Beware of Fighting Against God

Acts 5.17-42

Persecution heats up as the Apostles continue to carry out their mission of being witnesses to Jesus and His resurrection. What about you? How are you being a witness? What’s your story?

I think sometimes Christianity is caricatured as something for those who are soft or weak…those not strong enough to stand on their own. But our passage today shows that the Apostles are anything but weak. Not only do they stand up to the most powerful men in their society…not promoting their own agenda but proclaiming Jesus…but they are also willing to suffer the humiliation of both jail and a public whippin’ for Jesus. And so much more. “If church traditions are correct, Peter was crucified upside-down in Rome, Matthew suffered martyrdom by the sword. John was scarred in a cauldron of boiling oil and lived his last days banished on an island. James was beheaded in Jerusalem, Paul in Rome…and the list goes on and on.

I wonder if we are willing to suffer for our faith…or do we let fear (or our comfort and/or our convenience) overcome our courage when it comes to following Jesus? When we trusted in Jesus, when we committed to following Him, we were not choosing the safest or easiest or most convenient or comfortable way through life, but the most dangerous, inconvenient, challenging yet rewarding path. We are traitors to the god of this world…our allegiance is to the true King. We live in enemy territory…potential for danger at every turn. Sometimes we forget that and want to take the safe route. But Jesus didn’t come to just rearrange the furniture in our lives…He came to change everything. And when Jesus begins to change everything, we will be at odds with the world around us. Jesus calls us, not to live a safe life, but a dangerous life…a life that gives testimony to the great God and true King we serve. But you know, it’s really not that dangerous…Jesus promises to never leave us or forsake us. And if He requires us to pay the ultimate price, isn’t life in the kingdom so much better than life in this fallen world? Remember Jesus’ parable of the minas from Luke 19? The servant who gained the ten minas didn’t do it by being afraid, but by being bold. By risking everything for the gospel he gained everything, while the servant who played it safe lost it all.

We are called to live out our faith and share our testimony with others at every God-given opportunity. Dare to ask God to provide you with the opportunity and He will, but will you be ready?

Persecution is a-coming. You don’t have to look for it…the more you look like Jesus, the more folks will treat you like Him. Some will be attracted to you, but most will reject you.

This is some hard stuff…suffering before glory always is. But we have to remember that this world is not our home, and it’s values are not our values. So we will be at odds most times. That’s ok, because when we choose God’s side, we never lose.

“The Christian is a holy rebel loose in the world with access to the throne of God. Satan never knows from what direction the danger will come.” Tozer That Incredible Christian. Pray we will be dangerous Christians.

Until next time…stay salty.

This post is based on a sermon from our Acts series. Download the podcast at: Central Christian Church Main Service, or follow us on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter: @ccclancaster

The Ascension Revisited

Acts 1.1-11

Jesus’ last words to His Apostles are His final instructions for the church. Until He returns we have a job to do. We are to be His witnesses…to share the good news of the salvation we have in Jesus. And our job is not done until we go to be with Him or He comes for us.

In Luke 19.11-27, Jesus tells the parable of the minas. A nobleman going off to receive a kingdom gives each of his slaves a mina which they are to invest until he comes back. When he returns, he calls three of his slaves forward to report what kind of return they had on their investments. The first slave exclaims, “Master, your mina made ten minas more…isn’t that awesome!?!. The King’s response, “That it is. Well done good slave…you will be ruler over ten cities.” The second slave made five minas. The King puts him in charge of five cities. But the third slave said, “Master, here is your mina, which I kept put away in a handkerchief; for I was afraid of you, because you are an exacting man; you take up what you did not lay down and reap what you did not sow.” The King’s reaction, “You worthless slave…at least you could have put my money in the bank, so that I might have it back with interest.”And his one mina is taken away. The mina in the parable is the gospel. Our King has entrusted each of us with the message of the gospel, and each of us will have to give an accounting to Him of how we invested the gospel in the lives of others when He returns.

Jesus is coming back. Until He does, our work is not done. So let’s invest our minas well. The Spirit is the One who empowers us to tell our stories…to bear witness…of the impact that the gospel has made in our lives and to share the hope that we have in Jesus with a lost and dying world in desperate need of saving…

Until next time…stay salty.

This post is based on a sermon from our Acts series. Download the podcast at: Central Christian Church Main Service, or follow us on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter: @ccclancaster

They Turned the World Upside Down

“… these men who have turned the world upside down have come here also.” Acts 17:6

I have to admit I am partial to the narrative books in scripture.

I love stories, I have been reading books since I was a very young lad, carried away to far off lands filled with heroes and villains.

The book of Acts is noteworthy for its narrative qualities.

Here we have an adventure filled with travel to far away places, arrests, imprisonments, beatings, riots, close calls and escapes, shipwreck, rescues, and more.

Although the book focuses primarily on Peter and Paul – the founding and growth of the church, we cannot forget the real hero in our story – The Holy Spirit!

Jesus sends the Holy Spirit to empower the apostles as witnesses, to spread the message of the gospel, and to draw to Himself, a people from all nations.

We see in the book of Acts how the the early church followers and witnesses of Jesus impacted the Roman empire – we are told in Acts 17:6 “they turned the world upside down”.

Old time preacher and evangelist Vance Havner, much admired by Billy Graham, once wrote, “We will move this world not by criticism of it, nor conformity to it — but by combustion within it of lives ignited by the Spirit of God.”

The early church shows us the difference between “witnessing” and being a witness. It is our witness, grounded in the Word, powered by the Holy Spirit that moves and expands His Kingdom.

As we continue to explore the ministry of Peter, we see him assume a leadership role in Chapter 1.

After he is filled with the Holy Spirit in Chapter 2 – Peter begins his public ministry.

We have designed our reading plan to focus on the chapters related to Peter and we will pick up the rest of the adventure when we explore the teachings of Paul.

As we read this narrative in Acts, we wonder, can this be the same man we read about in the gospels? What has changed with Peter? Simple answer – the Holy Spirit!

Peter was always a man of action but tempered with doubt.

Jesus promised to make Peter a fisher of men – indeed Peter became an evangelist who would bring many people into the kingdom over the course of his life — three thousand were saved during his first sermon alone.

When we read Acts we are reminded that when we open our hearts to Jesus, the Holy Spirit indwells within us.

And through the Holy Spirit, God calls us to join Him on this journey, this adventure – witnesses, expanding His Kingdom – turning the world upside down.

Until next time… keep reading!

Jim

Sources used for this blog: ESV Study Bible, Jon Courson’s Application Commentary, New Testament