Remember as we continue our journey in the book of Acts 22 that Paul had been arrested because of the religious people accusations. Paul asks to speak to the religious leaders himself and we pick up his testimony, Paul had supernaturally received his sight back and has given his life to the Lord and was baptized. Last week we discussed how religious traditions can hinder us from what Father God is doing now. The religious leaders could not accept the truth of Jesus being the Messiah and changing Paul’s life.
Acts 22:17 "After I returned to Jerusalem, I was praying in the Temple and fell into a trance. 18 I saw a vision of Jesus saying to me, 'Hurry! Leave Jerusalem, for the people here won't accept your testimony about me.' 19 "'But Lord,' I argued, 'they certainly know that in every synagogue I imprisoned and beat those who believed in you. 20 And I was in complete agreement when your witness Stephen was killed. I stood by and kept the coats they took off when they stoned him.' 21 "But the Lord said to me, 'Go, for I will send you far away to the Gentiles!'"
Paul was saying, I’m was more religious than they are, surely they will believe what happened to me. They knew how I was such a religious fanatic and one of the leading persecutors of Christians before my conversion and I was even there when Stephen, the first martyr, was stoned.
Friend, when it comes to those who are just religious, if they won’t believe what happened to Jesus and His Word then they won’t believe what happened to us. The Holy Spirit finally told Paul, this is in my own words, you will never reach your own people so I’m sending you to the Gentiles.
That’s an important word for each one of us today. Many times we cannot reach our own family and friends, but we can reach those that the Holy Spirit puts in our path and as we reach them, the Holy Spirit will send others to reach those we can’t reach. It is the oldest spiritual law in the Bible, we reap what we sow. Too many times we get distracted by what we can’t do, and what we see not happening that we forget we are seed sowers but Father God gives the harvest. If you have a lost loved one, a lost friend begin to reach someone else’s lost loved one or friend and watch Father God show out in your own family.
Every time you pray for, witness to, do a good deed for, sow seed into someone else’s family/friend you are actually sowing for your own spiritual harvest with your family and friends.
Never give up on your family and friends coming to Christ and being used in His Kingdom. In fact more than ever let their salvation become your greatest desire as we sense the end of time quickly approaching us.
22 The crowd listened until Paul said that word. Then they all began to shout, "Away with such a fellow! He isn't fit to live!" 23 They yelled, threw off their coats, and tossed handfuls of dust into the air.
Notice it says they listened but they definitely didn’t believe what Paul was saying and they judged him on the spot, ready to punish him by death for blaspheming their own beliefs.
We must be careful because we sometimes judge the things of Father God too quickly because we, like them, have our own personal beliefs based on our personal experiences. Never be quick to judge and kill.
As I studied this passage further I found this: “Cast off their clothes”: They did this in preparation to stone Paul, in horror at his “blasphemy “or in uncontrollable rage – or, most likely, for all 3 reasons. Their passions inflamed by racial pride, the members of the crowd lost any semblance of self-control.
“Threw dust”: A sign of intense emotion (2 Sam. 16:13; Job 2:12;
Rev. 18:19). Casting off their clothes showed their wild fury against Paul. The throwing dust in the air was their way of saying that their great anger was of God.
When we think we are right, we always want others to think that God is in our way of thinking whether it’s conveyed to them by our words or by our actions. So as they threw the dust in the air it was an outward sign to those around that they were simply obeying God in their decision to murder Paul which Father God did not allow.
Prayer Points: Father God help me to never to judge anyone based on my personal experience or personal interpretation of Father God’s word. You are the judge, help me to walk in love and build your kingdom.
We continue our journey in Acts 22 as Paul was arrested because of the religious people’s accusations and they were trying to kill him. Paul asks to speak to the religious leaders himself and we pick up his testimony, Paul had supernaturally received his sight back and has given his life to the Lord and was baptized.
Acts 22:17 "After I returned to Jerusalem, I was praying in the Temple and fell into a trance. 18 I saw a vision of Jesus saying to me, 'Hurry! Leave Jerusalem, for the people here won't accept your testimony about me.'
Paul then reminds them of how, after this life changing experience, he came back to Jerusalem but while he was praying in the temple, he had a vision which warned him to leave Jerusalem because the people were not ready to accept what had happened to him. It’s easier for a sinner to hear truth that will set him free than it is for a religious person to hear and receive truth. Religion based on tradition will cause a person to close their ears, close their minds and even close their eyes to the truths of Father God’s Words.
We need true religion based on the Word of Father God not traditions:
· Religious traditions are about doing not being. Many believe the more I do the better off I will be seen in the eyes of Father God which is not true. Only the BLOOD of JESUS can make us RIGHT in HIS SIGHT. We do things in and for His Kingdom because we are part of the Kingdom not trying to get into the Kingdom. Only one way in and it’s not by works but by the blood of Jesus. Once the blood has been applied then we do, then we change, then we live a life which glorifies Jesus.
· Religious traditions are about what was instead of what Father God wants. Ever heard the saying, we never did it that way, if so it probably has become a tradition and all traditions are not bad but if it hinders what the Holy Spirit is trying to do then it’s deadly. Jesus came breaking a lot of traditions and it upset the religious because they had never seen or done it that way. Jesus came and spoke to the wind, spoke to a tree, spoke to dead people and they arose, touched lepers and they were healed and the list is endless. Jesus didn’t break the law, He fulfilled the law. Jesus destroyed religious traditions and opened a door for a real relationships with Father God which Adam had lost.
· Religious traditions are about how it makes me feel instead of Kingdom focused. Church services have been and still are too many times about us. Well does it make me feel good, does it encourage me, and does it make me (un)comfortable; when going to the Lord’s house should be about Him. Let’s learn to be about Kingdom not ourselves, it’s not about what I want but about what He wants. I want to sing songs that invites His presence in, I want to give Him praise that creates a throne for Him to sit upon, I want to pray in a way to honor Him not so others can talk about how elegantly I pray, I want an altar call led by the Holy Spirit where people find real help. Let’s never get bogged down in the past when there is a present. None of us like change but without change there is not growth.
In Mark 7:13, Jesus said this:
New International Version Thus you nullify the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And you do many things like that."
New Living Translation And so you cancel the word of God in order to hand down your own tradition. And this is only one example among many others."
English Standard Version thus making void the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And many such things you do.”
King James Bible Making the word of God of none effect through your tradition, which ye have delivered: and many such like things do ye.
International Standard Version You are destroying the word of God through your tradition that you have handed down. And you do many other things like that."
In every version, it says the same thing, by your traditions you made the Word of God powerless in your life. I don’t want to fall into a religious mindset and keep the Word of God from working in my life. The religious got upset with Jesus in this passage because the disciples didn’t wash their hands before eating which was tradition, how childlike. Jesus said you are more worried about your traditions than you are the lives of men and women. You are more worried about your songs being sung, your name being called, your order of service, than you are about My Kingdom, My Presence, My Will. Let’s desire a relationship with Father God and His Presence above all else.
Prayer Thoughts: Father God help me to decrease so you can increase in my life. Take away any judgmental spirit or critical spirit in my life. Help me to never put my personal wishes and traditions above what you desire to do. Help me to know you in a greater way and learn to hear and follow the voice of the Holy Spirit completely, in Jesus Name!
We continue our journey through the book of Acts picking up in:
Acts 22:14 "Then he told me, 'The God of our ancestors has chosen you to know his will and to see the Righteous One and hear him speak. 15 For you are to be his witness, telling everyone what you have seen and heard. 16 What are you waiting for? Get up and be baptized. Have your sins washed away by calling on the name of the Lord.'
We pick up with our journey in the book of Acts 22 as Paul was arrested because of the religious people accusations and them trying to kill him. Now he asks to speak to the religious leaders himself and we pick up his testimony from where he was struck down by a bright light and the Lord began to speak to him on the Damascus Road and the Holy Spirit sends Ananias to him. Now Paul had supernaturally received his sight back and is listening to Ananias intently.
Ananias begins to prophesy to him about his future, how Father God has chosen him to be a witness to his generation. Little did Paul realize that he would go on and write almost 2/3 of the New Testament. Ananias then tells Paul, you need to get up, get your sins forgiven, get baptized and start telling people about Jesus.
That sounds like what every believer should be doing today especially when we live in a country that has the following going on:
The church in the United States has become silent at a moment when:
· 6,000 teenagers commit suicide each year.
· 13 million children live in poverty.
· 150,000 people die because of substance abuse each year.
· Six million people are incarcerated or on probation.
· The United States is the third largest unreached nation.
· Islam is the fastest growing religion in the world.
· 28 million people left the church over the past decade.
· 72 churches permanently close their doors every week.
Many in the United States have not heard the gospel even once. Statistics show that many people would like to hear the gospel, and they would accept Christ.
Research shows that in America:
· 17 million people would probably accept Christ if they were presented with the gospel.
· Another 43 million people are moving that direction, if someone presents them with the truth.
· 82 percent of the unchurched are somewhat likely to go to church if someone invites them.
· According to Thom Rainer, less than 22 percent of the unchurched have ever been invited to church.
Friends, never has the harvest been so ripe and the laborers so few. Every child of God regardless of what denomination we belong to or don’t belong to must get back to winning people to Jesus, bringing people, not just to church, but leading them into the Kingdom of Father God. Every believer is deputized to be a witness of the good things Jesus did for us. We are commanded to go into all the world (including our world) and tell the good news (Mark 16) that there is a remedy for sin, there is hope for the hopeless, there is help for those who feel helpless and His name is Jesus!
We are very evangelistic on Wednesday nights and when Debbie read the Christmas story in December to our students at The Bridge (on a Wed Night) 40 plus students out of the 100 plus students said they had never heard the true Christmas Story until she read it to them that night. I’m not talking about New York or San Francisco but right here in the supposedly Bible Belt, Beulah AL.
We don’t need to WAIT for the Holy Spirit to tell us to go, we have already been commanded to GO. There is another Paul out there that needs an Ananias and we are the ones chosen to bring the good news to them. I don’t want to stand before Father God on judgment day with blood on my hands.
We must be about the Father’s business which is to save the lost, heal the sick, free those that are bound and set at liberty those who are chained.
Prayer Thoughts: Father in Jesus Name, open our spiritual eyes and let us see people the way you see them, not rich or poor, not the color of their skin, not their social status but rather their spiritual condition (lost or saved). Give us a heart of compassion for the lost like we have never had. Thank you for enduing us with power to be your witnesses of the Gospel, the good news of Jesus.