Impossible people

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

“When they had threatened them further, they let them go (finding no basis on which to punish them)”–v 21.

Os Guinness has a new book out.  It is called Impossible People: Christian Courage and the Struggle for the Soul of Civilization.  The title comes from an eleventh century Benedictine reformer, Peter Damian.  Despite intense opposition, he spoke out against sexual immorality in the priesthood, against the selling of church offices.  He was unbending and  unstoppable and unbribable.  He was impossible!

I think the Sanhedrin would have said the same of Peter and the first followers of Christ.  They arrested them, beat them, threatened them, but they couldn’t make them stop speaking the things they had seen and heard (and believed) in Christ.

We are called to be these people in an age of spiritual darkness and denial.   We are to speak of Christ, even when it is unpopular.  We are to be impossible.


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

Can we change? I mean really change; not just cosmetic, superficial changes, but deep-down-to-the-core change. That’s the kind of change that happened in Peter. What a difference between that night in the courtyard where he denied Jesus three times, and his confrontation with the Jewish council, the same ones who had condemned Jesus! Peter was a new man, not in his personality, he was still the same bold Peter; he was a new man because now he was losing his life for the sake of Jesus’ name, that he might find it.

That’s the kind of change that the Gospel promises. Repentance and belief in Jesus, his work, and his promises, not only frees us from sin, but frees us to live a new life in the power of the Spirit of God. Like Jesus (and later Peter) we begin to live out the Kingdom of God by laying down our life for others. The truth is, although hard, it’s the best possible life we can live, and it holds the greatest reward.

Can you change?

God’s Promises

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

“But when they hand you over, do not worry about how or what you are to say; for it will be given you in that hour what you are to say. For it is not you who speak, but it is the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you.”  Matthew 10:19-20

Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them… , 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.  Acts 4:8, 13

How often are we aware that God’s promises are being kept and displayed in our lives? Moments of sadness and grief are accompanied by His promised peace and presence. Moments of fear or weakness are accompanied by His promised courage. Moments of confusion are accompanied by His promised wisdom. Moments of uncertainty are accompanied by His guidance and direction. (And the list goes on and on).

Maybe today we should all do a promise inventory (of times we have been witnesses and benefactors of God’s Promises). Maybe a prayer of thanksgiving should be spoken. “God I thank You because you have kept (demonstrated) Your promise of _____________________ to me”

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!


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.

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.


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.


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.


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!

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!