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Acts 4:10 “this man standing here complete well because of the power of Jesus Christ from Nazareth. You put Jesus to death on a cross but God raised him to life.”
Secondly, lets travel back in time and put ourselves in the religious leaders shoes. They had executed Jesus and the heard rumours of his resurrection and even formulated a cover up story to explain away the empty tomb BUT NOW people were being HEALED in the name of Jesus, in the power of Jesus, the power of a dead criminal that they executed for blasphemy! How it must of felt and looked. Did they wonder at what had happened and what was going on? Or were they so entrenched in their own methods and power and structure and religion that they did not allow themselves to think that perhaps what these two men were saying was the truth. It was all so brand new. People healed in the name of a dead criminal! How preposterous that must of seemed!
We are so accustomed to hearing about miracles in Jesus name (be it contemporary or from the bible) that we let the power and newness of that brush over us.
We are unaffected by it and should remember how it must have been for the early Christians and “common folk”. and we should examine ourselves… are we excited about knowing God and who he is? are we exited to read his word and hear him speak? are we exited to be his children, to know his peace and love? are we looking forward to eternity wth him and are we grateful for the sacrifice of Jesus that made the way for us to be acceptable to God?
Also – we can make this the reality in our lives. How many people think Christianity is just a Sunday thing or a cultural thing we do or about being good and nice – they don’t connect the dots and think that it is about a very real God who has power and interacts with humanity – that we love and serve him. What an awesome surprise – to discover that God, who you thought was an old white guy with a long beard on a cloud far away – is actually real and relevant and relational?
Acts 8:2 At that time the church in Jerusalem suffered terribly. All of the Lord’s followers, except the apostles, were scattered everywhere in Judea and Samaria.
What a terrible and wonderful time for the church. It demonstrates how God uses all things for his purpose and glory – the persecution of the church scattered the believers all throughout Israel and Europe and Asia – which ment he Gospel was spread throughout the nations. What the enemy ment for evil – shutting the church down – God used for glory by increasing the church! this verse shows us how hard times and “contention” can be used by God to expand his kingdom, strengthen our faith and character and change the world. the suffering by the christians in the early church sent them out of jerusalem to find safe homes, away from people like saul who wanted to kill and imprison them. but more importantly it spread the gospel. is there contention in your life? are you suffering in an area? then turn it for the glory of God, use it for light. a friend of mine for the last 6 months has had to take her mother for chemo at hospital. she hated that her mum was so sick and that she had to have this horrible treatment. she hates that her life semi stopped and she spent most of her days at hospital, waiting in the waiting room. but as she looked around she saw other broken people, waiting for their loved ones who had cancer. she took the time to talk to them and encourage them and pray for them and share the good news and hope that christ gives. she was suffering but used that suffering place to bring light and peace.
Acts 8:4 The Lord’s followers who had been scattered went from place to place telling the good news.
lately i was reading in psalm 101 where it encourages us to sing to God and to celebrate his kindness and justice and again i was reminded that this is an intentional thing we choose to do, not just on a sunday but between sundays, in the every day of our lives.
every day and moment we can choose to celebrate God, to in our heart celebrate and confident and happy that God is king and just.
when we are living in celebration, living with hearts that worship God, i find that we tend to be more full of faith and trust, as we are worshipping God and seeing Him and His good attributes and power, instead of our navel or the dust on the floor… ya hear me???
now i am not talking about being happy clappy all the time, unless of course that is the way that you choose to exprses it, but i am talking about that in every day and in every space and season that we make that choice to believe and act upon that belief that God is good and worthy and holy and glorious and trustworthy.
lets be people who say I WILL CELEBRATE God.
lets make it a lifestyle.
you know, we can trust God with our hearts. we can trust that he is God and mighty. we can trust that he sees and he knows.
we can trust that he is with us.
God makes all things new. he forgives and makes us holy. he transforms us from what and who we are into the beautiful character of his son.
he is the God of new beginnings, who makes a way where there seems no way, who brings comfort and hope to those drowning in hopelessness.
God is with us. he was with us in the most powerful way – he came, Jesus, and dwelt with humanity.
do you know that Romans 8 says that because God so freely gave his son, to die on the cross, to be crushed for our sin, that we can be confident and assured that he will do more than we can imagine, that he is for us, not against us, that his love is everlasting. we can turst God.
do we worry if God loves us? do we worry if he hears us? do we worry if he is far away? these are things we DONT need to worry about – because his bible says that he loves us so much that he sent his son as hte perfect sacrifice so we can now be acceptable, and that we now can come boldly into his real presence and that he lives within us and will never leave us.
this is why i worship God.
even in the darkness and darkest times – he is with us and for us and all i need. even in the hard places when i hurt, he is all i need.
because i trust Him and he is all i trust him to be.
he is all i need.
“You wonder how long my love will last? Find your answer on a splintered cross, on a craggy hill. That’s me you see up there, your Maker, your God. Nail-stabbed and bleeding. Covered in spit and sin-soaked. That’s your sin I’m feeling. That’s your death I’m dying. That’s your resurrection I’m living. That’s how much I love you.” Max Lucado
“However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace.” Acts 20:24
” The same God who craeted the entire universe also created you and has a purpose for your life. You no longer have to carry your burdens alone. You can lay down your weariness, your sorrw, your suffering, your regret, your frustration. because one day you’re gonig to be made new! you will be whole, healthy, complete and 100 percent satisfied. and until that day Christ promises to walk with you each and every day, carrying your burdens for you, offering direction toward a significant life, giving substance to your hours and years and life.” Bill Hybels in Just Walk Across The Room
“This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.”
1 John 4:9-11
this song was played at my friends baptism last year – and his funeral yesterday. to me the lyrics are a profound declaration of surrender to God – showing a desire to know him and live a life pleasing to him.
This is my desire, to honour You
Lord with all my heart I worship You
all I have within me
I give You praise
all that I adore is in You
Lord I give You my heart
I give You my soul
I live for You alone
Every breath that I take
Every moment I’m awake
Lord have Your way in me
last night i read 2 Kings 23 and i love josiah in this passasage and the example he sets!
it is filled with ACTION WORDS – DOING WORDS – i know there is a fancy word for them – but it is too early in the morning to think of it!
The Word of God – the Law of the Lord – had been lost – hidden within a secret room of the temple and protected by God in times of upheaval and evil and discovered when Josiah had the temple renovated.
When it was discovered Josiah read the Scriptures and tore his clothes in grief and repentance.
The Word penetrated his heart.
He read it aloud to the whole of Israel, calling a scared assembly of all the people.
He reestablished the law and worship of the Lord.
and he did what few of his predecessors did action wise – he removed the places of idol worship and “cleaned up”. he made a stand for righteousness and obeying God. he removed the obstacles and distractions. As Paul would say “let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith”
sometimes in our life we need to take action and remove the obstacles in our life. we need to with action do something that will enable us to walk a holy life, not trapped by sin. the christian life is one of carrying our cross and denying self and following our Lord – its about knowing him and being transformed.
josiah transformed his own life and his nation.
ground to ashes