Acts 25-28; Almost Thou Persuadest me

Acts of The Apostles Chapter 41.

This chapter is based on Acts 25:13-27; 26.

Deeply affected, Agrippa for the moment lost sight of his surroundings and the dignity of his position. Conscious only of the truths which he had heard, seeing only the humble prisoner standing before him as God’s ambassador, he answered involuntarily, “Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian.” 

     Earnestly the apostle made answer, “I would to God, that not only thou, but also all that hear me this day, were both almost, and altogether such as I am,” adding, as he raised his fettered hands, “except these bonds.”  {AA 438.2} 

The key to overcoming covetousness is to appreciate the things we have. When we have Jesus we will no longer love and long for the things of this world. Instead we, like Paul will long for the world to have what we have. We will not be jealous of those with material treasures, but will long for them to have what we have which is Jesus.

Paul stood there in bonds before Agrippa in all of his glory and splendor but did not wish to have anything Agrippa had. Instead he wanted Agrippa to have what he had. If we truly love Jesus and believe God truly loves us and has given us everything we need to be happy, even God’s own Son, we too will no longer want what the world has but will long for the world to have what we have.

You may find more studies and devotionals at In Light Of The Cross.

Acts 15; Jew And Gentile

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

Acts of the Apostles Chapter 19.

This chapter is based on Acts Acts 15:1-35.

 I really love Peter’s humility in this story. Some try to claim that Peter was the first pope but Peter did present himself as infallible and if he was a pope then wouldn’t the church have just let his word settle this debate in Acts 15. Peter himself knows there is only one who is infallible and that is God Himself and that there is no man here on earth who can take His place.

Secondly I like how Peter accepted Paul’s rebuke when Paul tells his own version of the story of Acts 15 in Galatians 2. Peter does not respond to Paul saying, “Hey I have been in this church for years. You can’t talk to me like that! You are a new comer I have been here since the beginning.” No, Peter realizes that the Holy Spirit was speaking through Paul. Would that we all would realize that God can use anyone to correct us! Just because we may have been in the church longer does not mean cannot learn from new members. Even Peter learned from the new members. Peter did not resent being corrected by Paul, but later referred to him as his beloved brother in his own letter.

Acts 14;Preaching Among The Heathen

I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

Acts of the Apostles Chapter 18.

This chapter is based on Acts 14:1-26.

But the chief priests consulted that they might put Lazarus also to death; Because that by reason of him many of the Jews went away, and believed on Jesus. John 12:10-11.

 

I remember as a young boy going to see the Harlem Globtrotters. No matter how hard their arch rivals the Washington Generals tried to beat them they never could. The globtrotters won over 12,000 straight games against them. It’s the same with the Jesus and the devil. No matter how hard Satan tries he just can’t win for losing. For example Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead which was a big blow to Satan’s campaign. So what does he do? He tries to get the leaders to kill Lazarus now. Really? Like Jesus isn’t going to just turn around and raise him to life again and make an even more amazing miracle.

In Romans 8:28 Paul says, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to [his] purpose.” Christians can’t lose!

Those who stand on the side of truth can only win. For we can do nothing against the truth, but for the truth.  2 Corinthians 13:8

 

The chapter Preaching Among the Heathen, talks about the victories of God’s people amidst great opposition.

From Antioch in Pisidia, Paul and Barnabas went to Iconium. In this place, as at Antioch, they began their labors in the synagogue of their own people. They met with marked success; “a great multitude both of the Jews and also of the Greeks believed.” But in Iconium, as in other places where the apostles labored, “the unbelieving Jews stirred up the Gentiles, and made their minds evil affected against the brethren.”  {AA 177.1} 

     The apostles, however, were not turned aside from their mission, for many were accepting the gospel of Christ. In the face of opposition, envy, and prejudice they went on with their work, “speaking boldly in the Lord,” and God “gave testimony unto the word of His grace, and granted signs and wonders to be done by their hands.” These evidences of divine approval had a powerful influence on those whose minds were open to conviction, and converts to the gospel multiplied.

The increasing popularity of the message borne by the apostles, filled the unbelieving Jews with envy and hatred, and they determined to stop the labors of Paul and Barnabas at once. By means of false and exaggerated reports they led the authorities to fear that the entire city was in danger of being incited to insurrection. They declared that large numbers were attaching themselves to the apostles and suggested that it was for secret and dangerous designs.  {AA 178.1} 

     In consequence of these charges the disciples were repeatedly brought before the authorities; but their defense was so clear and sensible, and their statement of what they were teaching so calm and comprehensive, that a strong influence was exerted in their favor. Although the magistrates were prejudiced against them by the false statements they had heard, they dared not condemn them. They could but acknowledge that the teachings of Paul and Barnabas tended to make men virtuous, law-abiding citizens, and that the morals and order of the city would improve if the truths taught by the apostles were accepted.  {AA 178.2} 

 

  In every age and in every land, God’s messengers have been called upon to meet bitter opposition from those who deliberately chose to reject the light of heaven. Often, by misrepresentation and falsehood, the enemies of the gospel have seemingly triumphed, closing the doors by which God’s messengers might gain access to the people. But these doors cannot remain forever closed, and often, as God’s servants have returned after a time to resume their labors, the Lord has wrought mightily in their behalf, enabling them to establish memorials to the glory of His name.  {AA 179.2} 

 

The labors of Paul and Barnabas at Lystra were suddenly checked by the malice of “certain Jews from Antioch and Iconium,” who, upon learning of the success of the apostles’ work among the Lycaonians, had determined to follow them and persecute them. On arriving at Lystra, these Jews soon succeeded in inspiring the people with the same bitterness of spirit that actuated their own minds. By words of misrepresentation and calumny those who had recently regarded Paul and Barnabas as divine beings were persuaded that in reality the apostles were worse than murderers and were deserving of death.  {AA 183.1} 

     The disappointment that the Lystrians had suffered in being refused the privilege of offering sacrifice to the apostles, prepared them to turn against Paul and Barnabas with an enthusiasm approaching that with which they had hailed them as gods. Incited by the Jews, they planned to attack the apostles by force. The Jews charged them not to allow Paul an opportunity to speak, alleging that if they were to grant him this privilege, he would bewitch the people.  {AA 183.2} 

 

You may find more studies and devotionals at In Light of The Cross.

Acts 13; Paul and Mark

I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

Acts of The Apostles Chapter 17

This chapter is based on Acts 13:4-52.

  Paul and his company continued their journey, going to Perga, in Pamphylia. Their way was toilsome; they encountered hardships and privations, and were beset with dangers on every side. In the towns and cities through which they passed, and along the lonely highways, they were surrounded by dangers seen and unseen. But Paul and Barnabas had learned to trust God’s power to deliver. Their hearts were filled with fervent love for perishing souls. As faithful shepherds in search of the lost sheep, they gave no thought to their own ease and convenience. Forgetful of self, they faltered not when weary, hungry, and cold. They had in view but one object–the salvation of those who had wandered far from the fold.  {AA 169.2} 
     It was here that Mark, overwhelmed with fear and discouragement, wavered for a time in his purpose to give himself wholeheartedly to the Lord’s work. Unused to hardships, he was disheartened by the perils and privations of the way. He had labored with success under favorable circumstances; but now, amidst the opposition and perils that so often beset the pioneer worker, he failed to endure hardness as a good soldier of the cross. He had yet to learn to face danger and persecution and adversity with a brave heart. As the apostles advanced, and still greater difficulties were apprehended, Mark was intimidated and, losing all courage, refused to go farther and returned to Jerusalem.  {AA 169.3} 
     This desertion caused Paul to judge Mark unfavorably, and even severely, for a time. Barnabas, on the other hand, was inclined to excuse him because of his inexperience. He felt anxious that Mark should not abandon the ministry, for he saw in him qualifications that would fit him to be a useful worker for Christ. In after years his solicitude in Mark’s behalf was richly rewarded, for the young man gave himself unreservedly to the Lord and to the work of proclaiming the gospel message in difficult fields. Under the blessing of God, and the wise training of Barnabas, he developed into a valuable worker.  {AA 170.1} 
     Paul was afterward reconciled to Mark and received him as a fellow laborer. He also recommended him to the Colossians as one who was a fellow worker “unto the kingdom of God,” and “a comfort unto me.” Colossians 4:11. Again, not long before his own death, he spoke of Mark as “profitable” to him “for the ministry.” 2 Timothy 4:11.  {AA 170.2} 

Praise God that He was able to use Mark in the ministry even if he did not for a while meet Paul’s approval. Man does not determine our ministry, God does. Thank God for the encouragement of Barnabas. I am also glad that Paul and Mark patched things up.

You may find more studies and devtionals at In Light Of The Cross.

Acts 9; From Persecutor to Disciple

I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

Acts of the Apostles Chapter 12

This chapter is based on Acts 9:1-18.

And Ananias went his way, and entered into the house; and putting his hands on him said, Brother Saul, the Lord, [even] Jesus, that appeared unto thee in the way as thou camest, hath sent me, that thou mightest receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost. And immediately there fell from his eyes as it had been scales: and he received sight forthwith, and arose, and was baptized. Acts 9:17-18

As soon as Saul was converted he was introduced to Ananias and was baptized into the church. He had been called by God. “For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught [it], but by the revelation of Jesus Christ”.  Galatians 1:12 Still God had an elder lay hands on him in Acts 9 and be baptized into the church.

Thus Jesus gave sanction to the authority of His organized church and placed Saul in connection with His appointed agencies on earth. Christ had now a church as His representative on earth, and to it belonged the work of directing the repentant sinner in the way of life.  {AA 122.2} 

 

Many have an idea that they are responsible to Christ alone for their light and experience, independent of His recognized followers on earth. Jesus is the friend of sinners, and His heart is touched with their woe. He has all power, both in heaven and on earth; but He respects the means that He has ordained for the enlightenment and salvation of men; He directs sinners to the church, which He has made a channel of light to the world.  {AA 122.3} 

You may find more studies and devotionals at In Light Of the Cross.

Acts 4-5; A Warning Against Hypocrisy

I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

Acts of the Apostles Chapter 7

While Ananias and Sapphira practiced hypocrisy by claiming to be more giving than they were, many were sacrificing dearly for the sake of the gospel.

As the disciples proclaimed the truths of the gospel in Jerusalem, God bore witness to their word, and a multitude believed. Many of these early believers were immediately cut off from family and friends by the zealous bigotry of the Jews, and it was necessary to provide them with food and shelter.  {AA 70.1}
     The record declares, “Neither was there any among them that lacked,” and it tells how the need was filled. Those among the believers who had money and possessions cheerfully sacrificed them to meet the emergency. Selling their houses or their lands, they brought the money and laid it at the apostles’ feet, “and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need.”  {AA 70.2} 
     This liberality on the part of the believers was the result of the outpouring of the Spirit. The converts to the gospel were “of one heart and of one soul.” One common interest controlled them–the success of the mission entrusted to 
 them; and covetousness had no place in their lives. Their love for their brethren and the cause they had espoused, was greater than their love of money and possessions. Their works testified that they accounted the souls of men of higher value then earthly wealth.  {AA 70.3} 
     Thus it will ever be when the Spirit of God takes possession of the life. Those whose hearts are filled with the love of Christ, will follow the example of Him who for our sake became poor, that through His poverty we might be made rich. Money, time, influence–all the gifts they have received from God’s hand, they will value only as a means of advancing the work of the gospel. Thus it was in the early church; and when in the church of today it is seen that by the power of the Spirit the members have taken their affections from the things of the world, and that they are willing to make sacrifices in order that their fellow men may hear the gospel, the truths proclaimed will have a powerful influence upon the hearers. {AA 71.1}

I am currently working on my sixth year as a Bible Worker/Lay Pastor for the Tampa First Seventh-day Adventist Church. 

It has been a sacred honor and privilege to serve my Lord, His church, and community. Being in the ministry as a Bible Worker, one thing is certain. Most churches will not support a full time Bible Worker for six years! Maybe a year or two, but not six years and not full time. In Texas I was fortunate to have three churches, sometimes four, support me part time for almost five years. I want to thank my pastor, and the whole Tampa First Church family for willfully putting up with me for six years. I know it has taken a lot of sacrificial giving not just for a while but systematically for six years to put a full time Bible worker into our church and community. I pray that you are as glad to have me as I am to have you. I realize also that my church has not been sacrificing and giving just to see me write this. They have given from the heart because they love Jesus and they love the souls of our community and want to see them saved. When I got real sick last fall I saw that many of you were concerned, not for me alone but for the sake of the gospel in our community. It was a sobering experience for me. Thank you not only for loving and supporting me, but even more so for loving Jesus and the world He died to save!

I would like to dedicate this song, “Thank you”, by Ray Boltz, to my Tampa First Church family and all those who support the gospel work all over the world! Thank You!

Acts 3; At The Temple Gate

I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

Acts of the Apostles Chapter 6

The disciples of Christ had a deep sense of their own inefficiency, and with humiliation and prayer they joined their weakness to His strength, their ignorance to His wisdom, their unworthiness to His righteousness, their poverty to His exhaustless wealth. Thus strengthened and equipped, they hesitated not to press forward in the service of the Master.  {AA 57.1}  

A short time after the descent of the Holy Spirit, and immediately after a season of earnest prayer, Peter and John, going up to the temple to worship, saw at the gate Beautiful a cripple, forty years of age, whose life, from his birth, had been one of pain and infirmity. This unfortunate man had long desired to see Jesus, that he might be healed; but he was almost helpless, and was far removed from the scene of the great Physician’s labors. His pleadings at last induced some friends to bear him to the gate of the temple, but upon arriving there, he found that the One upon whom his hopes were centered, had been put to a cruel death.  {AA 57.2} 

      His disappointment excited the sympathy of those who knew for how long he had eagerly hoped to be healed by Jesus, and daily they brought him to the temple, in order that passers-by might be induced by pity to give him a trifle to relieve his wants. As Peter and John passed, he asked an alms from them. The disciples regarded him compassionately, and Peter said, “Look on us. And he gave heed unto them, expecting to receive something of them. Then Peter said, Silver and gold have I none.” As Peter thus declared his poverty, the countenance of the cripple fell; but it grew bright with hope as the apostle continued, “But such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk.  {AA 58.1} 

 In this story what Jesus promised is already taking place; Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works.Believe me that I [am] in the Father, and the Father in me: or else believe me for the very works’ sake. Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater [works] than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father.  John 14:10-12

 I believe the church is the body of Christ, and through Christ it is capable of perfectly manifesting God’s love and mercy and bring healing from the power of sin and the diseases that are brought on by the consequences of a sinful world.

 When Peter healed the lame man in Acts 3, he could have taken all the credit, and saved himself ridicule for proclaiming the name of Jesus. The Holy Spirit led Peter right back to many of the same leaders who there in the judgment hall when Peter denied Jesus, to escape ridicule. Just like with us, when we fail on one point God forgives us, but also leads us back through the same situation so that we can get the victory on that point and move on. Peter did not fail the second time. This time, when asked by what power this miracle was done, he boldly declared it was by the power of Jesus Christ. Praise the Lord we can accept the forgiveness of Jesus and experience His victory for ourselves, instead of making the same mistakes over and over again! The second time around, Peter lets God’s love and power flow perfectly through him!

You may find more studies and devotionals at In Light Of  The Cross.