Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Thoughts from the Book of Acts...........

I am loving reading the book of Acts again!! There are way too many wonderful powerful passages in this book. This book demonstrates what the first church, birthed after the New Covenant came, was like - full of power through the Holy Spirit. This is a better covenant, one with power and life! The promise of the Spirit was fulfilled, and the disciples began to move in power to spread the truth of Jesus! They modeled what church life should look like!! The Gospel continued to go forth with power and signs and wonders through the disciples! They continued in the same manner Jesus did, healing the sick, raising the dead, casting out demons and preaching the truth of Jesus!! Wasn't it kind of God to have demonstrated in such obvious, tangible ways! Why would he do this - to give faith to people, faith in Jesus who saves us from sin and sickness!! Everytime miracles were performed, eyes were opened, hearts were opened, faith was established! Faith!! And we know, without faith it is impossible to please God!! He is the author and perfector of our faith too!! This is a glorious gospel and covenant indeed!! 

Okay, so on with my random snippets from Acts.........................
After the Holy Spirit came upon those in the upper room on the Day of Pentecost;

Acts 2 - 14Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd: "Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you; listen carefully to what I say. 15These men are not drunk, as you suppose. It's only nine in the morning! 16No, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: 17" 'In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams. 18Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy. 19I will show wonders in the heaven above and signs on the earth below, blood and fire and billows of smoke. 20The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord. 21And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.'
22"Men of Israel, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know. 23This man was handed over to you by God's set purpose and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men,
put him to death by nailing him to the cross. 24But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him. 25David said about him: " 'I saw the Lord always before me. Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken. 26Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will live in hope, 27because you will not abandon me to the grave, nor will you let your Holy One see decay. 28You have made known to me the paths of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence.'
29"Brothers, I can tell you confidently that the patriarch David died and was buried, and his tomb is here to this day. 30But he was a prophet and knew that God had promised him on oath that he would place one of his descendants on his throne. 31Seeing what was ahead,
he spoke of the resurrection of the Christ,
that he was not abandoned to the grave, nor did his body see decay. 32God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of the fact. 33Exalted to the right hand of God, he has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit and has poured out what you now see and hear. 34For David did not ascend to heaven, and yet he said, " 'The Lord said to my Lord: "Sit at my right hand 35until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet." '
36"Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ."

37When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, "Brothers, what shall we do?"
38Peter replied, "
Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call."
40With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, "Save yourselves from this corrupt generation." 41Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.

In the passage below, Peter knew he had nothing better to offer this man, other than to demonstrate the power of the gospel, of salvation in action - look at the response this powerful declaration and miracle received. Amazement and wonder and more who believed!! They all gave glory to God! 

Acts 3 - "1One day Peter and John were going up to the temple at the time of prayer—at three in the afternoon. 2Now a man crippled from birth was being carried to the temple gate called Beautiful, where he was put every day to beg from those going into the temple courts. 3When he saw Peter and John about to enter, he asked them for money. 4Peter looked straight at him, as did John. Then Peter said, "Look at us!" 5So the man gave them his attention, expecting to get something from them.
6Then Peter said, "
Silver or gold I do not have, but what I have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk." 7Taking him by the right hand, he helped him up, and instantly the man's feet and ankles became strong. 8He jumped to his feet and began to walk. Then he went with them into the temple courts, walking and jumping, and praising God. 9When all the people saw him walking and praising God, 10they recognized him as the same man who used to sit begging at the temple gate called Beautiful, and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.

Then look at what Peter says to the astonished crowd................He clarified to them that they did not heal this man by their own power, but by the power of God. He then says;

"16By faith in the name of Jesus, this man whom you see and know was made strong. It is Jesus' name and the faith that comes through him that has given this complete healing to him, as you can all see."

Did you see that? "It is Jesus name and the faith that comes through him that gave the man COMPLETE healing." 

Then in Acts 4, Peter and John were seized and then questioned by the Sandhedrin. Can you imagine this scene?!

8Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them: "Rulers and elders of the people! 9If we are being called to account today for an act of kindness shown to a cripple and are asked how he was healed, 10then know this, you and all the people of Israel: It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed. 11He is " 'the stone you builders rejected, which has become the capstone. 12Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved."
13When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus. 14But since they could see the man who had been healed standing there with them, there was nothing they could say. 15So they ordered them to withdraw from the Sanhedrin and then conferred together. 16"What are we going to do with these men?" they asked. "Everybody living in Jerusalem knows they have done an outstanding miracle, and we cannot deny it. 17But to stop this thing from spreading any further among the people, we must warn these men to speak no longer to anyone in this name."
18Then they called them in again and commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. 19But Peter and John replied, "Judge for yourselves whether it is right in God's sight to obey you rather than God.
20For we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard."

I love the first line and the last line in that passage, don't you? Peter is so full of the Holy Spirit, he is compelled and can not be silent about Jesus! I love it! Even in the face of danger...........

Then in Acts 5 -"12The apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders among the people. And all the believers used to meet together in Solomon's Colonnade. 13No one else dared join them, even though they were highly regarded by the people. 14Nevertheless, more and more men and women believed in the Lord and were added to their number. 15As a result, people brought the sick into the streets and laid them on beds and mats so that at least Peter's shadow might fall on some of them as he passed by. 16Crowds gathered also from the towns around Jerusalem, bringing their sick and those tormented by evil[a] spirits, and all of them were healed."

That passage is awesome to me! Peter's shadow healed them! How could that be? He must have been overshadowed by One who indeed carried the power!!! And did you see that more and more believed as a result?!!!

Also, I loved this part in verse 42, after having been persecuted; "42Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Christ."

Further along in Acts we read Paul's message in Athens; 

24"The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands. 25And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else. 26From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. 27God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us. 28'For in him we live and move and have our being.' As some of your own poets have said, 'We are his offspring.'29"Therefore since we are God's offspring, we should not think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone—an image made by man's design and skill. 30In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent. 31For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to all men by raising him from the dead."

Where is the church that moved in power like this? Was it really meant for just the early church? Do we believe in this same Gospel that the disciples preached, the one that came with mighty signs and wonders? If so, aren't we to move in power as the disciples did, and as Jesus did? If we are his offspring, and he is within us and we have been given the promise of the Holy Spirit - and it's in Him we live and move and have our being - wouldn't or shouldn't we be compelled to follow in His and the disciples footsteps! Not only compelled, but propelled and actually moving in signs, wonders and miracles! Proclaiming the good news of Jesus and demonstrating with signs, wonders and miracles to give faith to all those who hear....................why should we settle for less than what we see here in Acts? 


Phil said...

Hi Lydia. Food for thought for an ill cessationist who's not sure his cessationism is correct. Hmm.

silent wings said...

Where is the church that moved in power like this? hmmmm She is alive and well in pockets all over this earth and yet she is also asleep, disheartened, ignorant or in plain disbelief in other places. My prayer is that the revolutionary love, grace and mercy of God will continue to transform the church(which includes me)until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. Ephesians 4:13

We should not, MUST not settle! We must proclaimin in word AND in deed that our God is ALIVE, He is VICTORIOUS, He is INVOLVED and He is FULL OF COMPASSION for each and every one of us. There is nothing quite like the pure gospel to do just that in and through us.

Great post Lydia!

joyfullydia said...

"Arise shine for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord rises upon you!!"

That is what I say to the church that is asleep and disheartened!!

Cirra, I love what you shared here, it sounds as though you are passionate about the church and have already given much thought to her!! I am so with you in that we must not settle for anything less than what God intended! Glory!! We have the same Gospel as Paul, yet we see so little of the power, and so little of the victory and pure joy that compelled him and the disciples! I know though that God will have a pure spotless bride for His Son one day, and that day IS coming!!!


lydia said...

Phil ~ nothing like the word of God to stir our hearts and reknew our thinking!!!

silent wings said...

mmmmm I like that verse, It really preaches!:

ARISE. Get up and GO..go into all the world, simply walk among them. And as you do...SHINE. Do what you were made to do...let Him, who is light, live the life through you for your LIGHT (Christ himself) HAS come. It is a done deal...it is finished, there is nothing more we need to do but believe and rest in Him! And the GLORY of the Lord rises apon you. As you rest in Him and in His love, the world will see Jesus in your eyes and hear him in your voice and feel him in our touch)


lydia said...

Wowee is right!! You preach grace so well!!

Love you!!

silent wings said...

ahhh love you too my friend! :)
Big blessings!

Phil said...

Thanks, Joyful Lydia, for your comment...out of interest, how much of Joseph Prince's stuff do you like? I've been reading and listening to some recently.

lydia said...

No problem Phil! I really like Joseph Prince A LOT!! He preaches grace only!! I just finished reading "Destined to Reign" for the second time, and just learned that his preaching will be airing live every week now!!! Are you enjoying what you have been reading and hearing?

Phil said...

Well,I'm posting comments etc along the same doctrinal lines on grace, but I can't say I have the experience, for whatever reasons. To be honest, I think I need God to open my eyes with more than information. I'm a bit slower and more cautious with the 'charismatic' things and prosperity stuff,too...Not sure here...I listened to his CD set on the covenant of Grace, and he seemed so alive. I've also ordered a couple more.

lydia said...

Phil, sorry to take so long in getting back to you.......sounds like you are getting a firm grip on grace, trying to wrap your mind around it, good stuff. Keep at it, He will open your eyes, pray for deeper revelation through the Holy Spirit and it will come. You are not alone in your hesitancy in the "charismatic" and "prosperity" aspects, because unfortunately as with everything people have gone and taken what God intended for good into something that is distorted.
Do you believe that God indeed desires to bless you? Do you see how God blessed Abraham with great wealth simply for believing God, FAITH, so God credited it to him as righteousness and blessed him abundantly! Do you see that in our salvation, the very word in Greek, means = healing, wholeness, preservation, provision. God promises to provide and not just because we have needs, but because it is indeed His heart to lavish favor and blessings on us - our part, just believe and receive!!!
Keep letting the word saturate your heart and you will begin to "see" the hugeness of His grace and your salvation!!!

Grace and peace to you!

Phil said...

Lydia, many thanks. I was glad you answered me and my first response was excitement at the content...I have,for whether good or bad reason, a very analytical mind. I think I get hung up on it some. I need real rest. I've got M.E. symptoms, too...I also tend to feel fear that I'm going 'antinomian' with my views on law...can you help me out with this question? Why did a lot of the early churches seem to be in poverty, etc,e.g. Philippi,and Paul not tell them that they weren't getting the whole picture?

lydia said...

Get ready Phil for God to rock your analytical world, haha!! I think when we depend on our human mind to analyze God's word, we can get very tired, I know I do. I am not by nature very "smart", so when I try to play with thetheological "big guns" so to speak, I get worn out. I just want to hear preaching that speaks to my heart by revelation!! That's where I am at!!
So, I am sorry you have M. E. (what's that anyway?).
I certainly don't think you are alone in your fear of going too far and perhaps becoming licentious or not concerned with how to live at peace in society with all the laws etc.....I don't think though if you are truly on the path of grace and falling headlong into a love relationship with Jesus himself, that you will be in danger of that. Those who haven't understood grace properly may go that way, but I don't see that happening with you - I was worried about such things too. Rest in His love for you, don't worry about anything, just focus on Him and learning to let yourself be loved by Him!!!! When you see His love for you so deeply, you will not want to live in any way that doesn't line up with His best for you!! And you will in turn grow in your own love for Him and others - !!
So, the church in Philippi........I was not aware that they were in poverty, just to be sure, I went and read the whole book. It looked to me that they were very generous in aiding Paul financially - so I am not sure about their poverty, I will have to do some more reading on that, can you be more specific with references that you were referring to. Also, if you look at the book of Acts, you will see that there were no needy among them.
I don't know how to properly answer your question to be honest. I simply know that provision is part of the Gospel. I know that God promises to provide. That is a promise!! God's promises are all Yes in Christ!!

Phil said...

Thank you,Lydia :)...M.E. is like CFS,CFIDS. Many symptoms but characteristically exhaustion...on Philippi,there's possibly 2v30,4v10-12? And I spotted 2Cor8v2... Thanks again for what you advised me.

lydia said...

You're welcome Phil!!
So sorry about your struggle with M.E., my prayers are with you!! Believing for you and that healing will come!!
I will look at those verses........
May you experience the peace and rest that come only from above, may you be refreshed and renewed in the shadow of His wings!!!

Phil said...

Thank you, Lydia.