These uneducated fishermen stood confidently speaking truth to the religious, political and intellectually elite of their day. What they did seems to contradict who they were. For anyone feeling underqualified, underprepared or in over their head, this chapter offers an abundance of hope.
"Christus vivit": Post-Synodal Exhortation to Young People and to the entire People of God
God will always do more through you than expected. It is not education, wealth, position or political influence that makes us competent or qualified to do great things for God. Rather, it is our time spent with Jesus that makes. Spend time connecting with Jesus every day instead of worrying about your level of preparedness for the task ahead. God will make you ready for all He wants to do through you as long as you seek Him! What qualified them to preach to the crowd?
How can you be bolder at work, school or home? The book of Acts is not for wimps.
Ray Martin, Author at Church of the Ascension - Page 4 of 14
While some well-intentioned preachers say Christianity is about comfort and prosperity, the Bible paints a much different picture. Members of the early church endured prison, beatings, exposure to death, stoning, shipwrecks, sleeplessness, hunger, thirst and naked- ness as a result of proclaiming Jesus as Lord. Instead of quitting they rejoiced when they suffered for Jesus. Most of us have never been flogged for our faith. God placed us in this time and place so His name might be glorified now.
Are we boldly carrying His name into every area of our lives or are we hiding behind apathy and comfort? The reward of a life spent living boldly for Jesus far outweighs any temporary consequences we may endure. Who knows what the repercussions of sharing Jesus in your school, workplace or family will be. But we can be sure that whatever we face, Christ is with us.
In any situation, we can boldly share the gospel. It comes down to what we value. If personal comfort is our goal in life, we will fight against change. However, if Jesus is our ultimate treasure, change becomes an exciting opportunity. In Acts 6, the apostles make a tough leadership decision that affected lots of people.
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Some people probably responded positively and others probably responded negatively. Will we embrace change positively and allow growth to happen? The apostles realized that without a drastic change, the gospel would not reach the world. Imagine what can happen in your walk with Jesus when you open your heart to change.
Imagine what can happen in our church when we are willing to make the changes necessary to see more and more people hear the gospel of Jesus Christ. Anything you need to start doing or stop doing to take your next step of faith? How do we measure fullness? How do we know if we are experiencing the fullness Christ offers?
In both ministries, Stephen gave everything he had to the task. He performed faithfully behind the scenes receiving the thanks of a few well-fed widows, and he performed just as faithfully on a more public platform when death seemed his likely end. No doubt Stephen was motivated by an empty tomb and empowered by the Holy Spirit. The measuring stick for fullness is not the length of our days, the number of our accomplishments or the frequency of our happiness. Stephen was boldly and faithfully obedient in every situation. He was all in. His life shows us that fullness is found in a life of Christ-centered purpose.
What is the biblical definition of success? Occasionally we encounter someone with incredible passion for the gospel, and we wonder what makes them different. We might think their passion results from the gift of evangelism or a powerful conversion story. In reality, their enthusiasm stems from a deep understanding of what Jesus has done for them. This knowledge has transformed their behavior.
The believers in Acts were undergoing tremendous persecution. Jesus is alive; He is the only way to God. Not even death could prevent them from sharing the gospel with the world. To see the gospel spread and lives changed, we have to do more than pray. We have to go! How has it changed what you talk about? Have you ever stood at the rim of the Grand Canyon?
The size of the canyon is almost more than you can fathom. It is difficult to even see the other side. The overwhelming feeling of standing on the rim can best be described as awe. The chasm between Saul and Jesus, seen in this chapter, is wider than the Grand Canyon. Everybody could see a difference.
Mark #4: A Biblical Concept of Oneself
Some people were excited and wanted to help Saul in any way they could. Some people wanted to kill him. His life was dramatically affected by Jesus and that affected others. Nothing was the same for Saul and it never would be again. He was an enemy of God before he met Jesus on the road to Damascus. Can we be good enough for God? Think back on your decision to follow Jesus. What happened? How is your life different now than it was before you met Jesus? Is that true for you? As the Bible shows you new ways to think and feel, how will you respond? How has Jesus changed your perspective since you met Him?
What is God changing in you now? Does your heart hold any prejudices that God wants you to overcome? The fact that God made salvation possible for people outside of Israel broke thousands of years of religious tradition. In this period, Jews would not even associate with non-Jews, who were called Gentiles. They were considered the low rung of society, cursed by God and unfit for interaction with a holy people. However, Jesus makes it clear He came to save the whole world, even those who at one time seemed unreachable. The Jews had no reason to believe Gentiles were loved by God.
But verse 23 says when Barnabas arrived in Antioch he saw people who had been changed by the grace of God. God was active in Antioch long before Barnabas had even considered making the trip. It was our sins that crucified Jesus.
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Who do you know who seems too far gone? No one is too far for God to reach! How can you reach out to that person this week? If not, what stops you? Chained to two soldiers and guarded by 14 others, Peter needed a rescuer. God rescued Peter from a hostile court and certain death by sending an angel to free Peter from his chains.
The angel escorted Peter past the guards, and Peter walked out of prison unscathed. Every day God offers people freedom through a group or a volunteer role. He storms prisons of loneliness, addiction, financial bondage, worthlessness and rejection. He sets people free with the love, fellowship, teaching and purpose-filled living.
Or are you willing, like Peter, to wake up, get up and follow God out of prison by taking your next step? Ask Him to do just that.
What first step is God asking you to take today? In Acts 2,, the early church movement starts with believers gathered in one room praying and seeking wisdom from God. A couple of chapters later, they gather for a prayer meeting and the room physically shakes with the power of God. In Acts 13, the Antioch church meets to pray and fast over their next step, and Barnabas and Saul are sent out on mission. We even joked with each other about our differences. But one thing happened. We got to know one another personally through that ministry time together.
Even now, I continue to make it a priority to stay involved in some form of small group fellowship on a monthly basis.