Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Acts 24 -- Paul and Felix

The trials of Paul continue here in chapter 24. Now before Felix, the arguments against Paul are levied by the religious leaders. When it comes time for Paul's defense essentially Paul calls them all liars, but he does it in a very nice way. Felix wanting to make a profit off the situation waits to make his judgment. We are told for over two years Felix would call on Paul to teach about the Way, expecting Paul would bring a bribe. Non such bribe showed up, yet Felix continued to call. We end the chapter with Paul in prison and Felix going on to the next thing and Porcius Festus taking his place.

It might seem like this is an inconsequential chapter that could have been left out of the story. While we could still get the gist of the story without this episode, we do learn further about Paul's resolve and his unwillingness to use the methods of the earthly kingdom. Paul continues to tell his story and more importantly the account of Jesus Christ. The religious leaders tell created stories to try and push the buttons of the earthly kingdom, Rome. Paul is using Rome to gain a greater and greater audience. The religious leaders are trying to use Rome to further their agenda and riches. Paul is God focused and the religious leaders are power focused, I wonder who will win?

This continues to raise the question of how those who follow Christ interact with the government. In our day and age we would be trying to make sure followers were elected to the right offices so change could be made and the right legislation could be brought to the table. The only problem is that is not how Jesus seemed to work. Jesus was a rabbi, a recognized teacher and authority of the law. He could have positioned himself on the Sanhedrin in order to generate influence. Instead the plan was to live so distinctly different, and that would generate influence. It was clear to Felix that Paul was not going to bring a bribe, yet he continued to call him to hear more about Jesus. Paul lived differently, yet he gain influence.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Acts 23 -- Paul's Trial Part 2

In chapter 23 the trial continues, as does the two varying uses of the earthly kingdoms. Paul begins to speak to the religious folks and they order him struck in the mouth. This is a distinctly Roman action taken by the religious leaders. The use of violence to subdue a person, more importantly to subdue anyone else from picking up the line of discussion. Paul being bold calls them on it, and they get a little mad at him.

Wanting to take the heat off him, Paul uses a technique Jesus used to get the religious leaders arguing among themselves. The argument gets so strong the Roman governor fears for Paul and removes him to safety. Now the religious leaders who have already used violence turn to deception to take care of Paul. Problem, God is at work and the plot is discovered. Before we know it Paul is on his way to Felix, the next level of Roman rules, to have the case heard there, and for his protection. The religious leaders are foiled again as they attempt to use the methods of this world to fight against what God is doing.

I wonder how often we find ourselves in that same place. We are so trained in the ways of this world we might confuse the ways of this world with the ways of God. They are very different. Unknowingly we can be standing in the way of what God is doing. Paul was called by God to preach to those outside the people called Israel. That is you and I for the most part. Yet we in the church can often look more like the religious leaders of Paul's day than the one who was called to witness to us. Are we willing to reclaim the call to go out to others, or trample them because they are different?

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Acts 22 -- Paul's Trial Part 1

Against all human cautions, Paul made his way to Jerusalem and just as foreseen, he is taken into custody. Interestingly, the Roman custody is for the protection of Paul from the religious leaders. Each step of the way the Roman, or worldly, leadership can find no wrong with Paul, yet they keep him under guard for his own protection.

Every time Paul is asked by the religious leaders to answer for his actions the results is violence. In chapter 22 Paul begins to lay out his case that he is just like them in many ways. Until that moment on the road to Damascus. On that road the Pharisee Paul was confronted by Jesus himself. As you might guess this had a profound impact on Paul and changed the course of his life. Paul provokes the religious leaders by stating that he is called to preach the Good News to the Gentiles.

As the violence breaks, Paul is taken and about to be beaten, then he plays the Roman citizen card and everything changes. Paul is not beaten and is put under protection while the trial continues. The religious leaders however were even more on the attack.

While Paul was using his earthly citizenship as a means of protection, and to cover travel expense to Rome, the religious leaders were trying to mesh the earthly kingdom way of doing things into their own. The problem is the Kingdom of God does not work like the kingdoms of the earth. The people of God are called to function differently from the kingdom of earth. Paul walks a fine line, the religious leaders trample the line.

Are we using the ways of this world to accomplish the works of God's kingdom?

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Acts 21 -- Not To Be Side Tracked

Here we have Paul making his final move to Jerusalem. It is like watching a bad horror movie. Everything and everyone is telling Paul not to go. Even as a reader we can find ourselves yelling at Paul, don't go to Jerusalem. Nothing good can come from the trip to Jerusalem from a human standpoint. Yet Paul keeps his resolve strong, and helps remind people it is not about him and his well being, it is about Jesus Christ.

Paul will let nothing side track him from the mission. People pleading and begging. His closest companions on mission even caution him, still he presses on. The elders in Jerusalem are concerned for Paul and give him some instructions. Note they are religious instructions. James tells Paul to go play the religious game to show the people he is not as bad as they think. The result is a riot and Paul in prison. Apparently playing the religious game will not get it done.

Through all of this Paul could have changed the outcome. At any of the cities he could have chosen to scale back the passion and settle into a nice living among the community of believers. All the rioting and beating could have simply gone away. Nope, not Paul, he was focused on the call God had given him. Many saw the cautions given through the Spirit as a reason not to go, Paul simply saw it as confirmation of what would happen when he went. What it comes down to is Paul's amazing ability to see things from a God perspective more than a human. I do not think it was just words, it really didn't matter to Paul what happened to him as long as Jesus Christ was glorified.

We often get side tracked because of self preservation. It is hard to believe that God might call us into situations where we would lose and significantly. Wait a minute I believe there was that whole Jesus thing where God lost pretty big. Following God does not mean everything will be easy and free of pain. There is not earthly safety in following God, yet there is eternal danger in not.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Acts 20 -- He Knew!

If you have been regularly reading this blog you know that I think very highly of Paul. In many ways, outside of Jesus Paul is my spiritual hero. In this chapter of Acts there is an understanding Paul has which blows my mind. He is headed to Jerusalem, and knows things will go poorly for him there. He says in every place he has been the Holy Spirit has revealed to him that prison and hardships are facing him.

Prison and hardship is not the part that blows my mind. Over and over we see Paul in those situations. This time it is different as he seems to be confident this is it. Yet with great resolve, Paul heads to Jerusalem. He goes knowing what is to come. Now I have gone to meetings knowing it was going to be difficult, or that I might have some great challenges at the meeting, however Paul knows this will be more than a hard or difficult meeting.

Once again we find Paul completely yielding to what God has called him to. The Holy Spirit is guiding Paul's every step, and Paul is following. I realize we are not getting a moment by moment, thought by thought commentary, but it seems as though there is no hesitation. Paul knows what lies ahead and does it anyway.

For the church of Jesus Christ in America so tough days lie ahead. The choice will be to bail or walk faithfully in the path set before us. Hardship and challenge are all around, yet the Spirit is calling. Will we be like Paul? Will we shy away? Will we do nothing?

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Acts 19 -- What's In A Name

Once again there is enough in this chapter of Acts to write many pages. I am going to limit my focus to a very small section. There are people who are casting our demons and they are doing it in the name of Jesus, the one who Paul preaches. The response from the demon, I know Jesus, I know Paul but who are you? This is a powerful and important question.

When asked who you are, how do you respond? Many will give their name. Usually without much probing people will offer what they do for a living. There is an endless list of things by which we describe ourselves. For those who follow Christ we have added another description of who we are. How often do we use the Name of Christ as our primary identifier? Do we identify with a person who taught us about Christ, do we even identify with Christ, or do we select from the long list of other names and identifiers?

I guess the question must be asked if it even matters. If I have chosen to follow Christ does it really matter if I use the name of Christ as a way to identify myself? Absolutely. When we are told I know Jesus and I know Paul but who are you, there is only one answer which leads to life. The answer, I am a child of God, redeemed, restored and set free by Jesus Christ. The name of Jesus matters, and your connection with it makes all the difference in the world.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Acts 18 -- The Church Grows

As we steam into chapter 18 of Acts we find Paul still hard at work. Three constants ring true; first, Paul continues to preach, teach and reason, second, many people commit to following the Way, third, there is constant opposition. All of this adds up to show the church of Jesus Christ was growing. It seems as though the words of Acts 2 are ringing true, "The Lord add daily to the number being saved.". What started off as a small group of people has grown considerably in just a few short years.

While the church was growing so were the struggles of the church. The established religious order was increasingly threatened by the growth of the church. No longer was religion able to control the lives of the people. There was a new way of living and being, one that did not follow the old ways. This was the source of opposition. The leaders of religion were losing power and status. The result was violence against humanity, not just those who were following Jesus, but themselves as we see here is Acts 18.

When something different is happening and growth is the result, there is going to be challenge. I continue to be amazed at how change is fought against. The pull of what has always been known is so incredibly strong. Why? It seems the more we follow God, the more we should be ready for just about anything. Throughout history when the church has become predictable, settled or even stuck, is when the mission of God has suffered. When the mission of God flourishes the result is growth of the church. At those points of being stuck, we cry out to God and God brings change and shake up, the question is, do we follow or fight?

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Acts 17 -- To An Unknown God

Human beings are a people of worship. It may not be God that we worship, but there are many gods which we worship. For some it is money, for others it is family. Many gods and a lot of people feeling empty and longing. We as humanity are looking for a god who will fulfill our lives. Paul encounters the people in Athens who are in a similar pursuit. This is where Paul steps in and claims to know the unknown God.

We know this unknown God as well. The question is not knowledge, rather it is a matter of trust and obedience. The other gods of our lives are often allowed to have rule. We strive and strive for more. money, prestige, importance and more. In the midst we lose sight of the one true God who can offer to us this life we strive for. Interestingly it is not through striving we find this God, it is through submission.

In many ways Paul has a pretty easy task, as we do as well. People are seeking and striving and we know the only source of Truth. It is not ours to convince and argue, it is ours to simply tell the story of the people of God. The rest is in the hands of that very God and the decisions of those seeking to dig into the God who has been made known.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Acts 16 -- Life In The Spirit

As one might guess Paul was a man deeply connected to the Spirit of God. Not only connected and knowledgeable, Paul lived his live through and by the lead of the Holy Spirit. In this chapter of Acts we find the Spirit directing his very steps. Paul wants to go one place and the Spirit won't let him. So Paul yields to the spirit.

So what are the results of Paul yielding? Read on in the chapter and Paul is in jail. Wait a cotton picking minute. Paul does what he should by yielding to the Spirit and his reward is jail? Even there Paul is at God's work sharing the Gospel of Jesus. While most of us would be complaining about where we were after following God, Paul is busy saving souls.

Often we confuse life in the Spirit with life being easy. There is a dangerous tendency to think as long as we are following God things will be jut fine. Likewise we think if we are experiencing hard times, that we are not living by the Spirit of God. I find when I am living in the Spirit, more often than not life becomes a little more difficult. The true measure of living in the Spirit is not speaking in tongues, it is not having favor with everyone, it is not having everything go smooth. The true measure is found following God first in all circumstances, presenting Jesus Christ.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Acts 15 -- Religious Burden

Here in Acts 15 we have the first big church meeting around a divisive issue. The issue, whether Gentiles, all non Jews, need to be circumcised in order to be Christian. The process here is amazing, the case is presented, the elders, church leadership, discusses and debates, then they issue the proclamation. What is it the leaders said, there is not requirement of circumcision for the Gentiles.

There was no grand listening campaign. They did not take a survey of the constituents. They sough the Lord and allowed the Holy Spirit to be their guide. Once they had their decision they issued the statement of how things would be. It came down to not wanting to place a religious burden on people. What matters most according to the elders is the acceptance of the grace given and faith in the giver of the grace. Not some external mutilation. Not some religious ceremony. Rather the condition of the heart.

What are the religious burdens you are under? Do they really help you develop a closer relationship with God, or are they simply activities which are done because that is how it has always been done? While the presenting issue of Acts 15 is circumcision, the real issue is religious burdens. The leaders of the early church did not want to establish religious burdens, especially in light if the freedom Christ offers. It was clear God was moving in the lives of Gentiles, and the people of Israel were not an exclusive group. God was doing something much bigger than religion.

Seek out the things in your life that are religious burdens. Once they have been identified ask a key question, are these things helping with the ongoing transformation of my life?

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Acts 14 -- Keep Preaching

Have I mentioned how much I marvel at Paul? First there is the dramatic conversion experience. Followed by one of the greatest church planting trips every recorded. Throughout the missionary trips Paul is threatened, stoned and left for dead, exalted as a god, and run out of several cities. There are a few constants in his life, like his ability to get people really mad at him, or the ability to have people accept the offer of grace through Jesus. Possibly the greatest gift Paul is giving to me is seen in another constant, he kept preaching.

No matter what circumstance Paul found himself in he used it as an opportunity to preach the Good News. Paul was given a calling from God to go and preach to the Gentiles. This is not a charge Paul has taken lightly. No matter what, he is going to give everything he has to live out the calling God has given him. When I hit resistance I tend to slow down and drawback some. When Paul hit resistance, he pushed harder and picked up intensity. There is not anything of human origin that will keep Paul from fulfilling the calling place on him. I wonder how often we allow things to keep us from fulfilling our calling?

First, Paul was clear about his calling. It was known to Paul exactly what God had commissioned him to do. The way that would happen was not necessarily known, but it was known it would happen. Are you clear about your calling? Second, Paul was sent, by God and by the church. This was not simply some renegade doing whatever he felt was right. Have you been sent? Finally, Paul would let nothing stop him. What is stopping you?

Keep preaching the message God has given to you. Let nothing keep you from this charge.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Acts 13 -- Boldness

I am amazed by Paul's boldness we see showing through. Paul shares the historical account which brings the crowd to Jesus, and then proclaims the message of hope that Jesus is the Messiah. When the religious people of the area stir up trouble for Paul and Barnabas, they challenge them. When further trouble is the result, the shale the dust off their sandals and move on. This is a much greater insult than we might realize. It is not a matter of tucking tail and running. Rather it is an act of defiance, and essentially casting the area to its fate. These are not the actions of the timid.

When we today encounter challenge or persecution how do we respond? Do we simply stop doing what made people unhappy, or to we run away. Few and far between are the people who actually stand for what they feel God is calling them to. The followers of Jesus need to recapture some the holy boldness we see in Paul. This will mean challenging people and more difficult, challenging religious systems. That is exactly where Paul was getting his resistance. The average person heard the message of Jesus and responded positively. The religious establishment quickly organized the resistance movement to Paul and the Word of God displayed in Jesus Christ.

I often wonder what it would be like if the early church leaders came and visited the church in America today. For the most part I am not sure the church would like what was told to them. I cannot help but think we have gotten very far off course. Who will be the next Paul? Who will be the agent of God, that will challenge all things religious and invite people anew into relationship with Jesus Christ?

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Acts 12 -- Tight Spot

One of the movies I enjoy is "O Brother Where Art Thou", several times George Clooney's character lets the boys know they are in a real tight spot. These are the times when their capture, and subsequent demise, seems right upon them. The outlook is rather bleak and their chances of escape are very slim. Peter finds himself in one of these tight spots. Guarded by up to 20 guards, and chained between two of them in his cell. I think that qualifies as a tight spot.

Peter knows what is about to happen to him, yet there is an amazing peace. In the midst of all this Peter is sleeping. The next day he will most likely be sentenced and executed, yet he is sleeping. Possibly Peter knew there was no sense in fighting it, he was in a tight spot and most likely would not get out. One big difference, the believers had been together praying for him. The Lord sends the angel and Peter is freed from his tight spot.

We all face times when we are in tight spots. Some of the tight spots are of our own creation and others are put upon us. Nonetheless, tight spots are a part of human existence. When the angel appeared to Peter he had a choice to make, do I believe and follow or do I just sit there looking for away out on my own? We have the same choice when we are in the tight spots. We can try to use our own strength and knowledge, or we can follow God. Just because we choose to follow God does not mean there will be zero effort on our part. It means our effort will be maximized by the creator of the universe.

What do you do when you are in a tight spot?

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Acts 11 -- Oppose God?

The book of Acts is by far my favorite book of the Bible. Every chapter has so much to chew on. There is so much to be discovered about the ways God can work in the lives of those who follow. Chapter 10 is no exception. Still it is only a small phrase which caught my attention this morning. Peter in response to ministry with the Gentiles says, "Who was I to think that I could oppose God?"(v 17). This is a huge question, one I often fail with.

This question is truly a question that separates the head, heart and action. With all the study and reading I have done, I can clearly say being the opposition to God is not a good plan. Honestly that did not take much study to figure out. In my heart I do not want to oppose God, I only want to live a life which honors God. Yet with my actions I can be found working against what God would want. Right around 99% of my opposition is not a conscious choice. Nonetheless, I find myself on the wrong side of what God is doing in our world.

Peter's insight is particularly interesting when we consider Peter's past. Peter was often being challenged by Jesus because of looking at the world through human eyes alone. Now here Peter is reminding and teaching the others about moving and being with what God is doing, even if it is an affront to human ways. The "normal" functioning of our world is often so very different than the way God functions. The followers of Christ are to follow the lead of God more than the lead of humanity. Do not hear this as permission to ignore laws, that is just not wise. This is saying we should make sure we are not getting in the way of the work of God because we have limited vision.

So, who are we to think we can oppose God? We are the people who too often think we know better than God. We are the people who often follow our own lead and pay for it later. We are the people who need to remember God is God and we are not.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Acts 10 -- Expand Your Mind

Part of the human condition is our tendency to list and order everything. Further we work to create standardized rituals and patterns. In the process of creating these standards we can become inflexible to what God is doing. Not because we have lost our connection with God, rather because we have lost sight of the fullness of God. With the amazing ability to codify, we run the risk of thinking we have God all figured out. It is easy to see how this would be problematic.

In Acts 10 Peter gets a lesson in how big God's view is. While waiting to eat Peter receives a vision where God basically teaches Peter to expand his mind. This is not about accepting foreign gods, not is it about saying anything goes. Rather the vision explains God has a far greater plan than just one religio-ethnic group being redeemed. Peter was a devout Jew, and I am sure followed many if not all of the laws. Big on the list was not associating with those who are outsiders. God expands Peter's mind to include all.

Who is it God is calling you to? Where do you need to expand your mind as to include more of God's creation? The words God gave Peter are words for us too, "Do not call anything impure that God has made clean". This is not about food rather it is about people.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Acts 9 -- How Quickly

Here in Acts 9 we find the stirring conversion of Saul. One of the leading persecutors of the followers of Jesus, Saul was on his way to continue the work in Damascus. He encounters Jesus and his life is forever changed. Soon Saul is no longer persecuting the church, rather he is building it up. In a matter of days Saul goes from threatening and imprisoning the followers of the "Way", to being the one who is having his very life threatened. Oh how quickly things change when the Lord is the one directing traffic.

The change is so quick even the disciples in Jerusalem are not sure what to thing about Paul. Yet Barnabas steps in to speak on behalf of Saul. Just as quick the change in Saul, the disciples in Jerusalem trust Saul and turn him lose to teach and preach. Quickly the Jews in Jerusalem are out to kill Saul for his teaching on the Way. The hunter became the hunted.

We must be careful then who we write off as not changeable. Many I am sure thought Saul was out of the reach of God. Quickly the work of the Lord forever changed the life of Saul, but did not stop there. The entire life of the church was changed because of the Saul's conversion. What others had determined nonredeemable, God had chosen for a specialized task. Who is it in our lives we are overlooking or disqualifying? We must remember how quickly God can flip the tables.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Acts 8 -- The Spirit Says Go

In this chapter of Acts we get meet Philip. One of the seven selected in chapter 6 we find him out spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ. At the end of chapter 8 Philip has encountered the an Ethiopian who is reading from the book Isaiah. Moments before he was in Samaria, and now he is on the road to Gaza. I wonder what would cause a person to go from Samaria to Gaza, not a short trip by foot and filled with all kinds of cultural issues? The Spirit said Go.

The Spirit of the Lord instructed Philip to go from where he was to the place he was needed. We do not have record of Philip's response other than he went. There was not list of reasons why he could not. There was not discussion about whether there was really time in his schedule. Philip did not produce a list of competing priorities, he simply when because the Spirit said go. How often do we hear the Spirit say go and we say as soon as I... There is not much room to dance around this, plain and simple this will not get it done.

The result of Philip's obedience to the Spirit, the Ethiopian eunuch becomes a Christ Follower. More than likely others in Ethiopia became Christ Followers through the work of the Ethiopian. All put into motion because Philip heard the Spirit and went. The time has come to cut the excuses and start doing what God is calling the people of God to be about.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Acts 7 -- You Would Think

Stephen gives a wonderful history less to people who probably knew it better than him. So why did he do it. One reason would be to show the legacy of the people of God missing what God was doing in their midst. As long as people have followed God, we have often been disobedient. Stephen is highlighting the years of disobedience, and shows the religious leaders he was speaking to were continuing the tradition. What great boldness was found in Stephen as he levied the charges against the religious leaders there to bring charges against him.

Finally it is too much and the religious leaders drag Stephen out of the city and stone him to death. Willing to see following Jesus through to death, Stephen became known as the first martyr of the church. It wasn't just name calling, it wasn't just they did not like him anymore, Stephen was killed because of his devotion to following Jesus. We tend to shy away if someone doesn't like what we are saying. We have entered the world of political correctness, and we do not want to offend someone so we remain silent. I wonder what would have happened if Stephen would have been politically correct? What about Paul or Peter? What about Jesus?

All these followers or Christ, and many more, were killed because they would not be politically correct and followed with all their hearts. Still with these witnesses and the teachings of Scripture, we repeat the cycle. You would think we would get it after a while. One might think looking back over the centuries we today might understand how God is at work. Yet so often we miss it. Whether it is political correctness, our own desire, or our out right disobedience, we seem to not get it.

Help us Lord. May t his be a generation of people who Stand for you like Stephen.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Acts 6 -- Change Agent

The fellowship of believers had begun to grow rapidly and it was a multicultural group. There appeared to be inequity when it came to support of the widows along the cultural lines. Out of this the 12, determined they should not stop their work of teaching and leading the church, so they appointed 6 to be in this ministry. One of those chosen was Stephen.

Stephen did more than wait tables and serve the widows. we find Stephen traveling and proclaiming the Good News of Jesus Christ. The message was obviously a challenge to the status quo of religion in his day. Some people undoubtedly began to follow Jesus because of Stephens words, yet others were disturbed, and wanted to stop Stephen. Out of this false testimony was forwarded and false witnesses were produced. Stephen then finds himself in hot water with the religious people of the day.

Stephen was a change agent. He was challenging the normal pattern of life, and people did not want to be challenged in that way. For some the challenge was more than a matter of church, it was matter of losing income and security. Some of the religious leaders of the day were turning a pretty good profit from the people. Being this change agent got Stephen in some hot water. This is often the case when a change agent is at work. The person who introduces a different way of doing things is often seen as a threat. It is out human instinct to eliminate threats. For those who are change agents the threat is staying the same. So, it is easy to see how conflict would arise. In Stephen's case, he ends up paying with his life. Our price is often not that high, yet we shrink back, Why?

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Acts 5 -- Of Human Or Of God?

There is much to be examined in this chapter, however I will focus on the later part of the chapter. Peter and John once again find themselves before the religious leaders. Once again they have been teaching the people in the name of Jesus, and healing the sick. Arrested, the Spirit of God sets them free at night and they continue to teach. They are brought before the religious leaders to face their charges. Then a wise man rises and counsels, "If this is based in humanity, it will fail. If it is of God, we do not want to be on the wrong side of this." This is a lose paraphrase of the words spoken.

For almost 2000 years people have been refuting the claims of Jesus to be an invention of humanity. There might be an acknowledgment of this man named Jesus who was a good teacher, but he was not the Son of God, or Messiah. It would seem if we take the words spoken in Acts 5 to heart, there might be enough evidence to support Jesus as being God, not of human creation. Despite all of the attempts to discard Jesus, through the centuries He stands.

More than proving the divinity of Jesus, which I am not sure is possible to prove 100 percent, this passage addresses another important issue. In our lives and in the church as we continue to grow and move, the old way of doing things will be challenged. When trying to discern the direction we are to go the lead qualifier is we want to follow God. When facing a new direction we can trust God to be God, and if something is of human origin, it will fail. If it is of God we do not want to stand in the way of God.

God is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. Yet the way God works will be different, same God different way to connect with humanity. As God is doing something new, we do not want to work against what God is doing. So test, challenge and question. Just leave room for God to be doing a new thing.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Acts 4 -- Fat Chance

Here in this section of Acts Peter and John come before the religious leaders of the day. There is all kinds of deliberation, and finally Peter and John are told to stop speaking in Jesus name. Essentially they are told to do the exact opposite of what they were commanded by Jesus. Their response is one of my favorites in Scripture, "Judge for yourselves whether it is right in God's sight to obey you rather than God, For we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard."(V. 19). This is a very polite way of saying to the religious leaders, fat chance.

Is your experience of God one where you cannot help but talk about it? Peter and John had experienced Jesus in the flesh, and because of that experience they cannot turn back. They cannot keep quiet about their God. Often I wonder about peoples relationship with God, and my own for that matter, when we seem quiet about God. Maybe we do not feel like we are experiencing a God that is worth telling others about. Perhaps we are scared about how they will respond. Still we could all use more of what Peter and John felt. What would happen if we remembered it is God who gives us definition and life, not humanity? Would we be more vocal? Would we have a different experience of God?

Monday, June 1, 2009

Acts 3 -- Would We?

The in breaking of the Holy Spirit has moved the church to a new level. There are more people than ever following the ways of Jesus, and Peter and John are pretty well known. In the beginning of the chapter they heal a man, and the religious people are up in arms. Nothing new when it comes to the power and work of Jesus.

Peter and John are put to the test because of the work of Christ through them. Their defense is a long litany about how the religious people through out the centuries have not recognized the sent agent of God. They go as far to flat out say the religious leaders are guilty of killing Jesus. In very harsh words, Peter and John are telling the people who are suppose to get it, they totally missed what God was doing.

It is easy for us to pile on at this point. To add insults to the words of Pete and Johnny. Finding fault with the religious of the day comes form our mouth and out of our minds quickly and easily. I cannot help but wonder where I would have been. Would I have been like Peter and John? Would I have been like the religious leaders? I know where I would like to think I would be, but I am not sure. Any one who knows me, knows I am quick to get after religiosity. In doing so I must remember, it could easily be me.