Enlightened by the Holy Spirit

(Acts 23:1-11)

Here we see that the Roman authorities had been puzzled as to the negative and violent reaction of the Jews against Paul on his return to Jerusalem. They had intended to flog Paul with whips to find the truth of the matter, but stopped short on discovering he was a Roman citizen.

A light in the dark. Enlightened by the Holy Spirit
A light in the dark. Enlightened by the Holy Spirit

Their next attempt to discover why Paul had caused such a stir was to bring him before the council of the Jews so they could make their accusations and he could defend himself.

But we see this too backfires as Paul recognising the make up of the council thwarts their attempts by preaching the basic message of the resurrection and thus turning one side of the council against the other. This I am sure is an example of The Lord giving him the right words to speak at the right time as Jesus said in Matthew 10:17-20.

17 Beware of men, for they will deliver you over to courts and flog you in their synagogues, 18 and you will be dragged before governors and kings for my sake, to bear witness before them and the Gentiles. 19 When they deliver you over, do not be anxious how you are to speak or what you are to say, for what you are to say will be given to you in that hour. 20 For it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.

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A Merciful God

(Acts 20:1-12)

There are many non-Christians who would like to paint God as being harsh, vindictive and one who metes out punishment for the smallest thing. They ask how could we Christians worship such a God and cite many of the harsh acts of judgement and the laws in the Old Testament as examples to justify their position.

But they do not know God and are not known by Him. They do recognise the love of God and the mercy He shows us when we seek Him out and come to Him through Jesus Christ.

God is a merciful God. This section of scripture at the start of Acts 20 is evidence of His mercy. And there are so many more examples of His mercy towards us that they bear discussing so we can remember, take heart and hold onto our hope in Jesus Christ.

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Stephen! Murdered! Martyred!

(Acts 6:8-15)

Stephen was the first of the martyrs for Jesus Christ as far as we know. He was put to death for his beliefs and for preaching the gospel. Now you would have to REALLY upset someone for them to go to such extremes. What I mean is that Stephen was a God fearing man and clearly was well thought of by the Christians as they had put him forward as one of the seven to assist the Apostles.martyr

Given the track record of the scribes, Pharisees and the religious leaders of the Jews at that time, that may have been enough to incur their wrath. After all, they had a track record of violence against the people of God having put the Lord to death not that long earlier and imprisoned the Apostles as well.

But there were some very specific charges they laid at the foot of Stephen that they did not like and which led them to having Stephen stoned. We see those charges in this section of scripture and need to understand why they were so incensed and what it means for us today.

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The Woman Caught In Adultery – Part 2

(John 8:1-11)

A Prayer of Grace
A Prayer of Grace
Photo sourced from stock.xchng taken by Geri-Jean Blanchard

In my previous post I looked at the aspects of legalism that come from this teaching of the woman caught in adultery. Today we should explore the other side of this teaching, for it is a wondrous message and shows how the Lord has taken us from the darkness of that legalistic situation into the light of the truth of God.

This woman was lost in sin and about to die for her wayward adulterous ways. That is, until she was brought by the scribes and Pharisees in an attempt to entrap Jesus. There is no doubt that it was the best day of her life and hopefully the beginning of a new life, rather than what would have been the last day of her life.

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Cleansing the Leper

(Luke 5:12-16)

It is important for us to understand the will of the Lord and to believe in it. The power of the will of God is mighty indeed and it is to our benefit when we know his will, understand it and believe. Here in these few scriptures we see a prime example of the Lord’s will in action.

healing the leperA man suffering with leprosy came to him seeking to be healed. However his words were interesting for he said, “Lord, if you will, you can make me clean.” (Verse 12) This man recognised the power of God at work in and through Jesus. He recognised that it was by the will of God the Jesus did the mighty works he did. And most importantly, he believed in that power of God.

Jesus responded in kind understanding what the man said and the recognition that he had given to God. So Jesus said to the man, “I will; be clean.” (Verse 13) And the man was healed of this most debilitating disease. He received this healing because he had faith to be healed. But he also knew it would occur only by the will of God. And Jesus rewarded this man’s faith and told him that his healing and cleansing of this disease was according to and by the will of God.

But Jesus insisted the man go through the Jewish purification rites so that the law would be fulfilled. He told the man to go to the priest and show himself and make the required offerings under the law as a proof to the people of the healing he had received from God and to be obedient to the word of God. Jesus was not seeking glory for himself but insisted that all glory go to God and that the correct protocols be followed to ensure that the glory went to God.

Today we are in some ways like this man suffering leprosy. Today mankind is suffering all kinds of sickness from the debilitating effects of sin in their life. But like this man when we come to Jesus we make this same appeal to him saying, “Lord, if you will, you can make me clean.”

How are we made clean and cleansed from our sins today? By the power of the New Covenant through the cleansing power of Jesus Christ. Now a “Covenant” is a “will” and it is the same Greek word translated in both cases. So it is by the will of God, the New Covenant, that we are made clean when we come to Jesus and ask for his forgiveness through repentance. When we are baptised into Christ Jesus we are made clean in Jesus, not as a removal of dirt from the body like a bath, but as an appeal to God for a clear conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ as Peter wrote. (1 Peter 3:21) When we come to Jesus in baptism through faith we are appealing to God to cleanse our spirits and our conscience from the sickness of sin. And God in his grace and mercy says to us as Jesus said to the leper, “I will; be clean.”

Praise be to God for this wondrous gift of healing. Not just the physical healing in our bodies, but the ability to cleanse to the depths of our soul and remove all manner of sin from our lives. All we must remember to do is to have faith and know in truth that Jesus came to take away the sin of the world.

(Picture sourced from ChristiansUnite.com http://clipart.christiansunite.com/)