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Friday, December 29, 2023

Acts 5:38-39

And now I say unto you, Refrain from these men, and let them alone: For if this counsel or this work be of men, it will come to nought: But if it be of God, ye cannot overthrow it; lest haply ye be found even to fight against God.

For further study - Acts 5:29-42

As we come to the fifth chapter of Acts we see recorded here, continuing persecution of the early church, in fact a church less than one year old was being persecuted.

In Acts 5:17-28 we see the record of the "second persecution", with the apostles being placed in jail for teaching about Jesus Christ and "The Way". It was while the apostles were in a "common prison" that an "angel of the Lord" released them and told them to "go, stand and speak", verse 20.

The High Priest and the Captain of the Temple gathered the apostles together and told them, "you have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine", verse 28. What a testimony it was for these men who were following the directions of Jesus Christ, given to them before He ascended into heaven.

Peter answered these Temple leaders, "we ought to obey God rather than man", verse 29. That is our call for today, as well, to obey God rather than men. Notice the wisdom of the one member of the council overseeing this incident, verses 34-39.

The man, a Pharisee named Gamaliel, had watched the entire proceedings and told the other Temple leaders, verse 38, "If this work is of men, it will come to nought". Gamaliel's next statement shows his great wisdom, verse 39, "but if it be of God you can not overthrow it; lest haply you be found even to fight against God".

What a profound statement. The statement was also prophetic, Isaiah 46:9-10. In retrospect we now know it was not of men but of God as Gamaliel said.

The last three verses of Acts 5 reveal how these handful of apostles spread the message of the gospel, the story of Jesus, around the world.

First of all, they rejoiced in the fact that they were to be found worthy of suffering shame for the name of Jesus, verse 41Verse 40 reveals to us that the apostles were actually beaten for preaching the gospel.

Their response to this persecution was that, as recorded in verse 42, these men went out "daily", not just on Sunday, but daily they went out to teach or preach Jesus. They also went into the "marketplace," in fact, onto the Temple Mount, to teach and preach Jesus. These men not only went "public" but they went "private" as they went to "every house" to talk to the people about the Lord.

Let me remind you once again of the message. They would "teach and preach Jesus Christ". They weren't teaching politics, social issues, war or no war, presidential elections, or any other issue except Jesus Christ, the Messiah, and what that meant to the Jews they were contacting.

This plan must have worked, look how the gospel has spread over these two thousand years. But wait a minute, the work is not done yet. We must work until He comes. We must today go out and follow the plan and preach Jesus to all people.

In fact, according to 2 Peter 3:12, we can hasten the coming of the Lord as we win people to Jesus Christ. The only reason the Rapture has not happened is that the Lord wants all to come to Him to be saved, 2 Peter 3:9. We must work the work that is dear to the heart of God, winning people to Jesus Christ for salvation.

PRAYER THOUGHT: Help me Lord, to be focused on the job of winning people to You and doing it in the way that You said, one by one.
Monday, December 25, 2023

Acts 4:11

This is the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner.

For further study - Acts 4:1-20

The book of Acts is not a book of doctrine but instead a record of the events of the "first century church". Acts 2 records the beginning of the "church" when on the "Day of Pentecost" those who believed were "added to the church", those whose belief led them to salvation in Jesus Christ.

As we come to Acts 4 we see a detailed account of the first persecution to come upon the church. This persecution would come from the people in Jerusalem, the priest, the captain of the Temple and the Sadducees.

It would be focused on Peter and John, two of the Lord's close disciples, who had healed a forty year old lame man as they went up to the Temple to pray.

The "big wheels" at the Temple, the High Priest and those of the kindred of the High Priest, these Temple leaders wanted to know how Peter and John had healed this "lame man".

Notice, here in Acts 4 the response to the official question of the healing. Peter, verse 8, had been filled with the Holy Spirit and that allowed him to develop into a man who was not only "inspirited" but also "innocent", verse 10.

Peter told the Temple leadership it was not him that healed the man, but Jesus, the one who they had crucified and who God raised from the dead, that's how the man was healed.

Not only were these two disciples "inspirited" and "innocent", of self-glory, but they were "ignorant" as well. Verse 13 describes the two disciples as "unlearned and ignorant men". However, they also recognized that Peter and John had "been with Jesus", verse 13.

The Temple leadership, fearing that the fame of these men might spread, told Peter and John not to preach in the name of Jesus anymore.

Now, verse 20, I love this verse. Peter said to the High Priest and his kindred that they "could not but speak" the things which they had seen and heard, they were "spiritual can't-help-its".

Peter and John took "opposition" and through the "omnipotence" of God turned "opposition" into "opportunity" to preach the gospel when they had been told not to preach about Jesus Christ.

There is some great practical truth in our passage for today. There is also a prophetic significance in this account as well. Peter told the Temple leadership that Jesus was the "cornerstone", verse 11.

This is the "cornerstone" as foretold by the Psalmist, Psalm 118:22 ; by the prophet, Isaiah, Isaiah 8:14 and 28:16; and the apostle, Peter, I Peter 2:6-8. Jesus is the "cornerstone" of our faith and has been the "stone of stumbling" for the Jewish people and some Gentiles, both of which have not been saved.

Jesus will continue to be the "stone of stumbling" until He returns to the Earth to set up His eternal, earthly Kingdom.

PRAYER THOUGHT: Help me to be "a spiritual can't-help-it" and speak the things I've seen and heard to the lost, for their salvation.

Monday, December 18, 2023

Acts 3:21

Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began.

For further study - Acts 3:12-26

This extended devotional reading for today is the record of Peter's second sermon given after the Lord had gone back to heaven. This sermon has great prophetic significance and it is important for each of us to realize what the sermon is saying to the Jews and thus to the church as well.

This sermon, by the way, is an excellent proof text that the Lord has not finished with the Jewish people. He has a program for the Jews that will play out in the last days. This is a great argument against "replacement theology" which states that the Church, the body of Christ, has replaced the Jews in God's program for today.

Peter's sermon is given to the Jews, "ye men of Israel", verse 12. Peter tells the Jews that God has given His Son as the fulfillment of promises to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and they had killed the "Prince of Life" but God had raised Him from the dead, verses 13-15.

Peter tells the men of Israel that Jesus, because of His death, burial, and resurrection, was indeed the long-awaited for Messiah and Savior of the world.

God the Father sent His Son to die and fulfill all Old Testament prophecies about the coming Messiah. He also stated that Jesus would return to the heavenlies for a period of time before He would "fulfill all things which God had spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began," verse 21.

To fulfill all promises or prophecies given by God to the Jews would be a part of the end time scenario that would unfold, leading up to and, at the return of Jesus Christ back to the earth. The Lord has given four covenants to the Jews that must, and will be fulfilled at that time.

The four covenants include the "Abrahamic Covenant", a promise that there would be a Jewish nation with a piece of real estate that would belong to them forever, Genesis 12 and 15. The "Land Covenant", Deuteronomy 30, would guarantee land in the Middle East, 10 times the amount of land that the Jews now have in their possession.

The "Davidic Covenant", II Samuel 7, is God's promise of a king on a throne in a temple in Jerusalem, forever. The King of that kingdom who will be seated on the throne will be Jesus Christ in an earthly kingdom yet to come.

The last covenant to be fulfilled is the "New Covenant", Jeremiah 31:31 that is given to the Jewish people. It will be a forever covenant and will include all of the other covenants, as the Jewish people become His people and He becomes their God.

These covenants must be fulfilled; therefore, God does have a plan and program for the Jewish people that is in the process of being played out in our world today.

It is because He keeps these covenants, these promises to the Jews, that we can trust the Lord to keep His promise to us - His promise of eternal life.

However, before any of the end time prophecies that pertain to the Jewish people can be fulfilled the Rapture of the Christians must take place. With all the prophecies for the Jews at the point of being fulfilled, the Rapture must be close, perhaps today.

PRAYER THOUGHT: Thank you, Lord, for being a covenant-keeping God and giving me the proof of that truth in the Jewish people.

Saturday, December 16, 2023

Acts 2:22

Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know

For further study - Acts 2:1-24

As we approach a very controversial passage of scripture for our devotional reading today I would like to share several thoughts with you that may help each of us to understand better what actually did happen on that "Day of Pentecost" almost 2,000 years ago.

"Pentecost" is one of the seven Jewish feast days that God gave the Jewish people, the last of the four spring feasts. It was the day that the promise of Jesus was fulfilled as He said it would be, the Holy Spirit would come to the new converts of Christ, those who would be called Christian, John 16:7-13.

I would like for you to think about several thoughts I have gleaned in my study of this portion of scripture. On this particular "Day of Pentecost" there were Jews from "every nation under heaven", verse 5, in Jerusalem.

Pentecost was a "pilgrim feast day" and the Jews were required to come to Jerusalem to observe the "feast". This meant that all twelve tribes were in Jerusalem, no "ten lost tribes" were missing.

Also, please notice that on Pentecost there was no such thing as people speaking in "unknown tongues or languages". The passage gives us a list of all the languages spoken that day, verses 6-11.

By the way, notice what they were speaking in the languages of the peoples gathered there that day, verse 11, "the wonderful works of God". That phrase is interpreted in verses 22-24 where Peter, the preacher on the "Day of Pentecost", gave the Jews gathered in Jerusalem, the "gospel", the death of Jesus Christ, verse 23, and the resurrection, verse 24.

On this day "about 3,000 souls", verse 41, were saved. There is one more controversial item to deal with, Peter's reference to the Prophet Joel's prophecy, found in Joel 2:29-32.

I want you to know that whatever Peter was saying, he was not saying that Joel's prophecy was being fulfilled that day. It's interesting to note that nowhere in Joel's prophecy does it call for "speaking in tongues".

It does, however, call for "marvelous signs in the heavens" to happen, verses 19-20, and none of those things happened that day. What did happen, as Joel said, was that those "who called upon the name of the Lord", verse 21, did get saved.

One other thought about Joel's prophecy, verses 15-21, it could not have been fulfilled on that "Day of Pentecost" because the ancient Jewish prophet Joel said that this prophecy would be fulfilled during the "Day of the Lord".

That period, "The Day of the Lord", does not begin until after the Rapture of the Church and takes place during the lead-up to the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, during the Tribulation Period. That's what Joel's prophecy is describing in Joel 2, "the Day of the Lord", this is a prophecy yet to be fulfilled. (Please see my audio series on "Joel".)

The "Day of Pentecost" was a great day for me as a Gentile, it marked the beginning of the "Church Period", verse 47. From that day, until the Rapture, both Gentiles and Jews who come to know Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour are part of the "body of Christ", the Church, His bride.

It is this "bride", the Church, which Jesus will shout for to join Him in the heavens at the Rapture of the Church. There is no prophecy that must be fulfilled before the Rapture. All prophecy yet to be fulfilled will be fulfilled after the Rapture. The Rapture could happen today.

PRAYER THOUGHT: Thank you Lord for that special group, the Church, of which I am a part and whom You will call to be with You in heaven at the Rapture of the Church, which could happen today.

Thursday, December 14, 2023

Acts 1:11

Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.

For further study - Acts 1:8-14

This Scripture, the record of the ascension of Jesus back to heaven, has much to say about the events of that day recorded in Acts, but also about the future. This passage also lays out the plan Jesus had for spreading the Gospel to the world.

Jesus told them to "tarry" there until they had received the "power of the Holy Spirit" which He had promised, John 16, and then be "witnesses" of what He had done, around the world. This message was to go first to Jerusalem, then to Judea and Samaria, and then to the uttermost parts of the earth.

As soon as our Lord had given His disciples His method for spreading the Gospel, a cloud came and took Him up into heaven, Acts 1:9. The truth be known, on a clear day, I pray for clouds because the next verse says, "as He has gone, so shall He return in the clouds".

At that time, "two men in white apparel", Acts 1:10, standing there gave the confirmation that He would return in the same manner and to the same place, the Mount of Olives, Zechariah 14:4.

But please notice the two men in white apparel that gave us this information. I have an idea as to the identity of these two men. Before I tell you, please notice another verse in the Gospel of Luke also written by the author of Acts, Dr. Luke. In Luke 24:4 it records "two men also in white apparel" who told the Mary’s that Jesus was not in the grave but had risen from the dead.

I believe I know who these two men are also. They are the same two men of Acts 1:10. You see, these two men witnessed the resurrection of Jesus and His ascension into heaven and said He would return. These are the two witnesses of Revelation 11:3-12. These two witnesses preach 3 1/2 years from the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.

Their message will be that Jesus Christ resurrected from the dead and went to heaven but is coming again to the same spot where He departed. These two themes will be the message of these two witnesses, which will bring many to Christ during the coming Tribulation Period. I believe that time may well be in the near future.

Remember, before these "two witness" appear in Jerusalem the Rapture takes place. All current events seem to indicate that the prophetic scenario found in God’s Word for the end times is about to be fulfilled, right after the Rapture. Keep looking up…….. The Rapture could happen today.

PRAYER THOUGHT: Help me, dear Lord, to be your witness to a lost and dying world where I am, in Jerusalem and then to the uttermost parts of the earth.

Monday, December 11, 2023

Acts 1:3

To whom also he shewed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God.

For further study - Acts 1:1-7

Dr. Luke, the author of the book of Acts, has given us the account of the "post resurrection" days of Jesus Christ, His departure for the heavens and the history of the early church with all of its problems and blessings as the followers of Christ move out to spread the message to all the world.

As a prophecy student and teacher, I especially like this first seven verses of Acts because it focuses us on what Jesus thought to be a priority for Him as He spent 40 days with His disciples. Verse 3 explains that Jesus showed Himself alive after His resurrection for the 40 days leading up to His departure.

Verse 3 also reveals to us the subject of the teaching that Jesus gave His disciples for that almost 6-week period. Jesus focused on the things pertaining to the "kingdom of God" to come.

In fact, when asked, Jesus said He could not tell His disciples that it was the time for Him to set up the kingdom. The Lord told these inquisitive young men that only His Father knew when that day would be.

It is very interesting to me that Jesus spent the last six months of His life on earth teaching prophecy to His disciples. Then, with only 40 days after His resurrection, He again focused on prophecy.

It is also interesting to note that the last book of the Bible, Revelation, includes the letters to the "seven churches" of Asia Minor and each of these letters contain prophetic truth that the Lord's people need to know. Jesus put an importance on knowing the "truth of prophecy" for all those who follow Him.

Over 30% of the Bible is prophecy and that seems to indicate to me the emphasis that the Lord puts on prophecy. Any individual Bible study should include a study of prophecy. The study of prophecy will help us to understand the current events of our day. The study of prophecy also gives us an assurance that the Lord is still in charge of world affairs.

Jesus understood this, of course, so He taught His followers what the future would hold and what would give evidence of the time of His return. With the understanding that the Lord could return at any time these disciples went forth to turn the world of their day "upside down", Acts 17:6.

The Lord’s men, with only a promise that He would return went to action. How much more evidence we have that His return is so much closer than two thousand years ago. In fact, the evidence is overwhelming that the Rapture, the next prophetic event in God’s plan for the last days, could happen today. We must be like the first century Christians and get in the action for the Lord right now.

PRAYER THOUGHT: Help me to understand the days that I live in could well be the time of Your return Lord and therefore, help me to go out and turn the world "upside down".

Thursday, December 7, 2023

John 21:25

And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written. Amen.

For further study - John 21:12-25

To me this is an exciting passage of scripture for a number of reasons. The time is after the resurrection of Jesus Christ and the location is the shores of the Sea of Galilee, which is one of the most beautiful landscapes in all of Israel.

The disciples had been out fishing, verses 3-11, while the risen Saviour, Jesus Christ was on the shore actually cooking, preparing a meal for His disciples. I love His invitation to the disciples, "Come and dine", verse 12.

The opportunity to sit and have a meal with Jesus, the Messiah, would be such a blessing. One day we will join Him at the "Marriage Supper of the Lamb", what a day that will be for all of us who love Him.

There is a very interesting conversation that goes on between Jesus and Peter that gives us instructions for our own lives, if we appropriate this exhortation found in verses 15-17.

As we eavesdrop on the conversation we hear Jesus ask Peter three times if he, as a disciple of Christ, really loved Him. Each time Peter responded with, "Thou knowest I love thee".

The Lord's response to Peter was then for Him to "feed, My lambs", the ones that Jesus had given salvation. The exhortation from Jesus is, "If you love me, go work with those I have given eternal life". And as was the case with Peter, we will help them grow in their relationship with the Lord.

Another very interesting passage is the next part of the Lord's conversation with Peter, verses 18-24. In essence, Jesus says to Peter, that His trusted disciple, verse 18, would get old before he died.

Maybe at first glance you don't notice anything about this statement; however, as I thought about the fact that Jesus told Peter he would get old before he died meant that the Rapture could not have happened until after Peter's death.

A study of Acts reveals that Peter, along with the other disciples, believed that Jesus might come back to earth, after His ascension, at any moment. The truth be known, Jesus could not Rapture Peter out of this world, he was to die in old age.

What's exciting is that Peter worked as if the Lord could come at any moment and He went out with the other disciples and turned the world "upside down", Acts 17:6.

The personal application for us is that today, Jesus could call us at "any moment" to join Him in the air at the Rapture of the Church. We must follow Peter's example and go out and turn the world "right side up," it's already "upside down".

One more thought before we leave this passage, look at verse 25. All that Jesus did was not recorded for us to read in this book or any other book, only what He knew we needed to know.

The reason it was not written was that there is not a library, or even the world, that could contain all the books that should have been written about Jesus Christ. What a life Jesus lived.

PRAYER THOUGHT: Help me Lord to be faithful to read Your Word so I can "feed Your lambs" as I also feed myself and await Your shout to join You in the air.

Sunday, December 3, 2023

John 17:24

Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world.

For further study - John 17:1-26

Today's portion of scripture from the Gospel of John is the record of the "Lord's Prayer". But you may say, I thought the prayer, "Our Father which art in heaven", Matthew 6:9-13, was the "Lord's Prayer".

Actually the Matthew passage is the "Disciple's Prayer," the prayer that Jesus taught His disciples to pray. It's the model prayer for all of our prayers.

The extended reading for our devotional today, John 17, is the "Lord's Prayer". It is the prayer that Jesus made to the Father on His way to the Garden of Gethsemane, right after the "Last Supper", the evening before Jesus would be crucified in Jerusalem the next afternoon.

It is a prayer worth reading over and over again. There are so many Biblical truths that we can glean from these twenty-six verses. As is the case always, I can only point out a few of these blessed truths or principles that we can, and must, appropriate for ourselves.

Verses 1-3 tell us that Jesus is the "way", the only way to "life eternal", the One that God the Father sent to give us this "life eternal".

On the evening just before He would be crucified, the next day, Jesus told the Father that He, the Son, had come to the point of the "finished work," He had been sent to do in this world, verse 4.

We also get a glimpse of the Lord's "intercessory ministry" as He prays to God for those of us who are His children, through salvation, verses 6-10. The prayers of Jesus, to His Father, were for the Father to "keep us", in the world. This is a world we will live in until He calls us up to be with Him at the Rapture, or we die and go to be with Him, verses 11-12.

We are reminded that though "we are still in this world, we are not of this world", verses 15-16. The Lord's Prayer for us is that we be kept from evil, verse 15Verse 17 tells us how we can be "set apart", sanctified, in this word through His Word which is truth.

We see that as the Father sent Jesus into this world on a mission, we are also sent, by Jesus, into the world on a mission. I love verse 24. The Lord's Prayer to the Father is that those of us who are saved will be with Jesus, where He is, at this time.

This is a prayer that will be answered at the Rapture of the Church when we who are Christians will be caught up to be with Him in answer to the Lord's Prayer. I don't know about you but I can hardly wait for that to happen.

The Rapture could happen today, the Lord's Prayers could be answered today. Keep looking up, it could well be today.

PRAYER THOUGHT: Thank you Lord for Your prayers on my behalf and for Your intercessory ministry today. I await the day that Your prayer for me to be where You are will be answered as well, maybe today.