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Only One risen Saviuor

Only One risen Saviuor
There is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved - Jesus

Saturday, 30 April 2016

Acts Day 61 - Warnings Aren't Threats

3:22 For Moses truly said to the fathers, ‘The Lord your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your brethren. Him you shall hear in all things, whatever He says to you. 23 And it shall be that every soul who will not hear that Prophet shall be utterly destroyed from among the people.’ 24 Yes, and all the prophets, from Samuel and those who follow, as many as have spoken, have also foretold these days. 25 You are sons of the prophets, and of the covenant which God made with our fathers, saying to Abraham, ‘And in your seed all the families of the earth shall be blessed.’ 26 To you first, God, having raised up His Servant Jesus, sent Him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from your iniquities.”

Language is a tricky thing. It makes communication difficult. Something is said or written but the message heard or read can take on a very different meaning. Often, no make that very often, God is misunderstood. He warns us and we take the warning as a threat. As a result we do not see Him as loving but as a tyrant to be feared.

When God speaks of our destruction He is not speaking of something He will inflict as punishment. He is speaking of consequences for a choice or action. True punishment is never about destruction but about rehabilitation. Parents who love their children correct or punish them in an effort to direct them in a safer path for their benefit.

In this way God is often grossly misunderstood. We see His laws as arbitrary acts we must fulfill to appease Him. Nothing could be further from the truth. Jesus did not come to this planet as one of us to spy on us and find excuses to destroy us. He is not willing that any should perish. He came to offer a way out of this sin sick and dying world. His words were not threats but warnings. They were not for our destruction but for our rescue. His words are life, joy, and peace.

When I observe humanity the happiest people are those who live closest to the principles of God's kingdom. They may not be religious. They may even claim to be atheists. It makes no difference. The ways of God bring happiness, fulfillment, contentment, and lasting joy. Things like generosity, compassion, kindness, gentleness, self-sacrifice, etc... are the ingredients for a meaningful, happy existence. God knows this. He knows love is the only way not because He arbitrarily decided it, but because it just is.

If we don't listen to Him we will be utterly destroyed, not by Him, but by the natural consequences of our own choices.


Love makes no threats. Love warns because truth and honesty are a huge part of love.

Friday, 29 April 2016

Acts Day 60 - The Book

3:20 "...and that He may send Jesus Christ, who was preached to you before, 21 whom heaven must receive until the times of restoration of all things, which God has spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began. 22 For Moses truly said to the fathers, ‘The Lord your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your brethren. Him you shall hear in all things, whatever He says to you."

Prophets, prophecy, foretold, preached before, since the world began, etc...

Does the Bible really predict the future and if it does why don't more people pay attention to it?


The answer to the first question is yes. The answer to the next question seems to be one of two possibilities, maybe more. It is true that many people only know what the Bible says through hearsay. They don't know for themselves what an extraordinary Book it is.

They don't know that before Israel was even a fully organized nation God predicted the day would come when they would ask for a human king and even stated why they would. The request came hundreds of years after the prophecy.

They don't know that the Bible predicted the complete and utter fall of Babylon even before Babylon was at it's peak as one of the wonders of the world. Still today it's ruins are an uninhabited wasteland.
They don't know the Bible predicted the man who would invade and overthrow the city of Babylon by name and how it would happen nearly 200 years before the man was born.

They don't know the Bible predicted the rise and fall of world empires from Babylon through to the end of time.

Another possibility for why the Bible is largely ignored is because they disagree with some things it says or what they think it says. However ignorance, misconceptions, or dismissal of the Book does not change the fact it is no ordinary Book.

What Peter is saying is that the Book foretold the arrival and the mission of Jesus over and over. Revisionist history made Moses out to be a national hero but the truth is when he was their leader the people rose up in rebellion against him many times. The source of that rebellion was the human will. They didn't want to follow. They didn't appreciate not being in control. They disagreed with his choices and were jealous of His position even though it was obvious that Moses was not acting independently. It was the cloud by day and fire by night that was leading the way.

The truth is they wanted the Promised Land but on their terms.

When Jesus came it was the same scenario over again. They wanted a Messiah but only on their terms.

Sadly we haven't changed. We only want a God on our terms. We craft religions to suit our tastes and desires. We are as intolerant now as they were then of anything outside their preconceived ideas. Sadly it was all foretold in the Book.

The good news is that the Book also says many will choose Him. The Book says the children of Abraham, the children of faith will be as numerous as the sand on the seashore. The Book says anyone can choose to be in that number and best of all God wants all of us to be in that number by our own choice.


"Today if you hear His voice do not harden your hearts..."

Thursday, 28 April 2016

Acts Day 59 - The Rest Is Automatic

3:19 "Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, 20 and that He may send Jesus Christ, who was preached to you before, 21 whom heaven must receive until the times of restoration of all things, which God has spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began."

I have received several questions the past couple of days related to my blogs "Deep Stuff" parts 1 and 2. This morning as I was going over chapter 3 again and planning to move on to the next few verses God brought two thing clearly to my attention.

First Peter is the one explaining this "deep stuff". This is the same Peter who asked Jesus only a couple of weeks ago before He returned to heaven "Are you going to set up your kingdom now?" Two weeks and Peter has gone from confused and stuck in a false view of Jesus' mission (inherited from generations of tradition) to clearly and deeply exposing the sequence of events leading to His return. How is that possible? That is a valid question that deserves an answer and ties in directly to the second thing God made clear to me today.

The questions I have received all relate to the sequence of events that follow repentance and conversion. Questions primarily about forgiveness, how it works, and when exactly it occurs. Here is what He showed me this morning: When a sinner came to the sanctuary seeking forgiveness they confessed, offered the lamb and went home. Their part was finished. Repentance and conversion is our choice. When we come to the realization that we need Jesus and are a failure and a mess without Him our "work" is done. The lamb was given to the priest. He took care of everything from that point forward.

See God showed me that we are worried more about His part in our salvation than we are about our part. We don't realize that once we hand our heart to Him the rest is a guaranteed done deal.

Come back to Peter. In Acts 1 he asks Jesus the question that reveals how messed up his understanding still is. Jesus does not even address it. There is no seminar on how the future will unfold. Instead He just basically says "Leave those details with Me. What you need to do is go to Jerusalem and wait for My Spirit..."

Peter did what Jesus asked him to do. This is the evidence that he has repented and is converted. His will is subject to the direction of Jesus. By obeying and going and waiting look how much the Spirit has taught him in just two weeks!

When we focus on what God is asking us to do the rest is automatic. The only barrier between God and His plans for us is our will. Once we agree to surrender His plan is unstoppable. Our sins will be blotted out. The times of refreshing will come. Jesus will return. All things will be restored.

Don't focus on and worry about the future. Be in sync with Him today. The rest will take care of itself.


"Today if you hear His voice..."

Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Acts Day 58 - Deep Stuff Part 2

3:19 "Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, 20 and that He may send Jesus Christ, who was preached to you before, 21 whom heaven must receive until the times of restoration of all things, which God has spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began."

Notice the sequence of events:

First repentance and conversion which opens the ways for the following:

Sins blotted out
Times of refreshing
Jesus returns
Restoration of all things


Jesus was here. He died in the courtyard of heaven's sanctuary (the earth). He returned to heaven representing the blood of the lamb being taken into the holy place. He must remain there until the sins of all who choose to repent and be converted are blotted out. That will happen on the Day of Atonement or Yom Kippur. When that is completed times of refreshing will come, Jesus will return to earth and gather those who love Him. This will be followed by the restoration of all things.
In a letter Peter wrote later which was to be circulated to all the churches he said this:

2 Peter 3:1 "Beloved, I now write to you this second epistle (letter)... 2 that you may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us, the apostles of the Lord and Savior, 3 knowing this first: that scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts, 4 and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation.” 5 For this they willfully forget: that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of water and in the water, 6 by which the world that then existed perished, being flooded with water. 7 But the heavens and the earth which are now preserved by the same word, are reserved for fire until the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.

8 But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. 9 The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance."

Jesus came and lived and died to reveal the heart of God. To show us that God is love, that He is for us and not against us; that He wants us back and He'll do anything to make that happen short of forcing us. It's been almost 2000 years since He returned to heaven. Why the delay? Noah's flood contains the answer. God waited and endured the evil choices of humanity until He knew waiting any longer would leave no trace of love or faith on the earth. Today He continues to wait. He will wait until there is not one more person to rescue from this sin sick world. All who choose to be rescued, who choose love over hate, freedom over force, and Divine grace over the deceptions of Satan. He will come for those who long for the times of refreshing. He will come to reclaim us as His own.

Deep stuff and yet simple. We either choose Him or we reject Him. That's all this life is about. Why had the people in this crowd cried "Crucify Him!!!" a few weeks earlier? Because they were self-obsessed. They had been taught to place all their hopes in a self centered religion that actually encouraged hatred toward outsiders. They expected a prosperity bringing warrior, not a friend of tax collectors, prostitutes, sinners, and foreigners. They had been looking for self-advancement, not self-surrender.


Peter told them plainly: "It's time to repent and be converted."

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Acts Day 57 - Deep Stuff

3:19 "Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, 20 and that He may send Jesus Christ, who was preached to you before, 21 whom heaven must receive until the times of restoration of all things, which God has spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began."


Jesus is the Lamb of God slain from the foundation of the world. The Bible repeats this truth in several places. The plan for Jesus to rescue us was laid from the beginning. This is why an animal was killed to make skins for clothing for Adam and Eve. This is why Abel and Cain were both sacrificing lambs on altars until Cain decided to offer his produce instead. The animals dying represented Jesus dying. His life "clothes" us. His death is in place of ours. He is in every way the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. (Rev. 13:8)


To help the people better understand the Story of how Jesus would save us from our sins He gave Moses detailed instructions for the sanctuary and all the things that would happen there. Each piece of furniture represented Jesus in some way and our relationship to Him.

What does this have to do with Peter's words to the crowd that gathered after the lame man was healed? Lots actually. Notice that Peter tells them to "repent and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out..."

That is sanctuary language. The blotting out of sins refers to a specific event. Search the phrase "blotted out" or "blot out" and you will see a clear picture emerge, especially if you are familiar with the daily and yearly services of the sanctuary. Daily lambs/goats were sacrificed sins committed. Drops of blood from those animals were taken into the sanctuary, into the first room called the Holy Place. Picture the scene. The guilty person confesses his or her sins on the head of the lamb. Symbolically they are transferred. The lamb suffers the penalty for those sins. The blood becomes a visual representation for sin and it's consequences. The blood is then transferred from the courtyard where the sacrifice took place to the Holy Place. The sinner can no longer see the blood. The "sins" are removed by the priest and taken into the sanctuary. The courtyard represents the earth. This is the place where the Lamb died. Then Jesus was taken out of our sight. He is now in heaven. The Bible said from the beginning that the real sanctuary is in heaven and the one Moses had built was just a model. It was essentially a life size teaching tool.

So we have covered what happened daily at the sanctuary or temple. Have you thought about the accumulation of all those drops of blood inside the Holy Place? Then what happens?

Once a year a lamb is offered. It's called the day of atonement or Yom Kippur. The blood from that lamb is taken into the second room where the ark of the Testimony is - the Most Holy Place. The blood that has accumulated throughout the year is cleansed from the Holy Place or "blotted out".

The sanctuary has more to teach us. Our sins are currently taken away but not yet blotted out. Like my dirty clothes that I remove at the end of the day and transfer to the laundry hamper. They are removed from me but the dirt is not yet blotted out.

Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the whole world. Daily lambs were offered by the priests on behalf of all the people. People who didn't even come to confess. Jesus has been bearing our guilt from the beginning. The direct and immediate consequence of sin (death) has been removed from humanity but not yet blotted out. That only happens at the end. On the last day. On that day our sins either get blotted out forever (because we repented and were converted) or they are not because we refused His grace and trampled on His mercy.


It sounds complicated but really it is not. Jesus has taken our dirty laundry until we decide what we want Him to do with it. Clean it or give it back...

Monday, 25 April 2016

Acts Day 56 - Much to Think About

3:19 Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, 20 and that He may send Jesus Christ, who was preached to you before, 21 whom heaven must receive until the times of restoration of all things, which God has spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began. 22 For Moses truly said to the fathers, ‘The Lord your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your brethren. Him you shall hear in all things, whatever He says to you. 23 And it shall be that every soul who will not hear that Prophet shall be utterly destroyed from among the people.’ 24 Yes, and all the prophets, from Samuel and those who follow, as many as have spoken, have also foretold these days. 25 You are sons of the prophets, and of the covenant which God made with our fathers, saying to Abraham, ‘And in your seed all the families of the earth shall be blessed.’ 26 To you first, God, having raised up His Servant Jesus, sent Him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from your sins.”


After Peter tells them they killed Jesus out of ignorance he tells them it's time to repent, to head in a new direction, to be converted. Converted is an interesting word. A car that is convertible is one that can change from having a roof to not having a roof. Still the same car yet very different. Peter before the cross had been converted into a man that believed in Jesus. After the cross he had a new conversion. He became a man that no longer trusted himself.

The crowd at the temple that day needed to be converted from a people that followed religion and tradition to a people that reexamined all that the prophets had written. That's a huge step. To question something with roots that are centuries deep is frightening. It's intimidating. When it involves something as sensitive as your religious heritage and your picture of God it is that much more frightening and intimidating. How could we be wrong? How could the errors be so widespread? Could an entire nation descended from Abraham that has so much history of miracles and sacred writings be so far off the mark that we killed our own Messiah? Have we really rejected the One Moses and the prophets spoke about? The One we have been expecting for centuries?

That's a lot to swallow but the lame man leaping is hard to ignore. He isn't just a healed man. He is a symbol. A symbol of the Jewish nation which has been lame for centuries held under Roman rule and stuck in complete ineffectiveness. They aren't a blessing to the nations. They have become so sick that they have a theology of hating the nations. They are at the temple but yet disconnected from the Story it is telling just as the lame man is at the temple but really not. He can't go in. He can't participate. He has a body but it didn't work just as Judaism was a body of faith that was completely crippled and ineffective. The lame man is leaping. Will Judaism rise and walk again or will they be cut off as Moses warned?

Tomorrow we'll begin to break down what Peter said to the people. There is much to consider not just for them but for us.

Do we need times of refreshing? Are we a lame body? Are we at the Temple yet disconnected from the Story?


See you tomorrow...

Sunday, 24 April 2016

Acts Day 55 - Compassion for the Misguided

3:17 “Yet now, brethren, I know that you did it in ignorance, as did also your rulers. 18 But those things which God foretold by the mouth of all His prophets, that the Christ would suffer, He has thus fulfilled."

Peter lays it out very matter of fact but with compassion. He is not attacking, he is exposing the truth for the purpose of restoration. There is a huge difference between the two. One is treating people as enemies while the latter is treating them as friends.

Often, too often, we insist on having a bad guy. Someone in a given scenario must wear the cloak of the villain which not only makes them an enemy but worse still it minimizes our responsibility in the whole ordeal. Notice what Peter says. After telling the people that they murdered Jesus, the Messiah, he continues by acknowledging they did it from a position of ignorance. Then he goes a critical step further. He recognizes publicly that the leadership was in ignorance too. Had he not done this it would have created in the people a suspicion of and possible disdain for all leadership and worse they would have mentally shifted the responsibility for their behaviour to them.

The truth is they were all in the same boat from the chief priest own to the commoner of no rank. All of them had been raised with a narrow, specific view of and expectations for the Messiah. Views and expectations informed by generations of tradition and rabbinical teaching rather than by the Scriptures.

Now Peter is plainly exposing it all and showing that Jesus did exactly what the prophets of old said He would do. He suffered and died as the Lamb of God that takes away the sins of the whole world.

Teachings and traditions built up over generations creating a false view of God and creating untrue expectations in us are as real now as then. The need to search the Scriptures rather than go along with what everyone else believes is as necessary now as it was then. We watch in confusion and horror as religious extremists detonate bombs or behead people. It confuses us only because we weren't raised in their environment. We weren't raised with their picture of "God" and "truth". Rather than judging their ignorance we should be checking our own. Is our picture of Him informed by Scripture or something else? Are our expectations of Him accurate and based on His promises or have we inherited expectations that have little or nothing to do with His Story.


God gave His Word to distinguish between Truth and myth, between God and bad religion. He also gives us opportunity when we are born and raised in error to see the Light and choose to follow Him. Then He gives us the wisdom and compassion to reach out to others who are in the darkness of false traditions and bad religion. Rather than fear them and hate them we see the need to shine the Light into their misguided but often sincere experience. Why? Because the God of Abraham is the God of all nations and the Lamb died for the sins of the whole world.

Saturday, 23 April 2016

Acts Day 54 - Don't Worry About the When, Don't Worry About the How

3:11 Now as the lame man who was healed held on to Peter and John, all the people ran together to them in the porch which is called Solomon’s, greatly amazed. 12 So when Peter saw it, he responded to the people: “Men of Israel, why do you marvel at this? Or why look so intently at us, as though by our own power or godliness we had made this man walk? 13 The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God of our fathers, glorified His Servant Jesus, whom you delivered up and denied in the presence of Pilate, when he was determined to let Him go. 14 But you denied the Holy One and the Just, and asked for a murderer to be granted to you, 15 and killed the Prince of life, whom God raised from the dead, of which we are witnesses. 16 And His name, through faith in His name, has made this man strong, whom you see and know. Yes, the faith which comes through Him has given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all.”


Someone asked me recently if I wanted to just shout the Truth to the world. Actually when I walk in crowds of strangers I wonder if they have any clue about the real Story; if they know we are in a war. I wonder how we will ever reach them. All my life I've been hearing how we have to tell the world. Jesus Himself said He won't return until the Gospel is preached to the whole earth. It's a daunting task. It seems impossible. The world population is increasing at a rapid pace. We're actually getting further behind every day.

But that's exactly the problem. We look at the mission and we look at ourselves and we conclude (correctly I might add) that the task is impossible.

Do you remember the day Jesus had been with a large crowd all day and they were hungry with no place to get food? Jesus gave the disciples a mission - we need to feed them. The disciples looked at the mission and then at their resources and quickly concluded it was impossible. One little boy overheard the dilemma and offered his lunch: Five bread and two fish. The crowd was 5000 men plus women and children. Again impossible. If the only factors in the equation are us and the mission indeed it is impossible. But that's where we are wrong. We are not alone in carrying out the mission.

See Jesus sent Peter and John to the temple. At the temple were hundreds and maybe thousands of Jewish worshippers. Their mission was to tell them about Jesus but how? They had no reason to listen and centuries of prejudice and error infused in them. How would they ever find a way to break through the barriers?

When they arrived the Spirit of God whispered into the mind of Peter "Offer healing to that lame man." Peter obeyed. By obeying that lame man became a leaping, praising billboard. He became an advertisement money couldn't by and rather than trying to find a way to reach the crowd, the crowd pressed in to listen and see and find out what this was all about.

We too quickly forget it is His mission and the crowds are His children. We forget that He is not piling an impossible mission on our shoulders but rather inviting us to participate in what He is doing. Peter could not draw a crowd of resistant Jews but he could walk to the temple and He could obey the prompting of God's Spirit.

Don't sweat what you can't do. Be faithful in the little things you can do like sharing your lunch or walking somewhere or boldly obeying His voice. Do those little things and when He decides the timing is right, watch what He'll do!


Impossible? With Jesus all things are possible!

Friday, 22 April 2016

Acts Day 53 - What Does Faith Have to do With Anything?

3:12 “Men of Israel, why do you marvel at this? Or why do you look so intently at us, as though by our own power or godliness we had made this man walk? 13 The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God of our fathers, glorified His Servant Jesus, whom you delivered up and denied in the presence of Pilate, when he was determined to let Him go. 14 But you denied the Holy One and the Just, and asked for a murderer to be granted to you, 15 and killed the Prince of life, whom God raised from the dead, of which we are witnesses. 16 And His name, through faith in His name, has made this man strong, whom you see and know. Yes, the faith which comes through Him has given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all."

Faith. Who's faith? Who's faith healed that crippled man? His own? Yes and not really. Had Peter never stopped and looked him in the eye and said "...in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk" the man would have had nothing to have faith in. Peter had to have faith before the man could have any. Peter had to hear and believe the Voice that told him to offer healing to this man. So the man had faith in Jesus in response to Peter who also had faith in Jesus but it doesn't stop there. Peter could only exercise faith in response to the Voice just like the man could only exercise faith in response to Peter's offer.


Faith does not originate with us. It never does. The Bible speaks of the faith of Jesus. Jesus had faith when He came to this earth. Jesus had faith when He selected twelve men. Jesus had faith when He went to that cross alone and by human calculation it appeared His mission was a colossal and complete failure. Jesus had faith when it got so dark that day that it seemed even His own Father had abandoned Him. He had faith when in opposition to that feeling of abandonment He declared "Father into Your hands do I commit My Spirit." Jesus had faith when met Mary near the tomb and said "...go tell My disciples and Peter..." Jesus had faith when He met them on the beach after they had given up and gone back fishing. Jesus had faith when He made them breakfast and three times said to Peter "Feed My sheep".

Faith originates in Jesus. The Bible says faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God. Jesus is the word of God. He speaks to us of impossible things. Some hear and respond by faith. Others turn a deaf ear.

Jesus had faith in Peter. That blows my mind. He has faith in us still. That really blows my mind.

Do you know what else blows my mind? Peter's faith response when Jesus whispered "Offer healing to this man" created the opportunity for that lame man to put his faith in Jesus. Does that mean my faith affects the faith opportunities of those I come in contact with?


Think about that...

Acts Day 52 - Don't Look At Me

3:11 Now as the lame man who was healed held on to Peter and John, all the people ran together to them in the porch which is called Solomon’s, greatly amazed. 12 So when Peter saw it, he responded to the people: “Men of Israel, why do you marvel at this? Or why look so intently at us, as though by our own power or godliness we had made this man walk?"

God woke me up this morning with a song as He often does. Today it was "Abide with me, fast falls the eventide, the darkness deepens, Lord with me abide. When other helpers fail and comforts flee, help of the helpless O abide with me."

Then this line came to me over and over:
"I need your presence every passing hour. What but your grace can foil the tempter's power?"

His presence and His grace foil the tempter's power...

Then I read in Acts starting from the beginning of chapter three and ending with the verses quoted above. It seems He gave me the song to prepare me for His Word.

Peter. This is Peter. The people see a crippled man now leaping and praising God and clinging to Peter. In that man's eyes Peter is a hero. Peter is his hero. But that man doesn't know what Peter knows. Peter knows he is far from anyone's hero. So before the man or the crowd gets carried away by hero worship Peter states the facts as they are: "Why do you marvel at this? Why do you look so intently at us as though by our own power or godliness we made this man walk?" The man and the crowd may have had delusions about Peter's greatness. At one point so did he but that was before the cross. That was before the courtyard, the charcoal fire, and the questions.

We judge quickly don't we? Peter judged himself loyal and strong. Then after falling and failing so miserably and completely only hours after being told he would, he judged himself worthless. Now after one miracle strangers have judged him a hero. Peter knows better and he refuses to allow their delusions another moment to thrive or grow.

"It's not my power or my godliness." Well what is it then? Not just anyone does what Peter just did so what is it?

Grace. The unmerited favour of God. The realization that at our worst His love is not diminished in the least. "I need your presence every passing hour. What but Your grace can foil the tempter's power?"

Temptations to judge falsely. Temptations to give up on ourselves or others. Temptations to take credit for things when the credit does not belong to us. Grace can do all that?

Love is powerful. Undeserved love is infinitely more powerful. Yesterday I read the testimony of a young preacher. Not married very long his wife confronted him with the Internet history on his computer. He was deeply addicted to pornography but thought no one knew. Now he was exposed like Peter in that courtyard. His mind raced. He thought it was over. She was going to leave. She had every right to leave. He was a liar. A cheat. Two faced. A fraud. She didn't. Instead of judgement she offered grace. She prayed with him and for him. They went to counselling. She told him she loved him and that they would work through it. The combination of being exposed yet still loved broke the power of the addiction. "What but grace can foil the tempter's power?"

Peter knew his own power. It collapsed under pressure almost instantly. He came to know his own godliness too. It was just a mirage. How could he stand in front of this lame man and the crowd and take one ounce of credit for what just happened. He could not. He did not.

Why was Peter in center of His power? Abide with me... Peter was positioned in the center of His grace. He remained in His presence every passing hour.


I want to be like Peter. Keenly aware of my nothingness and abiding in His grace.

Wednesday, 20 April 2016

Acts Day 51 - Too Risky?

3:1 Now Peter and John went up together to the temple at the hour of prayer, the ninth hour. 2 And a certain man lame from his mother’s womb was carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, to ask alms from those who entered the temple; 3 who, seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple, asked for alms. 4 And fixing his eyes on him, with John, Peter said, “Look at us.” 5 So he gave them his attention, expecting to receive something from them. 6 Then Peter said, “Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk.” 7 And he took him by the right hand and lifted him up, and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength. 8 So he, leaping up, stood and walked and entered the temple with them—walking, leaping, and praising God. 9 And all the people saw him walking and praising God. 10 Then they knew that it was he who sat begging alms at the Beautiful Gate of the temple; and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him."

It's a great story. Songs have been written about it. Sermons preached. Children amazed by it. Then we start thinking. We get cynical. We wonder why we never see such things now. Then we wonder if it really happened then.

I don't wonder any more because I have seen miracles. I even lived some. So I don't wonder if stuff like this happened. I wonder something different. I wonder why it doesn't happen more often. Clearly it was rare then too because the people who recognized him were "filled with wonder and amazement". Is God reluctant to heal? Does He know something about miracles we don't?

There was some tension in this area when Jesus was here. There were some who followed Him around asking for more signs, more miracles. Apparently the blind seeing, the lame walking, the mute speaking, leprosy banished, walking on water, endless food, and Lazarus walking out of his tomb weren't enough. I have come to understand that it wasn't so much miracles they wanted. What they wanted was to be the puppet master. They wanted Jesus to make things happen but they wanted to pull the strings.

It's true that Jesus said with faith we can move mountains so why don't more mountains move? Because the Word of God also says faith comes by hearing. Faith is acting on what God says. If God never said to Peter "I'm going to heal this man right now" the rest of the Story wouldn't exist. Peter had no power to heal anyone nor was God his puppet. God lead, Peter followed.


For me, that's the most miraculous part of the Story. Peter heard and he followed through. He didn't have to. No one would have known the difference. What if he said to the man to stand up and nothing happened? There was risk in following by faith. There was no risk in simply ignoring the Voice and continuing on his way.


Therein lies the trouble. Too often we hear Him, but move on because faith is too risky. Next time the fear of risk seeks to paralyze you think about what you are risking and missing out on by not following...

Tuesday, 19 April 2016

Acts Day 50 - The Folly of Prayer?

3:1 "Now Peter and John went up together to the temple at the hour of prayer, the ninth hour. 2 And a certain man lame from his mother’s womb was carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, to ask alms from those who entered the temple; 3 who, seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple, asked for alms. 4 And fixing his eyes on him, with John, Peter said, “Look at us.” 5 So he gave them his attention, expecting to receive something from them. 6 Then Peter said, “Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk.” 7 And he took him by the right hand and lifted him up, and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength. 8 So he, leaping up, stood and walked and entered the temple with them—walking, leaping, and praising God."

Is prayer folly? Can it be? Jesus prayed and taught His disciples to pray also so it can't always be folly. However He rebuked the prayers of the religious who prayed loudly and publicly. Their prayers more a commentary on their own "goodness" than a conversation with God. So we know there is legitimate prayer and false prayer but is there foolish prayer?

Consider the lame man. Perhaps at one time he hoped to be healed by Jesus but that hope died with Him and now he just prays for money.

Think about it. Prayer is asking. When Jesus taught His disciples how to pray it was a list of requests. It went like this:

"Our Father which art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name, Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil, for Thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory, forever and ever, amen."

Six requests in one brief prayer. Jesus also said: "Ask. You do not receive because you do not ask."

So we are told, encouraged, urged to ask. There is most definitely no folly in asking. So where is the folly? Is there any? Much ink has been spilled concerning prayer. Conferences have been held. Seminars have been taught. Is prayer that complicated? Did the lame man make a mistake by asking for money? Was it a foolish asking?

Since none of us are going to stop asking for less than God wants to give let's skip ahead to the good news. Prayer is folly when we go past asking and start telling God exactly how He should fix our problems. Jesus taught us to ask for His will to be done. There is a great difference between praying for His will to be done and telling Him what to do. There is a great difference between asking for our daily bread and telling Him what to provide and how to provide.

Now here is the good news. God is good. God is infinitely better than good. He sees past our limited sight. He answers not what we ask for. He answers what we would have asked for if we could see as He sees.

Money? You want some spare change to grab a bite to eat? Then what? You don't need money. You need legs that work so you can earn your own money and be a blessing to others. That is your true need but you didn't ask because... because you didn't think it was possible or you knew it was possible but not for you or you knew it was even possible for you but feared for whatever reasons it wouldn't happen so you protected yourself from disappointment by not asking at all. But by not asking aren't you ensuring disappointment?

What does God do? He answers the unspoken prayer of the lame man's heart. While his lips are asking for money God cuts past the surface and gives him what he didn't think possible.

If you go to Him as you are full of folly and lame He won't leave you like that. Best of all He will do abundantly above all that we ask or even think. "But" you say. "I have asked and gotten nothing." Keep asking even if you aren't asking for the right thing. He hears. He knows. The Story is not over yet.


That wasn't the first day that man sat at the Temple. His ways are not our ways. They are better. That's the best part. That's the good news.

Monday, 18 April 2016

Acts Day 49 - What Are We Expecting?

3:1 Now Peter and John went up together to the temple at the hour of prayer, the ninth hour. 2 And a certain man lame from his mother’s womb was carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, to ask alms from those who entered the temple; 3 who, seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple, asked for alms. 4 And fixing his eyes on him, with John, Peter said, “Look at us.” 5 So he gave them his attention, expecting to receive something from them. 6 Then Peter said, “Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk.”

Expectations. For some time now God has been opening my eyes to the power and influence of our expectations. This lame man was expecting some spare change. He believed that was the most he could expect. It's sad when you think about it. He is laying at the Temple. The temple of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The God who rescued Israel from bondage, opened the sea and closed it on the pursuing army. The God who made bitter water sweet, rained food from the sky every morning in the desert, brought water from a rock, and preserved their sandals and clothing for forty years. He defended them from attacks and that was just the easy stuff. He turned Abraham into a man of faith. He turned Jacob from an underhanded liar and cheat into an overcomer. He raised the dead through Elijah and Elisha. He raised up Samuel and David out of nowhere. He took Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego safely through the fiery furnace and protected Daniel from a den of lions.

It's true that He doesn't always perform the miracles that make us stand in awe. Sometimes it's because we don't position ourselves to see them. You can't be rescued from a furnace if you refuse to enter it. Sometimes He seems silent because the experience we are going through is necessary either for us, or for someone else or for reasons we may never know until we get Home.

Many of His best men were killed and He never intervened. John the Baptist unceremoniously lost his head to appease the wrath of an adulterous woman.

However none of this should ever permit us to lower our expectations. Just because He can does not mean He will but just because He didn't last time does not mean He won't this time.

I try to picture the scene. The man has accepted being lame as his reality. He has no expectation of more yet I have to believe the thought crosses his mind from time to time; maybe even daily. He sees others walking freely and wonders what it would be like but then reality sets in and he goes back to expecting spare change.

What cripples you? A short temper? Wandering eyes? An uncontrollable appetite? A gossiping tongue? A critical spirit? Moodiness? Lying? Have you accepted your infirmity? Are you expecting nothing will change? Perhaps you frequent the Temple too and hear stories of a Mighty God but have no expectations that He'll visit you with His miracle working power.

I want to encourage you to keep going to Him. His timing is perfect. His love is relentless, and His power is limitless. Dare to expect more. Dare to expect that He sees and knows you and has heard your cries. He will rescue you from whatever is crippling you. Believe that. He has promised it.

"He who has begun a good work in you will be faithful to complete it." Phil. 1:6

Sunday, 17 April 2016

Acts Day 48 - Settling for Less?

3:1 "Now Peter and John went up together to the temple at the hour of prayer, the ninth hour. 2 And a certain man lame from his mother’s womb was carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, to ask alms from those who entered the temple; 3 who, seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple, asked for alms."

I love stories. I think everyone loves a good story. Acts is full of stories. We get these brief snapshots to give us an idea of what those early days were like after Jesus left. The first snapshot after the Day of Pentecost is this one. Peter and John are together so immediately we know they didn't travel in a large group but the design of working in pairs is still there. Do you remember way back in Genesis what God said after He created Adam? "It is not good for man to be alone."

Noah worked with his sons. To Moses he gave Aaron first and later Joshua. All through the Bible are examples of God having people work in pairs. Elijah worked alone and he burned out from the discouragement of it. Always seek to be on a team even if it's only a team of two.

So Peter and John are a team and they head to the temple at the hour of prayer because they know it will be an opportunity to spread the Good News. As they approach the temple they meet a crippled man. We do not know his name. All we know is he was born lame and is now a man. That means he has been decades in this condition. His family has brought him here to ask for alms (money). Every day he sits or lays unable to move asking for money.

Odd isn't it? Odd that we are willing to ask but not willing to ask for what we really need. This man is not poor because he lacks money. He is poor because he lacks mobility. His crippled state is the real problem. Why not ask for a body that works? He is at the temple of the God who opened the Red Sea. The God who created everything. It is the hour of prayer. Why ask for a band-aid (money) instead of healing (the real solution)?

How often do we ask for less than what we truly need? Expect less than we truly need? Believe for less than we truly need.
Tomorrow we'll find out what happens but this morning God challenged me with the question "What are you asking for?"

Acts Day 47 - A Simple (perhaps painful) Truth

2:46 So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.

The Lord added to the church...
This won't be a popular truth for some but it's true regardless. The legitimate growth of the body of Christ does not occur through clever programming or catchy advertising. It does not occur by recruiting and hiring a super pastor. Authentic growth occurs when Jesus brings searching people to us.

The question, the uncomfortable question, is why doesn't Jesus add more people to our church(es)?

Consider this diagnosis:
“"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance..." And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not be desirous of vainglory, provoking one another, envying one another.” There are lessons of the highest importance that not one in twenty of those who claim to be children of God have yet learned. Shall not we learn them before our destiny is forever settled?" R&H June 28, 1887
"We have little enough of Christ's character. We need it all through our ranks, We must reveal that love which dwelt in Jesus. Then we shall keep the commandment [that we love one another], which not one in a hundred of those who claim to believe the truth for this time are keeping..." MR volume 7, pg 389

It's not complicated. Those who find and embrace the love of God will naturally love Him in return and love humanity because they are His children. When the church loves God and their fellow man the Lord will eagerly bring those seeking Him to His church.

If the Lord is not daily adding to our church(es) the reason is undeniably clear. We are not what we profess to be.

The growth of the church is a direct result of the growth of the souls of those in the church. Love creates love. Do not seek growth. Seek God.

Friday, 15 April 2016

Acts Day 46 - Peculiar People?

2:46 So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.

It's an easy thing to pass by and give little thought to. Much of the Bible and much of life is like that. In our hurry to accomplish lots we miss almost everything. Today's detail that I came very close to passing by is in verse 47 - "and having favour with all the people".

My favourite author wrote that the best argument for Christianity is a loving and loveable Christian. There should be a silent drawing power in Christians. The French would call it a certain "je ne sais quoi". What that means is that strangers may not be able to explain why they are drawn to us, but they are drawn none the less.

I remember reading a book by Philip Yancey in which he described his high school or college reunion. He had gone to a Christian school yet he said the bulk of the conversation among his classmates reunited after so many years was a litany of complaints and problems. He described it as categorically depressing. In other words anyone who wasn't a Christian listening in on their pity party would certainly not be compelled to become one.

Jesus had drawing power. He didn't need a campaign manager or a promotional department. Crowds gathered to hear Him. They searched to find Him. They spent hours and sometimes days listening to Him. They said things like "never did a man speak like this man". He had a certain "je ne sais quoi".


Love draws. Kindness draws. Positivity draws. Optimism draws. However it's more than just those things. When a person lives primarily for the benefit of others it stands out. It's not normal but in a great way. Too often our Biblical designation to be a "peculiar people" has been translated to be a "weird people". Weird does not draw people, at least not in a good way. Dressing in a strict manner that is counter cultural is not how Jesus drew people. Eating a strict diet and making sure everyone knows about it is not how Jesus drew people. Trumpeting some cause like DC lobbyist is not how Jesus drew people.

Luke tells us that these new followers of Jesus were attractive to everyone. People liked them. People admired them. People were drawn to them.

The peace that comes from knowing we are loved as we are, loved so much that our Messiah died for us and forgave us when we were still His enemies is life changing. The truth that I don't have to earn His favour through performance is liberating. Not only is it personally freeing, but it frees me to love others before they deserve it and undeserved love is very attractive.

You see it's true. The best argument for Christianity is not tofu promotion, ankle length black dresses, anti (fill in the cause) lobbying or anything of the sort. The best argument is being loving and lovable.

Find Jesus and the rest will take care of itself.