February 11



Acts 11:1-13:12

We are in The Church Stream today continuing our story in the book of Acts. We are reading from the New King James Version and today is our final day in this translation. Last week, Peter shared the Good News with Cornelius. Cornelius and his family received the Holy Spirit and were baptized with water. How will the believers in Jerusalem take this news?

The issue from the start today is that the gospel is to continue to be divulged to new people and new cultures.  Evangelism is more important than food laws, fellowship laws, cultural exclusion laws; evangelism IS the new #1 law.  God superseded the kosher laws to ensure that the new believers prioritized outreach over personal preferences. After Peter explained his new revelations and agenda the other leaders realized they were living in a new dispensation and were happy about it.

notice that the persecution happens to assist them in scattering, to share the gospel. God blesses our gatherings but we gather so that we can launch to reach others – not stay in circles in perpetuity and become religion “ingrown toenails”.  Those churches fester and are a blessing to no one. Notice all the travel and new contacts and new believers and revelation and charity that results

Ch. 12 Peter is imprisoned for evangelizing.  Let us be inspired by Peter’s resolve to stand with Jesus.  To assert the peril Peter is in, Luke (author) just told us that James [Jesus’ brother!] has just been run through and executed for being a Christian. Peter apparently is next on the list.  Are we willing to stand for Christ and shine the light regardless of the cost. I hear today of people who will not speak up because they will lose status at work, be skipped over for a promotion, they might jeopardize their retirement account or job altogether if they live out their faith. And so many become closet Christians. Some I’ve seen or been around for 10 years before learning that they attend church.  This sheepishness is not prudence, it is shameful. Let’s stand for Christ regardless. God knows how to rescue His servants. Peter’s escape from prison is a stark story of God intervening. Those praying for him for release from prison need a memo too: God can answer prayer quickly. Listen to their foolish statement when they learn Peter is out of prison: “he can’t be out of prison – because we are praying for him to get out of prison… :-{ ” This is crazy sauce.  God can free anyone and answer their prayer as quickly as He wishes too. That is a lesson in discipleship for all of us. The liberation is usually instant when we call on God. Next comes the task of convincing most of us to believe that.

Herod’s death happens at the end of Acts 12. Notice that there will always be an active threat to proceeding in our faith. Our faith must outlast this threat. This is Herod Agrippa trying to kill Peter.  Peter stays the course and soon his nemesis is gone. Recognize that this is Herod Agrippa (grandson of Herod the Great)  H/Great is the Herod we see in Matthew Ch. 2 ; also a man threatened and trying to eradicate the Good News.  Joseph and Mary wait this out, as you know and Jesus’ life continues. Herod Agrippa consequently died as arrogant, power hungry and neurotic as his grandfather.

Ch. 13 Paul and Barnabas are sent off to evangelize and disciple new believers and leaders. They teach and are confronted by a sorcerer; someone Paul calls a child of the devil. Let’s not be discouraged when we encounter opposition. Deal with it swiftly and continue in our calling. Those who are opposed end up becoming much stronger in all ways than those who receive universal approval from both those who are living in the light and those living in the dark. Just the same, we see it is in nature. Fish that swim 100s of miles upstream to spawn are much healthier than those that swim leisurely in quiet ponds all their life. And remember this: only one type of fish goes with the flow of the tide: dead fish!

Let’s be inspired by the calling and resolve and actions of both Peter and Paul.  Were you to visit the Vatican today there are two giants statutes on the top left and the top right of this colossal edifice: They are, you’re right, they are Peter and Paul: the two most greatly revered disciples in Christendom.

Week 6 Thread

Our word for the week is: Resolve

`-In Genesis 22-24, Abraham shows resolve in his obedience – even if it costs him his family, wife dies, then he resolves to make sure his son finds right wife or his family IS over with. `-In Judges, we them realize that the founders are all gone now and judges must rise up and lead. We also see the ladies come to realize and resolve that they have a vital part in this new land too

`-Job 23:10ff tells it all: But He knows the way that I take;  When He has tested me, I shall come forth as gold. 11 My foot has held fast to His steps; I have kept His way and not turned aside. 12 I have not departed from the commandment of His lips;I have treasured the words of His mouth more than my necessary food.

`- Isaiah 21-24 GOD has resolved to dissolve Babylon, Edom, Arabia, Jerusalem’s disobedient, Tyre, … to devastate the earth.

`-Daniel [5] resolves to deliver message of doom, the end of Belshazzar and Babylon’s Kingdom

`-Matthew 13 Jesus urges our resolve to be productive (like soil), not distracted/shallow/wandering/ busybodies [deciding who is weeds and who isn’t], but to grow, focus, be ready for testing

`-Acts 11-13 Peter and Paul resolve to be outreach oriented.  This is the new and permanent objective. Opposition is merely incidental; even motivating – so let it be motivation!

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