September 25, 2012

Today you should read: Acts 4:23-37

14 What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? 17 So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.

18 But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. 19 You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder! 20 Do you want to be shown, you foolish person, that faith apart from works is useless? 21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar? 22 You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by his works; 23 and the Scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”—and he was called a friend of God. 24 You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone. 25 And in the same way was not also Rahab the prostitute justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way? 26 For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead. ~ James 2:14-26

James speaks to believers about the relationship of faith and works. His basic message is that whatever you believe in or trust in is what you will do. It is easy for us to claim faith in Christ but it is not until that faith is tested by the struggles of this world that we show our real faith by our reaction to the trials. Today’s passage is a perfect opportunity to get a glimpse of how the apostles demonstrated true faith in Christ by their reaction to a difficult situation. If you remember from your reading yesterday, Peter and John were brought before the high priests to be questioned about healing a lame beggar. The high priests questioned their authority and they proclaimed Christ with boldness. After hearing the message of Peter and John the high priests charged them not to proclaim Christ any longer.

So what do they do? These are the same men who had Jesus crucified for the same message. Do they obey these priests for fear of the same result? What would you do if you knew that proclaiming the gospel might mean being tortured or losing your life? The answer is Peter and John reacted in faith. So what does this look like practically?

  1. They went to God for wisdom (v.24; James 1:5)
  2. They remembered the scriptures (v.25) We must remember that the Holy Spirit guides us to agree with God’s Word. If you think God is calling you to something but it does not agree with the scriptures then it is not God.
  3. Their goal for their prayer was for God’s name to be glorified and his purposes to be fulfilled (v.27-30)
  4. They banded together as the church to care for one another.

It is inevitable that we will face trials throughout the course of our lives and those trials are opportunities to see our true faith. God does not put trials in our lives because he is unsure about how we will react. Rather, they are there so that we can see what we truly believe. If our reaction is to run to God, then that strengthens us and produces endurance (James 1:2-4). However, if our reaction is to run from God and avoid the church then can we really say that we have faith? That may be a question that needs to be answered for some of you.

Posted by: Chad Wiles

September 24, 2012

Today you should read: Acts 4:1-22

Becky and I were on a mission trip to Uzbekistan during the summer of 2004 for five weeks.  The spiritual soil is hard there.  Many of the people there are culturally Muslim, much like many Americans are culturally Christians. Before we left America, I began to pray that someone in Uzbekistan would look at me and say, “There is something different about you.  Why are you different?”  I prayed that someone would recognize me as having been with Jesus.

In Acts 3 Peter and John encountered a crippled beggar who was asking them for alms.  Instead of giving alms, Peter asked God to heal the man and he got up and walked.  The people who witnessed the miracle began glorifying God.  Peter and John saw this as an opportunity to proclaim Christ’s life, death, burial, and resurrection and many people believed.  That is where Acts 4 begins.

In Acts 4:1-22, the priests and the temple guard, as well as the Sadducees were greatly disturbed about what Peter and John were proclaiming.  (Cheesy joke alert:  The Sadducees were Sad-You-See because they didn’t believe in the resurrection of Christ.)  So, they threw Peter and John in jail overnight.  On the next day, the officials began to question Peter and John about how the lame man was healed.  Peter responded to their inquiry in verses 8-12.

I want to point something out that is really interesting.  Look at the connection between verses 8 and 13.

vs. 8  Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them,”…

When he finished speaking, the officials responded in verse 13.

vs. 13 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.

Those officials couldn’t help but recognize that Peter and John had been with Jesus.  There was no other explanation.  Yes, they had been with Jesus, but I believe what verse 8 says is a huge reason why the officials recognized them as having been with Jesus.  They were filled with the Holy Spirit.

To be filled with the Spirit means to be directed and empowered by Him.  It’s a moment-by-moment dependence upon the Spirit as the power source to live the Christian life.  Another way to think about it is to be living with Him in the driver’s seat of your life.  When a person is filled with the Spirit, then he/she is going to be recognized as having been with Jesus!

I want people to notice something different about me.  That will only happen if I am filled with the Spirit.  I want to confess all known sin, surrender all to Him, and trust that He will direct and empower me.

How about you?  Do you desire for people to recognize Christ in you so that He will be glorified?

While in Uzbekistan, I was keenly aware of the need to be filled with the Spirit.  One day, I was walking down the street with two Uzbek college students.  There was a lady selling ice cream on the sidewalk, and surprisingly, she blurted out that she wanted to talk about religion.  At first, she was expressing all sorts of interesting ideologies.  Then all of a sudden, her tone and ideologies completely switched.  She looked at the two students and said, “There is something different about this person.  I think he has come from America to tell you something.”

My prayer was answered!  Both guys accepted Christ the next day!

Posted by: Rich Duffield

September 22, 2012

Today you should read: Acts 3:1-26

When I read this passage, one thing really jumps out to me and here is the thought I want you to get from this reading today:
Seize the opportunities you have in life to share the gospel!

The progression of events here makes that very clear:

1. Peter heals a lame man right outside the temple.

2. They go in together and everyone is in awe.

3. All the people gather together to see what has happened.

Then, in verse 12 we see a very interesting phrase that many of us would just look past most times. :

“Peter saw his opportunity and addressed the crowd.”

What a huge statement that could be so easily missed in reading this passage. Peter did not do something great so he could be great or just because he could, he had a purpose behind it and that purpose comes to fruition in verse 12 and on through the rest of the passage. Peter’s actions that day and every day had a goal behind them, to share the good news of Jesus Christ. Paul encourages us in this same thought in Ephesians 5:16-17:

Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days. Don’t act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do.

So what does the Lord want us to do? (See Matthew 28:19-20)

Today, remember to live with purpose and not just any purpose but to:

Seize the opportunities you have in life to share the gospel!

Posted by: Robbie Byrd

September 21, 2012

Today you should read: Acts 2:42-47

The Christian life…

Peter sure gave some gospel presentation . . . As we read yesterday, 3,000 people were saved! It wasn’t as if 3,000 people made a “decision” for Christ and then would fall off next week. If the Bible says their “souls were added” (ESV) then their souls were added.

What we see following this is a pretty straightforward text. I think that this is a really cool portion of Scripture because it very simply summarizes the Christian life.

Today’s “Walk-a-Way”

The Christian Life:

1. They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching (v.42)

Scripture is the life-source of any believer. It is absolutely vital. If you intend to read the Bible just a little, then you will grow as a Christian, just a little. You will grow in your walk and relationship with God in proportion to your intake of Scripture.

It says here that they were devoted to the apostles teaching.

  • Are you devoted?You must be committed to the point that your whole world revolves around it.
    • Are you reading it? Read and reread it as much as you can.
    • Are you studying it? Reading is not enough. Study it. Study the flow of thought. Grab a good commentary or study Bible and study the background, the purpose, etc. Your purpose is to find the Author’s intent of each passage.
    • Are you memorizing it? You need to get those truths inside of you. The truths of God’s Word must be regularly on your mind for you to believe them and, consequently, for them to change you.

2. They devoted themselves to fellowship (v.42)

The community of believers was together. They participated and shared with each other. Verses 44-46 elaborates on this:

  • They met with each other (v44) – Who are you meeting with on a regular basis?
  • They shared with each other (v44) – Does this characterize your relationships?
  • They gave to each other (v45) – How have you been doing with giving?
  • They worshiped with each other (v45) – Have you been in the practice of regularly worshiping with your church body? This is vital.

3. They devoted themselves to the Lord’s Supper and sharing meals (v.42)

The Lord’s Supper is the practice of confessing sin, repenting of sin, and primarily remembering what Jesus has done for you. Are you in the practice of doing this with other believers?

4. They devoted themselves to prayer (v.42)

Your prayer life will reveal your heart condition towards God. It reveals our desperation for Him. It reveals our love for Him. It reveals our dependency on Him to accomplish and come through in our lives in ways that only He can.

Your consistency in prayer reveals the consistency of your dependency on God. Daily prayer shows that you need Him daily.

Pretty simple summary of the Christian life, huh? What I find interesting is that after 3,000 people came to Christ it says that ALL of them devoted themselves to these 4 things…ALL…not just some (v. 42).

Most importantly, while doing all four of these things, they were:

1. Worshiping God

2. Loving each other

Verse 47 says;
“[A]ll the while praising God and enjoying the goodwill of all the people.”

They truly were thoroughly committed to the most important aspects of the Christian life. And guess what the result was?

“[E]ach day the Lord added to their fellowship those who were being saved” (v.47).

Posted by: Sam Cirrincione