Tag Archives: Acts

Justified

Acts 13:39 – and by him everyone who believes is justified from all things, from which you could not be justified by the law of Moses.

There’s a few words that the Bible uses that aren’t usually a part of our everyday language – words like sanctified, justified, redeemed etc.  But when we understand what these words mean it can really help us grasp what God has done for us.

In this verse we read that by Christ, everyone who believes is JUSTIFIED from all things, and that we could not be JUSTIFIED by the law of Moses.  What does it mean to be justified?

imageMost word processing programs like Microsoft Word have a series of buttons that let you align the text.  You can centre it, or push it left or right.  But there’s one button which is called ‘justified’.  When you click, it pushes out the edges of your text to the margins, giving a nice even flow down the page. 

It’s not a bad illustration of what it’s like when God justifies us.  The page margins are like perfection, and the words we type are like our thoughts and deeds.  They don’t measure up to perfection, often falling short.  But when God justifies us, it’s like He makes up the missing difference to make us perfect. 

The law of Moses can only point out our sin, showing us where we fall short.  It has no power to make us righteous or to clean us up.  But through His sacrifice on the cross, Christ now JUSTIFIES us – and even if we fall short – by His grace and mercy HE makes up for it and presents us before God the Father as perfect. 

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He’s At The Door! (The Process Of Answered Prayer)

Acts 12:12 – Thinking about that, he came to the house of Mary, the mother of John whose surname was Mark, where many were gathered together and were praying.
Acts 12:13 – When Peter knocked at the door of the gate, a maid named Rhoda came to answer.
Acts 12:14 – When she recognized Peter’s voice, she didn’t open the gate for joy, but ran in, and reported that Peter was standing in front of the gate.
Acts 12:15 – They said to her, “You are crazy!” But she insisted that it was so. They said, “It is his angel.”
Acts 12:16 – But Peter continued knocking. When they had opened, they saw him, and were amazed.

The apostle Peter is in prison, and on death row by the hand of Herod.  So the early church is praying hard out for him to be released and for God to intervene.  There’s a bunch of things in this little passage about PRAYERS GETTING ANSWERED!

1) God was working on the answer to the prayer while they were still praying

The people didn’t know it – but while they were in their prayer meeting, God was at work in Peter’s prison cell.  He’d already made it out while they were still praying!  This demonstrates the power of prayer!

Last night I found about a stunning answer to prayer in a situation I’d been praying pretty hard for.  It was such a reminder that we should continue to pray and never give up!  The devil will do anything he can to try to get us to a place where we feel like prayer doesn’t count or isn’t powerful. 

But not only that – the answers to our prayers are often taking place where we can’t even see them.  The people were unaware that Peter was already walking free as they continued on in their prayer. 

2) Can You Hear Your Miracle Knocking?

There would have been a bunch of church heavyweights at the prayer meeting – but it was the maid who heard the knock at the door.  I’m sure that the prayer meeting would have been pretty noisy as all these people cried out and interceded.  But in the midst of the noise we’re making about our troubles or issues – could it be that God has already released our answer and we don’t even know about it? 

It reminds me of the story in 2 Kings 7 where the four lepers went out and discovered that God had routed the enemy of Israel, while everyone else was still stuck inside the city fearing for their life.  Yesterday Paul Saunders spoke at The River about Jacob saying ‘God was in this place, and I didn’t even know it’. 

I don’t think it was an accident that the maid noticed before the spiritual heavyweights… it’s because she would have been listening!  Stay attuned to what is happening around you… God may have already answered your prayer!

3) Rejoice Before You See

The maid didn’t even see Peter’s face – she just heard his voice.  That was enough for her – and leaving the poor apostle locked outside she runs back to the prayer meeting to bring the good news.  Elijah didn’t see the rain, he just ‘heard the sound’, and saw a cloud the size of a man’s hand.  That was enough for him! 

Miracles will start to speak before they appear – things begin to change, a good report starts to come.  Yet the maid didn’t open the door.  The door speaks of our heart – sometimes when God starts to answer our prayers, we still don’t actually open our hearts.  We leave them closed because we maybe we’ve been hurt before. 

4) Don’t Be Surprised If People Think You’re A Fool

Every person who has been seriously used by God has gone through a process by which others thought they were a fool before God answered their prayer.  This prayer meeting of the early church – the place where people are getting healed and miracles are happening all the time – called the maid crazy because she believed that the prayer they’d all been praying had been answered!

4) Expect Answers To Your Prayers

I think it’s very telling that this group of people were having a prayer meeting for something that they obviously didn’t believe was going to happen!  In fact, they have more faith that it’s Peter’s angel than Peter got out of prison!  And if it was Peter’s angel knocking on the door – why didn’t they go ahead and open up the door, rather than calling the maid crazy?! 

5) God’s Answers Will Keep On Knocking

God knows that we’re not always the sharpest at picking up on when He’s doing something.  Fortunately for us, He doesn’t just knock once – but keeps on knocking!  He calls us to be persistent in prayer with Him, because He’s persistent with us! 

Preparing For Encounter

Acts 10:1-3 – “Now there was a certain man in Caesarea, Cornelius by name… a devout man, and one who feared God with all his house, who gave gifts for the needy generously to the people, and always prayed to God. At about the ninth hour of the day, he clearly saw in a vision an angel of God coming to him, and saying to him, "Cornelius!"

If we want to have experiences with angels and the supernatural power of God, Cornelius is a good man for us to look at.  His way of life kept Him before God and set him up for a visitation! 

This passage gives us 4 traits of his life:

1) He was a devout man – the word ‘devout’ means righteous or godly – one who is determined and fixed on living a life that honours God.  Such a life doesn’t just happen by itself, but is a result of hard choices and decisions to put God first in everything.  The Lord promised us that we would find Him when we sought Him with all our heart (Jeremiah 29:13) – the devout life commits to this search, and reaps the benefit as a result. 

2) He feared God with all his house – his fear of God was not limited to Himself, but he demonstrated it in such a way that his whole house also followed in his example.  Although we don’t live righteously to be noticed by those around us, true righteousness will inevitably affect those around us. 

3) He gave gifts for the needy generously – he used his money wisely and in accordance with what God commanded.  He was generous in his giving.  The Lord promises us that if we look after the needy, then God’s light will break out among us (Isaiah 58). 

4) He always prayed to God – Cornelius brought God into every situation, and he brought every situation to God.  Prayer was the hallmark of Cornelius’ life.  A supernatural life is without exception a life soaked in prayer. 

The Lord is looking for those whose hearts are completely His – so that He can strongly support them!  We’re called to desire the ‘greater gifts’, but the way to the greater gifts is to do the basics well!

An Impacting Life

Acts 19:1-3 – “It happened that, while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul, having passed through the upper country, came to Ephesus, and found certain disciples.  He said to them, "Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?" They said to him, "No, we haven’t even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.".  He said, "Into what then were you baptized?" They said, "Into John’s baptism."

It’s clear that John the Baptist had bigger goals and ambitions than simply making a name for himself.  Eating locusts, wearing camel-hair clothing, and basing yourself in the middle of the wilderness is hardly the modern recipe for success in ministry!

Instead, John’s focus was all about preparing the way for Jesus.  When the Lord appeared, John said “He must increase, I must decrease”.  His desire was that the spotlight would remain on the One to whom it truly belonged.

So it’s interesting then, to see that as Paul passed through Ephesus – that there were a group of disciples there who hadn’t heard about the Holy Spirit, but had received the baptism of John.  John’s life had an impact into areas far beyond where he had ever travelled, and into lives that he never even met.

This should give us encouragement for our own simple obedience to the Lord each day.  That little bit of hope that we gave, the prophetic word we mustered up the faith to bring, that young person we led to the Lord – we have no idea just how God will use what we bring to impact and affect people far beyond what we can see with our eyes!  Chances are, there are people all around you who’ve been either directly or indirectly affected positively by your own life and message!  Who knows the places they will go and the people they will bless as a result? 

Ultimately, it should lead us to a place of great peace and contentment.  We don’t have to MAKE our lives impacting in order to lead a life of impact.  God takes care of that.  A life of impact is simply a life of obedience!

Confronting The Lies

Acts 18:28 – for he powerfully refuted the Jews, publicly showing by the Scriptures that Jesus was the Christ.

Apollos was a powerful Christian teacher who lived at the same time as Paul the apostle.  We see here that he ‘powerfully refuted the Jews’ using the Word of God. 

There’s a saying about preaching – “Leave people mad, sad, or glad – but never the way you found them”. 

Speaking the truth can sometimes make others upset or angry because lies have a tendency to grow deep in our hearts and require us to change our ways in order for them to be removed. 

But if we diminish the challenge of the gospel, we also diminish the power of the gospel.  Don’t be afraid of speaking up for the truth – ultimately people will be glad that you did!

The Perfect Storm – Pt I

Acts 27:18-20 – As we labored exceedingly with the storm, the next day they began to throw things overboard.  On the third day, they threw out the ship’s tackle with their own hands.  When neither sun nor stars shone on us for many days, and no small storm pressed on us, all hope that we would be saved was now taken away.

The apostle Paul was on a ship bound for Italy when a massive storm blew up. 

As the crew dealt with the storm – they began to throw things overboard so that the ship may not be wrecked.  By the third day of struggling with the storm – the crew through out the tackle with their own hands.  This was their way of fishing, and thus being able to feed themselves.  But the storm had become so great – that they were forced to abandon their means of provision.  There was now no way that life could be sustained on the ship if the weather did not turn around.

The storms of life are good for us in that they show us what really matters.  We begin to ask ourselves what we really need in our lives!  There are often things that we cling to when things are tranquil – but when storms blow up we realise that we don’t actually need them, and they are a hindrance – rather than a help. 

Paul and his shipmates ended up in a position where they were forced to rely on God.  And although there is more to the story – the end is that they made it through!!  Just like we will!

Say It Anyway!

Acts 6:10 – They weren’t able to withstand the wisdom and the Spirit by which he spoke.

There can be a temptation for us to hold back from proclaiming the truth and ‘arguing’ with those who are in the wrong. 

But the early apostles never held back from arguing for what was right.  They performed signs and wonders, and then they boldly proclaimed the truth.  In this case it was the wisdom and Spirit by which Stephen spoke which stirred them up. 

So don’t be backward in arguing for the faith!  You might feel like it’s like pouring out water on a stone, but the Word of God has intrinsic power within it – you never know what it may be accomplishing!!