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Peter and John had just healed a cripple in the name of the Lord in front of the temple gates, (chapter three). They did this in front of thousands of witnesses, so many people saw the miracle take place. That included the Jewish priests, and they didn’t like it one bit!
In fact they had taken Peter and John, the apostles who performed the “wonder” into custody to question them about it.
“By what power or by what name have you done this?” they demanded, (4 V.7). You see, they thought they had put an end to the teaching and miracles which were done by Jesus Christ, for He had been crucified.
But Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit began to explain and preach about Jesus Christ to the entire crowd gathered in the temple colonnade. He said “If we are being judged for a good deed which we have done, let it be known that it was made so in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth whom you crucified, and whom God raised from the dead. It is by His hand this man is made well,” (4 VV. 8-10).
As we can imagine, the Jewish council cringed when they heard that! They immediately detained Peter and John and held them until the next day trying to decide how to handle the situation.
They wanted to physically punish the two apostles, of that there can be little doubt. But they were concerned of what the many people who had seen and heard the actions and words of the apostles might do. Some 5,000 believed in Jesus that day, (4 V 4).
So they gave them a stern warning not to teach or preach in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ ever again. But imagine the council’s surprise when their harsh warning was met with the answer which came from both Peter and John…
“Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you more than to God, you judge. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard,” (4 V 19). The audacity of this answer had to set the priests back on their heals!
After some more warnings from the priests, the apostles were turned loose and they returned to a gathering of the church. And what did they do once the apostles told everyone about what had happened to them? They all prayed to God for even more boldness to speak His word to all people, (4 V 29-30).
And when they had prayed their prayer, the place where they were assembled shook, and they were infused with more or the Holy Spirit and spoke the word with all courage and bravery, (4 V 31).
Prayer: Dear Lord…let we who are Your children find the fortitude to speak about You with every opportunity we have presented to us! May we learn a lesson from Peter and John that we need to stand up for You in this lost and dying world, now more than ever before. Give us the strength of our faith and conviction to use whatever gifts we have to tell others about our Savior in a humble but effective way. Be with us always in this endeavor…In the name of Jesus…Amen!
Refs: ~Google~ biblehub.com~ “The Holy Bible, NKJV, copyright, 1982 Thomas Nelson, Inc.”
Mark 1:9-11 “And it came to pass in those days, that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee, and was baptized of John in Jordan. And straightway coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens opened, and the Spirit like a dove descending upon him: And there came a voice from heaven, saying, Thou art my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”
Luke 3:21, 22 “Now when all the people were baptized, it came to pass, that Jesus also being baptized, and praying, the heaven was opened, And the Holy Ghost descended in a bodily shape like a dove upon him, and a voice came from heaven, which said, Thou art my beloved Son; in thee I am well pleased.
Matthew 28:19, 20 “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.”
Mark 16:16 “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.”
Acts 2:38 “Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.”
Acts 8:35-38 “Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus. And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized? And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him.”
Acts 16:31, 33 “And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house. And he took them the same hour of the night, and washed their stripes; and was baptized, he and all his, straightway.”
Romans 6:3-6 “Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.”
1 Corinthians 12:13 “For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.”
Galatians 3:27 “For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.”
1 Peter 3:21 “The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ:”
“Baptism separates the tire kickers from the car buyers.” ~ Max Lucado
“We may never be martyrs but we can die to self, to sin, to the world, to our plans and ambitions. That is the significance of baptism; we died with Christ and rose to new life” ~ Vance Haver
“God’s people should be baptized because God commanded it, not because some church requires it.” ~ John R. Rice
“Baptism is faith in action.” ~ Watchman Nee
A man’s daughter had asked the local minister to come and pray with her father. When the minister arrived, he found the man lying in bed with his head propped up on two pillows. An empty chair sat beside his bed.
The minister assumed that the old fellow had been informed of his visit. “I guess you were expecting me,” he said. “No, who are you?” said the father. “I’m the new minister at your church,” he replied. “When I saw the empty chair, I figured you knew I was going to show up.” “Oh yeah, the chair,” said the bedridden man. “Would you mind closing the door?”
Puzzled, the minister shut the door. “I have never told anyone this, not even my daughter,” said the man. “But all of my life I have never known how to pray. At church I used to hear the pastor talk about prayer, but it went right over my head. I abandoned any attempt at prayer,” the old man continued, “until one day, about four years ago, my best friend said to me, ‘Joe, prayer is just a simple matter of having a conversation with Jesus.
Here is what I suggest. Sit down in a chair; place an empty chair in front of you, and in faith see Jesus on the chair. It’s not spooky because He promised, “I’ll be with you always.” Then, just speak to Him in the same way you’re doing with me right now.’
So, I tried it, and I’ve liked it so much that I do it a couple of hours every day. I’m careful though. If my daughter saw me talking to an empty chair, she’d either have a nervous breakdown or send me off to the funny farm.”
The minister was deeply moved by the story and encouraged the old man to continue on the journey. Then he prayed with him, anointed him with oil, and returned to the church. Two nights later the daughter called to tell the minister that her daddy had died that afternoon.
“Did he die in peace?” he asked. “Yes, when I left the house about two o’ clock, he called me over to his bedside, told me he loved me and kissed me on the cheek. When I got back from the store an hour later, I found him dead. But there was something strange about his death. Apparently, just before Daddy died, he leaned over and rested his head on the chair beside the bed. What do you make of that?”
The minister wiped a tear from his eye and said, “I wish we could all go like that.”
After living what I felt was a “decent” life, my time on earth came to the end. The first thing I remember is sitting on a bench in the waiting room of what I thought to be a court house. The doors opened, and I was instructed to come in and have a seat by the defense table. As I looked around, I saw the “prosecutor.” He was a villainous looking gent who snarled as he stared at me. He definitely was the most evil person I have ever seen. I sat down and looked to my left and there sat My Attorney, a kind and gentle looking man whose appearance seemed so familiar to me; I felt I knew Him.
The corner door flew open and there appeared the Judge in full flowing robes. He commanded an awesome presence as He moved across the room. I couldn’t take my eyes off of Him. As He took His seat behind the bench, He said, “Let us begin.”
The prosecutor rose and said, “My name is Satan, and I am here to show you why this man belongs in hell.”
He proceeded to tell of lies that I told, things that I stole, and times when I cheated others. Satan told of other horrible perversions that were once in my life, and the more he spoke, the further down in my seat I sank. I was so embarrassed that I couldn’t look at anyone, even my own Attorney, as the Devil told of sins that even I had completely forgotten about. As upset as I was at Satan for telling all these things about me, I was equally upset at My Attorney who sat there silently not offering any form of defense at all. I know I had been guilty of those things, but I had done some good in my life – couldn’t that at least equal out part of the harm I’d done?
Satan finished with a fury and said, “This man belongs in hell, he is guilty of all that I have charged, and there is not a person who can prove otherwise.”
When it was His turn, My Attorney first asked if He might approach the bench. The Judge allowed this over the strong objection of Satan and beckoned Him to come forward. As He got up and started walking, I was able to see Him in His full splendor and majesty. I realized why He seemed so familiar; this was Jesus representing me, my Lord and my Savior.
He stopped at the bench and softly said to the Judge, “Hi, Dad,” and then He turned to address the court. “Satan was correct in saying that this man had sinned. I won’t deny any of these allegations. And, yes, the wage of sin is death, and this man deserves to be punished.”
Jesus took a deep breath and turned to His Father with outstretched arms and proclaimed, “However, I died on the cross so that this person might have eternal life, and he has accepted Me as his Savior, so he is Mine.”
My Lord continued with, “His name is written in the book of life and no one can snatch him from Me. Satan still does not understand yet. This man is not to be given justice but rather mercy.”
As Jesus sat down, He quietly paused, looked at His Father and said, “There is nothing else that needs to be done. I’ve done it all.”
The Judge lifted His mighty hand and slammed the gavel down. The following words bellowed from His lips… “This man is free. The penalty for him has already been paid in full. Case dismissed.”
As my Lord led me away, I could hear Satan ranting and raving, “I won’t give up, I will win the next one.”
I asked Jesus as He gave me my instructions where to go next, “Have you ever lost a case?”
Christ lovingly smiled and said, “Everyone that has come to Me and asked Me to represent them has received the same verdict as you, “PAID IN FULL.”
Another email from my friend Paul—
“A lot of people are absent this Sunday. It is vacation time and camp time and “too hot to be here” time. Debbie and I will not be here either. I have been asked to preach for the saints in Beaumont. I started pondering, with all these people gone, who is going to do all the things that need to be done? What will the church do?
I am confident that with, or without me, the church will continue on. It is kind of humbling to realize that there is always someone or something that can take my place. I am not an irreplaceable cog in the wheel in the middle of the wheel. I am needed and wanted to labor in the Kingdom of God, but neither my presence, nor my effort, is necessary for the church to survive. My God is big enough to be able to provide someone else or to completely stop the work I am doing and still keep his church alive and well.
I don’t consider it to be an insult to be valuable to God and dispensable. It is hard for me to believe that I am not irreplaceable. Faith shows us the power of God in our lives and leads us on to the power of God in fulfilling his plan without my magnificent leadership.
If the church could continue on without the physical presence of Jesus, it can sure survive when I’m gone. Interestingly, Jesus did not spend his last days with the disciples, setting up protocol and establishing positions and specific plans for the apostles to fill. Instead, he taught them about God and loving one another.
The apostle Paul did not present a strategy for growing the church into Africa and Asia in his later years. He told the people to love God, love each other and act accordingly, telling people about the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The last living apostle was John. His instructions were not on who should replace him and what he should do. His epistles were about loving one another. Revelation is a treatise on hope and steadfastness.
My purpose is not to establish a legacy in the church, but to hold up Jesus every way I can so that I can say, “6 For I am already
being poured out like a drink offering, and the time for my departure is near. 7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I
have kept the faith. 8 Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness,
which the LORD, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day-and not only
to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.” 2 Timothy 4:6-8″
The next time you feel like God can’t use you, just remember…
- Noah was a drunk.
- Abraham was too old.
- Isaac was a daydreamer.
- Jacob was a liar.
- Leah was ugly.
- Joseph was abused.
- Moses had a stuttering problem.
- Gideon was afraid.
- Samson had long hair and was a womanizer.
- Rahab was a prostitute.
- Jeremiah and Timothy were too young.
- David had an affair and was a murderer.
- Elijah was suicidal.
- Isaiah preached naked.
- Jonah ran from God.
- Naomi was a widow.
- Job went bankrupt.
- John the Baptist ate bugs.
- Peter denied Christ.
- The Disciples fell asleep while praying.
- Martha worried about everything.
- The Samaritan woman was divorced, more than once.
- Zaccheus was too small.
- Paul was too religious.
- Timothy had an ulcer.
- Lazarus was dead!
No more excuses now. God can use you to your full potential. Besides, you aren’t the message; you are just the messenger.