “repentance”. Repentance as it regards to salvation is a change of mind, heart, and attitude that brings about a change in direction.


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Tenacity

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Today’s Passages – Acts 14 – 16 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

(Second Milers also read – Psalms 96 – 100; Proverbs 20)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture Song – Micah 6:8

Read the “1120 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

Read a previous post from this passage – “In Tune with the Spirit of God

“And there came thither certain Jews from Antioch and Iconium, who persuaded the people, and, having stoned Paul, drew him out of the city, supposing he had been dead. Howbeit, as the disciples stood round about him, he rose up, and came into the city: and the next day he departed with Barnabas to Derbe. And when they had preached the gospel to that city, and had taught many, they returned again to Lystra, and to Iconium, and Antioch,” (Acts 14:19-21)

The Apostle Paul was a unique individual. He travelled to Iconium on his first missionary journey, and received intense persecution there, almost being stoned. He escapes to Lystra where he was stoned and left for dead, and then after preaching at Derbe he returns again to both Lystra and Iconium. If you look at the map of Paul’s first journey (below) you will notice that Paul did not have to go back to Antioch, where he started out, through those cities. He went out of his way to go back to the places where he was almost killed, and where he surely faced danger again. Why would he do that? Because there were people there that he needed to help. He didn’t let fear of almost certain persecution keep him from doing what God had called him to do. That is tenacity.

There are very few people today who are willing to face this kind of persecution in order to reach people with the gospel. In fact, there are not many who are willing even to sacrifice a little comfort in order to serve God. Today, we let the slightest excuses keep us from fulfilling the will of God. We need to get tough. We need a revival of tenacity in our churches today. A revival of people who are willing to do whatever it takes to get the job done.

Paul's Journeys

 


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Begotten from the Grave

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Today’s Passages – Acts 11 – 13; (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

(Second Milers also read –Psalms 91 – 95; Proverbs 19)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Joshua 1:8

Read a previous post from this passage – “The Beginning of the Journey

“God hath fulfilled the same unto us their children, in that he hath raised up Jesus again; as it is also written in the second psalm, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee.” (Acts 13:33)

I had fully intended to write a post this morning on God’s call upon Paul and Barnabus, but as I read further I came upon the verse above. I got to thinking about how this verse is twisted by many of the cults, who try to use it to prove that Jesus is not God the Son, but merely a son of God, a created being like angels or human beings.

The verse in question is actually a quotation from the 2nd Psalm, and it is used again in Hebrews 1:5. In none of these places is this phrase, “this day have I begotten thee” used in reference to Christ’s birth. In the second Psalm, I must confess the exact meaning is uncertain. Typically the word “begotten” refers to a birth or a “bringing into existence”. I noticed though that Oxford gives the meaning “give rise to” as the second use of the word. However, Acts 13:33 is the key that unlocks the door of understanding to the precise meaning as God uses it referring to Christ. From Acts 13:33, we can determine without doubt that the word “begotten” is a reference to the resurrection, not the incarnation.

In the Book of Hebrews, the focus of discussion is not on the word “begotten”, but on the word “Son”.

“For unto which of the angels said he at any time, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee? And again, I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son?”

In fact, this point is further proved because in Hebrews 1:6 He is referred to as the “firstbegotten”. This could not be a reference to Christ’s birth as He is not the first one born to God, Adam is. Christ is, however, the firstbegotten from the dead. By the way, the people that were raised from the dead by Jesus and the apostles are excluded because each of them went again to the grave in natural death.

Consider the following verses that prove the pre-existence, and deity of Christ:

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.” (John 1:1 – 3)

“And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth”. (John 1:14)

Notice again the word, “begotten”, referring not to his birth at Bethlehem, but His resurrection from the dead. Remember, His glory was not revealed at birth. John uses the term “we”. He did not witness His birth, but He did see His glory on the Mount of Transfiguration, and after His resurrection.

“Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come: And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church,” (Ephesians 1:20 – 22)

“Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high;” (Hebrews 1:3)

“But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom.” (Hebrews 1:8)

Jesus is not a created being. He is eternally God. He is the “I Am”. John’s gospel proves that over and over again. He has always been God, and always will be God. He is one with the Father (and the Spirit also).


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Say Cheeeeeeese!

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Today’s Passages – Acts 7 – 8 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

(Second Milers also read – Psalms 81 – 85; Proverbs 17)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture Song – Proverbs 27:15

Read the “1117 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

Read a previous post from this passage – “Divine Appointments

“And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit. And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep.” (Acts 8:59 & 60)

The world is taking a picture of our lives every day; but what image are they getting. When people look at me do they see me, or do they see Christ. As Christians, we are supposed to be pictures of Christ to this godless world. We are to show them Christ through our lives and testimonies. When people see us they are supposed to get a glimpse of what Jesus would be like if He were here in the flesh personally. In our passage today, we see a man who demonstrated Christ to his generation. He lived like Christ, and he died like Christ.

1  Stephen was fearless in his preaching. He knew that the crowd that he was witnessing to had already killed the Lord, and they had already beaten and imprisoned Peter and John. He knew that he was risking his life by saying the things that he said, yet he preached the truth.

2  Stephen was faithful in his passing. He had his eyes on the Lord right up until he died. He was not thinking about his circumstances, he was looking straight into the eyes of the Lord. And the Lord was standing at the right hand of the Father, waiting to receive Stephen. What a way to go.

3  He was forgiving to his persecutors.  Perhaps this is the most striking picture of Christ. When Jesus died on the cross, He said, “Forgive them Father”. Here Stephen says virtually the same thing. He says, “Lay not this sin to their charge”.

There was a young man named Saul in the crowd that day that got a good look at the picture that Stephen was portraying that day. Saul would get another look at the Lord, first hand, later on; but I contend to you that he had already seen the Lord through the testimony of Stephen.

What do people see in our lives? Do they see Jesus or do they see us? We need to peel back the layers of our own desires and personalities, and allow Christ to live through us. This world desperately needs to see the real Jesus. There have certainly been many impersonators out there; but through our surrendered lives, we can show the world Christ.


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Ye Cannot Overthrow It

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Today’s Passages – Acts 4 – 6 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

(Second Milers also read – Psalms 76 – 80; Proverbs 16)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – 1 John 4:7 & 8

“But if it be of God, ye cannot overthrow it; lest haply ye be found even to fight against God.” – (Acts 5:39)

“And to him they agreed: and when they had called the apostles, and beaten them, they commanded that they should not speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. And they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name. And daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ.” – (Acts 5:40-42)

“But the more they afflicted them, the more they multiplied and grew. And they were grieved because of the children of Israel.” – (Exodus 1:12)

Persecution has a strange way of producing the opposite outcome the what was intended by those that are doing the persecuting. In our text, Peter and John are preaching the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ until they are arrested by the religious leaders and put in prison. They are released the next day, but only after they are threatened. They go right back to preaching, because they believed that God’s command to preach superseded any human law. They are again arrested, but are miraculously removed from prison by the Angel of the Lord, only to go back out and preach again. The religious leaders don’t know what to do about these trouble makers, so they arrest them again; and they release them again, but this time before they are released, they are beaten. We can see that things are certainly starting to heat up for the apostles. In chapter 7 we will see that things will heat up even more, when Stephen is put to death for preaching the gospel.

You would think that with all of this punishment being handed out to the Christians that the preaching would be curtailed; but the opposite is actually true. The more they were persecuted, the more they preached. In fact, when persecution really heats up in Jerusalem (Acts 8), the people are scattered throughout all Judea and Samaria preaching the gospel. And the more they preached, the more people got saved.

It is the same way in the world we live in today. Christianity is thriving in some of the most unlikely places. Did you know that it is estimated that the actual number of Christians in communist China is said to be more than the number of Christians in Europe and America combined; and most of the churches in China are operating illegally, underground. Many Christians have been imprisoned in China for their faith; yet the Christians keep coming.

Now let’s consider America. We have freedom and prosperity here; but it seems that we are spiritually dying in most places. Maybe the churches in America would benefit from a little persecution. Does that sound strange to you? Don’t misunderstand. I am not wishing or asking for persecution; but I am willing to ask the Lord to do whatever is necessary to wake the churches in America up, even if it includes some persecution.


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To Be Continued

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Today’s Passages – Acts 1 – 3; (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

(Second Milers also read –Psalms 71 – 75; Proverbs 15)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – 1 John 3:1

Read a previous post from this passage – “He Was Down, But He Got Back Up

“Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. To Be  – (Acts 2:41-42)

While reading this morning, I noticed the word, “continued” in Acts 2:42. I did a little research and discovered the words “continue”, or “continued” are found 12 times in the Book of Acts. The Christian life is all about continuing. In fact, I would go as far to say that the secret to being successful in your walk with the Lord is to just continue. Don’t go back; don’t quit; just keep going.

In verse 42, we learn that this new group of believers in Jerusalem continued in:

1  The Apostles Doctrine – It is so important that we keep growing in our knowledge of Bible doctrine. We never arrive at a place in the Christian life where we know all that there is to know. So many Christians are weak today, and so many of our church are misguided, because they have not placed an emphasis on Bible doctrine.

“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” – (2 Timothy 2:15)

2  Fellowship – This new church gathered together often to edify and encourage each other. Living for the Lord in this wicked world can be very difficult at times, to say the least. We need to have a place where we can go where we are around people of like, precious faith: people who are going the same direction that we are going.

“And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.” – (Hebrews 10:24-25)

3  Breaking of Bread – I could be wrong about this, but I believe that the phrase “breaking of bread” has to do with more than eating meals together, though I am sure that ecause they fellowshipped often, they also would frequently share meals together. However, I believe that this phrase is speaking primarily about this church’s observance of the Lord’s Supper. I believe the early believers regularly remembered the body and blood of the Lord.

“For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till he come.” – (1 Corinthians 11:26)

4  Prayers – This church faced incredible persecution from both the religious officials of Israel, and also from the Roman government. They needed to be a praying church. They needed to pray fervently for each other.

“Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” – (James 5:16)

Living for the Lord is not always easy and sometimes it can even be discouraging, but we need to keep going; keep moving forward. The sun will rise again in the morning and someday it truly will be worth it all. Hang in there. Take it one day at a time, and if you have already quit, get back up and get back in the game.


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Thankful for Faithful Men and Women

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Today’s Passages – Acts 26 – 28 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

(Second Milers also read – Psalms 116 – 118; Proverbs 24)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture Song – Ephesians 4:32

Read the “1124 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“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.” (Acts 28:30&31)

The last few verses of Acts sum up the purpose of Paul’s entire life, to preach Christ. No matter where he went, and no matter who he was talking to, Paul preached Christ. In these last three chapters we see Paul rehearsing his testimony before Herod and Festus. Later we see him being the spiritual leader during the crisis of the shipwreck; and later still he is ministering to the people on the island of Melita. Paul had one focus in life and that was to be an ambassador for the Lord Jesus Christ. He could have gotten bitter about his unjust treatment; he could have gotten discouraged because of his lack of liberty; but he just kept preaching Christ: to kings and governors; to soldiers; to his fellow prisoners; to the barbarous people on the island; to the Jews and Gentiles at Rome.

I am thankful for the faithfulness of Paul, and men (and women) like him that have also been faithful to preach Christ. I was saved because someone was faithful to preach the gospel to me. In fact, I had several somebodies who had witnessed to me. I am thankful for my friend Kathleen who preached Christ to me; and for Pete; and for Doug, a dairy man at Shoprite who invited me to church; and for Reverend Riter who knocked on my door while canvassing for a bus ministry; and for men on the radio like J. Vernon McGee who were also faithfully preaching and teaching, and were used of God to ultimately reach me.

I am also thankful for the men of God that He has used to influence my life after my conversion; men who discipled and trained me. I couldn’t possibly list all of the people that have helped me a long the way; but let me mention one: Pastor Rick Wedemeyer who recently went home to be with the Lord was the one man that I have had a relationship with since the early days of my salvation. Pastor Rick never turned me away. Even when he was going through turbulent times himself, he always had time to encourage me, and he always helped me.

I wonder if my life will have the same impact and influence on this generation. I want to be faithful to preach Christ to my generation as Paul was to his; and I also want to be used of the Lord to help develop and mentor younger Christians. How about you? Do you desire to be a faithful ambassador for the Lord? Do you witness when given the opportunity? Do you take time to teach those that are still babes in Christ? You and I are saved because somebody else was faithful. Let’s be faithful also.


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A Clear Conscience

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Today’s Passages – Acts 23 – 25; (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

(Second Milers also read – Psalms 111 – 115; Proverbs 23)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Psalm 34:1 – 4

Read a previous post from this passage – “What Are You Waiting For?

“And herein do I exercise myself, to have always a conscience void of offence toward God, and toward men.” – (Acts 24:16)

In our passage today, we see the great Apostle Paul standing before Governor Felix. The official accusation that was laid against him was by the religious leaders was that he was a “mover of sedition”, and that he “profane[d] the temple”. (Acts 24:3 & 4) The real beef that the nation of Israel had against Paul was that he was a follower of the Lord Jesus Christ, and that he taught that Jesus Christ was risen from the dead. Paul did not try to hide his faith in Christ and the resurrection. He boldly declared that Jesus Christ was the true Messiah, was God in the flesh, and that He had, in fact, risen from the dead. However, though Paul was bold in his conviction and preaching regarding the message of Christ, he was not guilty of what he was being accused of. He stated that he strove (exercised) to always have a conscience void of offence toward God, and toward men.

Paul had a clear conscience. He loved the nation of Israel, and he wanted more than anything to see them come to faith in Christ. He preached the message of salvation boldly, which was exactly what God had called him to do. His first concern was to obey God. However, sometimes in obeying God, we will offend men; but we ought not go out of our way to be an offence to men. The message of a resurrected Christ was what offended the Jews. Though Paul did nothing to hurt the Jews, his message was nevertheless offensive to them.

God has called us to be light and salt to this world. We will offend God if we refrain from what he has called us to be. This world is getting more and more offended by Christians who are living in obedience to God’s call, but we must not let that stop us from telling them what they need to hear. If I have to choose between offending men and offending God, I must choose to offend men. However, it is not my desire to hurt men. I love people, and I will work hard (exercise myself) to be as loving and non-offensive to them as possible, but there will be times when my life and my message as a Christian will offend them. However, even when the world gets offended, I can still pillow my head with a clear conscience knowing that I did what God has told me to do.


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Persecutor, Preacher, and Prisoner

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Today’s Passages – Acts 9 – 10 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

(Second Milers also read – Psalms 86 – 90; Proverbs 18)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture Song – Isaiah 40:31

Read the “1118 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

Read  previous posts from this passage – “They’re All Precious In His Sight” & “The Beauty Of Salvation

“And Saul was consenting unto his death. And at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria, except the apostles. … Therefore they that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the word.” (Acts 8:1, 4)

“And Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went unto the high priest, And desired of him letters to Damascus to the synagogues, that if he found any of this way, whether they were men or women, he might bring them bound unto Jerusalem.” (Acts 9:1-2)

“And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven: And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks. … And Ananias went his way, and entered into the house; and putting his hands on him said, Brother Saul, the Lord, even Jesus, that appeared unto thee in the way as thou camest, hath sent me, that thou mightest receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost.” (Acts 9:3-5, 17)

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. (Acts 13:2)

“Through mighty signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God; so that from Jerusalem, and round about unto Illyricum [in present day Greece], I [Paul] have fully preached the gospel of Christ.” (Romans 15:19)

“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.” (Acts 23:11)

Please read carefully again the series of verses above as they progress in time in the Book of Acts. In Acts 8:1 & 4, we see Saul, a lost Pharisee who was a passionate enemy of anybody who was a follower of Christ. The context of these verses was the stoning of Steven, which was authorized by Saul. Verse 4 states something very interesting, however. As the persecution that was caused by Saul and others increased in both frequency and intensity, the disciples of Christ were forced to run away from the persecutors. As they ran, however, they took the Gospel of Christ with them, and preached the Word all along the way. So the end result of the persecution was the gospel going forth to new places.

Notice next, in Acts 9:1 – 2, that Saul the persecutor is still at it, “breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord”. Something miraculous happens in verses 3 and following, however: Paul meets Jesus, the One he was so passionately persecuting. Jesus saves him!

In chapter 13 we learn that Saul has grown tremendously as a disciple of Christ, and is being greatly used in his home church in Antioch. The Holy Ghost separates him and his friend Barnabas, and commissions him to take the gospel into Asia.

The Book of Romans tells us that Saul (now called Paul) took the gospel all the way to Illyricum, in western Macedonia (present day Greece – just opposite the sea from Italy).

Acts 23 – 28 takes us on Paul’s Journey as a prisoner all the way to Rome.

My point is that Paul was used of God all throughout his life, even before he was saved. The persecution that Paul brought was used of God to scatter believers everywhere, taking the Word of God with them. Then later, after his conversion, Paul purposely took the Word of God into all the known regions of the world; and then finally, even as a prisoner, Paul was used of God to testify of Christ as far as Rome. Isn’t it amazing that Paul, whether he was a persecutor, preacher, or prisoner advanced the cause of Christ. Paul’s life was a perfect picture of all things working together for good.

Just a thought here, but possibly there are some circumstances in your life right right now that are very unpleasant, may seem to be “bad”, but I bet God will use them also to glorify Himself, advance His kingdom, and maybe even make you into a better disciple.


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Farewell

Today’s Passages –Acts 20 – 22; (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

(Second Milers also read –Psalms 106 – 110; Proverbs 22)

Memory passage for the month of November – Psalm 95

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Psalm 25

Read – “2 Practical Thanksgiving Admonitions” – by Pastor Chappell

Read a previous posts – “Happy Thanksgiving” & “Truly Blessed

This morning I was torn between writing a post from the passage, or one regarding Thanksgiving. I decided that I would share a little of both. There are also links above to three other blog articles regarding Thanksgiving.

Last night, we had Pastor and Mrs Siebold from Open Door Bible Baptist Church from Howell, NJ with us. Pastor Siebold has been in the ministry for nearly forty years, and he did a wonderful job preaching on the subject of “Causing People To Be Thankful For You”. It was perhaps the greatest Thanksgiving service I had ever participated in. God was certainly with us. I am thankful for “Rev’s” (Pastor Siebold) testimony of faithfulness to the Lord. I am also very thankful for our church family, who came out in large numbers on a very busy night, and  sang their hearts out, and also testified of the greatness of our God!

Now for some thoughts from today’s passage:

“And now, behold, I know that ye all, among whom I have gone preaching the kingdom of God, shall see my face no more.” (Acts 20:25)

In Acts chapter 20 we have the account of the Apostle Paul on his way back to Jerusalem from his third recorded missionary journey. He wants to make it to Jerusalem for Pentecost so he doesn’t have time to visit Ephesus personally. However, he knows that there is great potential for problems in Jerusalem, and that he will most likely not be able to get back to Ephesus, so he wants to say good-bye to them. So this is a farewell visit with people who he loved dearly, and had ministered to for almost three years.

While reading this passage I was intrigued by four reflections that Paul had regarding his ministry to the Ephesians. The interesting part about these remembrances is that they refer to what Paul did not do rather than what he did.

1  He didn’t withhold from them anything that was profitable.

Paul was a giver. He gave all that he had in order to meet their need. There was no part of his time, talent, or treasure that was hoarded for himself.

“And how I kept back nothing that was profitable unto you, but have shewed you, and have taught you publickly, and from house to house, Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Acts 20:20 & 21)

2  He didn’t walk away from the will of God when the pressure was on.

He didn’t move. Too many men of God jump ship whenever the going gets tough. I know how it feels as I have been close to throwing in the towel myself. We must learn to endure hardship as a good soldier. We must learn to be steadfast and unmoveable, always abounding in the work; in season and out of season.

“But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God.” (Acts 20:24)

3  He didn’t wait to declare all the counsel of God.

Previously, we mentioned Paul’s time, talent, and treasure. Here we see that Paul held nothing back as far as doctrine was concerned. He showed them from the Scriptures how to be saved; but he also declared unto them all the counsel of God, so that they could completely fulfill God’s will for their lives. Paul wasn’t lazy.

“Wherefore I take you to record this day, that I am pure from the blood of all men. For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God.” (Acts 20:26 &27)

4  He didn’t want any of their money or stuff.

Paul was a giver, not a taker. He didn’t demand that others meet his needs, he worked so that, not only his need, but also the needs of others were met.

“I have coveted no man’s silver, or gold, or apparel. Yea, ye yourselves know, that these hands have ministered unto my necessities, and to them that were with me. I have shewed you all things, how that so labouring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive.” (Acts 20:33 – 35)

These four reflections would be good “don’ts” for all of us who are in the battle trying to serve the Lord.


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Mentoring

Today’s Passages –Acts 17 – 19

(Second Milers also read –Psalms 101 – 105; Proverbs 21)

“And a certain Jew named Apollos, born at Alexandria, an eloquent man, and mighty in the scriptures, came to Ephesus. This man was instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in the spirit, he spake and taught diligently the things of the Lord, knowing only the baptism of John. And he began to speak boldly in the synagogue: whom when Aquila and Priscilla had heard, they took him unto them, and expounded unto him the way of God more perfectly.” – (Acts 18:24-26)

“And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.” – (2 Timothy 2:2)

In our text today we read about a man named Apollos, who was a bold witness for the Lord Jesus in the synagogue in Ephesus. The Bible tells us that this man was eloquent in the Scriptures, and had some knowledge of the Scriptures, but he had not yet been taught all that he needed to learn in order to be the most effective witness for the Lord. When Aquila and Priscilla find him, they take him under their wings, and “expounded unto him the way of God more perfectly”, meaning they gave him instruction and guidance that would help him to better serve the Lord.

2 Timothy 2:2 says that we are to take what God has given us, and “commit” them to faithful men. I thank God for the men who mentored me when I was a young Christian. These folks not only taught me Biblical principles, they also helped polish and refine some of my rough edges. They invested in my life and ministry, and now I am better equipped for the Lord’s work as a result. Even today, though I have been saved for over twenty years, and have been pastoring for eleven, I still find myself drawn to some of the older pastors, who can continue to instruct and guide me along the way. I recently went on a men’s retreat with Pastor Charlie Horton, a man in his 80’s who has been serving God full-time for over half a century. Our church also just had Dr. Paul Fedena, who is also near 80 years of age, in to preach for our Harvest Banquet. I can learn much from these men. They have had a lot more experience than I have had, and they have also gleaned much knowledge through the years that I can put to use in my ministry. I would be foolish not to welcome their counsel.

My challenge to you younger Christians out there is to find someone who has been saved, separated, and serving Jesus longer than you have, and latch on to him (or her). Glean what you can glean, learn what you can learn. Don’t ever get to the place where you think that you no longer need to grow and learn more. I am always looking for people who are a little further down the road than I am so that I can follow and learn from them as they follow the Lord.

My challenge to you older Christians is to find a young believer, and invest some time and energy in him. Pay back a little of what others have given you to help get you where you are today. There is no greater blessing than to mentor a young, eager servant of the Lord.


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The Beginning of the Journey

Today’s Passages –Acts 11 – 13

(Second Milers also read –Psalms 91 – 95; Proverbs 19)

“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.” – (Acts 13:2)

Here in Acts 13 we see the beginning of the missionary journeys of Paul. In this passage a local church, Antioch, lays hands on Barnabas and Saul (Paul), and sent them out to start New Testament churches in Asia Minor, and later in Europe. This was the beginning of what would later be labelled by Paul’s critics as a movement that “turned the world upside down”. But it all started with a local church that trained and authorized a couple of missionaries to bring the gospel from a place where it was preached to a place where it was not preached.

It is the mission of every New Testament church to bring the gospel to the people who have not heard it. We are responsible to get the good news of salvation to the people that live in our geographic area through soulwinning outreaches; but we are also equally responsible to get the gospel to the people that live outside of our area. We do that through church planting, and missions. We are to plant churches in areas that are nearby, and also send out missionaries from our churches to areas that are far away; and we should also help support the missionaries that are sent out from other churches. My personal responsibility is to go, or give: if I cannot go to some foreign place to preach the gospel myself, I must give to those who will.


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What Are You Waiting For?

Today’s Passages – Acts 23 – 25; Proverbs 23

(Second Milers also read – Psalms 111 – 115; Memorize – Romans 1:21)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Deuteronomy 32:4

Click here to read “The Thanksgiving Box” by Pastor Paul Chappell

“And after certain days, when Felix came with his wife Drusilla, which was a Jewess, he sent for Paul, and heard him concerning the faith in Christ. And as he reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come, Felix trembled, and answered, Go thy way for this time; when I have a convenient season, I will call for thee.” (Acts 24:24 & 25)

In the passage that we have read today, Paul, after having been arrested for allegedly inciting a riot at the temple in Jerusalem, has been brought to Caesarea for his own protection. The Jews at Jerusalem wanted him dead, so in order to protect Paul who was a Roman citizen, the chief captain secretly brought him out of the city. While in Caesarea, Paul had the opportunity to proclaim the Christian faith to the governor, Felix, and his wife, Drusilla. The Bible tells us that Felix trembled, which means that he was under conviction, he believed at least partially what Paul had testified to him about the Lord Jesus, and about the consequences of rejecting Christ,  yet he postponed a decision for Christ until he had a “convenient season”. I wonder if that convenient season ever came for Felix or his wife. I hope he did, but somehow I doubt it. History teaches that Felix’ wife Drusilla was tragically killed when Mt. Vesuvius, a volcano near Pompeii, erupted in 79 AD. Imagine dying in such a way, only to spend eternity in a much worse state.

It has been my observation throughout the years since my salvation that people need to decide for Christ when they are being invited to receive Him. Many times that convenient season never comes. I strongly urge you who are reading this post, if you are not sure about your eternal destiny, please open your heart to the Lord today. Don’t put it off, tomorrow is not guaranteed. Salvation is simple:

First, you must recognize your need – you are a sinner, and the wages (payment) for sin is death (eternal separation from God in Hell). (Romans 3:10; 23; 6:23)

Second, you must believe that Jesus Christ, God the Son, came to earth and died to satisfy the debt that you and I owed for our sins. The Bible tells us that without the shedding of blood there can be no remission of sins. Somebody has to pay for your sins. Jesus already did, so you don’t have to.

Third, you must receive Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour. The Bible is clear that if you call upon the name of the Lord Jesus, placing your faith in Him, you will be saved. (Romans 10:9 – 13)

You can call upon the Lord today and be assured that He not only will hear you, but He will also save you! You don’t have to worry about eternity ever again.

“These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.” (1 John 5:13)

By the way, if you are a Christian, now is also a convenient season for submitting to the will of God for your life. God expects our full obedience to Him. It is our reasonable service.

“(For he saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succoured thee: behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.)” (2 Corinthians 6:2)


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Farewell

Today’s Passages – Acts 20 – 22; Proverbs 22

(Second Milers also read – Psalms 106 – 110; Memorize – Romans 1:21)

Click here to read “Leadership is Influence – You Can Make A Difference”

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – 1 Timothy 1:17

“And now, behold, I know that ye all, among whom I have gone preaching the kingdom of God, shall see my face no more.” (Acts 20:25)

In Acts chapter 20 we have the account of the Apostle Paul on his way back to Jerusalem from his third recorded missionary journey. He wants to make it to Jerusalem for Pentecost so he doesn’t have time to visit Ephesus personally. However, he knows that there is great potential for problems in Jerusalem, and that he will most likely not be able to get back to Ephesus, so he wants to say good-bye to them. So this is a farewell visit with people who he loved dearly, and had ministered to for almost three years.

While reading this passage I was intrigued by four reflections that Paul had regarding his ministry to the Ephesians. The interesting part about these remembrances is that they refer to what Paul did not do rather than what he did.

1  He didn’t withhold from them anything that was profitable.

Paul was a giver. He gave all that he had in order to meet their need. There was no part of his time, talent, or treasure that was hoarded for himself.

“And how I kept back nothing that was profitable unto you, but have shewed you, and have taught you publickly, and from house to house, Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Acts 20:20 & 21)

2  He didn’t walk away from the will of God when the pressure was on.

He didn’t move. Too many men of God jump ship whenever the going gets tough. I know how it feels as I have been close to throwing in the towel myself. We must learn to endure hardship as a good soldier. We must learn to be steadfast and unmoveable, always abounding in the work; in season and out of season.

“But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God.” (Acts 20:24)

3  He didn’t wait to declare all the counsel of God.

Previously, we mentioned Paul’s time, talent, and treasure. Here we see that Paul held nothing back as far as doctrine was concerned. He showed them from the Scriptures how to be saved; but he also declared unto them all the counsel of God, so that they could completely fulfill God’s will for their lives. Paul wasn’t lazy.

“Wherefore I take you to record this day, that I am pure from the blood of all men. For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God.” (Acts 20:26 &27)

4  He didn’t want any of their money or stuff.

Paul was a giver, not a taker. He didn’t demand that others meet his needs, he worked so that, not only his need, but also the needs of others were met.

“I have coveted no man’s silver, or gold, or apparel. Yea, ye yourselves know, that these hands have ministered unto my necessities, and to them that were with me. I have shewed you all things, how that so labouring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive.” (Acts 20:33 – 35)

These four reflections would be good “don’ts” for all of us who are in the battle trying to serve the Lord.


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The Scriptures

Sorry for the late post. Cindy, Hannah, and I left early this morning for the airport, and we finally arrived at my daughter and son-in-law’s home in Paradise, Texas at 2:30. I am re-posting the blog article from last year. I am slowly figuring out that I need to get at least a day or two ahead of the blog so that it will always be ready early in the morning.

Today’s Passages – Acts 17 – 19; Proverbs 21 (Second Milers also read – Psalms 101 – 105; Memorize – Romans 1:21) Listen to this morning’s Scripture Song – 1 Timothy 1:17

“For he mightily convinced the Jews, and that publickly, shewing by the scriptures that Jesus was Christ.” (Acts 18:28)

Just a quick thought this morning to wet your appetite for the Bible preaching that we will here at our churches today. Here in the latter part of verse 18, we read about Apollos. The Bible tells us that Apollos was eloquent and knew something about the doctrines of Christ, and he certainly was proficient in the Old Testament Scriptures; but he had a lot to learn. He had been baptized by John, but being perhaps because he was geographically away from the area where Christ was preaching and teaching, he was limited in his knowledge. Aquila and Priscilla took him under their way, and discipled him, causing him to become more grounded in the Word.

The Bible then goes on to explain that Apollos, after being trained, went into Achaia and there took the Word of God and boldly preached to the Jews there. Apollos was mightily used of God for two reasons. First is that he was Spirit-filled, proven by the boldness of his preaching. He had a power (Acts 1:8), and a passion that can only come from the Holy Spirit. Secondly, he used the Bible. He didn’t need the wisdom and philosophy of man when he had the most powerful tool in the world for reaching people, the Word of God.

Many of our churches today are sadly lacking and limiting Bible preaching. Many have eliminated services from their schedule where the Bible was taught. And even in the remaining services, the Bible is almost an afterthought. Preachers and teachers, God’s people do not need your philosophies and opinions; but they desperately need God’s Word. Let’s keep the Bible at the very center of our soul winning, and our church services. The preaching of the Word of God must be preeminent. Our people are starving spiritually, and the Bible has just what they need to give them health.


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In Tune With The Spirit of God

Today’s Passages – Acts 14 – 16; Proverbs 20

(Second Milers also read – Psalms 96 – 100)

“Now when they had gone throughout Phrygia and the region of Galatia, and were forbidden of the Holy Ghost to preach the word in Asia, After they were come to Mysia, they assayed to go into Bithynia: but the Spirit suffered them not. And they passing by Mysia came down to Troas. And a vision appeared to Paul in the night; There stood a man of Macedonia, and prayed him, saying, Come over into Macedonia, and help us.” – (Acts 16:6-9)

“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.” – (Acts 16:14)

“And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.” – (Acts 16:31)

In Acts chapter 16, Paul was on his second missionary journey, along with his partner, Silas. The plan was for them to go back to some of the churches that Paul had visited on the first journey with Barnabas. They were able to go to back to some of the cities that he had been to before, and were about to embark on some new, uncharted spiritual territory. They wanted to preach the gospel in some of the cities of Asia Minor, but the Spirit of God said “no”. They also attempted to go into Bythinia, but again they were somehow hindered by the Holy Ghost. However, in the city of  Troas, Paul received a vision which revealed to him just where God wanted him to go. In this vision he saw “a man of Macedonia” that was asking for Paul’s help. Now Macedonia is farther geographically than Paul had ever been, but he listened to the voice of God and travelled across the Aegean Sea into the region of Macedonia, specifically into the city of Philippi. It was in this city that they were able to lead Lydia first to the Lord, and then finally, after some difficult circumstances, they were able to get the gospel to the Philippian jailor and his family. I believe that this jailor was the man that Paul saw in his vision.

As I was reading this passage, I wondered what would have happened had Paul and Silas tried to stubbornly stick to their original agenda rather than listening to the voice of God. I am sure that Paul had a well thought out plan that he had prayed over, and was in the process of implementing it when the Spirit of God intervened. And how did the Holy Ghost stop them from going to their intended destinations, anyway? I can’t be sure, but I bet that as Paul and Silas attempted to go and preach at these places, they probably were confronted with “closed doors”. Has God ever closed the door on your plans. I remember a time when my wife and I thought it was the will of God to bypass Bible College in order to move to another city in order to serve as  a youth pastor. It felt like the right thing to do, but God shut the door tightly on that plan. Guess where we ended up going? You guessed it – to Bible college, because that is where the Holy Ghost wanted us.

It is my desire to be sensitive – in tune – with the Holy Ghost of God. I want to be listening to his voice. I know that if He can get past all of the distractions and clamour that are normally filling my world, He can get through to me. I just need to pull myself away from the world, and get alone with Him and His Word. He will guide and direct me according to His will. I also know that He will let me do “my thing” if I choose to, but  my way will lead to spiritual barrenness. His way points to Lydia, and the jailor; and many others who will cry out to me, “[Sir], What must I do to be saved?”.

“Lord, help me to set aside my own agenda; and help me to listen for your voice as you reveal your wonderful plan for my life and ministry.”


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Their All Precious In His Sight

Today’s Passages – Acts 9 – 10; Proverbs 18

(Second Milers also read – Psalm 86 – 90; Memorize – Philippians 4:6)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture Song – Ephesians 4:32

Click here to read last year’s post on this passage – “The Beauty of Salvation”

“And there came a voice to him, Rise, Peter; kill, and eat. But Peter said, Not so, Lord; for I have never eaten any thing that is common or unclean. And the voice spake unto him again the second time, What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common. … And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost.” – (Acts 10:13-15, 45)

In Acts, chapter one, Jesus told the disciples that after they received the Holy Ghost the gospel was going to go forth into all Judaea, Samaria, and into the uttermost part of the earth. I suppose the disciples at first thought that even though the gospel was to spread out geographically, it was still intended only for the Jewish people. These Jewish disciples were slow about sharing the good news of the gospel with other people groups. We have previously seen in this book the great revival in Samaria, but the people that lived there had at least some Jewish blood in them. We have also read about the conversion of the Ethiopian eunuch who was clearly a Gentile, but was also apparently a convert to Judaism. Here in chapter ten, however, we see the first completely Gentile convert to Christianity since Pentecost. God had to clearly demonstrate to Peter through the vision he received on the rooftop in Joppa that it was His will to save the Gentiles. Those “creatures” that were let down in the sheet  in Peter’s vision represented the Gentile people groups of the world.

The little ones sing the song, “Jesus Loves the Little Children”; but the truth contained in that song is applicable to saints of every age. God loves people – all people. He loves Americans, but He also loves the billions of people who live outside of our borders. Sometimes we get a little “tunnel-visioned” in our approach to ministry. There are all kinds of people in our world, and God wants all of them in Heaven. Our churches today need to be a representation – a sample – of the demographic of Heaven. I am glad that we have all kinds of people at our church: many colors, many cultures; but all coming together for the common bond that holds us all together – Christ. They are all precious in His sight!


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Divine Appointments.

Today’s Passage – Acts 7 – 8; Proverbs 17 (Second Milers also read – Psalms 81 – 85)

“And the angel of the Lord spake unto Philip, saying, Arise, and go toward the south unto the way that goeth down from Jerusalem unto Gaza, which is desert. … Then the Spirit said unto Philip, Go near, and join thyself to this chariot. And Philip ran thither to him, and heard him read the prophet Esaias, and said, Understandest thou what thou readest? And he said, How can I, except some man should guide me? And he desired Philip that he would come up and sit with him.” – (Acts 8:26, 29-31)

In chapter 8 of today’s passage we read about Philip and his evangelistic efforts in Samaria, and then his witness to the Ethiopian Eunuch. This account is possibly the most famous conversion story in the entire Bible, perhaps taking second place only to the salvationtory s of the Apostle Paul. By the way, I am very thankful that, although the Book of Acts tells us a lot about the multitudes that came to Christ, it also concerns itself with the individual. This individual eunuch of Ethiopia was very important to the Lord; and the Lord went to great lengths to reach him with the gospel. We will be reading about some of the other people that the Lord saved in future days: people like Lydia and the jailor at Philippi. I love to read about people getting saved.

Let’s notice some things about this divine appointment that the Lord made for Philip and this man from Ethiopia:

1  God was at work in each of these men’s lives before Acts 8. The eunuch was already reading the Book of Isaiah before Philip got there. He was thinking about the things of God. Philip was already serving the Lord. He was on of the seven deacons chosen by the Church at Jerusalem which indicated that he was filled with the Holy Ghost and wisdom. Philip was serving in Samaria, already faithful to the Lord’s will.

2  I notice that God orchestrated the events in Philip’s (and the eunuch’s) life to get him to where the eunuch was. Philip left a very successful ministry in Samaria to go and witness to this one man. He was sensitive to the will leading of God. He recognized that the circumstances in his life were in the hands of a Sovereign God.

3  I notice that Philip did not hesitate to speak to a man that was different than himself. This man was a convert to Judaism, but He was a man of Ethiopia: a Gentile. If we are going to reach this world, we are going to have to be willing to come out of our comfort zones.

4  I notice also that Philip very patiently and lovingly lead the man, step by step, to the Lord.

5  Finally, I notice in this passage the one Bible prerequisite for baptism – “if thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest.” Baptism is for believers, not for babies. By the way, you can also see the mode of baptism here: they went down into the water. Sprinkling is not baptism.

I love reading this exciting Book of Acts. It motivates me to want to be an active participant in the Great Commission. God has made some devine appointments for me along the way, but I am looking forward to being used of Him more in the future. I want to have some of my own stories to tell.


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Ye Cannot Overthrow It

Today’s Passages – Acts 4 – 6; Proverbs 16

(Second Milers also read – Psalms 76 – 80; Memorize – Philippians 4:6)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Matthew 6:33

Click here to read last year’s post on this passage – “They Had Been With Jesus – Have You?”

“But if it be of God, ye cannot overthrow it; lest haply ye be found even to fight against God.” – (Acts 5:39)

“And to him they agreed: and when they had called the apostles, and beaten them, they commanded that they should not speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. And they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name. And daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ.” – (Acts 5:40-42)

“But the more they afflicted them, the more they multiplied and grew. And they were grieved because of the children of Israel.” – (Exodus 1:12)

Persecution has a strange way of producing the opposite outcome the what was intended by those that are doing the persecuting. In our text, Peter and John are preaching the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ until they are arrested by the religious leaders and put in prison. They are released the next day, but only after they are threatened. They go right back to preaching, because they believed that God’s command to preach superseded any human law. They are again arrested, but are miraculously removed from prison by the Angel of the Lord, only to go back out and preach again. The religious leaders don’t know what to do about these trouble makers, so they arrest them again; and they release them again, but this time before they are released, they are beaten. We can see that things are certainly starting to heat up for the apostles. In chapter 7 we will see that things will heat up even more, when Stephen is put to death for preaching the gospel.

You would think that with all of this punishment being handed out to the Christians that the preaching would be curtailed; but the opposite is actually true. The more they were persecuted, the more they preached. In fact, when persecution really heats up in Jerusalem (Acts 8), the people are scattered throughout all Judea and Samaria preaching the gospel. And the more they preached, the more people got saved.

It is the same way in the world we live in today. Christianity is thriving in some of the most unlikely places. Did you know that it is estimated that the actual number of Christians in communist China is said to be more than the number of Christians in Europe and America combined; and most of the churches in China are operating illegally, underground. Many Christians have been imprisoned in China for their faith; yet the Christians keep coming.

Now let’s consider America. We have freedom and prosperity here; but it seems that we are spiritually dying in most places. Maybe the churches in America would benefit from a little persecution. Does that sound strange to you? Don’t misunderstand. I am not wishing or asking for persecution; but I am willing to ask the Lord to do whatever is necessary to wake the churches in America up, even if it includes some persecution.


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Don’t Quit

Today’s Passages – Acts 1 – 3; Proverbs 15

(Second Milers also read – Psalms 71 – 75; Memorize – Philippians 4:6)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Micah 6:8

Read “Five Ways To Grow Closer to the Lord in November” by Dr. Paul Chappell

If you haven’t read the completed post from yesterday, please go back and read it now. It will be helpful in understanding this one.

“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.” (Acts 1:8)

“But Peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice, and said unto them, Ye men of Judaea, and all ye that dwell at Jerusalem, be this known unto you, and hearken to my words:” (Acts 2:14)

“And Peter, fastening his eyes upon him with John, said, Look on us.” (Acts 3:4)

In yesterday’s post, we read of a discouraged Peter who, though called of God to serve Him in ministry, went back to his vocation of being a commercial fishermen. He thought that because of his denial of the Lord that he was certainly disqualified from ever serving the Lord again. He was wrong. The Lord arranged that special meeting that we read about in John 21. I believe the sole purpose of that meeting was for the Lord to reassure and restore Peter. He convinced Peter to keep going. Peter was down, but not out.

Now look at what the Lord is doing through Peter here in these first three chapters in Acts. After the Lord’s departure Peter is leading the disciples in chapter one as they await the arrival of the Holy Ghost. In chapter 2, through the power of the Holy Ghost, Peter preaches his famous Pentecost sermon resulting in thousands saved. Finally, in chapter 3, he heals a man in the temple which gives him another wonderful opportunity to preach the gospel to the people who had gathered to see what was done.

Peter almost missed it. He almost missed being a prominent part of the greatest works yet of the Lord. I wonder how many of God’s servants missed seeing God use them in miraculous ways simply because they got discouraged and quit. If you are reading this and you are discouraged, let me encourage you: Don’t Quit!!! If you have blown it, as Peter had obviously done, get back up. You are in good company. We all blow it. Maybe now, you will serve in His power instead of your own. But whatever you do, don’t stay down. God still wants to use you. Get back in the game.

Now let me say a word to those of you who might be doing well right now, and you are enjoying the fruits of your ministry for the Lord. I bet you can think of  a “Peter” right now in your life. A person that used to serve with you, but has fallen in his service and testimony. You might think that he wants to be where he is, but remember that no saved person enjoys being out of the will of God. Why don’t you do what you can do to encourage him. Remember the Lord arranged a special post-resurrection meeting with Peter for the sole purpose of encouraging and restoring him. Maybe God will use you to help somebody get back up and serve the Lord.


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Thankful for Preachers

Today’s Passage – Acts 26 – 28

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. (Acts 28:30&31)

The last few verses of Acts sum up the purpose of Paul’s entire life, to preach Christ. No matter where he went, and no matter who he was talking to, Paul preached Christ. In these last three chapters we see Paul rehearsing his testimony before Herod and Festus. Later we see him being the spiritual leader during the crisis of the shipwreck; and later still he is ministering to the people on the island of Melita. Paul had one focus in life and that was to be an ambassador for the Lord Jesus Christ. He could have gotten bitter about his unjust treatment; he could have gotten discouraged because of his lack of liberty; but he just kept preaching Christ: to kings and governors; to soldiers; to his fellow prisoners; to the barbarous people on the island; to the Jews and Gentiles at Rome.

I am thankful for the faithfulness of Paul, and men (and women) like him that have also been faithful to preach Christ. I was saved because someone was faithful to preach the gospel to me. In fact, I had several somebodies who had witnessed to me. I am thankful for my friend Kathleen who preached Christ to me; and for Pete; and for Doug, a dairy man at Shoprite who invited me to church; and for Reverend Riter who knocked on my door while canvassing for a bus ministry; and for men on the radio like J. Vernon McGee who were also faithfully preaching and teaching, and were used of God to ultimately reach me.

I am also thankful for the men of God that He has used to influence my life after my conversion; men who discipled and trained me. I couldn’t possibly list all of the people that have helped me a long the way; but let me mention one: Pastor Rick Wedemeyer is the one man that I have had a relationship with since the early days of my salvation. Pastor Rick has never turned me away. Even when he was going through turbulent times himself, he always had time to encourage me, and he always helped me.

I wonder if my life will have the same impact and influence on this generation. I want to be faithful to preach Christ to my generation as Paul was to his; and I also want to be used of the Lord to help develop and mentor younger Christians. How about you? Do you desire to be a faithful ambassador for the Lord? Do you witness when given the opportunity? Do you take time to teach those that are still babes in Christ? You and I are saved because somebody else was faithful. Let’s be faithful also.


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Don’t Put It Off

Today’s Passage – Acts 23 – 25

“And after certain days, when Felix came with his wife Drusilla, which was a Jewess, he sent for Paul, and heard him concerning the faith in Christ. And as he reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come, Felix trembled, and answered, Go thy way for this time; when I have a convenient season, I will call for thee.” (Acts 24:24 & 25)

In the passage that we have read today, Paul, after having been arrested for allegedly inciting a riot at the temple in Jerusalem, has been brought to Caesarea for his own protection. The Jews at Jerusalem wanted him dead, so in order to protect Paul who was a Roman citizen, the chief captain secretly brought him out of the city. While in Caesarea, Paul had the opportunity to proclaim the Christian faith to the governor, Felix, and his wife, Drusilla. The Bible tells us that Felix trembled, which means that he was under conviction, he believed at least partially what Paul had testified to him about the Lord Jesus, and about the consequences of rejecting Christ,  yet he postponed a decision for Christ until he had a “convenient season”. I wonder if that convenient season ever came for Felix or his wife. I hope he did, but somehow I doubt it. History teaches that Felix’ wife Drusilla was tragically killed when Mt. Vesuvius, a volcano near Pompeii, erupted in 79 AD. Imagine dying in such a way, only to spend eternity in a much worse state.

It has been my observation throughout the years since my salvation that people need to decide for Christ when they are being invited to receive Him. Many times that convenient season never comes. I strongly urge you who are reading this post, if you are not sure about your eternal destiny, please open your heart to the Lord today. Don’t put it off, tomorrow is not guaranteed. Salvation is simple:

First, you must recognize your need – you are a sinner, and the wages (payment) for sin is death (eternal separation from God in Hell). (Romans 3:10; 23; 6:23)

Second, you must believe that Jesus Christ, God the Son, came to earth and died to satisfy the debt that you and I owed for our sins. The Bible tells us that without the shedding of blood there can be no remission of sins. Somebody has to pay for your sins. Jesus already did, so you don’t have to.

Third, you must receive Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour. The Bible is clear that if you call upon the name of the Lord Jesus, placing your faith in Him, you will be saved. (Romans 10:9 – 13)

You can call upon the Lord today and be assured that He not only will hear you, but He will also save you! You don’t have to worry about eternity ever again.

“These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.” (1 John 5:13)

By the way, if you are a Christian, now is also a convenient season for submitting to the will of God for your life. God expects our full obedience to Him. It is our reasonable service.

“(For he saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succoured thee: behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.)” (2 Corinthians 6:2)


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Paul’s Farewell Address to the Ephesians

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Today’s Reading – Acts 20 – 22

“And now, behold, I know that ye all, among whom I have gone preaching the kingdom of God, shall see my face no more.” (Acts 20:25)

In Acts chapter 20 we have the account of the Apostle Paul on his way back to Jerusalem from his third recorded missionary journey. He wants to make it to Jerusalem for Pentecost so he doesn’t have time to visit Ephesus personally. However, he knows that there is great potential for problems in Jerusalem, and that he will most likely not be able to get back to Ephesus, so he wants to say good-bye to them. So this is a farewell visit with people who he loved dearly, and had ministered to for almost three years.

While reading this passage I was intrigued by four reflections that Paul had regarding his ministry to the Ephesians. The interesting part about these remembrances is that they refer to what Paul did not do rather than what he did.

1  He didn’t withhold from them anything that was profitable.

Paul was a giver. He gave all that he had in order to meet their need. There was no part of his time, talent, or treasure that was hoarded for himself.

“And how I kept back nothing that was profitable unto you, but have shewed you, and have taught you publickly, and from house to house, Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Acts 20:20 & 21)

4  He didn’t walk away from the will of God when the pressure was on.

He didn’t move. Too many men of God jump ship whenever the going gets tough. I know how it feels as I have been close to throwing in the towel myself. We must learn to endure hardship as a good soldier. We must learn to be steadfast and unmoveable, always abounding in the work; in season and out of season.

“But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God.” (Acts 20:24)

3  He didn’t wait to declare all the counsel of God.

Previously, we mentioned Paul’s time, talent, and treasure. Here we see that Paul held nothing back as far as doctrine was concerned. He showed them from the Scriptures how to be saved; but he also declared unto them all the counsel of God, so that they could completely fulfill God’s will for their lives. Paul wasn’t lazy.

“Wherefore I take you to record this day, that I am pure from the blood of all men. For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God.” (Acts 20:26 &27)

4  He didn’t want any of their money or stuff.

Paul was a giver, not a taker. He didn’t demand that others meet his needs, he worked so that, not only his need, but also the needs of others were met.

“I have coveted no man’s silver, or gold, or apparel. Yea, ye yourselves know, that these hands have ministered unto my necessities, and to them that were with me. I have shewed you all things, how that so labouring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive.” (Acts 20:33 – 35)

These four reflections would be good “don’ts” for all of us who are in the battle trying to serve the Lord.



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The Beauty of Salvation

Today’s Reading – Acts 9 & 10

The word which God sent unto the children of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ: (he is Lord of all:) … To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins. (Acts 10:36 & 43)

As I was musing on the reading this morning, I was actually having a mental block as to what I would write about. Not that there isn’t enough material here to pique my interest as this is obviously one of the most exciting passages of Scripture in the Bible. Sometimes when there is so much going on, I have a hard time picking one thought from a passage. However, I have decided t develop a thought regarding the beauty and wonder of salvation. In both of the chapters that we have read today, there is a prominent individual who receives Christ as Saviour.

In Acts 9, we read of the marvelous conversion of Saul of Tarsus; a man that was enemy number one to every Christian. Saul was the most zealous persecutor of the Christians, who wasn’t satisfied by just driving them out of Jerusalem; he requested and received permission to chase them to the places where they had fled. Paul is on his way to Damascus to prosecute the Christians there when suddenly the Lord appears to him personally. I can’t be sure about this, but I believe that the Lord handled Paul’s conversion in this way because Paul would have never listened to another man. Paul’s life is changed 180 degrees and he served Christ with an intensity that surpassed even the zeal of his days as a persecutor. What a conversion. I have often wondered if we will ever see a conversion like this ever again. I am not referring to the way the Lord revealed himself, but to the extent the convert would be used of the Lord after his salvation.

In chapter ten, we learn about Cornelius, a Gentile centurion. Now Cornelius was also a prominent figure in his circles. Though he was a Gentile, he was a man who feared God, and to the best of his knowledge and understanding, he served him. Jesus revealed himself to Cornelius in a different way than Paul, yet just as dramatic. An angel appears to him and tells him to send for Peter. Peter has to be specially prepared by the Lord for this meeting, because he would never, without God’s specific intervention, go and present Christ to a Gentile. Peter eventually goes to Caesarea to preach the gospel to Cornelius, and he and many others who were present were gloriously saved.

I love the Book of Acts. It is all about people getting saved. Sometimes in church we lose sight of the main thing which is winning people to Christ. We get very caught up in the administrative aspects of ministry, and other good things that we forget about the best things. I always want to be involved with a church that has a heart for people and a zeal for the winning of souls. We should never get tired of seeing people saved. I can’t wait to go out tonight for soulwinning visitation!

And of some have compassion, making a difference: And others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh. (Jude 22 & 23)


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Say Cheeeeeeese!

Today’s Passage – Acts 7 – 8

And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit. And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep. (Acts 8:59 & 60)

The world is taking a picture of our lives every day; but what image are they getting. When people look at me do they see me, or do they see Christ. As Christians, we are supposed to be pictures of Christ to this godless world. We are to show them Christ through our lives and testimonies. When people see us they are supposed to get a glimpse of what Jesus would be like if He were here in the flesh personally. In our passage today, we see a man who demonstrated Christ to his generation. He lived like Christ, and he died like Christ.

1  Stephen was fearless in his preaching. He knew that the crowd that he was witnessing to had already killed the Lord, and they had already beaten and imprisoned Peter and John. He knew that he was risking his life by saying the things that he said, yet he preached the truth.

2  Stephen was faithful in his passing. He had his eyes on the Lord right up until he died. He was not thinking about his circumstances, he was looking straight into the eyes of the Lord. And the Lord was standing at the right hand of the Father, waiting to receive Stephen. What a way to go.

3  He was forgiving to his persecutors.  Perhaps this is the most striking picture of Christ. When Jesus died on the cross, He said, “Forgive them Father”. Here Stephen says virtually the same thing. He says, “Lay not this sin to their charge”.

There was a young man named Saul in the crowd that day that got a good look at the picture that Stephen was portraying that day. Saul would get another look at the Lord, first hand, later on; but I contend to you that he had already seen the Lord through the testimony of Stephen.

What do people see in our lives? Do they see Jesus or do they see us? We need to peel back the layers of our own desires and personalities, and allow Christ to live through us. This world desperately needs to see the real Jesus. There have certainly been many impersonators out there; but through our surrendered lives, we can show the world Christ.


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They Had Been With Jesus – Have You?

Today’s Reading – Acts 4 – 6

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. (Acts 4:13)

In our text today, Peter and John are in the temple and are being interrogated by the religious leaders for the healing of the lame man on the previous day. (See Acts 3) The problem was not that this man was healed, but that Peter and John used the occasion of the healing to preach the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ, and many were saved as a result. The Pharisees now understood that they had a real problem on their hands. In the last couple of weeks there had been nearly ten thousand of their ranks that had joined the Christians. Something had to be done about these trouble makers.

In the midst of all of this the Jewish leadership made some observations about Peter and John found in verse 13 above:

1  They were bold – evidence of their being filled with the Holy Spirit. When was the last time you asked the Holy Ghost of God to fill you? Are you willing to yield to what He wants to do with your life?

And ye shall receive power after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you… (Acts 1:8)

2  They were uneducated – yet they possessed a wisdom and knowledge that could not be refuted. These men were fishermen by trade. They were not trained in the Scriptures by Gamaliel as Paul was. But they knew the Word of God. Consider all of the passages that were quoted by Peter in his sermons. This is a good lesson for us to learn. We do not need to know and preach all of the junk that this world teaches, but we should know and preach the Word of God.

3  The had been with Jesus – this is perhaps the greatest compliment a Christian can be given. These two humble fishermen reminded the Pharisees of Jesus. They saw Jesus in them. Can people see Jesus in us? Maybe it’s because we do not spend enough time with Him. My preacher used to say, “You are, or you soon will be, who you hang around.” It was obvious to the Jews that these two fishermen were hanging out with the Lord.

If you are reading this, then you have probably read the Scripture passage for today. At least I hope you have. That’s good! Then you will be a little more like Jesus as a result of the time you have spent with Him, and maybe people will begin to recognize the Lord’s presence in your life. They should be able to spot Him in your attitude, in your compassion, in your integrity, in your work ethic, and in your separation from the evil of this world.


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He Was Down, But He Got Back Up

Today’s Reading – Acts 1 – 3

If you haven’t read the completed post from yesterday, please go back and read it now. It will be helpful in understanding this one.

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. (Acts 1:8)

But Peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice, and said unto them, Ye men of Judaea, and all ye that dwell at Jerusalem, be this known unto you, and hearken to my words: (Acts 2:14)

And Peter, fastening his eyes upon him with John, said, Look on us. (Acts 3:4)

In yesterday’s post, we read of a discouraged Peter who, though called of God to serve Him in ministry, went back to his vocation of being a commercial fishermen. He thought that because of his denial of the Lord that he was certainly disqualified from ever serving the Lord again. He was wrong. The Lord arranged that special meeting that we read about in John 21. I believe the sole purpose of that meeting was for the Lord to reassure and restore Peter. He convinced Peter to keep going. Peter was down, but not out.

Now look at what the Lord is doing through Peter here in these first three chapters in Acts. After the Lord’s departure Peter is leading the disciples in chapter one as they await the arrival of the Holy Ghost. In chapter 2, through the power of the Holy Ghost, Peter preaches his famous Pentecost sermon resulting in thousands saved. Finally, in chapter 3, he heals a man in the temple which gives him another wonderful opportunity to preach the gospel to the people who had gathered to see what was done.

Peter almost missed it. He almost missed being a prominent part of the greatest works yet of the Lord. I wonder how many of God’s servants missed seeing God use them in miraculous ways simply because they got discouraged and quit. If you are reading this and you are discouraged, let me encourage you: Don’t Quit!!! If you have blown it, as Peter had obviously done, get back up. You are in good company. We all blow it. Maybe now, you will serve in His power instead of your own. But whatever you do, don’t stay down. God still wants to use you. Get back in the game.

Now let me say a word to those of you who might be doing well right now, and you are enjoying the fruits of your ministry for the Lord. I bet you can think of  a “Peter” right now in your life. A person that used to serve with you, but has fallen in his service and testimony. You might think that he wants to be where he is, but remember that no saved person enjoys being out of the will of God. Why don’t you do what you can do to encourage him. Remember the Lord arranged a special post-resurrection meeting with Peter for the sole purpose of encouraging and restoring him. Maybe God will use you to help somebody get back up and serve the Lord.


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