God Forbid!

Today’s Passages – Romans 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 126 – 130; Proverbs 26)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Psalm 47:1

Read the “1126 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

Check out a previous post from this passage – “Imputed Righteousness

“What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?” (Romans 6:1-2)

Romans, chapter six, answers the question that would naturally be on the minds of many who are studying this wonderful Letter and who are trying to get their heads wrapped around the doctrine of justification. If we are saved by grace, and secure by grace, can we then do whatever we want to do, including willfully sinning in order to satisfy our lusts. Paul answers the question very clearly here in this chapter – God forbid! He clarifies this instruction further in vs 12 – 14:

“Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God. For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.” (Romans 6:12-14)

We are to yield to the indwelling Holy Spirit within us, instead of obeying the lusts that are still within our sinful flesh. Our flesh is not redeemed, but our spirit, which was dead in trespasses and sins, has been brought back to life by God and is the home of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit wants to direct my life in obedience to the will and Word of God. The flesh still cries out to get its way, but I now have a choice not to listen. I can yield to God.

Since the time of Christ, there have periodically been movements within  Christianity that have taught that God is now OK with sin, because of His grace. They have got as far as to say that the more we sin, the more grace will be manifested. While it is true that there is no sin that the Christian can commit that could undo the work of grace in his heart, God still expects us to live our lives as Spirit-filled and Bible-obedient Christians. Grace not only saves us from the penalty of past and future sins, it also helps us to live separated and surrendered lives.

“For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world;” (Titus 2:11-12)

We will never be sinless as long as we live in these fleshly, mortal bodies; but, we can live our lives yielded to the Holy Spirit of God within us, and, if we do, our conduct will be pleasing to our Heavenly Father. The secret to winning the battle against the flesh is not to try to fight it head on in a battle of the wills. The key is to yield to (walk in) the Spirit.

“This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. … If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.” (Galatians 5:16, 25)

 


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Guilty But Pronounced Innocent

Today’s Passages – Romans 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 120 – 125; Proverbs 25)

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

Read the “1125 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“What then? are we better than they? No, in no wise: for we have before proved both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin; As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:” (Romans 3:9-10)

“Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin. But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference:” (Romans 3:20-22)

“Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.” (Romans 3:28)

The Letter to the Romans is an absolutely awesome portion of Scripture. Though it was written to teach the saved about their salvation, it is also the most comprehensive gospel tract available. In this wonderful epistle we learn about doctrine (chapters 1 – 8), dispensation (chapters 9 – 11), and duty (chapters 12 – 16).

Within the doctrine section of the Letter, we see that all men are guilty as fallen sinners before God. From Romans 1:18 all the way through 3:20, Paul exhaustedly proves that every man (and woman): Gentile or Jew, pagan or religious; all are guilty before God. Before a person can be saved, he must come to the brutal realization that he is a depraved and fallen, sinful creature. The truth hurts, but it is the truth. And, because of our sinful condition, we are completely deserving of God’s judgment, which is eternal separation from Him, ultimately in the Lake of Fire.

But, praise be to God,  the story does not end there. According to Romans 3:21 and 22, we can receive the righteousness of God through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ because of what He did for us on the Cross of Calvary. His death and shed blood on the Cross provide the atonement (redemption, complete cleansing of sin) for all lost sinners who are willing to repent and place their faith in Him.

Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians puts it this way:

“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.” (Ephesians 2:8-9)

I am guilty. I am totally deserving of judgment in Hell, but I have been pronounced innocent by God – completely clear of all charges of sin, because of what Jesus did for me. He died in my place. Though in reality, I am guilty, God now sees me as innocent – sinless. Not only did Jesus forgive my sins from the past, He will also not hold me responsible for any future sins. I am completely forgiven of all sins – past, present, and future. In Romans 4, Paul further clarifies this:

“Saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin.” (Romans 4:7-8)

What love, what mercy, what grace. We serve an awesome Saviour! Hallelujah!!

Do you believe that Jesus died for you? Have you placed your faith in Him and Him alone to take you to Heaven? I hope you have. If you have not yet trusted Him and you are concerned about your eternal destiny, click here.

I am already looking forward to tomorrow’s reading in Romans, where we will learn more about our justification in Christ and also explore the process of our sanctification.


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What Makes You Happy

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.

“I think myself happy, king Agrippa, because I shall answer for myself this day before thee touching all the things whereof I am accused of the Jews:” (Acts 26:2)
What makes you happy?

The Apostle Paul was thrilled on this particular day because he was given the opportunity to share with King Agrippa II (*see note below) and his wife, Bernice, the glorious gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Let me back up a little bit and provide a little context to the story. Back in Acts 21, we learn of Paul’s arrest in Jerusalem, being accused of the Jews of bringing Gentiles into the Temple, which was a false accusation. The chief captain of the Roman Guard, Claudius Lysius, after hearing that some of the Jews had covenanted together to execute Paul, delivered him to Caesarea to protect him, and and also to bring him before Governor Felix. Felix holds on to Paul for two years, but had the opportunity himself to hear the gospel story and Paul’s testimony. When Festus becomes the new governor, he attempts to bring Paul back to Jerusalem to re-try his case before the Jewish religious leadership. But, Paul would have none of it and instead appealed his case to Caesar, which he had the right to do as a Roman citizen. Before he leaves Caesarea, however, he is given the opportunity to witness to King Agrippa, Bernice, and Festus.

Paul’s life was consumed with sharing the message of salvation with people. Paul was constantly rehearsing his testimony to whoever would give him an audience, and this made him very happy. It is interesting that a Spirit-filled Christian like Paul receives such joy out of sharing his faith and influencing people regarding salvation. Most of us are only happy when we are receiving tangible rewards or positive circumstances, but not Paul. Paul was in prison, but as long as he was telling people about Jesus, he was very happy.

Many Christians today are anything but happy, even though we are, for the most part, living very luxuriously. Perhaps, we should try doing what Paul did to amuse himself: witness to people. The good news of salvation is the greatest news on the planet, and there is no greater joy than sharing that news with someone who will listen. We may not see everybody that we speak to trust Christ as Savior, but we will receive joy knowing that they have the information they need in order to make that decision. Soul winning will make you happy. Try it today!

*Click here for more information about King Agrippa II and the Herodian Dynasty


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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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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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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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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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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 7:59 & 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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