Follow Truth

Re:Verse reading–Acts 4:1-22 (day four)

Politics have always been the same, I guess.  It makes little difference what the truth is…only what the desired outcome of the power brokers happens to be.  The rulers and elders recognized that a miracle had taken place…they knew the truth!  But…their question was…how do we keep the truth from spreading, so we can squelch the truth?  The truth did not accomplish their goals.  Even when the truth is blatantly obvious to everyone…the childish adherence to a lie is repeated over and over again.

Have you ever done that?  Do we ignore God’s truth and develop lame excuses for not obeying His Word?  Israel did.  Jeremiah 2:13 says, “For my people have committed two evils: They have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters, to hew for themselves cisterns, broken cisterns that can hold no water.”  God does not adhere to truth, He is Truth!  Check your heart and follow truth!

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Speak

Re:Verse reading–Acts 4:1-22 (day three)

“We cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.”  When Jesus would instruct people to say nothing about the healing they received from him, he did so because he knew how such things could be misunderstood, or how the healed persons could be exploited.  He taught them to speak with words that would illuminate, not manipulate.  The disciples learned this lesson well.  There is not a hint of ambition in their words or deeds.  The truly courageous and transformative social movements in history—those that have spoken truth to power and have freed the captive—have been spiritual in nature.  They have arisen as people bend to the mission of God among us to expose and set right and to announce forgiveness and grace.  May our words come from that same place.

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Cannot Remain Silent

Re:Verse reading–Acts 4:1-22 (day two) For we cannot stop speaking about what we have seen and heard.” vs. 20

“But whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 10:33

Peter and John had so many reasons to keep their mouths shut. By performing a miracle and proclaiming Jesus’ authority they had stirred quite a commotion. They knew what the consequences could be, they both were witnesses to Jesus trial, torture, and death. But Peter had also walked this road before. He had been cross-examined in the streets and had denied knowing Jesus. That bitter pill was still fresh in his mouth. He would not make that mistake again.

The truth is, they knew what could happen, but they also knew what did happen. Jesus rose from that grave, and gave voice to their new ministry. No matter the cost, they would proclaim that truth until the end.

 

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Amazing Grace

Re:Verse reading–Acts 4:1-22 (day one) 

“Now as they observed the confidence of Peter and John and understood that they were uneducated and untrained men, they were amazed, and began to recognize them as having been with Jesus.”–v 13

You are amazing!  At least, you can be.  Hang around Jesus!  Let him shape how you think about God or self or the future, and people will certainly begin to notice something “different” about you.  Something that they can’t quite explain or describe.

Maybe it will be your confidence. “Free speaking” is the best translation of the word in v 13.   The disciples weren’t afraid.  They were uninhibited–and without the normal “confidence credentials”.  No seminary degree or letters in front of their names.  Just boldness.  It was amazing!

Maybe hanging with Jesus will make you uncommonly tender, or surprisingly wise or shockingly unselfish.  One way or another, His plan is to have people look at your life and be amazed.

 

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Not in vain

Re:Verse reading–1 Corinthians 15 (day seven) 

“the gospel. . .by which you are saved, if you hold fast. . .unless you believed in vain.”–v 1-2.

Paul is concerned.  The Corinthian church is a mess.  Early on, they made a great start in faith, but stumbled badly soon after.  He is concerned that they “believed in vain.”

The word means empty.  Empty of power.  Of value.  It describes the dangerous possibility of a person “believing” the gospel, but at such a superficial level that it does not save or rescue or transform.

What are the danger signals?  Denial of doctrine (see this whole discussion in chapter 15).  Unrepentant immoral behavior (see chapter 6)  Strife, lack of love (see chapter 11 and 13).

Notice how Paul returns to this subject in v 58?  “Your toil is NOT in VAIN”.  The proof of true faith is perseverance.  Steady.  Immovable.  Abounding in the work of the Lord.  Paul wanted this for the people of Corinth.  The Lord wants it for us.

 

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Hold On

Re:Verse reading–1 Corinthians 15 (day six) 

Paul’s argument is clear, our bodily resurrection is certain because Jesus’ resurrection was certain. The Gospel is not mythology or fairytale, it is a spiritual and historical reality, and the resurrection is its cornerstone. So, never fear, hold on, “be steadfast, immovable;” there is no obstacle to great, not even death, that will not be undone by the power of the resurrection! That is also why we are not to be pitied, because the hardships (or “momentary light affliction”) we may face do not compare to the glory to come. So, hold on, our resurrection is coming!

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Lost and Found

Re:Verse reading–1 Corinthians 15 (day five) 

Have you ever left something at church? Keys? Phone? Purse? Pen? Bible? Actually, we have a large collection of Bibles in our “Lost and Found Closet”. Matt Chandler often “razzes” his congregation, “If you don’t have a Bible… I always want to encourage you to go to the lost and found and get yourself a nice leather one.”

Paul is teaches that the grace of God is NOT one of those things that can be lost or left at church. Why? 1 Corinthians 15:10- “But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me did not prove vain; but I labored even more than all of them, yet not I, but the grace of God with me.” (emphasis mine)

God’s grace goes with us because Christ goes with us by His Spirit. Moment by moment, circumstance by circumstance, God’s Grace is at work and is present. What a comfort! What a promise! What hope! What strength!

 

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We Don’t Understand

Re:Verse reading–1 Corinthians 15:50-58  (day four)

The ultimate fear is the fear of death.  It can cripple our lives…it can impact our decisions…it can paralyze us for action.  This fear is used all over the world to persecute the Church.  When believers have no fear of death, the persecutors are without influence or power over their lives.

Verse 57 says, “but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”  We have victory over death and it holds no power of fear in our lives.  What a freeing promise!  The world cannot understand it.  ‘Would be’ martyrs have walked away free because their captors could not process their lack of fear.  Those who have died, without fear, have offered a most powerful witness of grace.  Richard Wurmbrand, a Romanian pastor during communist rule, could not be silenced.  He was arrested, and threatened, and tortured, but with no success.  The communists could not understand.  He had no fear of death…death was a victory for him.  Finally, Richard was released from prison because he was winning too many prisoners to the Lord.  Truly, our lives are in God’s hand.

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Work

Re:Verse reading–1 Corinthians 15:50-58  (day three)

“Your labor in the Lord is not in vain.”

This is the meaning of resurrection for all who count on Christ. Death does not destroy you, nor the things you set your hand to do.  Do you take that view of your work?  There are activities, of course, that you can do which result in nothing that will last.  What a waste of your God-given power to do work of eternal value.  Now that you need not fear that death will bring an end to you or to your work, what projects will you begin?

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IMMOVABLE

Re:Verse reading–1 Corinthians 15:50-58  (day two)

But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord.” vs. 57-58

Death-sin, mortal-immortal, perishable-imperishable…RESURRECTION-VICTORY

Paul, in this power-packed chapter of his first letter to the church in Corinth, has given us the bottom line for our faith’s defense: The power of the resurrection. Where there was death, now there is life. What was corruptible, is now incorruptible. There is no other power or person in heaven or earth that can grant this kind of victory.

Therefore we can be IMMOVABLE in our conviction. Steadfast beyond the world’s understanding. Jesus is the only reason for such complete redemption, and only through the power of his resurrection. Those found in him, can claim the victory too.

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