Monday, December 28, 2015


Jesus is gone.  10 days after ascension = Pentecost - beginning of the church.
Acts 3:1-26 - shortly after Pentecost - these are Jews - still following the Jewish ways, even though are now followers of Christ.  Lame man - leaping because he had never walked before.

Peter's Message = "Repent!!"  - turn to God

Note:  last week = John the Baptist.  Message = "Repent!"
Before that - Acts 2 - "Repent!"
Primary message of the Old Testament prophets = "Repent!"

All these messages were to God's own people - believers in God.

Question:  Why so prevalent?  Recurring?  Answer:  because so important (necessary to God's plan/intent for us)

Definition of repent = turn or return.
includes:  turning from (sin/s)
              turning to (God/'liness)
Don't have the full gospel message if doesn't include "repent"

Note:  message often - "Repent AND be Baptized" - Acts 2:38 - John the Baptist
Because  #1 to Repent and turn = show of faith
BUT #2 - Baptized = public declaration of that faith.  (formal/public act)

Why Repent?  -  2 Basic reasons:
         I)  to AVOID DISASTER (detriment/destruction)
        II)  to ENCOUNTER BLESSING (benefits)

Note:  this = true both Along the way - (life)
          and in the End (death)

Acts 3:19 -"Repent then and turn to God so that...."

#1.  Your sins may be wiped out" - (erased, forgiven)
**This does NOT eradicate sinful behavior, does correct your sinful standing!!
Contrast:  Positional & Practical Righteousness

#2.  Your relationship be set right (with God)
positional rightness? - Rom. 8:15-17 - Spirit of sonship

#3.  Blessings may ensue (follow0 (result)  Acts 3:26
 Example:  Mal. 4:5-6
NOTE:  "blessing" does NOT mean carefree/pain free/trouble free Life!!
               Blessing = His Presence and favor in spite of  and in the midst of
Example:  Paul's thorn in the flesh
There is no promise that blessings will be what you want!

#1.  Sinful behavior cannot result in blessing  (cannot achieve good by doing bad) - example:  Adam and Eve.
#2.  Short term experience may suggest otherwise, BUT results should be measured long-term.
Example:  there may be short term highs and exciting times, etc, but always going downward.
 #3.  (repeat) destruction or blessing is true both along the way life) and in the end. death)
From Moses:  Deut. 30:15, 19  - choose life that you and your children might live.


Tuesday, December 22, 2015

John the Baptist - Herald of the Visitation

Luke 1:1-25, 57-80
Luke 1:1-4 = this is eye witness stuff.  5 - 25 - Zechariah was of the priestly order of Aaron.  Due to the number of priests that served, a priest was chosen by lot to burn incense on the incense altar.  He could expect this to happen only once in his lifetime.  This was Zechariah's time.
Vs. 57-80 - John fulfilled the last prophecies in the last verses of the last book of the Old Testament.  There had been 400 years pass since those prophecies were given.

John's role - preparing the people for a Visitation of God
ie:  a coming ...... stop in, drop by, show up, make an appearance, etc.

God's Visitation includes:
1)  Incarnation
2)  Return
But also =
3)   Any time God drops in

4 Divisions of Visitation

#1.  Corporate Visitation - (He comes to Israel/to Us)
#2.  Individual Visitation - Zechariah, Elizabeth, Mary, Joseph
#3.  Initial Visitation - drawing for salvation
#4.  Subsequent visitation - Note:  John's audience = mostly believers already!!!

John's Message (sermon) on Preparing 'self for Messiah's Visitation:
I.  Repent
II.  Prepare
III.  Produce

I.  Repent = turn around, about
Elements of Repentance:
A)   recognition of your sin(s)
B)  Contrition = sorrow for sin(s)
C.  Conversion = turning around - no salvation without conversion

NOTE:  1).  Initial repentance  (drawing for salvation)
             2).  subsequent Repentance = recognize, readjust, return - Note:  Johns audience were believers.
We have to re-recognize sins.

II.  Prepare  usually refers to "heart" - sensitivity, openness - which = wide range!!
So, Boil down to:  PRE-SUBMISSION   ie:  submission Prior to Visitation - Example:  Mary - chosen because she had pre-submitted.  "behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word."

Observation: = those with prepared hearts are 1st. to recognize and accept Messiah.
If we can stay in a state of submission to Him, then are ready for visitation.

III.  Produce - Matt. 3:8   (roughly a third of John's message)
Fruit = outward evidence  - actions are reflection of the heart that matches the profession
Call = produce evidence PRIOR to and in anticipation of His Visit!!!  (examples:  Parables of Master's Return)  - never know when it will happen

Point:  #1.  He will Visit
          #2.  the Visit will Not be neutral!!
The result will be either - A)  Blessing (mercy, goodness)
                OR                 B)  Judgment

What we NEED:
Personal Evaluation - Is heart really prepared???

Monday, December 14, 2015

The First Church

Pentecost - when all signs and wonders by the apostles took place, Peter's message, verification of the gifts of the Spirit.   People heard, and believed and the first church was born.
Acts 2:40-45 - not communal living, but sharing of goods, etc.  Was not commanded, just did it
Acts 4:32, 34-35
Acts 2:46-47 - the new church (gathering) of believers

the early church did NOT get all things right.  Example:  church at Corinth - 1st. Corinthians is 15 chapters about stuff they were doing wrong.
However, the above passage = commendation (here God was approving of what was going on by signs),


Here's What They Got Right!

"They devoted themselves" - Acts 2:42 - dedicated, committed, applies themselves
Means:  A)  EFFORT (put work into it)  and B)  SELF-DISCIPLINE
Devotion underlies it all!

They devoted themselves to:
        A)  The Apostles' teaching (doctrine)
Why???  a)  they were with Jesus from the beginning
              b)  they were chosen and appointed BY Christ!
This = fundamental - always been recognized and built on by the church orthodox.

       B)  THE Fellowship - the brotherhood, fraternity, community - the group, the body
And so devoted themselves to - a)  gathering (we need each other) - Heb. 10:25 - not commanded, just did it.
                                                 b) the atmosphere at the gathering (Koininia) feel welcome
                                                 c)  the well-being of the body (sharing) - local and universal body

      C)  The Breaking of Bread - Lord's Supper?  Agape Meal?  Christian Meal?
Either way = gathering, fellowship, corporate worship

      D)  The Prayers - ie:  to the Act and Action of praying

      E)  Concern for One Another - *generosity, sharing) - not explicit in text but implied as result of the others.

 CONSEQUENCES  (results)
#1.  Dramatic activity of the Holy Spirit - many signs, many miracles, many wonders by the apostles attributed to God,
#2.  Everyone, not just the Christians, was filled with awe.
#3.  The Lord added daily those being saved
#4.  They enjoyed the favor of all the people

Wow!!!  Church as it should be!!!!   Yes....... BUT:

#1.  The miracles wane (thru Acts and Epistles) - constant lessening of miracles
#2.  Favor with the people becomes tension and persecution
#2.  Even their generosity causes problems.  Acts 6:1  2 Thess. 3:11-12

So, As we strive for what we should be, let us also recognize ...

I.  God, the Holy Spirit, is Sovereign.
On one hand, we can create an environment that is "Spirit-friendly"
On the other hand, we cannot assume or manipulate His work(s)
God is Sovereign - the LORD added daily.

II.  It requires more devotion to maintain a church than to establish a church 
Compare to marriage:  fresh, exciting, fulfilling, no baggage

III.  A church will never be any better (or any worse) than its members.
A ____________ church is made of _____________ people.

Whether the Spirit moves in a mighty way is God's business.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Points for Us from Peter's Sermon

Lead up:  Acts 1:1-9, 12, 13 - "I" = Luke - vs. 4 - important to today's text.
Three signs:  wind = audible, tongues of fire = visible, unknown languages = audible.  These three always recognized by the Jews as manifestation of God's presence.  That it happened here = validation of the messengers

Text:  Acts 2:1-24, 32-33, 36-41 - 10 days later - Pentecost = very Holy day - to celebrate giving of the Law, etc.  Note:  Acts 2:36-41 - apostles didn't have to give the invitation, the people did!


I.)  Acts 2:36 - God has made Jesus both Lord and Christ

ie:  A.  God conferred the titles of Lord and Christ on Jesus - (not the apostles, church, tradition)
     B.  God confirmed the message - Rom. 1:4

IF Peter is wrong?  then what?
BUT, IF Peter is right?! - then  #1 - Christ IS the way to God
                                                #2 - Christianity is the way to live! - the Bible - His instructions to us.

II.)  Acts. 2:36 - This promise is for you and your children. - not just for the apostles and first century people.
ie:  Promise of:  A)  forgiveness, reconciliation, salvation
and,                  B)  the Holy Spirit - "with you".....  Regardless of sensation(s)!!!
1 Kings 19:9-13 - illustration:  Elijah on Mt. Horeb - God spoke in a still, small voice!

III)  Acts. 2:38 - Repent and Be Baptized
Question:  what if haven't been "called"?  (Acts 2:39)
But if have been called....
      A)  Repent = turn and begin to walk the other way
      B)  be baptized = show - death, burial, resurrection - public declaration
     C) - in the name of Jesus Christ = identify with person of Jesus

(unbelievers scoff, ridicule .... believers REPENT!!)

IV.  Acts 2:40 - Save Yourself
On one hand, (obviously) can't procure, secure your own salvation
However, you CAN accept the salvation offered  (example:  life boat)
*Note:  (vs. 40) - "from  this _________ generation"
King James Version reads 'untoward' - ie:  not inclined to go the right way.
Who are you going to believe? follow? run with? buddy up to?
The influences are legion to lead us the wrong way.

Conclusion??   Acts 2:41 - "those who accepted were...."
       #1.  Baptized - (identified with Christ)
       #2.  Added to ..... (associated with a church....) = people of God.  Are NO Lone Ranger Christians.