Kellie, Isabella, Isaiah, and Pastor Chris

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Daily Word September 1, 2011

"Times of refreshing in the presence of the Lord..."

Remember that this spoke of the relief that comes at the end of a plague.  A relief like that of a cool rain on a dry and weary land.  How much has sin cost you?  How much has sin worn you out?  How much has sin taken away?  Do you feel enslaved by it, like you just can't get away from it no matter how hard you try?  The apostle told the people, if they turned to God, they would experience relief.  In context, the people had crucified the savior.  They must have in this moment of power (the lame beggar is healed), been reminded that they were personally responsible for the death of the one who had come to save them.  They could be haunted for the rest of their lives by this heinous crime.  But Peter says, "turn to God...experience times of refreshing in the presence of the Lord (the very one they had crucified)".  What an amazing thought!  If God could do this for those who crucified His Son, what could He do for you in your life?

Daily Word August 31, 2011

"Turn back to God and you will receive forgiveness for your sins..."

The people were promised that the moment they repented of their sins, God would blot out, wash away, or forgive their sin.  They would be cleansed, given a new slate, as it were, so that a new message could be written about their lives.  Imagine with me for a moment, you are in the courtroom, there is the list of charges.  You are guilty of 140 counts of failures and mistakes.  But in a sweeping moment, each of those charges is wiped away, and in their place stands a new list of perfect and right actions (the righteousness of Christ)!

What would you think and feel in that moment?

Monday, August 29, 2011

Daily Word August 29, 2011

Acts 4:17 "Repent and turn back to God..."

As I thought about these words, I was reminded of what the children have been learning at FX.  We have been looking at the story of the Prodigal Son in Luke 15.  It is a perfect picture of what Peter was telling these people.  They had forsaken their heavenly father, decided to run their lives in the manner they thought best, and so on.  But Peter was telling them, "Come to your senses!  Turn back to God."  Luke records that the prodigal son came to himself, that is that he came to the "end" of himself and realized how much he had messed up his life. 
You know this is a good place to be from time to time.  To realize how bad we have screwed up and really see ourselves for who we are.  But this is not a good place to stay.  Instead, we should do as the prodigal did and get out of the pig pen and come back to our Father.

So what is it that you have been trying to run on your own power and authority?  Have you come to the end of yourself?  Maybe you need to waive the white flag of surrender and be saved?  Maybe you are already saved but you have had things that you have been trying to orchestrate instead of "letting go and letting God."

Friday, August 26, 2011

Daily Word August 26, 2011

Sorry it has been a few days, Kellie and I had doctors appointments, so I am just catching up.

Acts 3:8-11
"And leaping up he stood and began to walk, and entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God.  And all the people saw him walking and praising God, and recognized him as the one who sat at the Beautiful Gate of the temple, asking for alms.  And they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.  While he clung to Peter and John, all the people, utterly astounded, ran together to them in the portico called Solomon's."

Why was the miracle performed?  It is so easy to see that the miracle was performed so the man could walk.  But think with me for a moment, is this the best thing that happened?  As we dig deeper, we see there were two other results of the miracle:
1.  Everyone saw this miracle, they were filled with awe, and they began to glorify God.
2.  In verse 11, it was done in order to give Peter an opportunity to preach the gospel.
Certainly God loved the man and showed his grace to him.  But it is also important to note that God was about the business of glorifying himself and making sure that the gospel was given opportunity to be proclaimed.

At the heart of every blessing that God gives to me, is an opportunity to present the gospel.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Daily Word August 23, 2011

"I have no silver and gold..." (Acts 3:6a)

As we discussed on Sunday, chances are that Peter and John had money, or at the very least had money available to him.  After all, the new testament church was "having all things in common" and Peter was the lead pastor.  John came from a fairly wealthy family.  But money was not the issue.  It would have been easy for them to flip a coin into his basket, but instead they saw the real need, not what he was simply asking for.  They knew that a few coins will help in the moment, but miss the real opportunity to display the power of God.  Not only this, but of the 10 temple gates, only this particular gate (the Beautiful Gate) was without gold.  It wass made of Corinthian bronze.  It is possible that Peter was telling this man, "silver and gold are not what make you valuable...You can be beautiful without those things."

Here's the challenge - I need to look past, on a consistent basis, that which people are asking for and see what they really need, the power of God experienced through the gospel!  It is easy to meet a benevolent need, it is difficult (or so it seems) to take the time to really get to the heart of that need.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Daily Word August 21, 2011

"And Peter directed his gaze toward him, as did John..." (Acts 3:4)

This man had become accustomed to less than cordial greetings.  The temple goers, most certainly had grown cold of his existence, he was merely another noise amongst everything else going on.  Those who did take the time to put money in his basket, probably didn't take the time to learn of his story or even share a few moments of conversation.  But these apostles did something unexpected.  They stopped and directed their attention, looked intently into the man's eyes.  They were seemingly stopped in time, in order, to empathize with the man's pain.  They saw the one laid at their gate.

For me, it is easy to get caught up in the business of church and even religion.  It is relatively simple to get settled in doing good things, but miss the individuals in front of us.  Taking a few more moments to listen, taking a few more moments to look, and taking a few more moments to ask questions is what I need to do.  Then I will see the individual and not the problem.  How about you?

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Daily Word August 18, 2011

Point #4 - "They devoted themselves to prayer."

No doubt prayer was an important component of the early church.  But why?  Going back to our series on prayer, prayer is for the purpose of conforming my will to the will of God.  Therefore, prayer was so important to the early church because they were utterly dependent upon God to make His will and plans known to them.  They knew that any success would be based on abiding in God's will and the only way to abide in God's will is to know what it is.  Also, prayer is for the purpose of intimacy.  Christ had ascended into heaven and for the first time, these apostles were now on their own in ministry.  They knew that they must daily seek after Christ and grow in relationship with him, which could only be done through prayer.

Today we often forsake praying because we are not dependent upon God for success.  However, just as it was for the early church, prayer would be the power to drive the engine.  I can improve by meeting regularly with church leadership.  In those meetings, spend our time in prayer, as oposed to planning.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Daily Word August 17, 2011

Point #3 - "Devoting themselves to the breaking of bread."

The early church took special time and attention to spending time with one another.  They met in their houses for worship, prayer, fellowship and so on.   There was a special bond that was formed because of these intimate settings.  They shared their lives with one another as they felt comfortable to do so.  In some ways, the modern church has lost this because of our big buildings and "star-lit" services.  On top of all this, the early church was going through much persecution.  As they engaged with one another, dining with one another, there was a bond formed like that of men at war.  They were really brothers and sisters.  The church must return to our herritage of engaging with one another through intimate fellowship.

What can I do?  Be intentional about finding prayer warriors and friends in the church.  Find people who I can be transparent with, as we labor together and share one another's burdens.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Daily Word August 16, 2011 - "Devoted Themselves To the Fellowship"

Today, we move on to point #2 from Acts 2:42 - "They devoted themselves to the Fellowship".  Remember that the "Fellowship" consisted of those who had been saved and baptized, who were submitting their lives to the Lordship of Jesus Christ.  They dedicated themselves to meeting together, praying together, observing the Lord's Supper, worshipping together, etc.  In short, they dedicated themselves to faithfully attending church, their assemblies in homes and temples.

In today's society, there are many things which try to steal our fellowship.  It could be sports, work, school, or a variety of other involvements.  But for a believer to be an effective witness, he must be willing to sacrifice some things, in order to be devoted to fellowship.  The very word "devoted" implies that it has become a primary focus.  For my part, I can be more devoted to fellowship by not being as caught up in the list of things that need to be accomplished on a Sunday morning and more concerned with just worshipping.

How about you?

Monday, August 15, 2011

Daily Word August 15, 2011

Starting today, I want to begin a new format.  Let's try to make this as interactive as possible.  What I would like to do on a daily basis is revisit the previous Sunday's message.  Each day we will look at one point or two and discuss the practical ramifications and outworkings of that point.

Today, we begin with the 4 basic methods of growth in the New Testament church of Acts.  Remember that these are found in Acts 2:42.  A growing church Devotes Themselves To:
                  1.  The Word of God
                  2.  The Fellowship
                  3.  The Breaking of Bread
                 4.  Praying

Now the question is, "how do I practically do these things?"

For my response, I will take up point number one - Devoted to the Word of God.  I can devote myself to the Word of God by committing to set aside time out of every day to spend studying God's Word.  Then having studied, I can journal about that which God has shown me in my life that needs to change.  Having acknowledged the things that need to change, I can keep a progress report privately to measure my conformity to God's Teaching.
What about you?

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Daily Word August 3, 2011 - "We Recount Your Wondrous Deeds"

Psalm 75:1
We give thanks to you, O God;
we give thanks, for your name is near.
We recount your wondrous deeds.
Sometimes life is good...sometimes life is hard...But what gets us through it all?  The Psalmist says that he "recounted" God's wondrous deeds.  That is that he "counted again".  He thought hard upon the things that God had done.  Perhaps he had them written down, maybe he just began to count all of things God had done for Him in his life.  Whatever the case, as we consider everything God has done for us, it is easy to see hope through the storm as we remember God's actions toward us.  I can only speak for myself but, God has done to many things for me to count.  If he never blessed me the rest of my life, he has done to much already.  But God's wondrous deeds towards me are a constant reminder of His constant and abiding love.  God does not love in word only, but in deed and action.  Today: recount (count again) all that God has done for you.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Daily Word August 2, 2011 - "Of Old..."

Psalm 74:12
 Yet God my King is from of old,
working salvation in the midst of the earth.
Here the people are looking around at everything going on, and hope seems to be fading...They are losing their optimism for the ways of the world, they see no prophets speaking the Word of God, and people are continually minimizing the sanctuary of God.  Hope is gone...but then, he says, "Yet God my King is from old."  Our hope rests fully in who God is and from whence he came.  He is from eternity past and will be from eternity future.  He is never changing and always perfect.  When hope is gone, "Yet God".  This is our faith.