Kellie, Isabella, Isaiah, and Pastor Chris

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

September 28, 2011 Daily Word

2 Cor. 1:9
"But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead."

For me, the last part of the verse is inspiring.  It could be that the apostle is referring to the resurrection of Jesus Christ on that glorious Easter morning.  It was a display of power and might for sure, as the prinicipalities and powers had seemingly won the victory.  But in a marvelous display of might, just as he said that he would, Christ thundered forth from the tomb.  Or perhaps the apostle is speaking about our resurrection from the dead.  Our spiritual resurrection from death to life (Ephesians 2) is a powerful display of might.  Our future resurrection from the dead surely is a display of power and might.  You see, it doesn't matter which of these he is really referring to - all of them display in wondrous accord the power of God.

Therefore, we rely not on ourselves - because we are not that powerfully.  But instead, we depend/rely on the God who had/has the power to raise the dead!  He has real power - so why do we not tap into that power?  Because we are to often full of ourselves, depending upon our own ability.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Daily Word September 27, 2011

2 Corinthians 1:8b
"For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself."

Can you imagine?  Trying to do great things for God, trying to just be obedient to God's calling - to be a witness to the ends of the earth for the gospel.  You would think everything would be great...not so fast.  It seems we have been on this subject for a long time - but it is an important one.  Understanding that just because its not smoothe sailing is not the test of whether or not one is being obedient and faithful.  Paul says that he began to despair life itself - he just wanted to die.

Ever been there?  So worn out from trying to do the right thing?  Seem like your "burdened beyond your strength"?  I am certain that if you have ever tried to be faithful, you have felt burdened beyond strength.  Perhaps that is why the Bible speaks so much about endurance, because endurance will produce faithfulness?  What's worse, in verse 9, he says they thought there may have been a curse upon their lives.  But this is not the end.

"But this was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead." - There was a reason for the teach dependence upon God.  What's your struggle about? - Could God be teaching you dependence?

Friday, September 23, 2011

Daily Word September 23, 2011

Acts 8:1
"And Saul approved of his execution.  And there arose on that day a great persecution against the church in Jerusalem, and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles."

So we have been watching this persecution unfold.  We have seen its timing - when the church was on the move.  We have seen two responses to it - some scattered and others stayed the course.  Now this morning, let's reflect on what God was doing in the middle of the persecution.

Often times as believers, we assume that if we are going in God's direction, being obedient to God's command for our lives, that everything will be wonderful and perfect, the skies aren't cloudy all day, "nothing but blue skies", and so on.  When in reality, when we are most faithful, it seems our circumstances seem to often become more difficult.  But persecution is not to be seen as the absence of God's presence.  Instead, we should see persecution as an opportunity for God to move.  Here in Acts 8, the great Apostle Paul is introduced to us.  While he is not shown in a positive light, the very mention of his name shows us that God was doing something with him.  Not only this, but the apostles were given the responsibility of taking the gospel to the ends of the earth and now with this great dispersion (because of the persecution), we see that happening.  Before, the gospel had been confined primarily to Jerusalem.  But now, the people were forced to expand their borders as the persecution caused them to run for their lives.

Beloved, God is not watching the storm from a distance, He is right in the middle of it.  That's our thought for the day.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

September 22, 2011

Acts 8:1
"And there arose on that day a great persecution amongst the church in Jerusalem, and they were scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles."

So this great persecution arises...what is the church to do?  It is interesting that so often, times of difficulty and trial will either bring a people closer together, or it will divide them further.  What we see at the rise of this persecution were two responses.
First, some scattered.  Afraid for their lives, they decided the cost was to great.  It was to much to expect them to die for this cause.  They were on board with Jesus and the disciples while the going was good, but the moment someone died, this was a little to much.  Now it is easy to sit behind my beautiful desk, staring at pictures of my wonderful family, sipping on my starbucks coffee - it is easy to begin to reign down condemnation upon these people.  But I wonder, what would I have really done, forced into that situation.
Second, the apostles showed great strength and stayed together.  Certainly these men had been through much, but now they were being bonded together like brothers in arms.  They saw the value in staying the course.

A part of every church that is growing and accomplishing much for God's glory, faces difficult times of persecution.  The question is not whether difficulty will come, but how will we respond?

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Daily Word September 20, 2011

Acts 8:1b
"And there arose on that day a great persecution amongst the church in Jerusalem, and they were scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles."

And everything was going so well!...Every step of the way, the church is pressing forward, charging the gates of hell at break neck speed.  There were challenges no doubt, but they were met and defeated each and every time.  But now on this day, the "worst" has happened.  A man full of the Holy Spirit by the name of Stephen has been killed.  Apparently this killing has made the crowds blood thirsty - they have decided to be violent in their persecution.  It was apparent that warnings and beatings were no longer enough, the persecution was going to have to be brought up a notch.

Isn't it interesting how things can be so great one day, and so bad the next.  It seems that as the church is on the move for the glory of God, there always is the enemy ready to destroy the people of God.  In fact, it seems in the New Testament, that only those who are not living obedient lives, striving for God's glory, only those escape the difficulties of life.  Sometimes the persecution is bloody, sometimes it is passive, sometimes it is in the mind, sometimes it is in the body; but those who work for God always face persecution.  And here it is in Acts.  We knew the story was to good to be true - right?! 

Beloved, the question is not whether trouble may come, but rather "How do I react to that trouble?"  Today, if you seek to honor God, trouble is on its way - "How will you deal with it?"

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Daily Word September 14, 2011

Acts 6:2
"It is not right that we should give up preaching the word of God to serve tables."

The apostles had a monumental task in front of them.  They were charged with taking the gospel to the ends of the earth - that's a long way.  As we read through the chapters of Acts, we see the church is growing by leaps and bounds.  It must have been difficult to keep up with everything going on.  But now the apostles are faced with a difficult decision.  They must address the growing problems, while at the same time continuing the work of ministry.  It is the same difficulty every growing church encounters.  So they gathered men together to meet the needs of the people.  The picture is clear, people were responsible for the ministry.  It is a shift from the ministry resting solely in the hands of the apostles to the hands of the people.  The apostles would preach, but the people would serve.  Our churches today, should follow this model.  Equipping and charging people with the ministry and service of the church.

Question for today: "What can I be doing to serve the local church?"

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Daily Word September 13, 2011

Acts 6:2
"And the twelve summoned the full number of the disciples..."

When there was a complaint in front of the church, a challenge to unity, the response was intriguing.  It was so simple that it is often missed, taken for granted.  When the Hellenists had a complaint against the Hebrews, the apostles gathered the entire group - not just the Hellenists or just the Hebrews.  Out of this group, they selected 7 men to serve as deacons.  This decision brought unity to the people because it involved everyone.  There were representatives from each group, so every group that was gathered was represented, their voices heard and their problems addressed.  Often times in the modern church, it is a few people from a select group making the decisions.  But the apostles gave us a "problem solving model" by showing us that such times of complaint can bring us closer together or tear us further apart.  It's not much, but because it is so simple, most churches over look it.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Daily Word September 12, 2011

Acts 6:1
"Now in these days when the disciples were increasing in number, a complaint by the Hellenists arose against the Hebrews because their widows were being neglected in the daily distribution."

"The devil is in the details", is an old expression.  Here it comes to life as we see this church that is experiencing multiplication type growth have a challenge to unity.  It was not that he apostles were purposely neglecting these widows, it was an administration hiccup.  The truth is that in the life of every growing church, there will be these hiccups - unintentional mishaps that are just a by product of growth.  However, while it was an innocent mistake, it was mistake none the less, and it needed to be addressed. 

Question for today: "What can I do to help solve the growing pain problems of the church?"

Friday, September 9, 2011

Daily Word September 9, 2011

Acts 5:11

I wonder, if you had been there and watched everything unfold as it did, as Ananias and Sapphira drop in their tracks, what would you have thought?  Everything in the church is seemingly going smoothe, the power of God is on display through healings and various unexplanable things, people are being added to the congregation day by day by day - everybody is happy.  In a split second, two of the faithful members are dead and everyone knows it was the judgment of God.  What are you thinking?

I know I would have been like the crowd, "and great fear came upon them all and all who heard these things."  But what about the "Grace-Full" God they had been preaching about?  Why didn't God have grace in this moment?  After all, it doesn't seem like that big of a deal what they did, does it?  Or perhaps think about it like this - in Acts 3, Peter tells the people who crucified Christ, they can be forgiven for this act.  But Ananias and Sapphira tell a little lie about how much they sold their property for, and God strikes them dead?...Beloved, it teaches us two things.
        1.  Just because God brought judgment, doesn't mean they were any less forgiven.
        2.   While they may have been forgiven ("saved"), God was not going to allow them to hurt his church.
God takes His church very serious and will defend her in her faithfulness, discipline her in her wrongness, and restore her in her brokeness....Just my thoughts.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Daily Word September 8, 2011

So sorry I have fallen behind this week!  It has been a great week, but also a busy week...

Acts 4:32 - All the believers were of one heart and mind and spirit.

Following this statement and picture (through Barnabus) of the church being in perfect unity, came the terrible story of Ananias and Sapphira.  What was their sin?  It was a multitude of things, but mostly they presented themselves as a danger to the church and what God was doing in their midst because they were not on the same boat.  It reminded me again of Proverbs 29:18 - "Where there is no prophetic vision, the people will cast off restraint."  It is crucial to our growth, spiritually and numerically, that God's people be headed in the same direction. 

How can you promote unity and harmony within His church this week?