Thursday, 26 July 2012

Desiring God App

I recently downloaded the desiring God app for my iPod, it is really quite good, with sermons blogs and other resources to look through, but best of all...John Piper has downloaded all of his books to be read for free! I truly recommend it!!

Saturday, 21 July 2012

Acts 16:16-40 Suffering for our Saviour.

Today I read through a section of acts 16 and found it rather encouraging and challenging. Here's some things I picked up (by the grace of God).

Firstly, we have a demon possessed girl proclaiming that "these men (Paul and Silas) are servants of the Most High God". What a wonderful reminder! We have one of Satan's minions proclaiming that God truly is ruler over all. This shows that God is completely in control and all powerful, Satan cannot defeat him, and even proclaims the truth where he is trying to defy God. Satan has no true power compared to God, and we can trust God fully to defend us and protect us - he is the most high God. It's also worthwhile to note that we are God's servants - I believe the word in Greek is 'dulos' which is better translated slave - We belong to him, he created us, sustains us and saved us. Therefore as Christians who acknowledge this, we are called to completely submit to him and to obey him fully. But this isn't a bad thing - its an honour. We deserve his wrath yet he uses us to bring him glory, and we are not only his slaves. Through Jesus we are adopted as children!!!! What a blessing!

Aside from this point, we have the men who completely reject Paul and persecute him and Silas because they have lost their way of making money. Paul casts the demon out of the girl, and that demon had allowed the girl to tell the future, which was used by her owners to make cash. As a result these men go and take Paul and Silas to the local magistrate. They refuse to believe the gospel, which they had just heard proclaimed, even by their demon possessed slave, and can only think of their money. Love of money and material goods is so common in our culture. We have so so much, yet we always want more. But it blinds us from the truth and so easily stops us from serving God. As a result Paul and Silas are accused of teaching the people to disobey the government and are verbally abused, then stripped and severely beaten and thrown in the inner cell of the jail. As Christians, we will suffer if we live as we should and if we share the gospel. But we must not fear man - trust God, even through trials and suffering he makes us more like him and will protect us. We can completely trust him no matter what situation we are in. The remainder of the chapter goes on to tell of the faith of Paul and Silas, and Gods deliverance and work through this situation.

They are thrown in prison, locked in stocks, but they praise God. They spend the night singing hymns!! They have every reason to blame God, but instead they worship him. Why is this? They know that God has a plan and is accomplishing it. They know that he is in control and that even suffering for God is something to rejoice in. What a contrast to us, who are scared even to say that we are Christians!
While they are praising God there is and earthquake and they are freed, which eventually results in the conversion of the jailer and his family. Read it for yourself! God is in control and will do his will through us! Even when we suffer, he has a good, pleasing and perfect plan which he is working to completion. Nothing we go through is in vain, we can trust God our Saviour and have no reason to doubt. He is forever faithful and all powerful and he never forgets his people.

Friday, 20 July 2012

Acts 16:6-10. Sovereignty of God

Sorry for not posting this week, been a bit crazy and when I typed up the last one I lost it all and didn't have time to re-type. Today I read through acts 16:6-10, which was...interesting. This passage deals with Paul's second missionary journey, and he tries to go first to Asia, then to Bithiniya (the province northwest of Asia) and both times the holy spirit stops him.

So, we have Paul with plans, and God with other plans and of course Gods plans prevail. We can make as many plans as we want, but God has a plan and will accomplish it no matter what our plans are. We see this throughout all of the bible, God does his will. This is clearly shown in proverbs 16:9

'In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps.'n

So, why is this a good and comforting thing? Romans 8:28 - God works for the good of his people and for his glory. Romans 12:2 - Gods will is perfect good and pleasing. Etc.

We can trust God, he will do his will and by it he will glorify himself and work for our good. Even in our struggles God works to build us to be
More like him and to cause us to trust him more.

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Plans

Hey, thought I'd let you know my plans from here on. With pressures of school and other things, I cannot allocate too much time to the blog, since I don't want this to take away from time for my bible reading. As a result I will probably be posting on Mondays Wednesdays and Fridays and perhaps Sundays. The Other days I'll use that time to read some commentaries on the side or else research ideas and doctrines which I need a better understanding of (eg: spiritual gifts).

God Bless and have a great day!!

Monday, 16 July 2012

Acts 15:12-21 God's Faithfulness

Many of the lessons of yesterday's passage are carried through to this one, especially the fact that we are saved by faith, not works, but there are also a number of useful lessons to consider here. (obviously, since it is God's word.)

One such lesson is found in verses 15-18. James is discussing the fact that God has seen fit to save the gentiles, and states: 'the words of the prophets are in agreement with this'. This is important. I think too often we forget that the old testament is just as applicable and useful as the new testament. 2 Timothy 3:16 says that all scripture is God breathed, and therefore the old testament is just as good and true and right as the new. Nothing in the new testament has not already been in the old, and God never changes. Of course, through Christ a number of things have been fulfilled (eg: the sacrificial system was fulfilled by him being the sacrifice for our sin once for all), but there are still plenty of lessons which we can learn from it, and we must not neglect it! None of God's words can ever be useless, it is all instructive and crucial to the life of a Christian.

Another lesson from these verses (v 15-18) is that God keeps his promises, and proves his people right. Throughout the old testament, people have been told by God to prophecy certain things, and God has never forgotten his promises through these people. In Genesis he promised a son from eve who would 'crush the serpents head' - defeat Satan (Gen 3). Who did that? Jesus! That was perhaps 4000 years before Jesus was even born! There are plenty of other examples - especially in Isaiah and the Psalms. God keeps his promises, and so we can trust him to keep his promise to save us eternally, to forgive us if we repent and believe and to bring us to his kingdom in heaven forever. What a blessing! As a side note, from this it's obvious that God is in control and always planned to save us by sending Jesus.

Lastly, I wanted to put forth some ideas about verse 20. In this verse we have James saying that the Gentiles should be told not to: 1. Eat food offered to idols, 2. Be sexually immoral or 3. Eat strangled animals or blood. I've done a little research and I'm pretty sure these are the reasons for the commands. 1. Don't eat meat offered to idols is commanded for two reasons: Eating that meat will allow Satan to tempt the Gentile believers to worship the idols also, so to prevent possible temptation and sin, and secondly - eating food sacrificed to idols would be a stumbling block to the jews and would cause then to sin. Paul also deals with this in 1 Corinthians 8. We must by do anything which may offend fellow believers or cause them to sin. 2. Sexual immorality is obviously sinful and condemned throughout scripture, but in the life of Gentiles, it was quite common, and was even a way to worship their idols. This is commanded so that Gentile believers will not fall into this sin without realizing that it is sinful. 3. Blood and strangled animals again seems to be simply because these things will cause offense to the Jews and possibly cause them to sin or else cause disunity in the church. We should be caring of each other and work hard not to offend fellow Christians (except of course with challenging people about there sins which is necessary and often offensive. In general we should seek to be at peace with all men, but never tithe extent that we don't follow clear biblical commands).

God bless!

Saturday, 14 July 2012

Acts 15:1-11 Through faith alone.

These verses occur after the first missionary journey of Paul and Barnabas. They have returned to the church in Antioch, and some Jewish believers come along and say that the Gentiles must be circumcised to be saved. As a result they journey to Jerusalem to ask the apostles. There are three lessons I would like to draw out of this passage.

Firstly, we have the word 'brothers' which is used to describe fellow believers (see verses 1,3 and 7). This is used throughout the new testament, but I want to mention that we, Christians, are members of the same family. If you have genuinely acknowledged your sin and repented of it, and if you have faith in Jesus Christ as Saviour and Lord then you, like me, have been adopted into God's family. Since believers are a family, we should act like it. We should help each other, care for each other, have genuine friendships which we put effort into and we should study God's word together. We should also be completely obedient to God, our father.

Secondly I want to draw out the main point of the passage: faith verses works. The Jewish believers claim in verse 1 that "unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved". This is a problem, we have some people saying that works are necessary to be saved. Instead of being saved by faith alone, they are claiming that we need to do something to be saved. This cannot be true when we consider the following facts: firstly, we are completely sinful, and we all deserve hell. In Romans 3:23 we learn that all have sinned and in Romans 6:23 we learn that the wages of sin is death. We are in an utterly hopeless situation. Secondly, all that we do is like filthy rags in Gods sight (Isaiah 64:6), so nothing that we can do can improve on our salvation or even please God unless we have been cleansed of our sinfulness. So how does this apply to our lives? Well, we cannot earn salvation. We cannot do anything to save ourselves, and the reverse is also true: nothing we do is to big that God can't forgive us for it. What a comforts that is! If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9). We cannot do anything so bad that God is not willing or able to forgive us for. So don't let Satan chew you up with false guilt - repent and stop sinning! God will forgive!! Along with this point is the fact that genuine faith leads to good deeds. If you are a Christian, then act like it! We are not saved by our deeds, but we are saved to do good deeds - for Gods glory (see Ephesians 2:8-10, 1 Corinthians 10:31 and James 2)

Lastly I want to point out that all Christians are equally saved. Denomination does not matter to God, and we should put next to no emphasis on it. Verse 4 makes that clear: when the believers come to jerusalem they are 'welcomes by the church and the apostles and the elders'. Likewise in verse 9, God made no distinction between the Jewish believers and the Gentiles. If a person believes the basic truths of the gospel, is seeking to learn and grow and is showing the fruits of salvation then we can assume that they are saved and therefore our equals. Likewise if a church holds fast to the truth, teaches from the bible, then regardless of denomination we should regard it as a fellow church. Sure, we will disagree in areas, and we should discuss these things, but they should not get in the way of fellowship with one another or give room for Satan to get in (unless of course they are crucial truths of the bible which cannot be disputed).

I hope that this has been helpful to you and that God uses it to glorify himself.

God bless!

The idea

So, I've been reading through Acts lately and it occurred to me that it would be worthwhile to write short devotionals on what I have read- to benefit fellow Christians, to help me focus well and to use what I'm learning in sharing it with others.

So, I hope this is beneficial to you, the reader, and I pray that God will use it to glorify himself. I am hoping to post regularly starting tomorrow!

God bless!