Jesus began to do and teach….

Started a new series on the book of Acts and so I thought I would share thoughts on some on what I have learned. 

Acts 1:1 says; The first account I composed, Theophilus, about all that Jesus began to do and teach.  Thinking about verse 1, we see a key word for understanding the book of Acts and that is the word "began." Luke in the gospel dealt with all that Jesus began to do and to teach until after his resurrection and his ascension into heaven. The gospel of Luke ends with the ascension of Jesus into heaven and in Acts he starts just before the ascension of Jesus into heaven and moves forward. Luke shares that this was the beginning of the teaching ministry of Jesus. Jesus’s earthly ministry was just the beginning of the teaching and actions of Jesus.

I want you to understand what Luke says here. What Jesus did on the earth was only the beginning of His doing and teaching. The clear implication is Jesus had just started. Right now, Jesus is seated at the right hand of the Father, He is not finished as we so often think, but is He is continuing. He is not done and not dead as some think but He is alive and He is present and He was and is and will continue to do and teach until His return. What is seen in the life of the Son of God in human flesh, is the sacrifice of Himself for our sin on the cross, His mighty resurrection and His ascension to the Father’s right hand and that is just the beginning. One of the main points of the book of Acts is that Jesus is not dead and done but He continues. The book of Acts is not just the Acts of the Apostles; but it is also The Acts of the Risen and Living Jesus. Jesus began doing and teaching and He will continue his doing and teaching until the Father sends Him back for the Church.

Let me explain it like this. Whatever Paul accomplished for the kingdom, it was Jesus doing and teaching. Paul in Romans 15:18-19 says: For I will not presume to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me, resulting in the obedience of the Gentiles by word and deed, in the power of signs and wonders, in the power of the Spirit; so that from Jerusalem and round about as far as Illyricum I have fully preached the gospel of Christ. Note the same pair of words: Christ worked through me "by word and deed." Jesus is speaking and acting through Paul. He is alive and building His church. That is what the book of Acts is about and that is why it is relevant for us today. Jesus is still alive and He will always be alive! He is still speaking and working and building His church and saving souls. How is Jesus doing this? He is doing this through us and we need to avail ourselves to Him so he will work through us!

So are you availed to Christ?  What is Christ doing in you right now?

Chasing the Bus

We are now back to the time of year when our kids, grandkids, or friends kids go back to school. For me, when this time of year rolls around is when I get asked about a particular story that happened to me three years ago. Sometimes we need a good a laugh and we need to remember to not take ourselves too seriously and with that let me remind so and tell others for the first time – the story of the Pastor who chased the bus.

It was the first day of school and out third month here in Sedley. In the past I have worked at the church where our kids went to school and so that rode with me each day but now they were going to be riding the school bus. Mckayla was older so she walked over by the church and caught the bus without any problems and she would be getting off there. Wendy and I took Luke over there and he caught the bus and the drive said she would drop him off closer to our house – at the corner of Magnolia and First Street. I liked that idea – we did not have to walk as far.

The end of the day came and it was soon time for the bus to drop off Luke. Mckayla had already been dropped off and had gone in the house. Wendy and I standing where the bus driver told us to when we see a bus go flying past the church toward the Sedley Store. I thought it might have been Luke’s bus but was unsure. Wendy and I talked about it for a quick second and I said, “you stay here I will see if that was his bus ”. I began to briskly walk down First Street which turned into a light jog and by Dee and Dave’s Mushroom house I was in a full run. I get to the Sedley Store and as usual there were a group of men there. I asked them about the bus and I did it trying to not seem worried that Luke was on it and I believed did not know where to get off.

As I am talking to the men at the store another school bus comes from toward the Firehouse. It gets to us and Luke is sitting in one of the windows. He smiles at me and waves and I feel a sense of relief until the bus turns down Peachtree! I began to literally run after the bus. The bus stops and the Felt boys get off at their house. I had almost caught up to the bus at this point but then it takes off again. I kept running after the bus but was I was not in very good shape and slowing way down and the bus was way ahead.

At this point a church member pulls up in his truck. He was sitting with the group of men at the Sedley Store watching me run like a crazy man all over Sedley. He says to me “Preacher, can I give you a ride somewhere?” We talked for a second and decided that the bus most likely would circle around and end up at the church and so he brought me to the church. I get out and tell him thank you for the ride at which point the bus goes past me and stops right in front of Wendy. Luke gets off the bus like nothing ever happened. Me on the other hand was sweating profusely and was seriously winded from literally running all over town.

The moral of this story is – this preacher sometimes looks a bit crazy. Also though, if I would have just listened to the bus driver and trusted what she said, it would have saved me a whole lot of embarrassment and a whole lot of literally running around. The same is true for each of us and the Bible, if we would just listen to what the Bible tells us and trust what it is tell us; it will save us a whole lot of embarrassment and running around in life that we could avoid.

Have you ever chased a bus?

Benaiah And Courage

Let me continue with sharing on David’s Mighty Men of David from 2nd Samuel 23 and in this post we will look at verses 20-23: 20 Then Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, the son of a valiant man of Kabzeel, who had done mighty deeds, killed the two sons of Ariel of Moab. He also went down and killed a lion in the middle of a pit on a snowy day. 21 He killed an Egyptian, an impressive man. Now the Egyptian had a spear in his hand, but he went down to him with a club and snatched the spear from the Egyptian’s hand and killed him with his own spear. 22 These things Benaiah the son of Jehoiada did, and had a name as well as the three mighty men. 23 He was honored among the thirty, but he did not attain to the three. And David appointed him over his guard.

I must confess, my favorite among David’s mighty men is Benaiah. He was the son of a valiant man name Johoida who had done mighty deeds himself. Benaiah killed two sons of Ariel of Moab which compared to the other mighty men who had killed 300 enemies may not seem that impressive, but there’s much more that Benaiah did.

We read here that he descended into a pit on a snowy day to kill a lion and succeeded! Thinking this through, does this sound like something you would really want to do? What do you think the odds would be if you were to fight a lion? How about fighting a lion in a pit? How about in the pit with a lion on a snow covered floor? Most people in their right mind run from lions not chase after them. The Bible does not tell us if Benaiah had any sort of weapon but do you think it would have really mattered? Weapon or not weapon this was more than dangerous. In spite of all the obstacles and difficulties, Benaiah succeeded and his courage clearly is seen in the act.

But there is yet another incident which our author reports where Benaiah battled an impressive Egyptian man. The problem for Benaiah was that he encountered this impressive fellow at a time when he had no weapons. The Egyptian had a spear like that of Goliath and was eager to do battle with Benaiah. Benaiah went down to the Egyptian, with only a club in his hand and taking the Egyptian’s spear from his hand, Benaiah then proceeded to finish him off with his own weapon, not unlike the way David killed Goliath with his own sword. He was a courageous warrior and a man who fought for his King!

The amazing thing about Benaiah is that he was the son of a levitical priest which would put him in line to be a priest – 1 Chronicles 27:5 tells us this: The third commander of the army for the third month was Benaiah, the son of Jehoiada the priest, as chief; and in his division were 24,000. We would not expect a levitical priest to take on lion or to take on others and fight anyone for that matter. Here was a priest willing to dirty his hands and put his faith into practice. Perhaps it was as a reward for his faithful service that David put him in charge of his bodyguard. Benaiah was a man of great courage – like we should all be but are we? Are we willing to step into dangerous places and allow the Lord to work? Are you willing be courageous for Christ? Sadly, many are not willing to step out. Many are unwilling to show their courage. Will you?

How are you currently stepping out in courage right now?

I apologize for the slackness in posts and in responding but live is moving quickly right now – been preaching revival services,  preparing sermons, visiting the hospitals, ect.  – it has been crazy – praying for a slower weekend.

Selflessness, Service, and 3 Mighty Men

In the last post we started looking at some of David’s Mighty men and today we will look at a story of three of David’s men and their courageous act.  Look at 2nd Samuel 23 verses 13-17: 13 Then three of the thirty chief men went down and came to David in the harvest time to the cave of Adullam, while the troop of the Philistines was camping in the valley of Rephaim. 14 David was then in the stronghold, while the garrison of the Philistines was then in Bethlehem. 15  David had a craving and said, “Oh that someone would give me water to drink from the well of Bethlehem which is by the gate!” 16  So the three mighty men broke through the camp of the Philistines, and drew water from the well of Bethlehem which was by the gate, and took it and brought it to David. Nevertheless he would not drink it, but poured it out to the Lord; 17 and he said, “Be it far from me, O Lord, that I should do this. Shall I drink the blood of the men who went in jeopardy of their lives?” Therefore he would not drink it. These things the three mighty men did.

The writer of Samuel shares a story of these might men before David became king and while he was still fleeing from Saul. The “cave of Adullam” is first mentioned in 1 Samuel 22:1. This cave is where David located after he fled from Gath. It is where a number of his family and friends joined him as well as others who were also out of favor with Saul and where David’s band of mighty men first started. At some point in time, David and his men were in this cave while they were at war with the Philistines. The Philistines had taken possession of David’s hometown of Bethlehem and were camped there. David then said in passing that he would love a drink from that well in Bethlehem because of how good the water was from it.

So what happened was that some of his men heard what David said and decided that they would provide for their leader whatever he wanted. I do not see it that he had given orders to fetch him the water from that well or even intended that anyone to get him water from the well, but to these three brave men, David’s wish was their command. The men left the safety of the cave, went 12 miles or so to Bethlehem, broke through the enemy lines, drew water for David, and came back 12 miles to bring it to him. When presented with this water, David did what seems unusual; he refused to drink the water, and instead poured it out on the ground. This is not because he disdained the efforts of these courageous men or because he did not wish to drink it but his actions demonstrated that he wanted to honor the courage of those who obtained it. David never intended to put these men’s lives at risk for his own desires because that kind of devotion that was showed to him was the kind of devotion that belonged to God. Pouring this water out before the Lord was David’s highest expression of appreciation and regard for these men. The water was a symbol of the blood these men nearly shed, serving him. The highest use to which this water could be put was the worship of God, and so David poured it out to the Lord in worship.

Do you have the courage and selflessness to do what these men did? They selflessly served. Do you selflessly serve or do selfishly serve? Selflessness is not caring about your wants or preferences but about others and their needs. Selfishness is only worrying about what you want and your preferences and nothing about what is the best for others. Which describes you? The Christ like attitude is that of selflessness because selflessness shows real courage.

How do you guard against selfishness?  What is a story of how someone served you selflessly?  Do you see service as an act of worship?

Mighty

In Chapter 23 of  2 Samuel we see some of David’s Mighty Men and their courageous acts looked at by the writer.  This week, I hope to post on them  because in them we can see the courage that these men had but more than that we can see how mighty our God is.

Take a moment and look 2 Samuel 23 verses 8-12: These are the names of the mighty men whom David had: Josheb-basshebeth a Tahchemonite, chief of the captains, he was called Adino the Eznite, because of eight hundred slain by him at one time; and after him was Eleazar the son of Dodo the Ahohite, one of the three mighty men with David when they defied the Philistines who were gathered there to battle and the men of Israel had withdrawn.  He arose and struck the Philistines until his hand was weary and clung to the sword, and the Lord brought about a great victory that day; and the people returned after him only to strip the slain. 11 Now after him was Shammah the son of Agee a Hararite. And the Philistines were gathered into a troop where there was a plot of ground full of lentils, and the people fled from the Philistines. But he took his stand in the midst of the plot, defended it and struck the Philistines; and the Lord brought about a great victory.

Here we see David’s three mightiest men. They are Josheb, Eleazar, and Shammah. First there is Josheb. Now with him there is a little controversy over how many enemies he killed. Here it says 800 and in Chronicles it says 300 – I have no idea which is the right number – but most likely one is a copyist error. Regardless if he killed 300 or 800 – it is a huge number of people to kill in a day! He is certainly a real warrior and courageous man who fought for his king!

Then we have Eleazar who was fighting with David against the Philistines. Apparently the Philistines were prevailing over the Israelites, at least through the eyes of many of the Israelite soldiers who fled before them. Eleazar seems to have been defending a field full of barley, which the Philistines may have intended to plunder or destroy. Eleazar is fighting alongside David, even though everyone else had fled – these two courageous men stood their ground. The Philistines fell before Eleazar, and he continued to fight to the point that his hand cramped, frozen to the sword. The battle was won, due in part to the courage and perseverance of Eleazar. When the people returned to the site of the battle, all that remained to do was to strip the dead of the spoils. Eleazar fought for his king and stood his ground!

The third of the big three is Shammah, the son of Agee. On this occasion, the Philistines were once again doing battle with the Israelites. They gathered for battle where a plot of land had a crop of lentils growing. Once again, it seems the Philistines want to deprive the Israelites of their crops. To win this plot of ground was to obtain necessary supplies and to deprive Israel of them. The people fled from the Philistines, but Shammah stood his ground and striking down a number of the Philistines. Again, a great act of courage showing love for king and country!

There is more to each of these stories because I left out a piece that is mentioned in verse 10 and in verse 12 which is: the Lord brought about a great victory that day. These men showed courage and because they did – God brought about a great victory! It is God who brings the victory. Every blessing, every victory, anything we have is brought about by God – never forget that but also do not forget that you also have to be sensitive enough to do as the Lord directs. You have to step out in courage. Are you willing to swallow your pride and step out in courage so that the Lord can bring about the victory in and through you? Are you willing to do that uncomfortable and right thing so that the Lord can work? The Lord will bring about the victory in your life as long as you are courageously putting yourself the position for Him to work! It is time that we did put ourselves in position for Him to work! Are you doing it – I challenge you to begin even now!

How are you putting yourself in a position for God to work?  What are you doing right now to put yourself in the position for God to bring you the victory?

Titles

2nd Samuel 23:1 – Now these are the last words of David. David the son of Jesse declares, The man who was raised on high declares, The anointed of the God of Jacob, And the sweet psalmist of Israel,

What we see here in this verse is that David shares some of  titles he has in life. He was The son of Jesse: Jesse was a humble farmer and this title shows David’s humble beginning. He was The man raised up on high: David allowed God to raise him up, so he could confidently rest in this title. He was The anointed of the God of Jacob: David was anointed by God, not by himself or merely by man but he had a unique empowering and enabling given from God. He was The sweet psalmist of Israel: David had a beautiful gift of eloquence and expression before God. This title shows of David’s deep inner life with God. These titles all reminded David of who He was; that he was more than just a king, he was a man of humble beginnings, a man raised up by God and set apart by God, and a man who had a deep relationship with God.

I have titles – I am a son, a husband, a father, a pastor, and some would say jokester.  They are all titles that I carry and they remind me of who I am and what God has done for me.  The greatest title I carry though is Son of God.

What are the titles that you have? Do they remind you of who you are? Do they remind you of what God has done for you? What about the title son of God or daughter of God? Are you living up to that title? What title are you living up to today in your life and what titles are you not living up to?

What is the greatest title you have and why do you consider that one the greatest and are you living up to it?

Tebow and Hot Coals

Read this article from the Baptist Press from Aug 17th 2012 -

TEBOW RESPONDS TO ESIASON’S CRITICISM WITH KINDNESS — Tim Tebow, now the backup quarterback for the New York Jets, took another hit from former NFL quarterback Boomer Esiason and responded in a way consistent with his solid faith.
“If I was the Jets, you want to know what I would do? I would cut Tim Tebow. I really would,” Esiason, a CBS NFL analyst and radio host, said Aug. 6 on WFAN’s Boomer and Carton Show. “I’m telling you right now I would, and I’ll tell you why I would: It’s just not in any way, shape or form benefiting this team.”
Esiason added that Tebow “has played some of the worst football that any quarterback has ever played in the history of the game.”
USA Today noted Esiason was 15-27 as the Jets’ starter from 1993 to 1995 and never took the team to the playoffs. Yet Tebow responded with kindness.
“I’ve heard nothing but great things about Mr. Esiason. I know he was a great player here, and I just wish him nothing but the best in his announcing, and God bless him,” Tebow said after practice that day.
Tebow uses criticism as motivation, he said.
“And when I get my opportunities, try to make the most of them, just be the person that I am and not let that get me too excited or too down, but just be who I am and go out there and work as hard as I can every day and try and improve and be the best football player/quarterback I can be,” the Heisman Trophy winner said.
Woody Johnson, the Jets’ owner, said he was surprised by the enormity of the coverage Tebow attracts and he disagrees with Esiason. “I think Tim is going to be a valuable part of this team moving forward,” Johnson said, according to the New York Daily News.

I read this article and really began to think about how Tebow responded and my reaction to his reaction was what a godly response!  Rick Warren mentioned this article in a tweet and then added Luke 6:28 and pastor Rick nailed it with a great verse: bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.  So often we think we are justified to shoot off our mouths if someone speaks poorly of us and truth be told – some of us think it is justified to shoot off our mouths just because we do not like someone or something.  In worldly wisdom that fits as the right thing to do but in the realm of godly wisdom – we are bless those who curse us.  My mind goes to Romans 12:20 – “ But if your enemy is hungry, feed him, and if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.”

So here is the deal – if someone speaks poorly to you or of you, if someone gets under your skin, if someone is mean spirited to you – bless them, give them a drink, and heap hot burning coals on their head!  Let us all have godly reactions and not fleshly ones.  (A side note to this– let us not be the one speaking poorly of others)

What do you think about Tebow’s response?   What is your normal response when someone speaks poorly of you? How are you at heaping hot coals on others heads? How are you at blessing those that curse you?