Going to Prayer Meeting

Acts 3:1-6  Now Peter and John went up together into the temple at the hour of prayer, being the ninth hour.

And a certain man lame from his mother's womb was carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, to ask alms of them that entered into the temple;

Who seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple asked an alms.

And Peter, fastening his eyes upon him with John, 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; but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk.

Peter and John, two-thirds of the Lord’s inner circle, are prayer partners on this day in the third chapter of Acts. They were “together…at the hour of prayer” Prayer by yourself is mandatory for growth, but such sweet times come, when together as partners in prayer, we walk together into the throne room of grace to bow before a thrice-holy God to present praises, seek pardon, and submit our faith-filled petitions.   

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However, in the hastening to be at the service (for it began at the ninth hour) they encountered a man who was used to asking petitions of men. However, this day he would see that sitting and petitioning men brings only silver and gold. In just a few minutes, he would see that he too would join the partners in prayer to walk with them into the throne room of God.   

Peter and John saw the man not as a distraction on the way to prayer meeting, but rather as someone who needed to know the power of God in his life. They ministered to him and then brought him with them. The three were never the same again.  

On your next trip to the house of God maybe those  distractions  are opportunities for ministry to bring someone with you.   

Do Others Hear More of Me or the Master?

Acts 4:8    Then Peter, filled with the Holy Ghost, said unto them, Ye rulers of the people, and elders of Israel,    

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Peter had just spent the night in prison. Yet a night in prison did not enrage him, as it would have before. All night in prison, my, how his thoughts could have rehearsed what he wanted to tell them. “Tear them up… Condemn them… Curse them…” No, this man had learned the lesson of all lessons in his renewed walk with the Lord. Namely, Spirit-filled words always convict the minds and hearts of man.    

Peter, once a mouthpiece of Self and Pride, now stands as a mouthpiece of the Master. Just weeks before this, he had said that he had nothing to do with Jesus. Now, having experienced a renewed relationship, he has an opportunity to stand before people and tell them of the One of Whom he preached and taught. He could tell them of Whose power it was that he healed the impotent man. He was a Spirit-filled mouthpiece.   

My concern after reading this verse is this: how often are my words after a trial filled with more of ME than the MASTER?   

What Are You Filling Your Jerusalem With?

Acts 5:28    Saying, Did not we straitly command you that ye should not teach in this name? and, behold, ye have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this man's blood upon us.   

Peter and the other apostles had been commanded not to teach, preach, or do anything in the name of Jesus Christ. Yet their hearts were convinced that obedience to God overrode the will and wants of men. The closing verse in this chapter indicates that they ceased not preach and teach.   

However, let us focus on the phrase, “behold, ye have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine.” We too are commanded to reach our Jerusalem with news of His resurrection. Yet how many times have we filled the Jerusalem of our homes, work, and community with news of everything else but His resurrection? We are more apt to fill our Jerusalem with earthly delights instead of eternal doctrine.   

It seems we inform the Jerusalem of our homes, work, and community of the evening news with its hopelessness, rather than the hope of the resurrection. We have spoken more of the weather than His work. We have spoken more of sports than we have of His salvation. Hence, our Jerusalems are being filled with everything but doctrine.   

If the world assessed your life this day, would they say, “He is a regular kind of guy, religious but not too pushy?" Our goal is to fill our Jerusalems with doctrine not with delights.  What did you fill the Jerusalem of your home, work, and community with in the last week, Eternal Doctrine or Earthly Delights?   

Prepared for Salvation

Acts 8:30   And Philip ran thither to him, and heard him read the prophet Esaias, and said, Understandest thou what thou readest?    

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Phillip was conducting the Samaria Campaign. The persecutions of Saul had God’s people on the move. Jesus’ commission, given before His accession, is now being heeded. Samaria was getting the gospel. Yet God needed to mobilize a man to the desert regions below Jerusalem. This one effort would get the gospel onto the continent of Africa.    

Philip saw the African man God wanted to reach with the gospel. He was riding in a chariot. He was a man of Candace’s palace. He was a man of prestige and purpose. Greater still, he was a man prepared by Holy Spirit for salvation.    

Philip was an evangelist with an inextinguishable burden for souls. Philip’s burden for souls is evidenced by his behavior. He ran to him. He then assessed his situation and preached to him Jesus. (8:35)    

Today there will be people with whom you will come in contact, which God is preparing for salvation. God may have them under conviction by reading a tract or Scriptures or speaking of something they heard on the airwaves or happening with a family member.    

Do as Philip; run to them now; determine what has them searching and say to them, “Are you getting it?”   Then just preach to them Jesus.   

A Course Finisher

Acts 20:24   But none of these things move me. . . I might finish my course with joy. . . 

 Are you a better starter than finisher? Do you use life’s interruptions as an excuse for being a lousy finisher? What courses have you left unfinished? We start our exercise; we stop after a short period of time. We eat right; then we “cheat.” We start our devotions; then we stop. 

Paul spoke to friends and ministry colleagues. (Acts 20:24) His heart was set. He knew what had to be done. He had to finish his course. Nothing deterred him, not even the threat of the loss of life.

Will your activities today help you finish the course God has set for you? Will life’s interruptions hinder you from His course?

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A Friend Refreshing

Acts 27:3   And the next day we touched at Sidon. And Julius courteously entreated Paul, and gave him liberty to go unto his friends to refresh himself.

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Have you ever been in a crowd of people and suffered with an agonizing loneliness? Your heart suffers incredibly with despair as the people you really long to be with are nowhere to be found. You are in a crowd but not a part of the crowd. 

Paul and Luke were in a ship with 276 men who were a combination of soldiers, prisoners, and travelers. They, the early messengers of the Gospel, were in need of refreshing. They had been through great hardships and trials. They were traveling to get to Rome. They were a great distance from the familiarity of friends and the warmth of Christian fellowship. They were in a crowd, but not really a part of the crowd. Their ship cannot provide them the one thing they need the most. Though previously denied this refreshing by their legal overseer, he now provides them an opportunity to receive refreshing and gives them leave from the ship.

Can you imagine what preparations were being made on the other side? When it came to Paul, news traveled quickly. Perhaps they would have had word of the possibility of his coming. Nonetheless, Paul, Luke, and their overseer were confident that the refreshing would be available from their friends. How did the overseer come to such confidence? Certainly, the confidence of the missionaries became his as they spoke of their friends who would be able to provide them refreshing.

Have you a friend who can resort to you for refreshing from his tumultuous journey through life? Can you carry the burdens of his life for just a few moments as to give him the relief and refreshing he needs most? 

Perhaps today you are the one who needs refreshing. Contact your friend today. Tell him the journey has been a little rough and you are in need of some spiritual refreshing. He will respond and help; he is your friend.  What? You say you have no such friend? “… There is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.”

Spirit Refreshing

1 Corinthians 16:18   For they have refreshed my spirit and yours: therefore, acknowledge ye them that are such. 

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Have you ever had a week where it seemed there was no time to stop and put your feet up to rest and recover? You know that feeling, don't you? The aching feet, the sore back, and the legs that just don't want to go on any more. These are all the signs we have felt as we have walked along life's path. Your body, mind, and spirit get to the place where they need refreshing. 

This is what Paul was writing about to the Corinthians. He was that weary laborer needing some refreshing. The Corinthians had failed in refreshing him. He wrote about three men that were able to refresh his spirit and not just his, but theirs too. He said these men were able to come along and cause him to cease from movement or labors so he could recover. 

What is interesting to me in this verse is not the correction to the Corinthians (v17), nor the commendation to the comforters (18a), but rather the coaching he gave to the church (18b). His coaching was this "acknowledge them". He wanted the Corinthians to become thoroughly acquainted with the refreshers. He wanted them recognized in the Corinthian church as the trio of refreshers.

Look around you; God has placed people who are refreshers in your life. These are men or women God has placed in your life to be refreshers. When was the last time you acknowledged the refreshers in your life? Why don't you do it today before the sun sets?

The Greater Route of Escape

The Greater Route of Escape

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1 Corinthians 10:13   There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.

The day began as any school day. But something fell apart in school that day. I am not sure if it was me or the other fellow.  I was in trouble. I got into a scuffle with someone. I really don’t remember the conditions that led to the struggle. I just remember learning a life lesson that day from my father. 

When I arrived home, Dad took me in his room (which usually was a sign of imminent contact with the rod of correction). I sat down on the bed. He discussed the events of the day. I could sense that this was not going to go well. (He was the pastor of the church’s school I attended.) My frustration was simple: I knew I wasn’t to hit someone, yet I was attacked and needed to defend myself. 

After the discussion, Dad then surprised me. He took his Bible and opened to the verse above.

The essence of his conversation was this, “Son, in every situation of life, God makes a way of escape which allows us to bear it. The tests of life come to all people. Yet we have a faithful God. He will not expose you to a situation where there is not a way out.” 

Stronger to me that day than the sting of his rod of correction, was the salve of the Word of God.  I learned that my feelings of pride and its byproducts, indignation, and injustice, found a self-made route of escape. How could I choose my own way of escape? God had a route out of situation for me, yet I chose my own route.

Do you do the same? Do you choose your own escape when facing conflicts? Occasionally, and shamefully, I still make the wrong choice. It is best when we choose His way. His way is always the Greater Route of Escape.

I read this last year. It really applies. "Remember this, had any other condition been better for you than the one in which you are, divine love would have put you there.” C.H. Spurgeon

Doing the Will of God from the Head or the Heart?

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Ephesians 6:5-6    Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ; Not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart;    

Many a child of God has been sent on a guilt trip, from the pulpit, in order to compel them to serve. However, our focal verse says to do God’s will from the heart. You see, a deed or service performed not from the heart, ends with its completion. However, a spiritual deed or service performed from the heart, has a sense of eternal accomplishment.   

God’s will is our Master and we are His servants by grace. His will is our objective. We can carry out assignments with a disposition of duty or delight. The choice is ours. The Holy Spirit here is calling upon servants to be obedient to their earthly masters. This obedience is to be done with fear, trembling, without hypocrisy, and unto Christ. Furthermore, we should do their pleasure not only when our Master’s eyes are upon us.    

You see, a servant is to consider himself a servant of Christ. He is to view his servitude as doing the will of Christ from the heart.    

A Bible Studier

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The call to tech support went through after pressing 1 for English, 3 for support, 7 for a domestic agent, and 2 for assistance immediately. The agent got on the line after a short wait. He listened to the situation and replied, “You know, I am embarrassed to say I am not sure how to answer this question. I will need to research this and call you back.” You groan within thinking, “I called to find someone smarter than me. Now, I know, I will never get a call back.” In exasperation, you say, “Why can’t I get someone who knows their stuff?”

Similarly, this world is calling out for answers. The focus verse states the believer is required to study the Word of God. We study it to be workers who need not to be ashamed. How many times have those around us sought answers for life’s difficulties and we have no answer to give. We call a friend, family member, or pastor who we know will have the answer.

The Bible is our sole source of answers in a world full of questions. Are you ready to answer? Choose a doctrine and study it. Find a topical Bible and search for answers. Your daily connection to the Word of God means you will have the answer when the questions arise.

A Good Fighter

 2 Timothy 4:7    I have fought the good fight.

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The boxer left the ring that evening for the last time. The crowds were gone. The cheers were silent as he had just vanquished his last opponent just a few hours earlier. Now, alone with his thoughts, he walked toward the exit of that arena. At the last row before the exit, he sat down in a moment of reflection. 

He had fought some tough opponents in his day. Rarely, did he have any easy fights. He had won many rounds in his career. He lost a few rounds as well. Each round had made him a better fighter. He thought deeply; he could say with integrity and without impunity, “I fought a good fight.”

Paul, the great man of God, could easily be the boxer in this illustration as he wrote in this last epistle. “I fought a good fight.” It wasn’t the wins and losses that mattered to Paul. It was, did if he had fought well. The reader of the New Testament knows Paul did fight well. 

There are many who weary with the fight. Others will quit because of a few bruises. Yet there will be some who fight for only the applause of men and stop when the crowds are silent. What kind of fighter are you? 

What about you? This spiritual fight we are in today, are you fighting well? Have you become more about the win than fighting well? Will you end this fight with integrity? 

 

A Wisdom Seeker

James 1:5   If any man lack wisdom let him ask of God that giveth to all men liberally. . . 

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Occasionally, life’s puzzle is missing a few pieces. We can’t quite see the picture without those missing pieces. Those missing pieces generally involve a desperate search and undue stress. We need these pieces to make life’s current puzzle and picture complete. 

What do you do when the current puzzle of your life is missing a few pieces? James gives a clear guideline to follow when life’s puzzle is missing a few pieces. “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.” 

We can sit and stare at life’s puzzle and try to figure out the picture. Or we can seek God’s wisdom! He will give wisdom to find the missing piece. The search for wisdom from God will give certain peace and bring the puzzle’s picture into clear view.

We can be Wisdom-Seekers or we can be puzzled. We can seek peace or piece. What is your choice?

A Word Doer

 James 1:22 But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.

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The exasperated mother said to her pre-teen daughter as she saw her words fall on deaf ears, “How many times have I told you to clean your room?” The mother left the room, mumbling to herself as she walked down the hallway, “When will what I say become important enough to her to do what I say?”

Do you govern your life like the teen above? I wonder how many times we have heard God speak in His Word and we ignore it? We know what is right but obey only what we want. We only obey when we want. It is obedience by convenience. Our focus verse, James 1:22 states, “But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.”

It is interesting to note that we deceive ourselves by hearing and not doing.  Deceiving ourselves does not mean we are deceiving God. Are you a hearer AND a doer? 

 

Found of Him in Peace

2 Peter 3:14   Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless.    

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In 1999, Our society spent much time discussing the Y2K computer bug. Many a believer was swept into the mania of the moment. Nationally-known teachers (which many have heaped to themselves having itching ears) created a panic amongst God’s people, strangely enough. 

This verse cuts to the very heart of the matter. Peter began this chapter stirring our minds to God’s overall plan for time. He, in our thought for this day, tells us to be diligent, to be found of Him in peace, purity and with proper testimony.   

Every believer must compare his behavior with the Bible. Our behavior in light of His return requires a diligent pursuit of peace. Were Christ return today, would He find you in peace or a panic? Would He find you in purity or spotted? Would He find you with a testimony that is blameless or blamable? In all diligence, make these your priority. 

How would He find you today? 

Sing with Understanding

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Psalm 47:7    For God is the King of all the earth: sing ye praises with understanding.

Can you remember some of your childhood games? In my family, I had five brothers and sisters and we ALL wanted to be king of something. We would toss out phrases. “King of Hill.” “King of the Block.” “King of the fourth graders.” We invoked the phrase “King of” to let everyone know we were the ultimate authority in the domain we claimed. 

Did you notice how the Psalmist led by the Holy Spirit wrote these words: “For God is the King of all the earth.” Oh, how difficult it is as men fight wars and battles with each other for a heritage. Do they not realize that God is King of all the earth? He is not King over some area with boundaries. He is King of all the earth. Does this truth influence your life? 

How should this truth influence our lives? The Psalmist reveals the clue. The one who knows that God is King of ALL the earth will sing praises with understanding. Praises with understanding, what a thought! Our hymnbook time is not just time filler in a service. It is a time when the subjects in the kingdom of God utter praises to the King of all the earth.

Have you a song in your heart today? Then with the understanding that God is the King of all the earth and He dwells in us, just SING! Sing with Victory for the earth is His domain! Sing with Vitality for the earth is His domain! Sing with Vision for the earth is His domain!

Thinking of His Lovingkindness

Psalm 48:9   We have thought of thy lovingkindness, O God, in the midst of thy temple.   

Have you ever been in church service and watched kids who were day dreaming? You know how it goes: they get this glazed look over their eyes and began to look into deep space while sitting in a pew. Any observant parent notices this in his child and can pinch them back into the  attention-sphere. Have you ever considered what it was they were thinking about? Is it playing, or TV, or their friends? 

I also know that the kids are not the only ones who need to be pinched back into the attention-sphere. Moms and dads do a lot of thinking in church. For them, it is of work, naps and things left undone.   

In our verse today, the Psalmist says on his trips to the house of God for worship, “We have thought of thy lovingkindness, O God, in the midst of thy temple.”   I know there is a lot of thinking that goes on in our churches today but is it of HIS lovingkindness or our own labors?    

How about on the next trip to the house of God you take a few minutes before, during and after the service to force your thoughts to linger on the lovingkindness of God?   

 

 

 

Gathering the Saints

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Psalm 50:5   Gather my saints together unto me; those that have made a covenant with me by sacrifice.

Have you ever watched a mom when it is time to ready to leave with her children to head out for a destination? Great care is taken to ensure every child is ready. Diaper bags, bottles, clothing each are packed with care. Then comes the precious moment of gathering; she, with near Olympic ability, swoops down and gathers her offspring. Amazingly she gathers up 2-3 in one motion it seems. Then off they go to their destination safe in their mother’s care.

There is coming a day where our Father will move in fashion similar to the other in our story. Though He, with divine strength and ability, will know when it is the right time to go and gather up His offspring of faith. The Lord will move with beyond Olympic ability to gather us together who are in the faith. What a thrill to know our gathering time may be today! The Lord will gather us to our final destination…our new home.

“It will be worth it all when we see Jesus,

Life’s trials will seem so small when we see Christ. 

Once glimpse of His dear face, all sorrows will erase, 

So bravely run the race, till we see Christ.”

 

 

Green Olives in Church

Psalm 52:8    But I am like a green olive tree in the house of God: I trust in the mercy of God for ever and ever.

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What an image for the believer to contemplate! The reader of this psalm would note the strong contrast between the man who is rooted in self and the believer rooted in the Sovereign.  The verse becomes his testimony of difference. Note the phrase, “But I am like…” What about you? In relation to those around you, what are you like? Are you like a green olive tree? 

The green olive tree was the image the psalmist held in his mind that best displayed his relationship with God. The verse serves as a testimony of his life. He firsts testifies of the contrast of himself against the man who is rooted in self. He also testifies of his confidence in the Sovereign.

He states, “I am like a green olive tree in the house of God.” Note the prosperity of his relationship. It is flourishing (green), fruitful (olive), and firm (deeply rooted tree) relationship.  Note also the permanence of his relationship. It is secure (in), sheltered (the house), and supervised (of God).

The careful reader will also see his confidence in the Sovereign. “I trust in the mercy of God for ever and ever.” He is confident of the Sovereign’s mercy. His confidence in His mercy was permanent, perpetual, and positive. 

In my heart this day, though no matter what occurs, may my confidence be in Him

He indicates the liveliness of his relationship with God.

  • He is flourishing (green).
  • He is fruitful (olive).
  • He is firm (tree). 

He indicates the permanence of his relationship. He has been planted in the house of God. 

This statement identifies three things. 

  • It identifies his Owner’s attention, (in the house
  • his Owner’s appreciation (in the house), and 
  • his Owner’s affection (in the house of God). 

The Psalmist could not plant himself; God planted him. His Owner wanted him planted where He could appreciate this tree. His Owner loves him dearly so he is planted in the house of God. What love the Owner has for His tree.

The Psalmist gives his declaration in the latter half of this verse. The Psalmist declares that His trees are content knowing He alone can be trusted forever.

Fear is the Thief of Faith

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Psalms 56:3   What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee.

The Psalmist’s words must be a reminder to us. When fear knocks at our heart’s door, we must increase our trust in Him. He made this promise to himself while in a time of confidence. It was a reminder to himself, a reassurance to his heart, and a rejoinder to heed.

I am reminded that fear takes away my opportunity to please God. My heart’s desire is to please God. I must eschew fear by my confidence in His ability.

Broken Hearts Fixed Here

When your heart is breaking with stress, sadness, and struggles, you should consider what the Word of God says about having a fixed heart. 

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A heart that is fixed is a heart that is settled within and resolute without. It is not affected by external conditions and extenuating circumstances. David wrote four times in three places about a heart that was fixed.

1828 Webster Dictionary defines, "fixed" as settled; established; firm; fast; stable.

What is the behavior of a fixed heart?

Psalm 57:7 "My heart is fixed, O God, my heart is fixed: I will sing and give praise."

Psalm 108:1 "O God, my heart is fixed; I will sing and give praise, even with my glory."

Psalm 112:7 "He shall not be afraid of evil tidings: his heart is fixed, trusting in the LORD."

The fixed heart proclaims its decision to God. 57:7 (he is telling God)
The fixed heart promises to declare praise and song. 57:7
The fixed heart participates in praise with all his worth. 108:1c ("even with my glory")
The fixed heart is peace-filled in the midst of stress. 112:7 (fearing bad news)
The fixed heart is pleased in God's ability to fix it all. 112:7("trusting in the Lord.")