#Preaching From Law to Grace

Daily Reading: (Acts 13:13-15):

“From Paphos, Paul and his companions sailed to Perga in Pamphylia, where John left them to return to Jerusalem. From Perga they went on to Pisidian Antioch. On the Sabbath they entered the synagogue and sat down.  After the reading from the Law and the Prophets, the leaders of the synagogue sent word to them, saying, “Brothers, if you have a word of exhortation for the people, please speak.”

God made his people (parah) to bear fruit (Exodus 1:7). John 15:5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit.” There is no situational disqualifier for fruit bearing even when facing a famine or even when you are imprisoned or enslaved (Exodus 1:7, John 15:5).

Paul goes on a history lesson from Moses to Jesus in about 30 seconds. Paul’s goal is to get the Jews from Moses to Jesus, from law to grace (Acts 13:16-25). Paul continues to tell about Jesus’ death and resurrection and what that means for us in verses 28-35 and he uses Psalms as a proof text to do it so the Jews would receive this word.

“Therefore, my friends, I want you to know that through Jesus the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you.

Jesus said the forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name and that’s exactly what Peter (see Acts 5:31), Paul (see Acts 13:38), and the other apostles did. They proclaimed the good news of forgiveness – forgiveness as a noun, forgiveness as a done-deal and the invitation was for people to believe in it and receive it.

Every Christian knows what it means to begin with the grace of God but not every Christian continues in the grace of God (Acts 13:43). To continue in the grace of God is to continue in Jesus. It’s trusting him from start to finish.

“‘I have made you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.”

“I have made you”-(tithēmi). A better translation of tithēmi would be the word placed. So it would read that God has placed us as a light for the Gentiles (Acts 13:47).

And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.” It is freeing and even joyful to not carry the baggage from another with you (shake off the dust) as you move forward in your life celebrating whenever and however the Word of the Lord is spread (Acts 13:51-52).

#A Sorcerer/ False Prophet, & a Proconsul in a Pear Tree

Daily Reading: (Acts 13:1-5):

“Now in the church at Antioch there were prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen (who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch) and Saul. While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off. The two of them, sent on their way by the Holy Spirit, went down to Seleucia and sailed from there to Cyprus. When they arrived at Salamis, they proclaimed the word of God in the Jewish synagogues. John was with them as their helper.”

In the natural mind Paul and Barnabas would have sought out places with popular trade routes, lots of population, in order to most effectively spread the Gospel, not necessarily Salamis.

Now in the text it doesn’t even say they were seeking a certain answer to a certain problem, but what I do know is that as they worshiped, as they prayed, fasted, and were prayed for, their next steps became clear.  Because wisdom is found in time spent with the Lord (Acts 13:4).

The calling came about as the church prayed and the church worshiped God together. Fasting is not just an Old Testament practice but is a part of worship, living in the New Covenant (Acts 13:3).

Some people who rightly understand they are living in the New Covenant, don’t correctly understand fasting and avoid it. In the New Covenant, fasting has a new dynamic, fasting seems to be very brief, and used to clarify and confirm a choice. It is an intentional choice to fine tune your spiritual senses to ascertain what God is leading.

So, if you fast as they did in the Old Testament to try and get closer to God, you are wasting your time. God lives in you and you can’t get any closer than that. If you are fasting to try and get God take notice of you and give you something, every spiritual blessing in Christ is already yours (Ephesians 1:3). However, if you are faced with a decision, and need wisdom, spend time with God – sing His praises, believe His promises, and sometimes even abstain from food for a short time because your focus isn’t on anything other than Him.

Elymas is Bar-Jesus. Bar-Jesus was the name this character had received from his family; but his practice of the black arts had earned him another, “Elymas,” which is “an Arabic word meaning sorcerer.

#Oh What A Night

#Oh What A Night Devotional

Daily Reading: (Acts 12:1-5):

“It was about this time that King Herod arrested some who belonged to the church, intending to persecute them.  He had James, the brother of John, put to death with the sword. When he saw that this met with approval among the Jews, he proceeded to seize Peter also. This happened during the Festival of Unleavened Bread.  After arresting him, he put him in prison, handing him over to be guarded by four squads of four soldiers each. Herod intended to bring him out for public trial after the Passover. So Peter was kept in prison, but the church was earnestly praying to God for him.”

Why did King Herod arrest Peter during the Festival of Unleaven Bread? He chose this period to demonstrate even more his purpose to oppose all false religions, and to maintain the existing establishments of the nation.

We live well after this event and we have the headline of the news, “Peter’s miraculous escape from prison”. The church did not and yet the church believed and prayed for the impossible, a miracle, despite the fact that already one of the 12 was killed by the same man (Acts 12:5). The church did something, the only thing they could do, they prayed earnestly. Ektenōs means intensely, earnestly and we see this Greek word only used three times. One time it was used when “Jesus being in anguish, prayed more earnestly, and His sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground” (Luke 22:44). Another time was in Hebrews 5:7: “While Jesus was here on earth, he offered prayers and pleadings, with a loud cry and tears, to the one who could rescue him from death. And God heard his prayers because of his deep reverence for God.” So what this means is that the church prayed in the same way that Jesus prayed to be saved from death that Peter might be saved from death too. They prayed like his life dependent on it.

Peter who experience the earnest prayers firsthand would then write using the last time this Greek word is used in 1 Peter 1:22 from personal experience Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for each other, love one another deeply, from the heart.

The kind of love that I experienced with everyone praying for me while I was in prison about to be executed (Acts 12:5), love each other in that way (1 Peter 1:22).

“Suddenly an angel of the Lord appeared and a light shone in the cell. He struck Peter on the side and woke him up. “Quick, get up!” he said, and the chains fell off Peter’s wrists.” There will be times in your life when the miracle will appear but you need to have the faith to move on your miracle (Acts 12:7). “Quick, get up!” he said, and the chains fell off Peter’s wrists.” You see there might be something in our lives that has got us chained up when we have already been set free in Jesus. Move with the Spirit’s direction and watch the chains fall off.

 

#Coming Out of Jerusalem

Daily Reading: (Acts 11:1-3):

“The apostles and the believers throughout Judea heard that the Gentiles also had received the word of God. So when Peter went up to Jerusalem, the circumcised believers criticized him and said, “You went into the house of uncircumcised men and ate with them.”

Acts 11 has a profound effect on our lives and the purpose is to unite us together in Christ instead of divide us in the world. In Acts 11:1 “The apostles and the believers throughout Judea heard that the Gentiles also had received the word of God.” So, we are going to do a what do you think happens next segment?

People are believing in Jesus Christ and the circumcised (law living) believers

  1. a) rejoiced and threw a party
  2. b) sent church leaders to help establish a church Caesarea
  3. c) a and then b
  4. d) criticized Peter

“So when Peter went up to Jerusalem, the circumcised believers criticized him and said, “You went into the house of uncircumcised men and ate with them.” Nationality is not what gives you a right standing before God but faith in Jesus Christ. Salvation is for all people (Acts 11:9). What a miracle to behold, hostile towards each other- now that wall of separation is broken in Christ and there has been peace brought to us (Acts 11:18, Ephesians 2:14).

As you continue reading Acts 11 there is a statement made, “the hand of the Lord was with them.” The Greek word means that God is present protecting and aiding one (Acts 11:21).

“The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch.” In a Gentile Greek city, the name of believers in Jesus is born, Christians (Acts 11:26). As they ministered, we learn the hand of the Lord was with them in the present (Acts 11:21), but we also find God goes into the future and makes their path straight by warning of a coming famine (Acts 11:28).

 

 

 

 

#An Incredible Announcement

Daily Reading: (Acts 10:1-6):

“At Caesarea there was a man named Cornelius, a centurion in what was known as the Italian Regiment. He and all his family were devout and God-fearing; he gave generously to those in need and prayed to God regularly. One day at about three in the afternoon he had a vision. He distinctly saw an angel of God, who came to him and said, “Cornelius! Cornelius stared at him in fear. “What is it, Lord?” he asked. The angel answered, “Your prayers and gifts to the poor have come up as a memorial offering before God. Now send men to Joppa to bring back a man named Simon who is called Peter. He is staying with Simon the tanner, whose house is by the sea.”

In Caesarea, we are told that there is a man named Cornelius of the Italian Cohort or Regiment. Cohort is just a name of the archery unit of the Roman army.

God is working in two lives, Cornelius and Peter, bringing them together for Gospel purposes. God is going to use Peter, but Peter first has to repent (change his mind) about sharing the Gospel to all nations, otherwise Cornelius will not hear the Gospel (Acts 10:14). The journey God has Peter on is one of spiritual growth. The journey you and I are on is one of spiritual growth and sometimes the things we encounter in life are what we need in order to grow.

Here is an incredible announcement for your life: “The voice spoke to him a second time, “Do not call anything impure that God has made clean” Acts 10:15). Now, apply that to your life, God has made you clean in Jesus. You are a saint. Celebrate it- praise God for it and don’t ever make the mistake that Peter made and buy into the lie that you are unclean when Jesus’ died to make you clean.

We can clearly see the vision Peter had is connected directly to Cornelius, because Cornelius would have been seen as an unclean Gentile, an Italian (Acts 10:17).

“You are well aware that it is against our law for a Jew to associate with or visit a Gentile” (Acts 10:28). The announcement is that I am no longer under the law but grace because “God has shown me that I should not call anyone impure or unclean.”

But accepts from every nation the one who fears him and does what is right. You know the message God sent to the people of Israel, announcing the good news of peace through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all” (Acts 10:35-36).

 

#Living Proof

Daily Reading: (Acts 9:32-35):

“As Peter traveled about the country, he went to visit the Lord’s people who lived in Lydda. There he found a man named Aeneas, who was paralyzed and had been bedridden for eight years. “Aeneas,” Peter said to him, “Jesus Christ heals you. Get up and roll up your mat.” Immediately Aeneas got up. All those who lived in Lydda and Sharon saw him and turned to the Lord.”

 

The town of Lydda was positioned on the great caravan road between Babylon and Egypt, near its intersection with that from Joppa to Jerusalem and the East. Its position meant trade for the inhabitants. Sacks, saddles and strappings needing repair would create the skilled labor in cloth, leather, wood and metal that made the neighborhood once known as the valley of craftsmen.

Is Aeneas a believer or not? One camp says Aeneas was not a believer and their argument is because he is called a certain man here not a certain disciple like Luke in Acts later writes to describe Tabitha. I don’t agree with that 19th century argument because it says in verse 32, the verse that just came before it, “as Peter traveled about the country, he went to visit the Lord’s people…” and the first person mentioned after that statement is that he visited I nay as. I believe Aeneas was a believer and what strikes me here is this is a child of God (Acts 9:32) did not necessarily know what Jesus had made available to him, physical healing (Acts 9:34). He was bed-ridden for eight years. How long did this man know Jesus for we cannot be certain.

 “Aeneas,” Peter said to him, “Jesus Christ heals you. It is a done deal. This is done in the present tense meaning that it is an announcement of a fact that comes true even as Peter says the words.

“Get up and roll up your mat.” Get up and do what you haven’t done for eight years. There are some things that maybe you haven’t been able to do for awhile. Maybe you thought your days of doing whatever are over. I am too old, I am too paralyzed by fear, whatever the case may be. Jesus Christ heals you, now demonstrate your faith of that healing by doing the thing you thought you would never do again, “roll up your mat”.

When it says that “all those who lived in Lydda and Sharon saw him and turned to the Lord” it is important to understand the geography even further. The Plain of Sharon is not a town. The Plain of Sharon is thirty miles long from Joppa to Caesarea. One man believes the Gospel glad tidings of [in this case physical] salvation available in Christ and the result was for over thirty miles everyone believed.