Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘John’

John 10: 11, 14: “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep.” “I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own.”
1 Peter 5:4: “and when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that does not fade away.”

Our pastor used to live in Wyoming, and among his many encounters, he got to know a local shepherd and wanted to learn about his occupation of caring for sheep. One morning, while the shepherd was rousing the flock to wake up, our pastor saw the shepherd tend to some sheep that had rolled over on their sides. Sheep are similar to turtles; if they fall over sleeping, they need help getting up. They can actually die from asphyxiation if they’re not righted, because they cannot get up on their own. The shepherd would help right the sheep, massaging their legs until they could stand and move on their own. This puzzled our pastor; he asked the shepherd why did he keep those sheep, for all the trouble they caused him. Why didn’t he just get rid of them?

The shepherd looked at our pastor in amazement. He told him he wouldn’t get rid of them; those were some of his best sheep! They were incredibly loyal, and would never wander away from him. They knew the sound of his voice.

(Now, our pastor told us this tale in his own sermon series recently on Jesus: I Am; so, if I’ve quoted the story incorrectly, I’m sure he’ll set me straight. :-) )

We are sheep, and we need a Good Shepherd. Jesus is that Shepherd. He cares for us, protects us, and even corrects us when we stray. Jesus contrasted the Good Shepherd with hirelings who don’t take care of sheep, who run at the first sign of trouble. Jesus isn’t that way; we know the sound of His Voice, and are dependent on him.

Peter writes in 1 Peter, chapter 5, verse 4, that those who care for God’s flock will receive that crown of glory from the Chief Shepherd…and this Shepherd is also Jesus.

Something to think about!

Read Full Post »

Verses 18-21: “And when Simon saw that through the laying on of the apostles’ hands the Holy Spirit was given, he offered them money, saying “Give me this power also, that anyone on whom I lay hands may receive the Holy Spirit.” But Peter said to him, “Your money perish with you, because you thought that the gift of God could be purchased with money! You have neither part nor portion in this matter, for your heart is not right in the sight of God.””

Luke Skywalker attempted to use the Force to lift his half-sunken X-wing fighter from the swamp on Dagobah. Master Yoda had told him the same Force which he used to levitate a rock was the same Force that could lift the heavy star-craft. Luke’s attempt failed and he turned away discouraged, believing the attempt to still be impossible. With a small look of disappointment on his face, Yoda concentrated, pointed, and not only raised the X-wing fighter out of the swamp, but levitated it over to the dry ground. As Luke looked on incredulously, all he could say to Yoda was, “I don’t believe it!”

Yoda’s classic reply? “That…is why you fail.”

This scene from The Empire Strikes Back came to mind when I read the below section of Acts 8. Simon the sorcerer had seemingly became a Christian convert, but in his heart, he didn’t believe. He still thought that the giving of the Holy Spirit through Peter and John to be some sort of magician’s trick that he could simply buy and then capitalize on. Peter tore into him, giving him a verbal rebuke that got Simon’s attention. He goes on in the next verse to encourage him to truly repent; Simon’s weak reply is to ask them to pray for him. You see, Simon wasn’t repentant…he just was sorry he got caught in his lie.

So for those considering becoming a Christian…remember in the ABC’s of becoming one, the ‘B’…stands for ‘believe’. Without that, you will fail.

Something to think about.

Read Full Post »

Verse 29: “Now, Lord, look on their threats, and grant to Your servants that with all boldness they may speak Your word,”

We just recently came back from a Carpenters for Christ mission trip to Salina, KS. We helped a church erect a new sanctuary building since they have outgrown the space they are now using (a donated trailer). As I interviewed church members for our documentary video, I was struck by their passion for the lost in the area where they are building their new sanctuary. God has been removing barriers that the devil has thrown up, and the fields are ripe with harvest. These folk seem always ready to take action, whether it’s to visit someone in need or even just pray over someone. I had a gout flare-up one morning during the mission; no sooner had I told one of the ladies who was serving us refreshments about it, that she stopped what she was doing and prayed over me. I was moved, touched, and humbled.

Peter, John, and the followers were praying for that same boldness. They, too, were in a field ripe for harvest. Despite the run-in with the religious authorities and the prospect of more trouble from them, they prayed to God for deliverance and for the boldness they knew they would need to spread the Good News. We should all read that passage in Acts; we should all be moved, touched, and humbled.

Something to think about today.

Read Full Post »

Verse 23: “And being let go, they went to their own companions and reported all that the chief priests and elders had said to them.”

“So….what did they say???”

How many times have we asked that of friends who were involved in secret conferences? How many times have we wondered what was discussed behind closed doors? We are so anxious to be “in the know” that we can’t wait for someone to fill us in on what transpired. I was reminded of this recently, seeing a “late breaking news” blurb on sports TV regarding a press conference that New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft was going to have after he met with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell concerning the recently released findings of the “Deflategate” incident involving the Patriots’ quarterback, Tom Brady, and under-inflated footballs used in a playoff game last year. Given that Kraft was very defiant in his public and private protestations over the report’s findings, I was amazed to hear him accept the team’s penalties so that most all involved could move past this issue and get on with the NFL’s business.

Certainly, Peter’s and John’s Christian companions had heard the news of their being arrested and brought before the authorities. What was going to happen? As the Scripture states, they went straight to their companions after being released and told them all that had transpired. According to footnotes in 2 different Bibles I own, the followers realized that they were beginning to see the fulfilling of the prophecy found in Psalms 2: 1 and 2 (used in Acts 4:25-26): “Why do the nations rage, And the people plot a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves, And the rulers take counsel together, Against the LORD and against His Anointed…” The people marveled, they rejoiced, they praised God thanking Him for deliverance, and prayed all the more.

In both circumstances, the groups of people were surprised to hear news that they had not expected. And, you know what else? In both circumstances, God already knew what would happen. Of course, in the latter story, He had already sent word to His servant David in the Psalms concerning it. Talk about being “in the know”.

Something to think about.

Read Full Post »

Verse 20: “For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.”

You Are There was a television program based on a radio show on CBS that ran from 1953 to 1957. It starred then correspondent Walter Cronkite hosting reenactments of major world events, complete with reports and interviews being broadcast as the event “happened”. The program’s closing lines were memorable: “What sort of a day was it? A day like all days, filled with those events that alter and illuminate our times…and you were there.” (information here gathered from The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network TV Shows 1946-Present 4th edition, copyright 1988, by Tim Brooks and Earle Marsh.)

The program apparently showed famous events as they were just happening, showing the viewer the action as if it were happening NOW…and that they saw it and heard it with their own senses.

Peter and John didn’t have to have a reenactment. Not only did they walk with Jesus as His disciples, there WERE there, doing miracles in His name, and preaching the Good News. They couldn’t help but tell what they had seen and heard, even in the face of persecution from the authorities. Praise God for their boldness that they even outright TOLD them that.

May we be as bold today when we share the Gospel of Jesus Christ, that “we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard”.

Something to think about.

Read Full Post »

Verses 13-17: “Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated and untrained men, they marveled. And they realized that they had been with Jesus. And seeing the man who had been healed standing with them, they could say nothing against it. But when they had commanded them to go aside out of the council, they conferred among themselves, saying, “What shall we do to these men? For, indeed, that a notable miracle has been done through them is evident to all who dwell in Jerusalem, and we cannot deny it. But so that it spreads no further among the people, let us severely threaten them, that from now on they speak to no man in this name.””

Police Commissioner Wainwright Barth was having dinner with his nephew, Lamont Cranston, in the fashionable Cobalt Club. He was scolding his nephew on being late to this meal that Lamont had invited him too. Lamont apologizes, stating he was late because there was some…trouble on the bridge. Barth then receives an urgent message about another report of…the Shadow.

Lamont: “I thought you said he was only a rumor.”
Barth: “I’m sick of this Shadow business…his meddling in police affairs. This time tomorrow, I’ll put a task force on him.” (Barth crumples the note).

The light around Lamont dims, his eyes shining, showing the viewer that he is about to use the powers…of the Shadow.
In a hypnotic, dark voice he says, “You’re not going to appoint a task force.”
Barth agrees…”I’m not going to appoint a task force.”
Shadow: “You’re not going to pay any attention to these reports of the Shadow.”
Barth: “Ignore them entirely.”
Shadow: “THERE IS NO SHADOW.”
Barth: “There is no Shadow. If there were, I’d be Eleanor Roosevelt.”

Uncle Wainwright frowns and rubs his head as if he had a momentary headache; then he continues talking to Lamont, who has resumed his normal identity.

Barth: “Where was I?”
Lamont: “You were about to tell me who she is”, Lamont says. (referring to the recently-arrived, attractive woman named Margo Lane.)
(This dialogue was taken from The Shadow, a 1994 movie starring Alec Baldwin as Lamont Cranston/The Shadow, Penelope Ann Miller as Margo Lane, and Jonathan Winters as Commissioner Wainwright Barth.)

Of course, the Shadow was a fictional crime-fighter, just like Batman or the Phantom. He used his powers to cloud men’s minds in order to crush the criminal element…sometimes he also had to cloud the minds of the police in order to remain what he wanted to be…a 1930’s urban legend that no one would seriously consider was real. He used misdirection, rumor, and denial to conceal the truth of what was fact…that a costumed vigilante was waging a successful war on the underworld of crime.

In real life, there are those who would conceal the truth to further their means. Governments of other nations not as democratic as ours suppress information daily in their attempts to control the populace. There have even been recent revelations that certain government agencies in our own nation have concealed spying operations on our population. The Sanhedrin and religious leaders in Acts were no different. Yet they were cornered: here was truthful evidence of a miracle: a lame man of over 40 years of age walking and leaping; two men, not educated or formally-schooled, yet speaking to the council on religious matters as if they were; what’s more, they were disciples of Jesus…the same Jesus who had been crucified for saying he was the Messiah! And were there ever a whole lot of witnesses to attest to the act! The only thing they could do at this point, was threaten them in the name of their “religious authority” not to continue their preaching. In other words…pop the hand, don’t do it again!

Ever heard of trying to “ignore the elephant in the room”? (something so obvious, that NO ONE could say it wasn’t so?) We’ll see in the next passage how the council’s actions…at hiding the overwhelming truth of Jesus Christ…were about as effective as those of Commissioner Barth.

Something to think about.

Read Full Post »

Verses 8-12: “Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, “Rulers of the people and elders of Israel: If we this day are judged for a good deed done to a helpless man, by what means he has been made well, let it be known to you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, by Him this man stands here before you whole. This is the stone which was rejected by you builders, which has become the chief cornerstone. Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”

A fellow Carpenter for Christ told our group this story once, about how he was building a small rustic building on his property in his spare time. One day he went to put the door frame on the building and went to choose the sturdy beam that would be the main door post. He had several milled posts to choose from; among them was a sturdy post, but it had some knots in it, so he rejected it. He later found what he thought would be the perfect selection— straight, clean, and aesthetically pleasing. He ran out of time for that day, so he placed that post to the side to work on it later. He was delayed returning to the building work by some rain that came into the area. By the time he could get back to the construction, he discovered that this “perfect” post had warped in the rain and the sunshine which followed the storm. No longer good and straight, he couldn’t use it. He searched through the other planks of wood, but they, too, had warped and twisted in the elements. Finally, he came back to the rejected, knotty post. To his amazement, he discovered it was still just as firm and straight—it had not warped under the pressure of the elements. Turned out it made the perfect corner post for his door after all.

Isn’t that just what Peter was telling the elders and rulers who had brought John and him before them? The source of the miracle of the healing of the lame man was none other than Jesus Christ, who those leaders had rejected. What’s more, Peter went on to inform them that this Savior who the leaders had rejected was not just the Source of the healing, but the very foundation, the very anchor, the very cornerstone of the church…and that there was no other Source of salvation but Him! Oh, they could pick someone else, but they’d be wrong. What better message to share during these days leading up to the celebration of His resurrection.

Happy Easter! He is risen!

Read Full Post »

Verses 7-8: “And he took him by the right hand and lifted him up, and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength. So he, leaping up, stood and walked and entered the temple with them — walking, leaping, and praising God.”

Years ago, I was driving home from a high school football game by myself. I was taking a paved, two-lane county road through the woods. It was raining lightly, but steady. As I rounded a curve, I saw a good-sized tree limb in the road. I braked enough to roll over the limb in my truck, but the way the limb was shaped, it caught my front tires and spun me off the road. When I recovered from the shock of what happened, I discovered I was precariously perched on the edge of an under-the-road cattle crossing / drainage ditch, about 12 feet deep. Not too many minutes afterward, another vehicle came along and stopped. I heard a voice, and boy did that voice sound great! “Hey, you okay over there?” I answered back that I was okay, and that my parents lived down the road…could he give me a lift? Then, I heard the man call my name, and ask “is that you”? Turns out my rescuer was known to me! Boy, I was so glad to hear Tommy’s voice! He helped me get out of the truck and took me to my folks’ house (where I spent the night). The next morning, my brother-in-law was able to use my father’s tractor to pull the truck out.

You see, where I went off the road, there were no nearby houses, no street lights, and it was completely dark. I couldn’t even see how deep that ditch was, so that’s why I didn’t just climb down from the truck. The next day, when I saw how deep it was, I realize I could’ve been seriously hurt; more than that, I wouldn’t have been able to have been seen from the road. Turns out a cradle of limbs held my truck like a net from going nose-first into that ditch! But that previous night, I didn’t care who my mysterious rescuer was at the time, I was just so glad that he came along to save me. Knowing who it was made me feel even more relieved!

The lame man had just been witnessed to by Peter and John. Peter, in the name of Jesus Christ and with His power, delivered to the man the best gift his body could have…the ability to walk! Talk about happy! He knew that day who Jesus was, and he was non-stop praising God as he entered the temple. I’m sure that he was glad to hear Peter’s voice and message to him that day. He knew now who had rescued him. More than that, he now knew Who had saved him, period. Now, he knew Jesus!

Something to think about.

Read Full Post »

Verse 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.””

I remember seeing an old black-and-white comic strip advertisement for Charles Atlas in comic books that I read as a child. It would detail the skinny young man getting sand kicked in his face by beefier bullies on the beach. The young man finally gets tired of the ridicule (even the good-natured ribbing from his girlfriend) and decides to send away for Charles Atlas’s free body-building program book (all it cost was a stamp). Weeks later, he has a bodybuilder physique; not only that, he has bolstered confidence and courage to push back against the bullies and become the “Hero of the Beach”.

Here was Peter and John going to temple and encountering a lame man begging for alms at the gate. Peter could have made the wrong choice (which he oft times did) or offered money (which, of course, he didn’t have) or offered an excuse (which he could have, but didn’t). Instead Peter, empowered and filled with Christ-centered confidence and courage offered the man what he really needed: healing for his physical and spiritual state, most importantly through the power of the name of Jesus Christ.

Talk about a transformation!

So…are you sharing what Christ has given you today with those who need it?

Something to think about.

Read Full Post »

Verse 3: “But not even Titus who was with me, though he was a Greek, was compelled to be circumcised.”
Verse 9: “and recognizing the grace that had been given to me, James and Cephas and John, who were reputed to be pillars, gave to me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship, that we might go to the Gentiles, and they to the circumcised.”

Today is July 4, Independence Day, in the United States. This is the day we celebrate the birth of the United States of America; over 200 years ago, our forefathers fought against the tyrannical British monarchy to achieve their freedom from England. They wanted to govern themselves, not be subjected to the unfair laws and rule of King George. They wanted freedom from the law of the English empire.

Paul had gone to Jerusalem to meet with the Christian leadership, and he, too, was fighting for freedom: the freedom from the laws that the Judaizers were saying the Gentiles had to abide by, in addition to the grace of Jesus. Titus was Exhibit A in this case; a Greek uncircumcised Christian. Had the Judaizers had their way, they would have stated that Titus couldn’t be a Christian without obeying the law of Moses, including circumcision. Paul defended that it was grace and grace alone in Jesus Christ that was saving. The Christian leadership agreed with Paul; they also offered the “right hand of fellowship” to Barnabas and him to continue in the ministry to the Gentiles. The Judaizers had kept referencing the Jerusalem leadership in their arguments against Paul…now Paul had the endorsement of the Jerusalem Christian leaders that he was in the right…that the grace of Jesus needed no additional “requirements”.

That is what makes the Christian faith different from other religions; you can’t earn or work your way to Heaven. It’s a gift from God, the gift of Jesus. It’s freedom from the penalty of sin.

Happy Independence Day!

Read Full Post »