We continue our journey in the book of Acts 22 where Paul had been arrested and now Paul was speaking to the leaders himself when they got so mad they tore their clothes and was wanting to stone Paul. The religious leaders could not accept the truth of Jesus being the Messiah and changing Paul’s life. When they were about to whip him with 39 stripes, he announced the following.
Acts 22:28b Paul answered, "But I am a citizen by birth!" 29 The soldiers who were about to interrogate Paul quickly withdrew when they heard he was a Roman citizen, and the commander was frightened because he had ordered him bound and whipped.
They did not have permission to whip a Roman Citizen without a trial and the commander was concerned about his own future because of what he had ordered, so he quickly withdrew the order.
Paul before the High Council: 30 The next day the commander ordered the leading priests into session with the Jewish high council. He wanted to find out what the trouble was all about, so he released Paul to have him stand before them.
Since it was Jews who had accused Jesus of starting trouble, he released Paul to stand before them and in Acts 23 we pick up the story of Paul’s defense.
Acts 23:1 Gazing intently at the high council, Paul began: "Brothers, I have always lived before God with a clear conscience!"
Don’t you love the way Paul started his defense? First of all, no shame, no denial of where he stood because he was making direct eye contact with them with a passion that could not be mistaken. When you know you are chosen and anointed there is never a time to be intimidated by the enemy or by people. Paul wrote, since God is for you, who can be against you. Paul knew where he stood and he was not backing down on his belief. Secondly, notice his wording; I have always lived before God (not man, which is a big key) with a clear conscience. Paul knew the truth would set some free while making others mad but He was saying I have to please the Lord who has saved me. He was saying I’d rather please God than to be a man pleaser.
2 Instantly Ananias the high priest commanded those close to Paul to slap him on the mouth.
Once again we catch a glimpse of the uncontrollable hatred of those who rather live religiously than relationally. What did Paul say that was so wrong? It wasn’t wrong unless it made you feel convicted and this group was more concerned about keeping the law than pleasing Father God. It made the high priest (the leader - the religious ruler of that region) so mad he ordered Paul slapped on the face. Could we still walk in love if we were slapped for doing right, for living right? Paul did and Jesus did because they were full of Father God’s Presence and Word.
3 But Paul said to him, "God will slap you, you corrupt hypocrite! What kind of judge are you to break the law yourself by ordering me struck like that?"
I love it! It’s a very intense, emotional moment in that room and you can feel the tension getting greater. Even though outnumbered with no physical person there to stand up for him, he didn’t back off but trusted the One he served. He spoke back, my Father will slap you, you hypocrite! Don’t you know this insulted the high priest and made him even madder?
4 Those standing near Paul said to him, "Do you dare to insult God's high priest?"
The religious leaders knew the law so they used the law against Paul and when confronted with scripture Paul humbled himself.
5 "I'm sorry, brothers. I didn't realize he was the high priest," Paul replied, "for the Scriptures say, 'You must not speak evil of any of your rulers.'"
An important lesson, even though Paul was very angry, he submitted to Father God’s word. Paul quoted the scriptures and told them I didn’t realize he was the high priest. I love Paul because when confronted by religious traditions he stood tall, when confronted by the Word he humbled himself. We must be like Paul and know when to stand and when to be humble, know when to speak and when to listen.
Prayer points: Precious Holy Spirit help me to hear your voice and to know when to speak up and when to humble myself. It’s not about me but about Father God’s Kingdom, let me bring Him glory!
This week, we continue our journey in the book of Acts 22 where Paul had been arrested because of the religious people accusations. Paul was speaking to the religious leaders himself when they got so mad they tore their clothes and was wanting to stone Paul. The religious leaders could not accept the truth of Jesus being the Messiah and changing Paul’s life.
Acts 22:24 The commander brought Paul inside and ordered him lashed with whips to make him confess his crime. He wanted to find out why the crowd had become so furious.
When the mob begins to get out of hand (who were religious leaders), the commander decided to save Paul’s life and took him inside and was hoping to make Paul confess of something he had done to make these leaders so furious. They had intended on whipping him until he confessed.
25 When they tied Paul down to lash him, Paul said to the officer standing there, "Is it legal for you to whip a Roman citizen who hasn't even been tried?"
Paul, who at the end of his life, reminds the church at Corinth
(2 Cor. 11:24) that he had been whipped five times with 39 stripes, was about tired of being whipped so he pulls out the Roman Citizen card which would not allow them to whip him in this situation. Roman citizens could not be whipped without a trial and no one would lie about being a Roman citizen because the penalty for falsely claiming Roman citizenship was death.
Now this statement by Paul changed this ball game. They knew they could be in a lot of trouble if they whipped a Roman citizen because of accusations from the Jewish leaders or any other reason. They possibly had already bound him to beat him, when Paul told them he was a Roman citizen. Many times this type of scourging caused people to die. Paul, of course, would try anything to keep from being beaten so severely but lying was never an option.
26 When the officer heard this, he went to the commander and asked, "What are you doing? This man is a Roman citizen!"
The centurion informed his commander of Paul’s citizenship, cautioning him against an act that could have ended Lysias’ military career – or even cost him his life.
This was the proper thing for this centurion to do. The captain certainly would not want to cause a problem with his superiors for scourging a Roman citizen without a trial. He probably enjoys being captain and does not want to endanger his job.
27 So the commander went over and asked Paul, "Tell me, are you a Roman citizen?" "Yes, I certainly am," Paul replied. 28 "I am, too," the commander muttered, "and it cost me plenty!"
Notice this; “it cost me plenty”: Roman citizenship was officially not for sale, but could sometimes be obtained by bribing corrupt officials.
It is believed that this captain wanted Roman citizenship so much that he raised a large sum of money to purchase his citizenship. You can imagine his amazement when Paul tells him that he was a Roman by birth which cost Paul nothing.
The marvelous thing is that until God is through with Paul on this earth, no one can destroy him. If he needed to be a Roman, God had made him to be one from birth. It was through Paul's father, he was a Roman.
So it is with us as it was with Paul, we are made in Father God’s image, anointed with the same Holy Spirit and as long as we seek to fulfill our purpose in His Kingdom the protection and provision of Father God is over our lives also. No one or nothing can destroy us before our time. The Bible declares that nothing can separate us from His love; greater is He that is in us; no weapon formed against us shall prosper. Friends, our God is greater than anyone or anything that could ever come against us and we are safe as we continue pursuing His will and purpose for our lives.
Rejoice today, because your name is in the Lamb’s book of life and if it’s not then it’s a great day to accept Jesus as your Lord and Master. He will be your best friend.
Prayer Points: Father God thank you for your protection and provision as my Father. Thank you for your love and the gift of your dear Son Jesus. I want to live for you the rest of my life! Amen!
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.
We continue our journey in Acts 22 as Paul was arrested because of preaching the gospel. He is being viciously attacked by the religious leaders and 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 where to go and we pick up in verse 12.
Acts 22:12 A man named Ananias lived there. He was a godly man, deeply devoted to the law, and well regarded by all the Jews of Damascus. 13 He came and stood beside me and said, 'Brother Saul, regain your sight.' And that very moment I could see him!
We hear so much about what Paul did to expand the Kingdom of God including writing about two thirds of the New Testament but think about this, what if there were no Ananias. We don’t read much about Ananias but we know this, because of his obedience, Saul became converted to Christianity and soon became Paul.
We never know whom we will touch through our obedience but we know that as we obey the Holy Spirit, we will help change the world. The good news about how the Kingdom of God works is this; as we touch one and that one touches another (maybe thousands) we all get the same reward because reward is based on obedience. Paul wrote this later, one plants, one waters but Father God gives the increase/harvest. If Ananias only reached Saul through obedience, what a contribution he made to the Kingdom of Father God.
Notice this about Ananias, he was a Godly man (a man pursing the things of God) that was deeply devoted to the Word of God, and well thought of by the people in that region. The Word of Father God is so important in our lives; never live a day without pouring it into your Spirit.
Friends, our reputation is also important, the Bible says this truth in Proverbs 22:1 A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, and favor is better than silver or gold. The way we relate with others, the way we handle our families, the way we handle our finances are all a reflection on the family of God. We should strive to live honestly and with integrity with everyone so no one could say evil against us that would be true. Let them lie about us but never let something we could have prevented to be said about us that would negatively affect the Kingdom of Father God. Once we get saved, we represent Father God to everyone we meet. We are His children, His ambassadors to this people planet.
Not only did Ananias come in obedience but his obedience also allowed him to come with the power of the Holy Spirit and the Presence of the Lord. Ananias looked at Paul and said this, Paul regain your sight and Paul testified immediately I could see. Friends, catch these two truths: obedience releases miracles when spoken in faith and power.
Miracles never happen until people realize that our obedience and our words release the supernatural. Moses obeyed, spoke to the people and stretched out his rod and the sea parted. Joshua obeyed, spoke to the people, marched and the walls fell. On and on we could go showing that as we obey and speak, miracles take place. Jesus even said the secret to His ministry was hearing and doing and speaking what Father God told Him to.
We must realize God has no favorites but everyone who has been saved and washed in the Blood of Jesus has the ability to: 1. Hear the voice of the Holy Spirit; 2. Make a choice to fully obey His voice. The difference is that some of His children hear and obey, some hear and never obey while others never take the time to be in positon/His Presence long enough to hear His voice because their lives are so full of other voices. Friends, the key to walking in the supernatural is simply, hearing, obeying and speaking. Let’s all learn to live supernatural lives in 2015. Make hearing the voice of the Holy Spirit a priority in your life and watch yourself do things in His kingdom that you never thought possible.
Prayer Thoughts: Father God I repent for having so many voices in my life that have hindered your voice which is the voice of the Holy Spirit. Give me the wisdom and strength I need to make your voice my main priority in Jesus Name, Amen!
One truth I’ve always lived by is this; we don’t know what tomorrow holds but, if we are a child of Father God, we know who holds our tomorrow.
Biblical prophecy combined with today’s headlines remind us we are quickly approaching the end of time as we know it on planet earth. For us as children of God this is an exciting time because we know these two truths: 1. Father God will take care of us until He comes as long as we hear and obey His voice; 2. Eternity is going to be absolutely amazing and we should look forward to it, in fact the Bible says comfort one another with these words that Jesus is coming! Pressure will increase, times will become even more critical but supernatural peace and provision will be ours as we keep our minds on Father God and His Word.
I believe 2015 will be another year of challenges but also a year of great harvest and revival for the remnant church who sincerely desire and seek His Kingdom and His Righteousness (Matt. 6:33). We must pray, fast for our lost loved ones and the lost in our region and around the world like never before. If we will stay concerned about what concerns Father God then Father God will take care of what concerns us. His concern is a lost, sinful and dying humanity. His will is that NONE would perish but have everlasting life but we are His body and we must make reaching the lost a priority. Yes, I believe we will see even more incredible supernatural manifestations of the glory of God where miracles happen before our very eyes but the greatest miracle is the lost coming to Jesus.
Join us as we continue living the three fold cord in 2015, fasting/praying/giving so we can walk in the supernatural. January is our corporate fasting month as we all personally and corporately set aside the first-fruits of 2015 in seeking His Face. Our normal 21 days would begin January 4th and end on January 25th but I feel we need to cover the whole month with fasting so we want EVERY PERSON who is part of The Bridge Family to ask the Holy Spirit about the 21 days you are to give to the Lord in special prayer and fasting. This will allow more people to join us due to their personal working schedules and family times, etc.
Happy New Year and thanks for making 2014 a Success!
We continue our journey in the book of Acts, Paul had been arrested because of the religious people’s accusations and them trying to kill him. Now he asks to speak to the religious leaders himself.
Acts 22 1 "Brothers and esteemed fathers," Paul said, "listen to me as I offer my defense." 2 When they heard him speaking in their own language, the silence was even greater.
Notice Paul’s salutation, he did not call them enemies but humbled himself and called them esteemed. Then he began speaking in Aramaic which surprised them to the point of silence. Paul was not an unlearned follower of Jesus Christ but now they learned he was highly educated.
3 Then Paul said, "I am a Jew, born in Tarsus, a city in Cilicia, and I was brought up and educated here in Jerusalem under Gamaliel. As his student, I was carefully trained in our Jewish laws and customs. I became very zealous to honor God in everything I did, just like all of you today.
Even though he had esteemed them at the beginning, he now shares his educational and Jewish heritage which was probably greater than any of them who had accused him. He was saying I used to be like you, I used to hate Christians but something happened and I want to share it with you.
Paul was essentially sharing his testimony, which is something we all have that will help many whom the Holy Spirit leads us to. Yes, we need to have wisdom and knowledge about Biblical scriptures but it’s hard for people to dispute your personal testimony. This is who I was but look at me since I’ve given Jesus my heart.
Remember every time you share your testimony, it helps you to overcome what the enemy is trying to use against you. We overcome by the WORD of our TESTIMONY and the BLOOD of the LAMB.
4 And I persecuted the followers of the Way, hounding some to death, arresting both men and women and throwing them in prison. 5 The high priest and the whole council of elders can testify that this is so. For I received letters from them to our Jewish brothers in Damascus, authorizing me to bring the Christians from there to Jerusalem, in chains, to be punished.
Paul was saying, you think you were zealous, then I was more so. I victimized everyone who said they followed Jesus, who said He was the way, the truth and the life. I threw those Christians in prison and not just men but women also. The elders and chief priests even wrote letters for me to persecute Christians all over our region. They gave me the authority to bring Christians from all over and put them in chains to be punished. Paul was saying, I was a bad dude, you just think you are bad but something happened that changed my life.
6 "As I was on the road, approaching Damascus about noon, a very bright light from heaven suddenly shone down around me. 7 I fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to me, 'Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?'
Paul now began to dig deep into his testimony; he said, “I was on my way to Damascus around lunch to persecute some of the Christians, minding my own business, zealous for the law when all of a sudden something supernatural happened. The brightest light I have ever seen shone on me and it was so bright I fell to the ground. Then it got even weirder, I heard a voice calling my name twice asking me this: why are you persecuting me?”
Paul then says, “It gets every more supernatural when I asked this”: 8 "'Who are you, lord?' I asked. "And the voice replied, 'I am Jesus the Nazarene, the one you are persecuting.' 9 The people with me saw the light but didn't understand the voice speaking to me.
Paul continues, let me paraphrase, now boys I’m on the ground and a bright light is blinding me and then I hear a voice, it was spooky so I asked; Who are you Lord? I wasn’t ready for the response when the voice said I am Jesus the one you are opposing and persecuting. Those traveling with me saw the bright light, saw me fall, heard me speaking but didn’t not hear Him speaking to me.
I’m telling you this was a life changing experience. So it is with all of us, when we met Jesus it changed our lives and we need to do like Paul, we need to share our testimony to everyone we can.
Prayer Points: Father God in Jesus Name I ask you to give me the boldness and the power I need to share my testimony with everyone you put in my path, knowing it’s a divine appointment which could change their eternity.
We have just spent a lot of weeks concerning the Gifts of the Holy Spirit which must become part of our daily lives. Today we jump back into Paul’s arrest and journey back to Jerusalem.
Acts 21:10 Several days later a man named Agabus, who also had the gift of prophecy, arrived from Judea. 11 He came over, took Paul's belt, and bound his own feet and hands with it. Then he said, "The Holy Spirit declares, 'So shall the owner of this belt be bound by the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem and turned over to the Gentiles.'" 12 When we heard this, we and the local believers all begged Paul not to go on to Jerusalem. 13 But he said, "Why all this weeping? You are breaking my heart! I am ready not only to be jailed at Jerusalem but even to die for the sake of the Lord Jesus." 14 When it was clear that we couldn't persuade him, we gave up and said, "The Lord's will be done."
Paul, what a great man of God! He was even willing to die for what He knew to be truth. When it was prophesied he would be bound and imprisoned, they started weeping but Paul said (translated) dry up the tears, being imprisoned is nothing since I’ve already been there and done that, I’m ready to die for Jesus. No wonder he later wrote to live is Christ and that is better for you but to die is gain and that is better for me. In the coming days, we must begin to think with those type of Kingdom Thoughts.
In the next verses we see Paul arriving at Jerusalem to stand trial.
15 After this we packed our things and left for Jerusalem. 16 Some believers from Caesarea accompanied us, and they took us to the home of Manson, a man originally from Cyprus and one of the early believers. 17 When we arrived, the brothers and sisters in Jerusalem welcomed us warmly.
After they could not persuade him not to go to Jerusalem, they got everything packed and continued their journey. His arrival in Jerusalem was a warm reception but soon the fireworks would start.
18 The next day Paul went with us to meet with James, and all the elders of the Jerusalem church were present. 19 After greeting them, Paul gave a detailed account of the things God had accomplished among the Gentiles through his ministry.
Paul is one of those you would want on your ministry team. He liked to get things done. No time to rest from the long trip; the next day he was up and meeting with the leaders of the early church. He preceded to give them details about his ministry among the Gentiles.
20 After hearing this, they praised God. And then they said, "You know, dear brother, how many thousands of Jews have also believed, and they all follow the law of Moses very seriously. 21 But the Jewish believers here in Jerusalem have been told that you are teaching all the Jews who live among the Gentiles to turn their backs on the laws of Moses. They've heard that you teach them not to circumcise their children or follow other Jewish customs. 22 What should we do? They will certainly hear that you have come.
Here comes the conflict. The early leaders praised God for all those who had got saved but then they were concerned about the religious people (not the sinners) because Paul was teaching faith and works not just works of the law. Rumor was that Paul was teaching against the Bible but the truth was this, Paul was teaching New Covenant.
23 "Here's what we want you to do. We have four men here who have completed their vow. 24 Go with them to the Temple and join them in the purification ceremony, paying for them to have their heads ritually shaved. Then everyone will know that the rumors are all false and that you yourself observe the Jewish laws. 25 "As for the Gentile believers, they should do what we already told them in a letter: They should abstain from eating food offered to idols, from consuming blood or the meat of strangled animals, and from sexual immorality."
To show that Paul was not against the law, he performed the law’s requirements with four other men. Then they rehearsed what they had told the Gentile converts to observe: 1. Don’t eat food offered to idols; 2. Don’t consume the blood of animals; 3. Don’t engage in sexual immorality. The early church leaders were not trying to make Jews out of the Gentile converts but they were trying to convert them into being disciples in the Kingdom of Father God. The Gentile believers were not commanded to keep all the laws which the Jews kept since they were living by a New Living Way (faith). Next week we will find that this offended some of the religious Jews who would not accept Jesus as their Messiah.
Prayer Points: Father God in Jesus Name, help us to live our lives like Paul who feared no one but One. Let us have his type of faith which said, all you can do is kill me and if you kill me I’m better off. Help us Father to live our lives pleasing to you in Jesus Name!
Next week we pick up Paul’s journey back to Jerusalem in Acts 21: Several days later a man named Agabus, who also had the gift of prophecy, arrived from Judea. He came over, took Paul's belt, and bound his own feet and hands with it. Then he said, "The Holy Spirit declares, 'So shall the owner of this belt be bound by the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem and turned over to the Gentiles.'" When we heard this, we and the local believers all begged Paul not to go on to Jerusalem.
This week I want to give a review and some practical knowledge concerning the Nine Gifts of the Holy Spirit.
Remember the Nine Gifts are divided into three categories of three:
1. Gifts to Say (Speak or Utterance Gifts): Prophecy, Tongues and Interpretation of Tongues.
2. Gifts to Know (Reveal or Revelation Gifts): The Word of Wisdom, The Word of Knowledge and The Discerning of Spirits.
3. Gifts to Do (Power Gifts): The Gift of Faith, The Gifts of Healing and The Working of Miracles.
All the gifts are available to the children of Father God today. The gifts of the Spirit are needed today and the Holy Spirit wants to express His Gifts through each one of us but we must be in position spiritually:
1. To hear His voice 2. Faith to obey His promptings 3. Live a clean life with His help & guidance 4. Fellowship with Him so you will know His gentle voice
If you are desirous of flowing more freely in these Gifts, apply yourself to the following practical pointers:
· Ask God to help you. We have not, because many times we ask not. Remember it is the Father’s good pleasure to give us the Kingdom. We are made perfect through the blood of Jesus and if you are saved then you have the qualifications needed to be used in the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Failing does not make you a failure if you get back up and repent.
· Set aside time so that God can speak to you. Remember what we do in private is manifested in public. Never expect Father God to trust you in public if He can’t trust you in private. Use your personal private prayer time to learning to hear the voice of the Holy Spirit so you can stand in confidence when He desires to use you publically.
· Confess any sin, fears, doubts or unbelief that is in your life, so you can be a much more effective instrument in His hand. A lifestyle of repentance when we see things in our life allows the Holy Spirit to use us. Remember Father God knows our shortcomings, our weaknesses, our fallings but He still loves us and desires to use us as long as we repent (feeling Godly sorrow and turning from the sin). Since He already knows about our sins, never try to hide them, confess them.
· Cultivate a strong desire for the Gifts. Read about the supernatural manifestations of the Holy Spirit in the Word of God and in biographies of people who were used supernaturally in the past days (Smith Wigglesworth, John Lake, etc..) Learn to stay around people who are used in the Gifts of the Holy Spirit, attending revivals, watching them on the internet, etc.
· Expect God to use you. Being to imagine how it would feel to be used by the Holy Spirit and realize if not you then who is He going to use.
· When the opportunity allows, work alongside people who are already flowing well in the Gifts. Learn as much as you can. Watch, serve, help in any way you can. If you have opportunity, ask them questions about how the Holy Spirit speaks to them, about their prayer life, fasting life, study habits etc.
· Seek an impartation for a greater release of the Gifts. We don’t seek the gifts (ask for), we seek the Gift Giver and then He uses us supernaturally.
· Always remain teachable. No one person understands everything about the supernatural manifestations of the Holy Spirit so remain open (as long as what you are hearing is lined up with God’s Word) to learn more. Everyone has something to offer so be willing to listen to others.
· Stay under God given spiritual authority because Father God sets up order because it is His Church. So work within the guide-lines/frame-work set by the leadership of your local church.
· Stay humble, know it’s the power of the Holy Spirit working through you and in you and never sell the gift He has given you. The gifts of the Spirit are not for sale!
Prayer Points: Father God in Jesus Name, I realize now I need to be used supernaturally in the Gifts of the Holy Spirit so I open myself up to the Holy Spirit completely. Use me daily in Jesus Name!