Important Messages

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The Book of ACTS

Upon studying how the early church in Acts lived day-by-day, I noticed that their lives were marked by the following actions: preaching fearlessly, speaking boldly, proving from the Scriptures, arguing persuasively, teaching publicly, fulfilling their duty to God, convincing, proclaiming, addressing crowds, talking, debating, telling, healing, reasoning, persuading, explaining, declaring, standing up, not hesitating, completing the task, being ready to die, warning others, and praying.

My goal has been to see and understand how the early church went about fulfilling the command to “make disciples” (Matthew 28:19-20) and to “go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.” (Mark 16:15). Seeing their boldness, obedience, and daily consistency leads me to ask myself “how would I fit into that early church if they were here today?” What would I think of people today who were as bold as they were, who did all the things they did day-by-day, week after week, year after year? Would we recognize them as our own, join arms with them, or cast them out as fanatics? Maybe a better question is “would they recognize us as their own?” I know what I’d like my answer to be, but do my daily, weekly, and yearly activities and priorities reflect the Scriptures. Rather than using my own words to describe the early church, I wanted to let the Scriptures speak for themselves. I have added bold emphasis in some places.
Acts 2:14 – 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 3:12 – When Peter saw this, he said to them: "Men of Israel, why does this surprise you? Why do you stare at us as if by our own power or godliness we had made this man walk?
Acts 4:1-2 - The priests and the captain of the temple guard and the Sadducees came up to Peter and John while they were speaking to the people. They were greatly disturbed because the apostles were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection of the dead.
Acts 4:8 – Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them: "Rulers and elders of the people!
Acts 4:13 – When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.
Acts 4:19-20 – 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 4:29 – Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness.
Acts 4:31 – After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.
Acts 5:20-21 –"Go, stand in the temple courts," he (the Lord) said, "and tell the people the full message of this new life." At daybreak they entered the temple courts, as they had been told, and began to teach the people.
Acts 5:25 – Then someone came and said, "Look! The men you put in jail are standing in the temple courts teaching the people."
Acts 5:42 – Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Christ.
Acts 7:2-59 – To this he replied: "Brothers and fathers, listen to me! The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham while he was still in Mesopotamia, before he lived in Haran…
Acts 8:4-6 – Those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went. Philip went down to a city in Samaria and proclaimed the Christ there. When the crowds heard Philip and saw the miraculous signs he did, they all paid close attention to what he said.
Acts 8:12 – But when they believed Philip as he preached the good news of the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women.
Acts 8:25 – When they had testified and proclaimed the word of the Lord, Peter and John returned to Jerusalem, preaching the gospel in many Samaritan villages.
Acts 8:29-30 – The Spirit told Philip, "Go to that chariot and stay near it." Then Philip ran up to the chariot and heard the man reading Isaiah the prophet. "Do you understand what you are reading?" Philip asked.
Acts 8:40 – Philip, however, appeared at Azotus and traveled about, preaching the gospel in all the towns until he reached Caesarea.
Acts 9:20 – Saul spent several days with the disciples in Damascus. At once he began to preach in the synagogues that Jesus is the Son of God.
Acts 9:27-29 – But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles. He told them how Saul on his journey had seen the Lord and that the Lord had spoken to him, and how in Damascus he had preached fearlessly in the name of Jesus. So Saul stayed with them and moved about freely in Jerusalem, speaking boldly in the name of the Lord. He talked and debated with the Grecian Jews, but they tried to kill him.
Acts 11:19-20 – Now those who had been scattered by the persecution in connection with Stephen traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus and Antioch, telling the message only to Jews. Some of them, however, men from Cyprus and Cyrene, went to Antioch and began to speak to Greeks also, telling them the good news about the Lord Jesus.
Acts 13:5 – When they arrived at Salamis, they proclaimed the word of God in the Jewish synagogues. John was with them as their helper.
Acts 13:16 – Standing up, Paul motioned with his hand and said: "Men of Israel and you Gentiles who worship God, listen to me!
Acts 14:1 – At Iconium Paul and Barnabas went as usual into the Jewish synagogue. There they spoke so effectively that a great number of Jews and Gentiles believed.
Acts 14:6,7 – But they found out about it and fled to the Lycaonian cities of Lystra and Derbe and to the surrounding country, where they continued to preach the good news.
Acts 14:14-16 – But when the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard of this, they tore their clothes and rushed out into the crowd, shouting: Men, why are you doing this? We too are only men, human like you. We are bringing you good news, telling you to turn from these worthless things to the living God, who made heaven and earth and sea and everything in them.
Acts 14:21 – They preached the good news in that city and won a large number of disciples. Then they returned to Lystra, Iconium and Antioch…
Acts 14:25 – and when they had preached the word in Perga, they went down to Attalia.
Acts 15:35-36 – But Paul and Barnabas remained in Antioch, where they and many others taught and preached the word of the Lord. Some time later Paul said to Barnabas, "Let us go back and visit the brothers in all the towns where we preached the word of the Lord and see how they are doing."
Acts 16:6 – Paul and his companions traveled throughout the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been kept by the Holy Spirit from preaching the word in the province of Asia.
Acts 16:10 – After Paul had seen the vision, we got ready at once to leave for Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them.
Acts 16:13 – On the Sabbath we went outside the city gate to the river, where we expected to find a place of prayer. We sat down and began to speak to the women who had gathered there.
Acts 16:17-18 – This girl followed Paul and the rest of us, shouting, "These men are servants of the Most High God, who are telling you the way to be saved." She kept this up for many days. Finally Paul became so troubled that he turned around and said to the spirit, "In the name of Jesus Christ I command you to come out of her!" At that moment the spirit left her.
Acts 16:25 – About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them.
Acts 17:2 – As his custom was, Paul went into the synagogue, and on three Sabbath days he reasoned with them from the Scriptures…
Acts 17:13 – When the Jews in Thessalonica learned that Paul was preaching the word of God at Berea, they went there too, agitating the crowds and stirring them up.
Acts 17:17-18 – So he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and the God-fearing Greeks, as well as in the marketplace day by day with those who happened to be there. A group of Epicurean and Stoic philosophers began to dispute with him. Some of them asked, "What is this babbler trying to say?" Others remarked, "He seems to be advocating foreign gods." They said this because Paul was preaching the good news about Jesus and the resurrection.
Acts 17:22 – Paul then stood up in the meeting of the Areopagus and said: "Men of Athens! I see that in every way you are very religious.
Acts 18:4-11 – Every Sabbath he reasoned in the synagogue, trying to persuade Jews and Greeks. When Silas and Timothy came from Macedonia, Paul devoted himself exclusively to preaching, testifying to the Jews that Jesus was the Christ. But when the Jews opposed Paul and became abusive, he shook out his clothes in protest and said to them, "Your blood be on your own heads! I am clear of my responsibility. From now on I will go to the Gentiles." Then Paul left the synagogue and went next door to the house of Titius Justus, a worshiper of God. Crispus, the synagogue ruler, and his entire household believed in the Lord; and many of the Corinthians who heard him believed and were baptized. One night the Lord spoke to Paul in a vision: "Do not be afraid; keep on speaking, do not be silent. For I am with you, and no one is going to attack and harm you, because I have many people in this city." So Paul stayed for a year and a half, teaching them the word of God.
Acts 18:19 – They arrived at Ephesus, where Paul left Priscilla and Aquila. He himself went into the synagogue and reasoned with the Jews.
Acts 18:25-26 – He had been instructed in the way of the Lord, and he spoke with great fervor and taught about Jesus accurately, though he knew only the baptism of John. He began to speak boldly in the synagogue. When Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they invited him to their home and explained to him the way of God more adequately.
Acts 18:28 – For he vigorously refuted the Jews in public debate, proving from the Scriptures that Jesus was the Christ.
Acts 19:8-10 – Paul entered the synagogue and spoke boldly there for three months, arguing persuasively about the kingdom of God. But some of them became obstinate; they refused to believe and publicly maligned the Way. So Paul left them. He took the disciples with him and had discussions daily in the lecture hall of Tyrannus. This went on for two years, so that all the Jews and Greeks who lived in the province of Asia heard the word of the Lord.
Acts 19:13 – Some Jews who went around driving out evil spirits tried to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who were demon-possessed. They would say, "In the name of Jesus, whom Paul preaches, I command you to come out."
Acts 19:26 – And you see and hear how this fellow Paul has convinced and led astray large numbers of people here in Ephesus and in practically the whole province of Asia. He says that man-made gods are no gods at all.
Acts 20:7 – On the first day of the week we came together to break bread. Paul spoke to the people and, because he intended to leave the next day, kept on talking until midnight.
Acts 20:20-21 – You know that I have not hesitated to preach anything that would be helpful to you but have taught you publicly and from house to house. I have declared to both Jews and Greeks that they must turn to God in repentance and have faith in our Lord Jesus.
Acts 20:24-27 – However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the gospel of God's grace. "Now I know that none of you among whom I have gone about preaching the kingdom will ever see me again. Therefore, I declare to you today that I am innocent of the blood of all men. For I have not hesitated to proclaim to you the whole will of God.
Acts 20:31 – So be on your guard! Remember that for three years I never stopped warning each of you night and day with tears.
Acts 21:13 – Then Paul answered, "Why are you weeping and breaking my heart? I am ready not only to be bound, but also to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus."
Acts 21:28 – shouting, "Men of Israel, help us! This is the man who teaches all men everywhere against our people and our law and this place. And besides, he has brought Greeks into the temple area and defiled this holy place."
Acts 21:39-40 – Paul answered, "I am a Jew, from Tarsus in Cilicia, a citizen of no ordinary city. Please let me speak to the people." Having received the commander's permission, Paul stood on the steps and motioned to the crowd. When they were all silent, he said to them in Aramaic…
Acts 23:1 – Paul looked straight at the Sanhedrin and said, "My brothers, I have fulfilled my duty to God in all good conscience to this day."
Acts 26:19-20 – "So then, King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the vision from heaven. First to those in Damascus, then to those in Jerusalem and in all Judea, and to the Gentiles also, I preached that they should repent and turn to God and prove their repentance by their deeds.
Acts 26:29 – Paul replied, "Short time or long—I pray God that not only you but all who are listening to me today may become what I am, except for these chains."
Acts 28:23 – They arranged to meet Paul on a certain day, and came in even larger numbers to the place where he was staying. From morning till evening he explained and declared to them the kingdom of God and tried to convince them about Jesus from the Law of Moses and from the Prophets.
Acts 28:30-31 – For two whole years Paul stayed there in his own rented house and welcomed all who came to see him. Boldly and without hindrance he preached the kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ.

Acts 2:14, 3:12, 4:1-2, 8, 13, 19-20, 29, 31, 5:20-21, 25, 42, 7:2, 8:4-6, 12, 25, 29-30, 40, 9:20, 27-29, 11:19-20, 13:5, 16, 14:1,6,14, 21, 25, 15:35-36, 16:6, 10, 13, 17-18, 25, 17:2-2, 13, 17-18, 22, 18:4-11, 19, 25-26, 28, 19:8-10, 13, 26, 20:7, 20-21, 24-27, 31, 21:13, 28, 39-40, 23:1, 26:19-20, 29, 28:23, 30-31

Friday, June 18, 2010

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Mobil or Shell?

On our way home from dinner at my mom's tonight we were low on gas and needed to stop. There were two gas stations on opposite corners, Shell was cheaper, but Mobil was more accessible and would allow me to get on the freeway easier when we left. Thus, I pulled into Mobil to get some gas. Soon after pulling in, we found out the real reason why God had ordained that we go to the Mobil station.

As soon as I got out to pump gas, I was approached by a man who by all appearances was homeless. The first thing he did was apologize for talking to me and then proceeded to ask me for a quarter. I told him I didn't have any cash on me, but that I would buy him something inside the store if he needed anything. I told him I'd be right with him once I got my gas pumping. Once I got my gas pumping, I walked over to him and he was sitting on the curb. He said, "whatever you want to get is fine," and I said, "nope, you're coming in with me, let's go." So we walked into the store and I made sure he got two sandwiches and two drinks not just for today, but for tomorrow. He kept saying "you saved my life man, you saved my life, I haven't eaten for two days, you saved my life." I told him, "Jesus said, it's more blessed to give than to receive, and I didn't save your life, God did."

After paying for the food and walking outside I asked him if he knew where he would spend eternity if he were to die tonight. He said, "I hope heaven." I shared with him that we have all transgressed God's law, and that Jesus Christ died in our place so that God could dismiss our death sentence on Judgment Day. If we repent (turn) from our sin and trust in Jesus Christ alone for salvation, then God will grant us everlasting life and we will go to heaven when we die. I gave him a gospel tract to read and he said he would hold onto it forever and that he'd never forget me. As he continued to say "you saved my life" I reminded him that God saved his life and that God loves him more than he could ever imagine. He then said, "tell God I'm sorry for all the things I've done." I told him to tell God himself, he loves you, and and will forgive you if you confess your sin to Him (1 John 1:9). I told him, there's no sin so big God can't forgive you for it.

He then told me that he was from Cleveland, that his wife left him because of his drinking problems, and that he had lost his house. He would do anything to get back there if he could. My mind wondered what this man must have looked like a year or two ago, where he used to work, what he used to wear, the car he used to drive, and the house he used to sleep in everyday. But here he was, in old torn clothes, with dirty and cut up hands, unshaven, shoes failing and with weeds and bushes hanging off of his clothes. I so wanted to help this man more, but I didn't know what to do. So I gave him my personal contact card which has my email address and website on it. I told him, if he ever got to a computer or someone let him use their phone for email, to email me and that I would love to do whatever I could to help him out.

And so, we parted our ways. He walked up the street, turned and looked back, and waved to us as we pulled away. His name is Jerry. God knows him, God loves him, and I pray God watches over him wherever he is at tonight. He's got two sandwiches a Gatorade, and a water....He also has a gospel tract. Please say a prayer for Jerry as often as you remember.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Door to Door

Recently, on my way home from work, I was riding my bike and there were two Mormon missionaries on their bikes in front of me. I actually got excited when I saw them because I knew I would eventually catch up with them and be able to talk to them. I rode alongside them for about ten minutes, asking them some questions about their faith and then we stopped because we had to go different directions. One thing I confirmed when talking with them was that they are only allowed to call home twice a year, and it’s always on Mother’s Day and Christmas. Why would they only allow them to call home twice a year? It is an interesting restriction considering Mormon families seem to be very family oriented.

After listening to them for a little while I was able to share the Gospel with them. One thing I learned was that they can't go to the Celestial Kingdom unless you keep the 10 commandments. Since no one on the earth has ever done that besides Jesus, I asked them where they were going to go. Once I brought them through the Ten Commandments, they admitted they had broken them, and they even admitted their prophet here on earth today hadn't kept them. I don't think they wanted to admit that, but they didn't have a choice. After we looked at the Law, they knew that even their prophet has lied, stolen, lusted, and blasphemed at some point in his life. At that point, I was able to share with them what Jesus Christ did for them so that they wouldn't have to go to hell and could go to heaven when they die and that nothing we do can ever make us right with God. After all, if their own modern day prophets haven't kept the Commandments and won't be able to go to the Celestial Kingdom, what hope do they have of ever going there. It was a good conversation. They took my name and number and said they'd send some missionaries by my home to talk further. Their names were Hoggan, and Selezar.

True to their word, they sent some other missionaries by and I have been able to meet with them at my home twice since then. They are very nice, very sincere, young men, but they have the wrong answer for eternity. They are scheduled to come back in two weeks. Thus far, we have been discussing their view of Jesus Christ, the role of their prophet in their lives, the Bible, and other topics. Our next meeting, we will be watching a movie Good News for LDS that compares Jesus Christ and Joseph Smith and touches on many of the false teachings of the Mormon Church.

Next time you have some Mormons or Jehovah’s Witnesses knock on your door, I pray you take that opportunity to invite them in, love them, and help them see that they have been deceived. A great apologetic website that has helped me learn how to witness to people of different faiths is  Always Be Ready. Check it out sometime.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Time to Think...

Sunday morning we were getting ready to leave for Valencia and celebrate Memorial Day with my grandparents, uncles, aunts, and cousins. As I was taking out the trash and putting away the beach chairs and umbrella in my garage I saw a young man working on his motorcycle right across the street. Now earlier that morning I was at Church on the Beach and had brought some gospel tracts along just in case. As I was removing these tracts from my beach chair and heading back upstairs, I knew God wanted me to share the gospel with that young man working on his bike. So, I went over to talk with him.

As I began talking with him I learned that his name was Billy and he was prepping his bike for a ride from Redondo Beach to Boston sometime this week. We chatted for about 10 minutes about motorcycles, college, and road trips, and he told me he was looking forward to having lots of "time to think" while driving across the country. Speaking of thinking...I asked him what he thought happenned to us when we die. He told me he was raised a Christian, a pastor's son, and he thought he had a pretty good chance of going to heaven when he passed away, but wasn't completely sure.

John writes to us in 1 John 5:13 that we may know we have eternal life. "I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life." If he didn't know that, there is a chance he is not saved and I wanted to talk to him further to find out where he was at with his faith. As a pastor's son, he had seen hypocrisy between what his father taught and how he acted, he saw how people who call themselves Christians can be hypocritical, and this had made him question his faith and he was not sure of his salvation. My encouragement to him was not to let hypocrites keep him from the God of this universe who is crazy about him. Hypocrites are everywhere, they are at the malls we go to, the restaurants we eat at, the movies we go see, our workplaces, etc. If we don't let hypocrites keep us from going to malls, restaurants, and movie theaters, why would we ever let them keep us from the God of this universe, who loves us enough to send his only Son to die so that we may have eternal life! I left him with a gospel tract along with a tract for him to order a free book that deals thoroughly with the question of eternity.

My prayer is that he takes the time to read the gospel tract and really takes time to think as he travels across the country this week.

"Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent." John 17:3