Category Archives: Evangelism

Acts, Chapter 2.

Verse 1

When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.”  Acts 2:1

There’s several things that jump out at me about this verse:  1)  The “Day of Pentecost”, 2) the words “fully come”, and 3) that they were all with “one accord”.

What was the “Day of Pentecost”?  From what I have read, it took place 50 days after the Feast of the Firsfruits.  According to J. Vernon McGee, the Feast of the Firstfruits speaks of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.   “But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.  For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead.  For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive.  But each one is his own order:  Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ’s at His coming.  Then comes the end, when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father, when He puts an end to all rule and all authority and power.  For He must reign till He has put all enemies under His feet.  The last enemy that will be destroyed is death.”  1 Corinthians 20-26 

The Passover speaks of the death of Jesus Christ:  “…For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us.  Therefore, let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.”  1Corinthians 5:7-8

The words “fully come”, again according to Dr. McGee, could be translated to mean “fulfilled”.  The Passover was fulfilled in the death of Jesus Christ.  The Feast of Firstfruits was fulfilled in the resurrection of Jesus Christ.  Now, the Day of Pentecost, being “fully come” (aka fulfilled) means that it represented the fulfillment of something — the birth of the church, the day the church came into existence.

So, in order to understand the timeline…..

  1. Jesus was crucified.
  2. 3 days later, He was resurrected.
  3. For 40 days, He walked upon the earth, resurrected.  (Acts 1:3)
  4. He then ascended into heaven. (Acts. 1:9)
  5. 10 more days passed.
  6. On the 50th day (Pentecost) the church was born and the Holy Spirit arrived.

  Continue reading

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Acts, Chapter 1

Wow!  I didn’t realize that I was going to write four posts before even getting to the first Chapter!  Thanks for sticking with me so far :0)

Now’s the part where I make observations, ask questions, and depend on all of you to help me with the answers.  This past Sunday’s message by Bro. Mike spoke of a warning.  He made a statement about many people taking verses of scripture out of context, and I really pondered on that for a bit.  My earnest intention is to not do that, but if I should stray, please help bring me back on the right track.  I am by no means an educated theologian, and many times rely on information that I have picked up by reading commentaries or hearing the opinions of others.  I’m just a normal gal, desiring to further my walk with the Lord as I study through Acts, and if by some way I am able to share it with any of you in writing these posts, I pray that God will use this blog as a tool for your growth and walk with the Lord to deepen.  So, please forgive me if I make a mistake, or miss something in the “big picture”. 

Chapter 1 – The “Who”

As I understand it, Luke, the physician, supposedly wrote the book of Acts.  He is writing to a Gentile believer named Theophilus an account of the information he had gathered about Jesus.  Luke, apparently, was not an eye-witness to the events but gathered undisputable evidence of all that had happened.  Continue reading

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Act as Witnesses.

“But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”  Acts. 1:8

Where is Jerusalem?  Our hometown, our community

Where is Samaria?  The “other side of the tracks”…people we don’t usually associate with on a day-to-day basis.

Where is the end of the earth?  I like the bible translation that says the “uttermost” part of the earth.  It is from one pole to the other pole….from east around the globe to the furthest west…every people, every nation, every tribe, every human on the earth — the uttermost furthest distance you can imagine on the planet earth.

I have never been one to skip to the ending of the book without reading through it first, but in this case, I want to point out something.  Having read several commentaries, it seems that the end of the book of Acts has no proper ending.  It ends with Paul in his own rented house in Rome. 

I just picture Paul, sitting at a table in his room, reading the scriptures and preparing for his next mission.  He is studying, and praying and interceding for the lost people that he, himself persecuted.  He hardly sleeps, is filled with the power of the Holy Spirit, and very attentive to God’s voice.

The camera pulls back, ending the scene with this image.  You just know that Paul is about to run out the door to his next adventure, when the ending credits starting scrolling and the symphony starts playing…

Ugh! …..want more?!  Yes!  Bring on the sequel!!!

If we watched a movie with this scene at the end of it, there would no doubt be a feeling of incompleteness.  It’s like one of those really, really, good movies that just leaves you hanging at the end!  

In this case, however, there is no proper ending.  Why?  Because the mission of God’s people is incomplete.  It is a continuing story.  We are to continue in the same work as Paul — into Judea, Samaria, and the Uttermost.

The work, as Acts 1:8 points out, is to be a witness of “Me”.  The “me” is Jesus Christ, but what message is it that He wants us to convey?  A witness of what? 

The research I have done tells me that He is speaking of the resurrection.  It is the center and heart of the message.  Without the resurrection, all work and miracles Jesus had performed would have been in vain.  Without renewed life, the testimonies and accounts of Jesus’ life would mean nothing.  He would have been just another man. 

However, He was not a man. 

“I and My Father are one.”  John 10:30

He was God, in flesh, who experienced all the guilt of our sins, endured a torcherous death, but then fulfilled the greatest feat no man has ever been able to do….he came back to life!  He was resurrected, just as the prophecies of old had described!  He is alive — even today!  Now THAT’s something to get excited about 🙂

We are to be witnesses of THAT GREAT MIRACLE…the Resurrection of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  It is the center and heart of the church’s message.

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Acts, the Gospel Funnel.

Here we go with the definitions again :)…

funnel – A conical utensil with a small hole or narrow tube at the apex used to channel the flow of a substance into a container.

The book of Acts, as J. Vernon McGee points out, is like a funnel.  Prior to Acts, we see the four gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.  All four of these books end with a significant aspect of Christianity which, together, flow into the funnel of Acts where we see God’s plan for the church. 

The last recorded fact in Matthew is the Resurrection.  Mark ends with the Ascension.  Luke closes with the promise of the Holy Spirit, and John proclaims the second coming of Jesus Christ. 

Like the above definition, the book of Acts serves as the funnel used to channel the flow of these four events into one container, the church.  It is in Acts when the church receives birth, then direction and life instruction from our Lord.  The container –the vessel used to reach the lost, lies within the church, God’s people.

It’s like getting bits and pieces of information, and then deciding what to do with them.  We’ve been given the gifts of the Resurrection, Ascension, Holy Spirit, and Promise of Christ’s return.  What are we going to do with them?  Or better yet….what does God want us to do?

The answer is found in Acts 1:8:

“…you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

We are instructed to be a witness, just as the original apostles were, of the birth, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  This is undoubtedly the purpose of the church as found in the book of Acts.

It is my overall understanding that the book of Acts was written by Luke, the physician, although I did read one opinion that said it wasn’t conclusively Luke. 

I have also read that Luke wasn’t an actual witness to the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ, but must have extensively compiled research and evidence of the things he wrote about in the book of Luke and Acts. 

What do you think?  Was Luke the author? Also, what does being an apostle mean?  Is an “apostle” the same as a “disciple”?   

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Acts is a Verb.

The word, acts, is defined as:

  1. To play the part of; assume the dramatic role of.
  2. To perform on the stage
  3. To behave like or pose as; impersonate
  4. To behave as suitable for.

These definitions could assume a lot about the typical church goer.  Definition #1 often describes those who “play” church.  Unfortunately, many people make a point to go to church, but fail to truly connect.  They play the part of a dedicated Christian on worship day, they might even assume the dramatic role of a dedicated church member by fulfilling a needed task here or there.  However, “playing” church does not a church member make!  As for drama, there’s quite a bit of that evident in today’s churches as well.

Definition #2 could be compared to worship ministries in many churches.  Sadly, there are many men and women today who stand before the congregation, performing to the audience, rather than for God.  Speaking personally, I can relate with this one because there was a time in my life that God spoke abruptly and directly about leading worship.  Prior to that direction, the Sunday “specials” were only special to me, because I looked for the pat on the back or the praise from the congregation in order to boost my self confidence and reputation.  I realized that I wasn’t looking to lead others into worship toward God, but to show off the talents that God has so graciously given me.  What an eye opener it was for me!  In response to His direction, I forcefully pulled myself away from the music ministry all together until I could get the “big picture”.  Worship is for God, to be directed to God, and should be displayed in such a way as to only lead others to God.   Performances  should be left outside the church.

To impersonate, as definition #3 says, would say that the action is not real.  Need I say more?  God knows those who impersonate real Christianity.  He knows the very hearts of every man, woman, and child.  Appearing at church on Sunday, then living life without God during the week is nothing but impersonation.  I pray for all the impersonators who try to trick themselves into believing that they can do good for a day, and then share in eternal happiness.  They just don’t get it. 

Finally, definition #4 leads us to exhibit true Christianity in the church.  When we behave as suitable for a Christian, we are following the example of Christ.  The word, Christian, which even has His own name in it, means “Christ-like”.  We cannot BE a Christian without Christ.  A personal relationship with Him is the only way that we can be a true member of the church.  The only membership directory is that of the Lamb’s book of life.  The meeting place is the world in which He placed us.  The services are held 24/7, right in front of our faces where we encounter lost people day in and day out.  The mission is to tell them about Him.  When we are practicing these aspects of church membership, we are truly a church member.

Acts is a verb, requiring act-ion on the very ideas we proclaimed to believe when we said that we accepted Christ as Lord of our life.  It’s a verb.  What actions do you have planned for today?

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The Case for Claus.

  

I know I’m most likely opening up for all kinds of interesting and critical comments, however, we’re talking “Santa” today and I would love to know your thoughts.

In the age of commercialism, parents continue to respond to the question, “Do we or don’t we participate in the Santa tradition?”  No matter how you answer this question, it seems that everyone has a passion-filled answer.  Those “for” Santa are often seen as lying to their children.  Those “against” Santa are often seen as depriving their children.   

So…let’s tackle this  (in a loving manner) and speak our hearts, sharing the decisions each of our families have made regarding the jolly old elf.

Santa’s history:

From what I understand, Santa arrived as a result of the legacy of Saint Nicholas, a 4th century Christian bishop in Turkey.  He was very rich and devoted his life to Christianity.  He was known for his missional acts of helping the impoverished, even going as far as donating dowries to three daughters so that they would not have to become prostitutes.  He also threw gifts through windows into homes of impoverished children. I read one site that said he spent his entire inheritance helping others in need.

Much information about Saint Nicholas is filled with legendary tales of good deeds done in the name of Christ, and seem overwhelmingly to sustain a reputation of goodness and Christ-like behavior.

Although his image and characteristics have evolved into the red coated, white haired, slightly overweight, and infectiously happy old elf, the continuous reputation for goodness seems to have not faltered through the years.

My position:

As an adult who grew up in the Santa culture, it was never a question whether I would pass along this tradition to my children.  Many, many fond memories flood my mind when I think back on past Christmas mornings. 

I remember waking up to find my stocking filled, a few gifts, and the feeling of love, warmth and surprise all at once as I curiously sifted through my Christmas goodies.  We didn’t always receive alot, but it was enough to know that it was a special day, and that “someone” cared enough to secretly deliver gifts. 

I know there are instances where children were really devastated to learn the truth of Santa’s legend, but honestly I don’t even recall my parents telling me.  I have good memories of Christmases as a child receiving the affections of Santa, and then my memory skips to good memories of Christmases with the knowledge that came after. 

Both ways, I just have good memories of Christmas.

My parents did not particularly place extraordinary attention on the real meaning of Christmas in my younger years.  We went to church, regularly worshipped and proclaimed Jesus as Lord, however, I don’t have memories of consistent focus on the message of the first Christmas.  That could be due to the fact that my father wasn’t a practicing Christian during my childhood.  Thankfully, my mother continued to raise me in the church and affirmed the necessity of faith in God.

So…when I became a parent I made two choices:  1) to continue the participation of my children in the Santa legend, but 2) to focus Santa’s efforts and gifts toward Christ, rather than away from it. 

We chose to continue Saint Nicholas’ drive to show others that Christ can love through him (and us).  Just as we are to provide for the impoverished at Christmas time and all through the year, we use Christmas time to show our children that a special effort can be made to show someone you love them. 

Our “Santa” lives on in the spirit of the acts of Saint Nicholas and through the commands of God to live as Christ lived. 

Our “Santa” knows who is on the nice and naughty list because Jesus tells him, not because Santa has a magical all-knowing power.

Our “Santa’s” mission is to spread love and goodness to all the world each Christmas Eve, and then strive to continue those same traits through the year.

Our “Santa” prays at the cross.

Is it a lie?  I don’t believe so.  Saint Nicholas lives on in the hearts of Christians all over the world who want to please God.  Our participation in this traditional act provides fun, a little mystery, and excitement at an already wonderful time of year.  Our grown children seem to have enjoyed it, and exhibit some of the lessons we learned through Christmas’ past.

I’ve seen the older girls be especially concerned for others at Christmas time, participate in food drives and Angel Tree efforts.  There’s been much discussion about the gratitude and contentment for the awareness of blessings God has provided our family.  Although the two girls now don’t believe “Santa” is still living and breathing in bodily form, they understand that his acts were commendable.

Christ’s position:

WWJD?  What would Jesus do to end this debate?  Honestly, I don’t know.  Each one of us must choose the path we feel like our family is to follow.  In my feeble mind, as long as the path begins, follows, and ends with Jesus, it’s the right path.  If Santa, in all his goodness, and through all the television commercials, mall pictures, and parades, becomes anything more than a servant of God, it is the wrong path. 

Only Jesus is the true giver of gifts worthy of receiving.  Our material things, clothing, housing, food, and yes….even our toys are blessings from the Lord.  May we all remember to never take them for granted. 

God be glorified through you, a disciple of Christ, whose mission is to spread the gospel of Christ, the good news of salvation through Him, and in a manner that provides for those less fortunate at Christmas time and all throughout the year!

Spread the Love of the Lord in your stockings, through your yard decorations, in your checkbook, and beneath the bows of your Christmas tree.   After all… the first six letters are what’s it’s all about.

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Duct Tape Doesn’t Stick.

” When you pass and come back to let me know that I am not on the list to get into heaven then I will have a problem with my life and do some things differently

Such heartbreaking words.  Heartbreaking because they were received by a sister in Christ, from her sister in the world.  Such bitter, angry, words…from the unknowing, from the natural, and the carnal.

We are all called to tell of the love of Christ.  We are to make concentrated, purposeful efforts to reach those around us. — Our friends, our neighbors, our daily contacts, but perhaps the hardest ears to hear continue to be our blood relatives.  Continue reading

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