Cross found on all donkeys' backs?
There is legend that the crosses on these donkeys appeared after Jesus rode one into Jerusalem (read Matthew 21:1-11). There is no evidence that this is true. The dark stripe in the form of a cross was a trait in these donkeys long before Jesus lived. However, the fact that Jesus rode a donkey into Jerusalem is very important. It fulfilled a prophecy that was spoken 500 years before Jesus lived, and showed He was the Messiah (read Matthew 21:5 and Zechariah 9:9).
Dear Prayer Partners
1} President Obama and his advisors
2} the men & women serving in our armed forces and their families
3} Bobby- a missionary in Haiti who was flown back to the states with a broken back
4} Holly- recently gave birth to a son
5} Hailey- has Hodgkin’s lymphoma and is unable to work due to it
6} Margo- recovering from a stroke
7} Dan- has Leukemia & an inoperable brain tumor, the tumors in his stomach and lung have been removed successfully
8} Christine- recently gave birth by an emergency C-section and her new son is in critical condition
9} Living Waters A/G looking for a youth pastor with a vision to reach the youth
10} Dennis- having problems breathing
11} The Holm Family- death of a loved one from cancer
12} The DeRien Family- death of a loved one
13} The Fraley family- death of a loved one
14} Eugene- is battling cancer
15} Schimmica- husband is having an affair
16} Kevin- has some serious dental problems and is recovering from emergency oral surgery
17} Faith- is hospitalized after a heart attack and partial amputation of right foot, has a serious infection in heart, lungs and kidneys and is back on dialysis
18} Chantella- is expecting her 1st baby in the spring
19} Julianne- having difficulty with her pregnancy
20} Marc- family problems
21} Tom- problems with weight control
22} Achan- has HIV, an infection in her lungs and gall bladder is shutting down
23} Rick- has bulging disc in his back
24} Noah- a toddler having complications from heart surgery, has a very high fever
25} Frank- fighting depression
26} Gloria- hospitalized after passing out at work
27} Chaplain Sam- recovering from eye surgery
28} Chaplain Jay- preparing for a missionary trip to Uganda next year
29} For all the unspoken and personal requests that people have
30} For us at Highway Mission Outreach that we will continue have the doors opened to share the gospel and the needed finances to carry out the ministry of the mission and as we plant The Cross-Roads Chapel
31} For Michael Frankland, Gill Ainsworth, Mark Ainsworth, Tracy Ainsworth, Tony Wood, Eileen Walsh, and Elaine - break down strongholds in their lives
Opening Our Hearts to God
Psa. 19:14 - May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart Be acceptable before You, O Jehovah, my rock and my Redeemer.
Acts 13:22-23 - And when He had deposed him, He raised up David for them as king, to whom also He testified and said, I have found David, the son of Jesse, a man according to My heart, who will do all My will. (23) From this man's seed, God, according to promise, brought to Israel a Savior, Jesus.
~~~~~ Words of Ministry ~~~~~
Both of the above passages are related to David. Psalm 19:14
is a prayer of David, while Acts 13:22-23 is a description of
David. In David's prayer, there are the “words of my mouth”
and the “meditation of my heart,” or the thoughts of the
heart. He prayed that he would not only be kept in his words
outwardly, but also be acceptable to God in his thoughts
inwardly. The words of the mouth are an expression of the
thoughts of the heart. The heart is the root problem.
Whether or not one outwardly says the right words is not the basic problem. Whether or not one has an outward attitude in his speaking that is right is also not the basic problem. The
thoughts of the heart are the basic problem. The thoughts of
the heart constitute the root problem and cannot be overlooked. David did not merely pray, “God, may the words of my mouth be acceptable before You.” He added to the prayer, “May the meditation of my heart be acceptable before You.”
David's prayer was for the thoughts of his heart to be
acceptable before God. This is why Paul could later testify
that David was a man according to the Lord's heart. A person
who is according to God's heart allows God to touch his heart. If you will not allow God to touch your heart, it will be hard for you to be one who is according to His heart.
Many Christians ask, “Why is it wrong for me to do this? Why
is it wrong for me to say this? Why is it wrong for me to
express myself this way?” Brothers and sisters, whether or
not you are doing the right thing, saying the right thing, or
expressing yourself the right way is not the real problem.
Rather, is your heart right when you are doing such a thing,
saying such a word, or expressing yourself in such a way?
What is the condition of your heart? What is the condition of
the root? Even if you are right in every outward thing, it is
still possible for your heart to be wrong. God is touching the condition of your heart and asking about it. He allows many winds and waves to beat upon His children for this very reason.
He uses these things to touch your heart and to expose the condition of your heart.
By C.H. Spurgeon
"For thy Maker is thine husband; the LORD of hosts is his name; and thy Redeemer the Holy One of Israel; The God of the whole earth shall he be called" (Isaiah 54:5).
JESUS, the Redeemer, is altogether ours and ours for ever. All the offices of Christ are held on our behalf. He is king for us, priest for us, and prophet for us. Whenever we read a new title of the Redeemer, let us appropriate Him as ours under that name as much as under any other. The shepherd's staff, the father's rod, the captain's sword, the priest's mitre, the prince's sceptre, the prophet's mantle, all are ours.
Jesus hath no dignity which He will not employ for our exaltation, and no prerogative which He will not exercise for our defence. His fulness of Godhead is our unfailing, inexhaustible treasure-house. His manhood also, which he took upon him for us, is ours in all its perfection. To us our gracious Lord communicates the spotless virtue of a stainless character; to us he gives the meritorious efficacy of a devoted life; on us he bestows the reward procured by obedient submission and incessant service. He makes the unsullied garment of his life our covering beauty; the glittering virtues of his character our ornaments and jewels; and the superhuman meekness of his death our boast and glory. He bequeaths us his manger, from which to learn how God came down to man; and his Cross to teach us how man may go up to God. All His thoughts, emotions, actions, utterances, miracles, and intercessions, were for us.
He trod the road of sorrow on our behalf, and hath made over to us as his heavenly legacy the full results of all the labours of his life. He is now as much ours as heretofore; and he blushes not to acknowledge himself "our Lord Jesus Christ," though he is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords. Christ everywhere and every way is our Christ, for ever and ever most richly to enjoy. O my soul, by the power of the Holy Spirit, call him this morning, "thy Redeemer."
Thank you for your support and continued prayers for these new believers and this ministry!
In His vineyard,
We Shall Worship the Lord!
By John Piper
Do you delight more and more in the majesty and glory of God? Does your heart incline to worship God more consistently and intelligently and earnestly and intensely today than it did five years ago?
Is your love for your brothers and sisters in Christ abounding more and more so that you use your gifts more and more effectively to strengthen their faith and stir them up to love and good works?
And do you feel a greater burden for the lost? Are your prayers for unbelieving relatives and friends more consistent and earnest? Are your efforts to give a reason for the hope that is in you more bold, less ashamed? Are you becoming a world Christian with a zeal for the final mission thrust of the church to reach the hidden peoples?
If you can answer yes, we are making progress as a church. If not, we are failing in those areas. But at least we have goal and a definite Biblical theology behind it.
But it is not new. Listen to the way another pastor and teacher describes the meaning of membership in the church:
Membership, therefore, involves a personal obligation to promote the objects of the body as expressed in the covenant.
These objects are three:
1. The social, united worship of God...
2. The perpetuation and diffusion of the gospel...
3. The sanctification of its own members...
The church, thus comprehensive in its scope, looks upward to God, outward upon the needs of a lost world, and inward to the processes of sanctification in the souls of its own members; the neglect of any one of these grand objects of its organization imperils its whole design.
This is our philosophy of ministry. The quote is from Hezekiah Harvey, who was born in England in 1821 (The Church, 1879, reprint 1982, pp.35-36.). There is nothing modern or trendy about the priorities of our church. They have been around for two thousand years. They are tried and true, and it shouldn't bother us at all that they are not new.
Saturday, October 17, 2009
"If we cannot believe God when circumstances
seem to be against us, we do not believe Him
at all" (Charles Spurgeon).
This year, with the help of churches and volunteers across the country, we hope to serve over 400,000 Angel Tree children. But we can't do it without you.
As we get closer to Christmas there are still thousands of children who need to know they haven't been forgotten. If you've already supported this year's campaign, thank you so much for your generosity.
"Let no one deceive you with empty words,
for because of such things God's wrath comes
on those who are disobedient. Therefore do not
be partners with them" (Ephesians 5:6-7 - NIV).
Please keep the following individuals in your prayers:
1) Vince asks for our prayers. He writes, "I ask for prayer for my brother in-law Jack,who was brought to the hospital today for heart problems. He is older and a good kind man. He is always willing to give a helping hand to anyone that needs help. I pray for the doctors who will be taking care of him. I know he is in God's hands. I pray through Christ, our Lord.";
2) "I AM IN DESPRATE NEED OF AN EMERGENCY MIRACLE. I AM IN DESPRATE NEED OF $5,000.00 RIGHT NOW. I AM SINKING FAST HERE. I OWE 3 LOAN COMPANYS AND I NEED $1,200.00 BY OCT.27TH FOR MY TAXES. I HAVE NO ONE ELSE ALIVE TO HELP ME ALL I HAVE IS JESUS AND YOUR PRAYERS FOR ME. JESUS SAYS ASK AND YOU SHALL RECEIVE KNOCK AND THE DOOR WILL BE OPENENED UNTO YOU. WELL,I'M ASKING DESPERATELY FOR HELP AND I'M KNOCKING AS HARD AS I CAN TO BE HEARD. MY HUSBAND AND I ARE DISABLED AND WE ARE BOTH IN WHEELCHAIRS. WE ARE STRUGGLING HERE SO BAD. OUR HOME NEEDS NUMEROUS REPAIRS AND WE CAN'T FIX THEM. WE CAN'T AFFORD TO TAKE OUT ANYMORE LOANS. SO,I PRAY THE LORD WILL HEAR MY PLEA FOR $5,000.00 IMMEDIATELY. PLEASE KEEP US IN YOUR PRAYERS THANK YOU!" -LUCRETIA;
3) MLD asks to be remembered in our prayers. He writes, "If it is your will God please heal Kand R's marriage. Thank you for your prayers.";
4) "I feel lost spiritually, and in need of praying for me. I miss the feeling of being close to Jesus. PLEASE pray that I meet someone to talk to me about Jesus. I'm lost big time. I feel like I'm dead inside. PLEASE PRAY,PLEASE PRAY." -Nena;
5) Sue asks for our prayers. She writes, "Please I am praying for a miracle to bring my husband back home to my kids and I. I miss him so much and really want our marriage to be restored. Please Please pray hard for this miracle.";
6) "Oh, please, help me. I don't feel like God is listening to me anymore. I don't feel His presence, hear His voice, feel Him in my life. At one time, I felt God had a plan for me, but now I feel so alone, so bereft. How can I pray for others when I feel so disconnected from God? Please, Lord, don't abandon me!" -Becky;
7) Teri asks for us to remember her in our thoughts and prayers. She writes, "Please pray the Lord will lift my family out of this dry, difficult season of crisis and heal us and give us direction. Thank you.";
8) "My son Jessie is very sick. He is 24 years old. He has HIV. I love him so much please pray that God would see him through this. I ask for his healing. I know God is able. God Bless." -Billy;
9) Jim asks to be remembered in our prayers. He writes, "My name is Jim recently my girlfriend's dad has banned me from going to visit her for a reason I am still unsure of. My girlfriend now cries just about every minute of the day knowing that I won't be seeing her as often as i used to. I helped this family in their time of need, my mom and I when shopping for them twice and bought them groceries when they needed them, so i haven't the slightest clue what happened that he wanted to ban me from his home. I feel sort of betrayed by him (her dad). Please pray for me and help me ask God to affect her dad to let me visit her again.";
10) "Please pray for my husband and I to find a home, we are getting evicted and have no where to turn to or the money to get there. please pray for our love to not turn from each other while going through such a bad time. Sincerely, Diana";
11) "...that I reach my full potential and bloom into the young flower that I know I can be!! God is always in my heart regardless of my path I end up taking! :)" -Lizzy;
12) Marisa asks for our prayers. She writes, "My husband and I are trying to get pregnant. Please pray that we are successful are names are Marisa and Joshua.";
13) Please pray for Lynn, my wife. She has had terrible pains in her upper back this week which has kept her awake most nights tossing & turning.;
14) Nikka asks to be remembered in our prayers. She writes, "Dear Lord, please give me the strength and the patience to deal with all the misery in my life. I don't know what i'm going to do. I'm about to go crazy. I don't have any support after You. Please, please hear my cries and help me through my misery Father. i ask it all in your son's Jesus name I pray. Amen.";
15) "Today happens to be my birthday and want to take this oppertunity to thank god for opening the gate to peace for me and my family - Clement, Premela,Crystal and Mark. Thank you lord and please continue to guide us all to your pathway of peace and humility. Bring us closer to each other and to you. Close the door to all evil doers and open the door to yur pathway. Lord, I am so grateful to you for bringing us closer to you and have faith and strength in you." -Clem,Prem,Crystal and Mark;
16) Shoney asks for our prayers. She writes: "My friend is very angry at God about the loss of a dear friend from cancer a while back, and now another friend has been diagnosed with cancer. He is thinking that God is mean and often rages at him. Can you pray for God to touch his heart. And pray for me that I may help to rid him of his anger toward God."
17) "My husband just lost his job, and we need a miracle from God now, he can't find another job please pray for our family I have a 13 year old and a 6 month old we need Gods help." -Stephanie;
18) Anna asks to be remembered in our prayers. She writes, "My husband is currently working in Iraq and has been for three years. He is ready to come home. I need guidance and peace of mind that he is doing the right thing since he will be coming home with no job and that God will lead him to make the right decision. I Know God works in mysterious ways.....pray that if he does come home he will lead him to a good job and the right job. we have worked so hard and now I am scared he is making a mistake cause he is lonely and upset with matters over there. I want him home desperately...but with Gods blessings. Please help me find comfort in knowing that this is where God is leading him at this time! PRAY really hard all over the World. I think we could use it! I very future hangs on this. We could loose our home and everything becasue what I make will barely buy the groceries!";
19) Harley asks us to pray for her 'Nana' and her back problems. She will be visiting the doctor next week to see if she can get relief from the constant pain.;
20) Ken and Joan Hester, missionairies in the Philippines, write: "Prayer Requests: *Pray for all those that cleaning up from the slides it is dangerous. * For me as I travel by bus to Manila and that the rds will be clear and safe. * And as I travel from to Davao in the southern end of Philippines Plane. * As I minister in Churches and Villages both while here and there in Davao.";
21) K.P. Yohannan asks for our prayers. He writes, "In the two states in South India that were recently hit with some of the worst floods in memory, our missionaries and believers have already been able to reach 10,000 families with relief supplies. The death toll has already surpassed 300, and millions have been displaced from their homes. Please keep our missionaries and believers in prayer as they continue to minister in Jesus' name among these men, women and precious children who have suffered so much.";
22) "Please pray for my husband who has struggled with ssa since he can remember and is living with another man. Both of them believe in God and He has been working in their hearts. I need wisdom as my husband and I continue communicating with each other." -Connie;
23) "LORD KEEP MY EYES ON YOU NOT ON Y FEARS." -MICKEY;
24) "Please stand in agreement with me that god grants a miracle restoration of our marriage (John and Sue). Thank you, John";
25) Nikia asks for our prayers. She writes, "Please pray for me, please pray for those loved ones and those I know who are unhealthy in any kind of way. Please pray for my children and there safety and happiness. Please pray that my family can rise from poverty and get out of this neighborhood into a better and brighter neighborhood where they can go outside and play with no worries. Please pray for financial upbringing and happiness for us all. Please pray that we will get closer to the lord. Thank you.";
26) "I request this prayer on behalf of my Boyfriend Ian. Several years ago he fractured his spine, several bone fragments shot into and around the surrounding area causing severe pain. The pain never really went away but was manageable... until now. He is starting is practicum in criminology this January, but his pain has become so severe that he has been in the emergency room everyday because there's nothing else to do. The doctors told him they are unable to do anything, but there has to be something. I pray for Ian to have a little more faith in god, he will provide. Pray for him to be healed, if that means surgery so be it. He needs a doctor willing to fight for him. He is 20 years old. Right now it seems like there is a dark future ahead, but I'm praying and getting everyone I know to pray. Please, we could use you support! God bless." -Krista; and lastly...
27) Saint419 asks for our prayers: "Please pray for my friend Arlyn N. She has been working with us for exactly two years now, however she was recently informed by the District Manager Lou V. that she could be transferred to another store at any time. We feel very sad about this. We don't want Arlyn to go and neither does she want to leave us. Please pray that Lou and his boss Greg C. will change their minds and allow Arlyn to continue working with us at store #163 for at least one more year. Thank you for your prayers!".
**God bless you for caring enough to pray!!!**
A real friend is always and under all circumstances a friend (Proverbs 17:17a).
"He who conceals his sins does not prosper,
but whoever confesses and renounces them
finds mercy" (Proverbs 28:13 - NIV).
Falling Off The Horse
The old time pastor was galloping down the road, rushing to get to church on time.
Suddenly his horse stumbled and pitched him to the ground.
In the dirt with a broken leg, the pastor called out,
"All you saints in Heaven, help me get up on my horse!"
Then, with superhuman effort, he leaped onto the horse's back and fell off the other side.
Once again on the ground, he called to Heaven, "All right, just half of you this time!"
"Be dressed ready for service and keep your lamps burning, like men waiting for their master to return from a wedding banquet, so that when he comes and knocks they can immediately open the door for him. It will be good for those servants whose master finds them watching when he comes. I tell you the truth, he will dress himself to serve, will have them recline at the table and will come and wait on them" (Luke 12:35-37 - NIV).
Acts 23:1-5 (Part 1 of 2)
By Laurence W. Venoitt
On Friday the president of Cornell University, Hunter R. Rawlings III condemned teaching intelligent design as science. He denounced intelligent design as, (NY Times, Saturday, Oct. 21, 2005) "religious belief masquerading as a secular idea."
He cited a recent report by the Pew Research Center in Washington which said 42 percent of Americans believe that creationism should be taught instead of evolution. Rawlings said, "This is above all a cultural issue, not a scientific one,"
How do you feel as a Christian when you read something like that? If you're a Christian you have to believe in intelligent design because that's what the first two chapters of Genesis teach. So how do you react when you read something like that? Should we hang our heads and be apologetic about our Christian beliefs? Should we admit grudgingly admit that Christianity is wrong about creation and merely try to convince them that it is right on other points?
Not at all. One of the great things that our text teaches us is the attitude that Christians should have about the gospel. Paul shows us something here that we should not miss. Not only are Christians to go forth with the gospel of Jesus Christ, but we are to go forth with it in a certain way, with a certain attitude, with a certain demeanor. There's an attitude that God wants us to have when we are proclaiming Jesus Christ. It's an attitude of confidence, of boldness, absolute certainty in the truth of the gospel, of being sure that what we are proclaiming is in very truth what the world needs.
There are three things in our passage that show us this.
First, consider how Paul behaved when he was brought before the Sanhedrin.
Paul was the center of attention. All eyes were on him. He had made some very surprising statements. He had told the Jews that God had told him to leave Jerusalem and preach to the Gentiles. As we have seen, this infuriated the Jews. To them it was one of the greatest of heresies.
Now it's important that we see this in its wider context.
As J. A. Alexander writes, "Paul was not a mere chance
visitor to Jerusalem, accidentally involved in a disturbance
there, but the Apostle of the Gentiles, specially commissioned
to make, as it were, a last appeal to Israel, before he
finally transferred his center of operations to the great
metropolis and mistress of the heathen world."
So we are not to look at this narrowly, but remember that the Spirit compelled Paul to go to Jerusalem. He is there on official business for Jesus Christ.
As a result of the disturbance the previous day Paul is brought before the Sanhedrin. The Sanhedrin was the Jewish high council. It was composed of high priests, elders and scholars, and met under the presidency of the ruling high priest. But it wasn't exclusively a religious court. It was, (BDAG) "the highest indigenous governing body in Judaea… and… was the ultimate authority not only in religious matters, but in legal and governmental affairs as well, in so far as it did not encroach on the authority of the Roman procurator."
This body was the epitome of Judaism that had rejected Jesus. They did not accept Jesus' claims to be the Messiah, the Anointed One, the One who came to fulfill the Old Testament.
So Paul is brought before them, the Sanhedrin, with all their tradition, with all their learning, with all their pomp and circumstance—and what does he do? We read,
"Paul looked straight at the Sanhedrin and said, 'My brothers, I have fulfilled my duty to God in all good conscience to this day.'"
Paul didn't let them steal the high ground. He was not at all apologetic about the gospel. Nor should he have been. He had a good conscience. He told them that. Paul told them that he was far from being an apostate or renegade, (J. A. Alexander) "he claimed to be still a faithful member of the chosen people…"
Further, Paul knew that, (Alexander):
"Christianity was the genuine development of ancient Judaism, so that he, and not his adversaries, held fast to the true design and spirit of the Mosaic institutions."
Paul knew the gospel of Jesus Christ was the power of God for salvation. He knew he had the truth—the truth of God and he stood up for it. As he wrote in Romans 1:16, "I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile."
He knew that Christ was, (1 Corinthians 1:24) "the power of God and the wisdom of God."
So as he stood before the Sanhedrin, he was full of confidence and boldness. He was not ashamed to testify about Jesus. He knew that Jesus was the Savior of the world, the only hope of lost sinners. He knew what He was called to. In Acts 1, just before He ascended into heaven, Jesus said to His disciples,
"But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth."
He knew that Jesus had come to save sinners. As Jesus proclaimed in the synagogue in His home town of Nazareth,
"The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor."
So when Paul went forward with the gospel, it was with full confidence. He was not ashamed of it. He was bold and courageous, full of confidence. He knew he had the truth and he held his head up and proclaimed it boldly.
That's the way we should be with the gospel, with God's Word and what it teaches. For what we have with
the president of Cornell is that he is trying to steal the high ground.
He's trying to tell everyone that creationism and intelligent design is not in accord with science. But don't let anyone fool you. God created science. Science does not contradict the Bible. The more you know about science, the more you should be drawn to glorify God. I consider science to be like Psalm 19—it declares the glory of God. Just like the study of astronomy should cause people to know God, and praise Him for His greatness, so the study of all science should cause people to draw closer to Him and praise and adore Him. The great question is—why doesn't it?
There are two great ways you can go wrong with science and the Bible. One applies to Christians and one applies to scientists.
One way is to misinterpret and misunderstand what the Bible says. This sometimes happens to Christians and it causes scientists to look down on Christianity and its teachings and to treat them with contempt. The great scientist Galileo was convicted of heresy and imprisoned because he taught the views of Copernicus. Copernicus taught, quite correctly, that the earth revolves around the sun instead of the sun revolving around the earth. Yet some in the church believed that that could not be so because Psalm 93:1 says,
"The world is firmly established; it cannot be moved."
They misunderstood Psalm 93. They thought it was teaching the scientific truth that the earth was stationary. But that's not what Psalm 93 teaches. Psalm 93:1 teaches others things. John Calvin wrote,
"The Psalmist proves that God will not neglect or abandon the world, from the fact that he created it."
Charles Spurgeon says on Psalm 93:
"Because Jehovah reigns terrestrial things for a while are stable. We could not be sure of anything if we were not sure that he has dominion. When he withdraws his manifest presence from among men all things are out of order; blasphemers rave, persecutors rage, the profane grow bold, and the licentious increase in wantonness; but when the divine power and glory are again manifested order is restored, and the poor distracted world is at peace again. Society would be the football of the basest of mankind if God did not establish it, and even the globe itself would fly through space, like thistle down across the common, if the Lord did not hold it in its appointed orbit. That there is any stability, either in the world or in the church, is the Lord's doings, and he is to be adored for it."
Dolphins are so intelligent that within a few weeks of
captivity they can train a man to stand on the edge of
their pool and throw them fish three times a day.
"Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior" (Habakkuk 3:17-18 - NIV).
For many of us, the Sunday pulpit call to “Go share the Gospel and make disciples” feels inspiring in the moment and horribly intimidating once we step out into the real world. When “sharing my faith” becomes another item to check off on my “to do” list, it often feels more like drudgery than delight.
It doesn’t have to be that way.
A pastor, known for his lengthy sermons, noticed a man get up and leave during the middle of his message. The man returned just before the conclusion of the service.
Afterwards the pastor asked the man where he had gone.
"I went to get a haircut," was the reply.
"But," said the pastor, "why didn't you do that before the service?"
"Because," the gentleman said, "I didn't need one then."
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Acts 23:1-5 (Part 2 of 2)
So Psalm 93 understood correctly, is not in conflict with the fact that the earth revolves around the sun. But sometimes Christians make themselves look bad by holding to views that are wrong. That's one reason why some scientists look with disfavor on Christian teaching.
The other way to go wrong is what some scientists do. They will tell you that the scientific method consists of only things that are verifiable and repeatable. Since creation as it's presented in Genesis 1 & 2 doesn't meet that criteria—they rule it out. And let's be clear about this—they don't rule it out because the facts are against it—but because it doesn't fit in with the presuppositions. So when the President of Cornell makes statements like I quoted, Christians don't have to hang and head and feel like we're stupid for believing what the Bible teaches—not at all. God created the universe. Genesis 1 and 2 can't be reasonably interpreted any other way. Just because some scientist's presuppositions discount it—doesn't at all mean that they've disproved it. It just means they're not even considering it. Creationism has never been discredited. Rather it has been dismissed. We don't have to hang our heads because of that.
Creation is part of the gospel. It teaches that men and women are responsible before God because He created them. Paul was very up front about that when he preached in Athens. He said, (Acts 17:24)
"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."
He went on to command them to repent.
So don't be ashamed of the gospel. When you put it forth, do it like Paul. It's the truth of God that people need to hear.
The second thing in our passage that shows us Paul's confidence is the way he rebuked the high priest who ordered him to be struck in the face.
In verse 2 we read that the high priest Ananias, "ordered those standing near Paul to strike him on the mouth." This had great symbolic meaning.
J. A. Alexander writes,
"Striking on the mouth implies a previous unlawful use of it, as well as an injunction to cease speaking… Translated into language it was here equivalent to saying, that Paul's claim, not only to integrity and innocence as some suppose, but to the highest theocratical fidelity, was false in itself, and grossly insulting to his judges…"
In other words, the priest was totally rejecting Paul's defense. It was like he was accusing Paul of something akin to blasphemy. Paul is struck on the mouth. It's much more extreme than the harshest verbal rebuke. Paul is struck on the mouth. It was an extremely forceful, painful and cruel rebuke. It was meant to be decisive and silencing. Perhaps after this they thought that Paul would hang his head in shame.
Hang his head in shame? Paul wasn't going to do that. There was no reason for it. This is important for us to note.
Have you ever see people act guiltily? It's painful to watch. I've see Christians doing something wrong and they know they're doing wrong and with some of them, you can see that their conscience bothers them. You can see it sometimes in church situations. They know they're doing wrong and they're ashamed of their behavior—but they carry on in it. One look at them and you know that truth and righteousness is not on their side. They just act guilty.
That's how the enemies of the gospel would like to see Christians act. But Paul refused to hang his head and act like that. He was struck, but he did not even begin to act like he was guilty. Rather, with great boldness, he said,
"God will strike you, you whitewashed wall! You sit there to judge me according to the law, yet you yourself violate the law by commanding that I be struck!"
Paul draws attention to their hypocrisy and shows that they, the epitome of Judaism that had rejected Jesus—were not obeying the law. Paul rebuked the high priest for doing wrong and warned him of the severe judgment that would fall on him—how God would strike him.
It is quite likely that Paul was here speaking under the power of the Holy Spirit. You'll remember that in Matthew 10:17 Jesus said to His disciples,
"Be on your guard against men; they will hand you over to the local councils and flog you in their synagogues. On my account you will be brought before governors and kings as witnesses to them and to the Gentiles. But when they arrest you, do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say, for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you."
Paul was speaking with the authority of Christ. He is on trial—but he is the one who is fearless. He is the one who is citing the law and pointing out his accusers disobedience to it. He is the one who is warning them about the punishment that will fall on them for what they are doing. He is the one who has authority and power.
Now this is a very important lesson for us. No matter what your situation, whether you are being mocked, ridiculed or attacked for the gospel—
Don't be afraid. The gospel has authority that is above all other authority. Proclaim the gospel truth with authority.
You'll remember just before Jesus ascended into heaven, Jesus said to His disciples, (Matthew 28:18)
"All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."
We go out with Jesus' authority. Go out with confidence, with boldness. Be absolutely fearless.
The third thing in our passage that shows us Paul's confidence is the irony in his apology.
J. A. Alexander writes,
"The fashionable sentimental view of this verse is,' that Paul acknowledges his having spoken in a fit of passion, and apologies for it."
Alexander goes on to totally dismiss such an understanding. He writes,
"besides the sheer impossibility of making I wist not (i.e. did not know) mean I did not consider (or remember at the moment), the acknowledgment itself would be at variance with all the facts and circumstances of the case."
How could Paul not know the high priest? Paul is familiar with the Sanhedrin. Various suggestions have been put forward. One is that the high priest was not wearing his official robes. It was a hastily called meeting so they think that Paul did not know he was the high priest. Others suggest that Paul didn't know who had given the order to strike him, that his poor eyesight prevented him from seeing who it was who ordered him to be struck—that he thought he was speaking against someone other than the high priest. But all such possibilities are weak.
Paul is not apologizing but is continuing his rebuke. Alexander writes,
"Another objection to both these solutions is that they suppose Paul's words to mean, "I did not know him but I know him now,' whereas the present tense (esti) necessarily implies, that his ignorance, whatever it might be, still continued. The combination of the past and present forms can only be explained by understanding him to mean, 'I did not know (and I do not now know) that he is the High Priest.'"
I believe the best solution, with Augustine, Calvin and Alexander, is to see irony in Paul's apology, that it is an apology with a sting—that Paul apologizes but at the same time in effect says, (Calvin)
"I, brethren, I recognize nothing priestly about this man."
"Paul means to deny that Ananias was in any such sense High Priest, as to make him a violator of the law in Exodus."
Although some see this directed at the man, and not the office, Alexander sees it also directed at the office.
"Paul's denunciation was not meant to terminate upon the individual, but through him aimed at the entire system, of which he claimed to be the representative."
Alexander sees Paul as pointing to the lawlessness of their whole system, that now that Jesus has come, the whole Mosaic system has been superseded—and that those who are carrying it on are violators of the law.
As I mentioned earlier, Paul was no chance visitor to Jerusalem. He was there because of the Spirit. Alexander writes,
"All that is recorded of his acts and sufferings, in his farewell visit to the Holy City, must be viewed as having an official character on his part…"
Paul was showing that the high priest, the whole Sanhedrin—were in violation of the law, and that they were going to be judged by God because they had rejected God's Messiah.
Christians, as you go forth with the gospel, don't be ashamed of it. It's the power of God for salvation. It's in accord with the facts of the universe. It's the truth, the truth that is the fulfillment of the Old Testament—Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God, the only hope of the world.
Lastly, for those of you who aren't Christians—you should understand that Paul had authority from Christ. So too, the words of Christ that you have heard today have authority. Embrace Jesus. As Psalm 2 says,
"Kiss the Son, lest he be angry and you be destroyed in your way, for his wrath can flare up in a moment. Blessed are all who take refuge in him."
Go to Jesus today. Find life in Him.
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Having A Hunger For God
By Pastor Bryant R. Ali
"Jesus answered, 'It is written: 'Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God' " (Matthew 4:4 NIV).
As I embrace the timetable of my healing I am forced to reflect on how I came to the place of needing to be healed. Was the culture of the church actually killing me? My journey in the church world has always been surrounded by food. As a former cocaine addict with an obsessive compulsive personality. I had never learned the beauty of temperance, moderation or self control. I came from the BT Express generation "do it until you are satisfied whatever it is do it'. One of the biggest myths in Christendom is that every one will be delivered without facing the consequences of your actions. Galatians 6:9 states that God is not mocked what ever a person sows that what they shall also reap.
Oh what a shock it was when it came time for me to pay the piper. When I came out of the streets and returned back to God in 1990 I was 240 pounds and for the last four years I have been hovering around 420 pounds. The concept of clean living was killing me. In reality it was my failure to embrace healthy alternatives. My good friend Pastor Henry Clay would always declare to me that we are preaching about how great God is, yet we are destroying the temples that he has given us.
This is not a post heart attack confession this is a reflection on the grace of God in spite of me. I could place blame a number of things but the reality is I did it to myself. I failed in my hunger for the words of God. Oh yes, I used his words to preach, teach, for personal devotion, and theological reflection. Yet, I have not seen the manifestation of the vision, my dreams or the over abundance of souls running to the throne of grace.My spiritual life was in a recession and my heart attack was my bailout. Have you ever been guilty of working for the master, serving the master, and not letting the master work on you. Public success but a private mess.
Well in 2009 I won't talk about it, I will be about it. I know who I am and to whom I belong and my goal is to seek first his kingdom and the healing , weight loss, abundant life and freedom to serve him in spirit and in truth will follow. I have to not look at other's vineyards but bloom where I have been planted. As my doctor told my wife, don't let the church folks feed the bear. Jesus took it a step further, don't leave by bread alone but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God. Just because it is before me doesn't mean I have to eat it. I hear God saying "Bryant
don't live to eat, but eat to live. My prayer for today is Lord I thirst for you, I long to live in your presence. My heart seeks after you, Draw me nearer to the beauty of your holiness. This is my thought for today. Peace.
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