Bible Study

03/25/15 Daily Devotion – What’s right in God’s sight?


“Then they called them in again and commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John replied, ‘Judge for yourselves whether it is right in God’s sight to obey you rather than God. For we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.’” (Acts 4:18–20, NIV84)

Peter and John had been arrested for preaching the Gospel and healing in the name of Jesus. The next day, the religious leaders, not knowing what to do with them, warned them to stop teaching about Jesus. Peter and John basically answered them with a question. They asked the religious leaders to judge what the right thing to do is from God’s perspective. Should they obey God or men? Now, the reason I bring that point up is because the religious leaders should have had God’s perspective in mind from the very beginning. Remember, they’re religious leaders. But they didn’t! And often, we don’t either. We get so wrapped up in debates and arguments that the only thing we care about is our perspective. We will fight to the end about our take on something when God’s take is all that really matters.

The disciples ended up telling the religious leaders that they couldn’t stop witnessing to what they had seen and heard from Jesus Christ. They needed to continue to see their reality through the eyes of God and remain obedient to His word. Our resolve should be no different. We need to remain obedient to God’s word. We need to strive to see things in our lives from His perspective. We must train ourselves to be discerning. And most often, we will be called to walk by faith rather than by sight. The disciples had no clue what the powerful religious leaders might do once they took their stand, but they took their stand nonetheless. May we be as bold and committed to ask the question, what’s right in God’s eyes? — and then act upon God’s perspective.

Peace!

Pastor Tom


03/24/15 Daily Devotion – There is salvation in no one else!


“Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12, NIV84)

But why? Why can’t there be more ways to heaven than one? Why can’t we all find our own personal way to God and to truth? Are you telling me that in the diverse world we live in, there can’t be multiple paths to God? These are the common questions I hear from people who think Christianity is too myopic and exclusive. I even hear these questions from Christians at times. They feel that God is being too restrictive, and this comes across as unloving.

Now, follow my train of thinking here. In all the questions that were raised above, what is the one thing they all have in common? The one asking the question doesn’t like the way God is thinking. Or put another way, they want God to think more like themselves. But wait a minute, isn’t this what got Adam and Eve in trouble in the first place? God said they could eat from any tree in the garden but one, but they thought that was too restrictive and so they ate from the one that was forbidden. You see, it doesn’t matter how many options God might provide. Our sinful nature will want to do what God prohibits.

We need to understand that God has a right to declare a singular path to His kingdom. He is God, after all. Nothing like telling the one who created us and redeemed us that He did it wrong. But most important, I believe God made salvation to be in Jesus alone for a very loving reason. God didn’t want there to be any questions, doubts or confusion. With precision and clarity He redeemed us through the life and death of Jesus. For thousands of years He prophesied about the One who would come to redeem humanity, and in the name of Jesus, He did just that. With this singular approach to salvation God makes it the same for all humanity. No one can say He shows favoritism. On judgment day humanity will be judged by one thing … whether they believed in Jesus as their Savior. No other works, paths, hoops are necessary. There won’t be any last-minute surprises, because there is salvation in no one else. For no other name has been given to men by which we must be saved.

May we all find our salvation in the precious name of Jesus!

Peace!

Pastor Tom


03/23/15 Daily Devotion – Repentance can be refreshing!


“Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord.” (Acts 3:19, NIV84)

When our lives jump off the tracks of God’s will for us and we begin to cruise according to our will, we soon realize that life gets tough. The bumps on the path seem to get harder and harder. I know in my life, I have grown very weary and exhausted during these times. It’s like we’re running uphill all the time. It feels like we’re losing a fight, even though we don’t feel the blows. This is the kind of stuff we go through when we jump off the tracks and live life they way we think it should be lived. The story of the prodigal son is a perfect picture of what life looks like when we leave home (God’s kingdom).

God has placed walls and pitfalls out there in the path of anyone who would desire to live outside His will. Why? Because He is jealous and desires to pain anyone who turns his back on Him? No! He graciously puts those obstacles in our lives so that, like the prodigal son, we would repent and return home. God places those things in our lives because He loves us. He wants us to live an abundantly blessed life, but that life can only be lived in His kingdom.

So, when we finally are weary of the fight, it’s time to repent. It’s time to turn our sights back home to our gracious and loving heavenly Father. It might be a little scary at first, I mean to have to turn in repentance to a holy God one more time. But push past the fear. He loves you and promises to restore and heal the brokenhearted. God will hold out His arms and embrace you and welcome you home. He will remove your sin and its consequences. He will replace your guilt with hope and peace. Now that’s refreshing!

Peace!

Pastor Tom


03/19/15 Daily Devotion – “…what I have I give to you.”


“Then Peter said, ‘Silver or gold I do not have, but what I have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.’” (Acts 3:6, NIV84)

It really frustrates me when the church is characterized as being money-hungry. I have heard the phrase so often, “All they care about is money.” And I guess if there are churches out there like that, I am embarrassed and ashamed for them. They are truly missing the point of stewardship. On the other hand, I think too many Christians think stewardship is about money. When I am challenged by people who say stewardship is about money, my response is: “God doesn’t just want your money. He wants so much more. He desires to have all of you. He wants you to give to the world around you whatever is necessary at that time to further His kingdom.” My point in saying this is to make sure that the person I am talking to about stewardship understands that from God’s perspective it is about more than money and donations made on a Sunday morning. God is interested first in our hearts. Only after having our hearts is He interested in our stewardship of all that He has given us.

In our text for today, Peter says to the crippled man, I do not have what you are begging for (money), but I do have something I can give, and that is Jesus. Like Peter, we are called to be stewards of the Gospel of Jesus Christ throughout our life. Every day God offers us opportunities to give to those around us. It could be an expression of truth someone needs to hear. It could be a helping hand with something someone is struggling with. You get my point! Let’s not reduce an important thing like stewardship to dollars and cents. May we be reminded every day that He desires to have all of us.

Peace!

Pastor Tom


03/18/15 Daily Devotion – A perfect model to follow!


“They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.” (Acts 2:42–47, NIV84)

As the Christian church is birthed, it is important for us to capture its early practices. How they chose to work their individual faiths into a corporate expression for the work of the kingdom of God is a worthwhile study. As these new Christians were daily being added to the kingdom, they began to develop a consistent pattern. They gathered together! They did not see their faith as an autonomous thing only. They naturally understood that God strengthened and worked their faith within community. So, they devoted themselves to some things that we should pay attention to. First, it was the Apostles’ teachings. They devoted themselves not to a new teaching but to a teaching rooted in biblical truths. They were taught to see that the scriptures they believed in spoke of Jesus throughout, and that He was the promised Messiah. Devotion to this teaching strengthened and solidified their faith. They also devoted themselves to fellowship: Christians gathering together relating their struggles, but most important, God’s faithfulness amid the struggles. They would join together at meal times and share in the blessings that the Lord had provided. Finally, they devoted themselves to prayer — not just personal individual prayer, but corporate group prayer. I believe that it is because they followed these consistent practices that the early church was blessed with “homothumidon” (one-mindedness).

Please join me in finding ways to bring this perfect 1st-century model back into our 21st-century lives.

Peace!

Tom


03/17/15 Daily Devotion – “Greater things will you do”


“Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.” (Acts 2:41, NIV84)

Jesus once told the disciples that they would do greater things in their ministry than He did in His own. Not that the disciples would do something greater than the salvation of the world, but they would have a greater impact on the Earth’s inhabitants than He did. When Jesus died, it is recorded that fewer than 200 people were actively following Him. In our verse for today, it is stated that 3,000 converts to Christianity were added to that number. The promised Holy Spirit was providing the persuasion and power to create faith in many. And this was just the beginning. As these believers began to share their faith with others, the Holy Spirit worked through their witness to touch the lives of thousands more. By the time the last disciples passed away, tens of thousands of believers were spread throughout the Roman empire. Truly, by the Spirit’s power, the disciples were doing great things for the kingdom of God.

This movement of the Holy Spirit did not end with the disciples. It continues today, as faithful Christians witness to their faith and allow the Spirit to work through their lives and words. I recently read an article that the Christian church in Africa is growing at book-of-Acts proportions. The Holy Spirit continues to win people of every tongue and every nation to the kingdom of God. You and I have the awesome opportunity to join the saints who have gone before us and boldly testify to the redemption we have in Jesus Christ. We only need to offer ourselves to God as His tool for His using.

Let’s do our part!

Peace!

Pastor Tom


03/10/15 Daily Devotion – God’s set purpose!


“This man was handed over to you by God’s set purpose and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross. But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him.” (Acts 2:23–24, NIV84)

God has a set purpose! He’s got a plan! Through all the craziness we live through He is working out His will. He is doing that in the broad sense, as He works His will throughout the universe. He also is doing that in the narrow sense, as He works His will in and through the lives of His children (you and me). Our verses for today are from Peter’s sermon on the day of Pentecost. Note how he describes everything that happened to Jesus as part of God’s plan of salvation.

We should draw comfort from these verses today. They prove that God can make all things work for the good. Jesus obediently went the way of the cross. He chose to do the Father’s will and was rewarded by being raised from the dead by that same Father. God destroyed the power of death and the Devil on Good Friday and Easter morning. In the garden, Jesus chose the Father’s will over His own. How about you and me? Whose will are we choosing? I pray that our prayer is the same as that of Jesus. We need to surrender our will for His. We need to trust that He has a set purpose that is for our good and for His glory.

Peace!

Pastor Tom


03/09/15 Daily Devotion – Holy Spirit empowered!


“Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd: ‘Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you; listen carefully to what I say.’” (Acts 2:14, NIV84)

The Holy Spirit makes all the difference in the world. Prior to Pentecost, Peter was, well, Simon. Simon means “reed,” that plant that sways back and forth on the bank of a river or lake. That swaying is beautiful to watch in nature, but not so beautiful as a human trait. Simon (Peter) found it hard to take a stance, and when he did, it wasn’t always where Jesus wanted it to be. But nonetheless, Jesus changed Simon’s name to Peter (Petros = Rock). Jesus even told Peter that upon Peter’s confession of Jesus being the Christ, He would build His church. And that is what we see on the day of Pentecost. Peter, empowered by the Word of God, boldly takes his stance before thousands of people and, like a rock, proclaims the message of redemption and salvation in Jesus Christ.

As we are called to go out into the world to make disciples, we do not go out alone. The Holy Spirit goes before (to prepare hearts), with (to provide us the words) and after (to continue to reach into the hearts) of the individuals we witness to. It is NOT dependent upon our effort or expertise. We only have to be willing to be used by God. He will take care of the hard stuff. So, who has God put into your life that you have been holding back from sharing with? Are you praying that the Lord will bring people into your life to witness to? Seek those people out and begin to share your testimony. Tell them of the awesome things God has done and continues to do in your life.

Peace!

Pastor Tom


03/04/15 Daily Devotion – A pattern to follow!


“They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers.” (Acts 1:14, NIV84)

Jesus has ascended into heaven and the angels have told the disciples to go back into town and to wait. But even for them, the future is pretty uncertain. The only thing that Jesus promised them was that there would be a plan and a direction. So what do they do? They “join together constantly in prayer”! This is going to be a new pattern for me as I go into the new year (2012). I don’t often enough pray on my own or get together with like-minded Christians to pray for direction and discernment. I think we all need to see why it was so important for the disciples to join together in prayer. Their only physical connection to the kingdom of God (Jesus) was now gone. Prayer was their only way to stay connected to God’s kingdom. So it is no surprise that we find them constantly doing it.

Are you like me? Do you have more questions than you have answers? Do you have doubts and concerns? Then, like me, you too need to resolve to be more committed to prayer. We need to boldly go before the throne of God so we might gain direction and discernment. Shortly after the disciples made their commitment to prayer, they experienced the powerful indwelling of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost. Three thousand people came to faith that day. Just imagine what the Lord might be able to do today with the body of Christ that commits themselves to one-minded prayer. Or on a smaller scale, imagine what God might be able to do in your personal life to bring answers to your questions and direction to your journey.

Let’s be in constant prayer!

Peace!

Pastor Tom


03/05/15 Daily Devotion – Others must be reached!


“When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.” (Acts 2:1–4, NIV84)

How important is the spreading of the Gospel to God? How important is it that souls be saved? It is so important that He is willing to cause people to speak in foreign languages just to give others a chance to hear the message of salvation in their own language. On the day of Pentecost, three thousand people were born again because they heard about their salvation in Jesus Christ in their own language.

And how was it done? Was it up to Peter’s effort and effectiveness? Not at all! The disciples were empowered by the Holy Spirit to do this great work. They only had to be ready and willing to be used by God. So that leaves us with one question today–are we ready and willing to be used by the Holy Spirit for great things? It is my prayer that we all are preparing our hearts and minds by firmly rooting ourselves in God’s Word. Also, that we are prayerfully offering ourselves to God to be used by Him in any way He sees fit.

Peace!

Pastor Tom