Thursday 21 July, 2016

Acts 14:1-7

14 At Iconium, Paul and Barnabas went into the Jewish synagogue as usual. They spoke there with great power. Large numbers of Jews and Greeks became believers. 2 But the Jews who refused to believe stirred up some of the Gentiles who were there. They turned them against the two men and the new believers. 3 So Paul and Barnabas spent a lot of time there. They spoke boldly for the Lord. He gave them the ability to do signs and wonders. In this way the Lord showed that they were telling the truth about his grace. 4 The people of the city did not agree with one another. Some were on the side of the Jews. Others were on the side of the apostles. 5 Jews and Gentiles alike planned to treat Paul and Barnabas badly. Their leaders agreed. They planned to kill them by throwing stones at them. 6 But Paul and Barnabas found out about the plan. They escaped to the Lycaonian cities of Lystra and Derbe and to the surrounding area. 7 There they continued to preach the good news.

The theme of blessing and conflict in the ministry of Paul and Barnabas continues here. They are now in Iconium, a city 2 or three days walk from Antioch. Again they go into the Jewish synagogues to preach the gospel of Jesus and a great multitude of Jews and gentiles believe. Again the Jews make trouble – poisoning the minds of the new believers.  I love the word ‘therefore’ in verse 3; it implies that Paul and Barnabas were inspired to ramp up the passion of their mission because of the Jewish opposition.  They speak boldly, but it is the Holy Spirit’s presence that is bearing witness through them. Paul and Barnabas remain there while the Holy Spirit directs, but when it turns to violence against them it’s time to leave, as they had left Antioch, and travel to the next city.

God sent the two missionaries to Iconium. It was His mission and He was with them all the time with power, inspiration and protection. He gave them the words and the courage to preach in public to the crowds hungry for the good news.  He chose the time for them to leave when it got too dangerous.  The new believers would not be alone, they also have the Holy Spirit with them. We don’t have powerful preachers and evangelists with us all the time but we always have the Holy Spirit with us. We are to be like the believers in Iconium, nurturing the brothers and sisters that God has put us with. ‘Keep faith and carry on’ building our gospel communities. Let’s grow and flourish here because we have an amazing gift of grace to share.

Lord Jesus thank you for saving me from my sin and placing me in a church that you have planted. Help me to grow and to help others become strong in you.

Written by Dimity Milne

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Wednesday 20 July, 2016

Acts 13:42-52

42 Paul and Barnabas started to leave the synagogue. The people invited them to say more about these things on the next Sabbath day. 43 The people were told they could leave the service. Many Jews followed Paul and Barnabas. Many Gentiles who faithfully worshiped the God of the Jews did the same. Paul and Barnabas talked with them. They tried to get them to keep living in God’s grace. 44 On the next Sabbath day, almost the whole city gathered. They gathered to hear the word of the Lord. 45 When the Jews saw the crowds, they became very jealous. They began to disagree with what Paul was saying. They said evil things against him. 46 Then Paul and Barnabas answered them boldly. “We had to speak God’s word to you first,” they said. “But you don’t accept it. You don’t think you are good enough for eternal life. So now we are turning to the Gentiles. 47 This is what the Lord has commanded us to do. He said, “ ‘I have made you a light for the Gentiles. You will bring salvation to the whole earth.’ ” (Isaiah 49:6) 48 When the Gentiles heard this, they were glad. They honored the word of the Lord. All who were appointed for eternal life believed. 49 The word of the Lord spread through the whole area. 50 But the Jewish leaders stirred up the important women who worshiped God. They also stirred up the men who were leaders in the city. The Jewish leaders tried to get the women and men to attack Paul and Barnabas. They threw Paul and Barnabas out of that area. 51 Paul and Barnabas shook the dust off their feet. This was a warning to the people who had opposed them. Then Paul and Barnabas went on to Iconium. 52 The believers were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.

Wow – the book of Acts is an exciting account of the power of God changing lives in the midst of opposition. Here we are told “almost the whole town turned out to hear Paul and Barnabas preach”. This is evidence of a message that people want to hear about. The chatter about what they are saying and doing is capturing the people’s attention. The result, despite the religious people’s opposition, is that the Gentiles are turning to Christ in their droves. The Holy Spirit is igniting faith in the hearts of people who have long been “left out” of the picture. Information alone does not do this – revelation and transformation are what ignite people’s curiosity, imagination and response.

Oh God, what is my chatter doing? What am I talking about to the people around me that will bring them from being “left out” to “belonging”? What is evident in my life that they can see? Am I praying for them to get a “revelation” from you?

2 Corinthians 4:4 “Satan, who is the god of this world, has blinded the minds of those who don’t believe. They are unable to see the glorious light of the Good News. They don’t understand this message about the glory of Christ, who is the exact likeness of God.”

Lord- may the people in my town turn out in droves to find out about You because of the things You are saying and doing through Your church – and through me.

Written by Ps. Linda Quinn

2 replies
  1. Stephen Fell says:

    Thanks Linda. That people will turn out in droves to find out about You! As we all see the increasing volumes of people coming into our community through all the real estate development that is occurring, I am encouraged that our church is taking steps to make space for more people to come to hear the word of God amongst us. The second service for Sunday mornings is an avenue by which we are making space for these extra people. Let us pray that people will come in droves, not to build our church, but to build His Kingdom.

  2. Andrew says:

    Linda
    Thanks.
    You just gave me an analogy. That the “Gentiles” = those people in my world who don’t yet know Jesus and do not participate in our cultural Christianity.

    I agree with you. As in the story, I would love to see them come in droves.

    And I hope that when they did, those already in the “club” would not feel threatened or superior or resistant to the Holy Spirit.

    I wonder why the church in Acts 13:42 did?
    And I pray that we as a church will never repel new believers.
    Thanks Linda.

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Tuesday 19 July, 2016

Acts 13:13-41

13 From Paphos, Paul and his companions sailed to Perga in Pamphylia. There John Mark left them and returned to Jerusalem. 14 From Perga they went on to Pisidian Antioch. On the Sabbath day they entered the synagogue and sat down. 15 The Law and the Prophets were read aloud. Then the leaders of the synagogue sent word to Paul and his companions. They said, “Brothers, do you have any words of instruction for the people? If you do, please speak.” 16 Paul stood up and motioned with his hand. Then he said, “Fellow Israelites, and you Gentiles who worship God, listen to me! 17 The God of Israel chose our people who lived long ago. He blessed them greatly while they were in Egypt. With his mighty power he led them out of that country. 18 He put up with their behavior for about 40 years in the desert. 19 And he destroyed seven nations in Canaan. Then he gave the land to his people as their rightful share. 20 All this took about 450 years. “After this, God gave them judges until the time of Samuel the prophet. 21 Then the people asked for a king. He gave them Saul, son of Kish. Saul was from the tribe of Benjamin. He ruled for 40 years. 22 God removed him and made David their king. Here is God’s witness about him. ‘David, son of Jesse, is a man dear to my heart,’ he said. ‘David will do everything I want him to do.’ 23 “From this man’s family line God has brought to Israel the Savior Jesus. This is what he had promised. 24 Before Jesus came, John preached that we should turn away from our sins and be baptized. He preached this to all Israel. 25 John was coming to the end of his work. ‘Who do you suppose I am?’ he said. ‘I am not the one you are looking for. But there is someone coming after me. I am not good enough to untie his sandals.’ 26 “Listen, fellow children of Abraham! Listen, you Gentiles who worship God! This message of salvation has been sent to us. 27 The people of Jerusalem and their rulers did not recognize Jesus. By finding him guilty, they made the prophets’ words come true. These are read every Sabbath day. 28 The people and their rulers had no reason at all for sentencing Jesus to death. But they asked Pilate to have him killed. 29 They did everything that had been written about Jesus. Then they took him down from the cross. They laid him in a tomb. 30 But God raised him from the dead. 31 For many days he was seen by those who had traveled with him from Galilee to Jerusalem. Now they are telling our people about Jesus. 32 “We are telling you the good news. What God promised our people long ago 33 he has done for us, their children. He has raised up Jesus. This is what is written in the second Psalm. It says, “ ‘You are my son. Today I have become your father.’ (Psalm 2:7) 34 God raised Jesus from the dead. He will never rot in the grave. As God has said, “ ‘Holy and sure blessings were promised to David. I will give them to you.’ (Isaiah 55:3) 35 In another place it also says, “ ‘You will not let your holy one rot away.’ (Psalm 16:10) 36 “David carried out God’s purpose while he lived. Then he died. He was buried with his people. His body rotted away. 37 But the one whom God raised from the dead did not rot away. 38 “My friends, here is what I want you to know. I announce to you that your sins can be forgiven because of what Jesus has done. 39 Through him everyone who believes is set free from every sin. Moses’ law could not make you right in God’s eyes. 40 Be careful! Don’t let what the prophets spoke about happen to you. They said, 41 “ ‘Look, you who make fun of the truth! Wonder and die! I am going to do something in your days that you would never believe. You wouldn’t believe it even if someone told you.’ ” (Habakkuk 1:5)

This story takes place in a strategic military and administrative Roman colony, that was a major trading route to the coast of Syria and Ephesus. This pagan city, with a temple to Ascaenus, was also a strategic location to preach the gospel on Paul’s first missionary journey. Here Paul and Barnabas start preaching to the God-fearing Gentiles and many are saved.  Paul begins, by giving these people a complete history lesson of God’s redemption plan from Abraham to Jesus. Many came to believe and “the word of the Lord spread throughout the whole region”. (Acts 13 v 49)

What struck me about this passage: These people were Gentiles (not Jews, not cultured in the stories of their history and the retelling of these through their celebrations) – yet as Paul teaches this journey of God and His people to them.  He unfold the story of God on earth through His people and then through Jesus – they understand and have an encounter with Christ and they are saved.

It struck me – so often I wonder how to share Christ to certain people?  What is the best approach?  My testimony? History? Yet, here Paul is able to reach these pagan people just sharing HIStory. The journey of God and His people – completely revealed in Jesus.

How well do I know the word of God and the stories in the Bible to share it so concisely?

Lord help me to share your word, your life, your history and your truth that those who listen will come to a knowledge and understanding of you. Help me and lead me to share with people where they are at and what they need to hear from you.

Written by Ps. Sue Botta

2 replies
  1. Richard says:

    This simple approach by Paul makes such an impact. I wonder why we complicate things sometimes.

  2. Richard says:

    This is so insightful. With a clear historical sweep Paul gives the listeners an overview of salvation history. I love however that this is not a history lesson. Paul calls them to a personal application. Vs. 33 ” He has done for us”, vs. 38 ” I announce your sins can be forgiven” and his final admonition to “be careful”.

    Paul makes it plain, God’s activity in the world is not to be trifled with, to be placed in the pending basket, the do later tray. Paul calls us to a decision to follow Jesus, and that is to be from now.

    Father, help me keep a sense of urgency about my faith, both in evangelism and in purity.

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Monday 18 July, 2016

ACTS 13:4-12

4 Barnabas and Saul were sent on their way by the Holy Spirit. They went down to Seleucia. From there they sailed to Cyprus. 5 They arrived at Salamis. There they preached God’s word in the Jewish synagogues. John was with them as their helper. 6 They traveled all across the island until they came to Paphos. There they met a Jew named Bar-Jesus. He was an evil magician and a false prophet. 7 He was an attendant of Sergius Paulus, the governor. Paulus was a man of understanding. He sent for Barnabas and Saul. He wanted to hear God’s word. 8 But the evil magician named Elymas opposed them. The name Elymas means Magician. He tried to keep the governor from becoming a believer. 9 Saul was also known as Paul. He was filled with the Holy Spirit. He looked straight at Elymas. He said to him, 10 “You are a child of the devil! You are an enemy of everything that is right! You cheat people. You use all kinds of tricks. Won’t you ever stop twisting the right ways of the Lord? 11 Now the Lord’s hand is against you. You are going to go blind. For a while you won’t even be able to see the light of the sun.” Right away mist and darkness came over him. He tried to feel his way around. He wanted to find someone to lead him by the hand. 12 When the governor saw what had happened, he believed. He was amazed at what Paul was teaching about the Lord.

The Holy Spirit was directing Saul and Barnabas. This immediately shows that God had a specific plan for them, that Cyprus was not a random destination.

The proconsul was a position responsible for an entire province and was answerable to the Roman Senate, and therefore it was a role of power and authority. Sergius Paulus was the proconsul at the time, who is described as an “intelligent man”.

Here we see the plan of God unfolding. The Holy Spirit positioned Paul and Barnabas to this area, because Sergius wanted to “hear the word of God”, and called for them. What an amazing opportunity. I believe this man was to have great influence for the faith, because in the next component of this chapter, we read of the resistance that Paul and Barnabas faced, via the sorcerer Elymas. The enemy was opposing. Spurgeon writes “wherever there is likely to be great success, the open door, and the opposing adversaries, will both be found”. However, by the faith and authority of the apostles, and the power of God, the resistance was removed, and the proconsul “believed”, meaning he came to faith. A man in this position, with a faith in God, is a great Kingdom strategy!

What is my response to this? I have prayed through this and realise that I want to recognise more the call of the Holy Spirit, that I may walk in greater obedience to where He directs, so that His purposes may be fulfilled. May any of my excuses dissolve away by the passion of serving Him.

Father, help me to each day have my spiritual radar attuned to You, that I can be living in Your purpose, and not my own.

(I have since put this as a daily reminder on my iphone. I encourage you to do the same)

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Sunday 17 July, 2016

Acts 13:1-3

13 1 In the church at Antioch there were prophets and teachers. Among them were Barnabas, Simeon, and Lucius from Cyrene. Simeon was also called Niger. Another was Manaen. He had been brought up with Herod, the ruler of Galilee. Saul was among them too. 2 While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit spoke. “Set apart Barnabas and Saul for me,” he said. “I have appointed them to do special work.” 3 The prophets and teachers fasted and prayed. They placed their hands on Barnabas and Saul. Then they sent them off.

We can take much from these powerful few verses regarding what happened just prior to Paul’s first missionary journey. It is important to note that Paul and Barnabas were among men who were worshipping and fasting. This was the environment that enabled them to hear from the Holy Spirit. It was clear that Paul and Barnabas were called for a specific purpose. We can also see that the Holy Spirit was obeyed in that they continued to fast, pray and then laid hands upon Paul and Barnabas before sending them on their way.

Paul and Barnabas learned that they were called to a specific work for God through worship and fasting. This cannot be underestimated. God calls each and every one of us to serve him in a particular way. This passage reminds me where it all starts and where clarity can be obtained in terms of fulfilling God’s call upon my life. It’s important to go out in the power of God’s spirit. Notice how those remaining prayed for those who were specifically sent. All present knew Paul and Barnabas had been singled out on this occasion but they all shared in the dedicating part by praying and believing what the Holy Spirit had said. A team working together in faith!

Dear Lord, thank you for calling each one of us to serve you in a unique way. Help us to wait on you and hear & obey your Holy Spirit before we go. Amen.

Written by Ps. Ainslie Woods

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Saturday 16 July, 2016

Acts 12:20-25

20 He had been quarreling with the people of Tyre and Sidon. So they got together and asked for a meeting with him. This was because they depended on the king’s country to supply them with food. They gained the support of Blastus and then asked for peace. Blastus was a trusted personal servant of the king. 21 The appointed day came. Herod was seated on his throne. He was wearing his royal robes. He made a speech to the people. 22 Then they shouted, “This is the voice of a god. It’s not the voice of a man.” 23 Right away an angel of the Lord struck Herod down. Herod had not given praise to God. So he was eaten by worms and died. 24 But God’s word continued to spread and many people believed the message. 25 Barnabas and Saul finished their task. Then they returned from Jerusalem. They took John Mark with them.

Herod certainly was not acting as a friend of God. Earlier in the chapter he was killing and imprisoning Jesus’ followers and then in this passage he accepted the worship due to the one true God. Herod is shown here attempting to gain his value and worth from people. His identity was tied up in what people thought of him, which led him to persecute Jesus’ followers as this action was applauded by the Jews (vs3). The same motivation seems to have caused him to accept the worship of the delegation rather than directing their praises to God.

How often am I motivated by a desire to please others and how often do I seek the approval of people rather than resting in my identity in Christ?! Too often! God, I can see how dangerous it is to look to people for my worth and value and how it leads me away from truly serving you. In the everyday flow of life please help me to slow down and see my motivations. May my actions come from a place of security and rest, rather than a desire to prove myself. Teach me how to live in your grace and focus on how magnificent you are. Thank you Holy Spirit that you guide me in living this out. Amen.

Written by Beth Waugh

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Friday 15 July, 2016

Acts‬ ‭12:1-19‬ ‬

12 About this time, King Herod arrested some people who belonged to the church. He planned to make them suffer greatly. 2 He had James killed with a sword. James was John’s brother. 3 Herod saw that the death of James pleased some Jews. So he arrested Peter also. This happened during the Feast of Unleavened Bread. 4 After Herod arrested Peter, he put him in prison. Peter was placed under guard. He was watched by four groups of four soldiers each. Herod planned to put Peter on public trial. It would take place after the Passover Feast. 5 So Peter was kept in prison. But the church prayed hard to God for him. 6 It was the night before Herod was going to bring him to trial. Peter was sleeping between two soldiers. Two chains held him there. Lookouts stood guard at the entrance. 7 Suddenly an angel of the Lord appeared. A light shone in the prison cell. The angel struck Peter on his side. Peter woke up. “Quick!” the angel said. “Get up!” The chains fell off Peter’s wrists. 8 Then the angel said to him, “Put on your clothes and sandals.” Peter did so. “Put on your coat,” the angel told him. “Follow me.” 9 Peter followed him out of the prison. But he had no idea that what the angel was doing was really happening. He thought he was seeing a vision. 10 They passed the first and second guards. Then they came to the iron gate leading to the city. It opened for them by itself. They went through it. They walked the length of one street. Suddenly the angel left Peter. 11 Then Peter realized what had happened. He said, “Now I know for sure that the Lord has sent his angel. He set me free from Herod’s power. He saved me from everything the Jewish people were hoping would happen.” 12 When Peter understood what had happened, he went to Mary’s house. Mary was the mother of John Mark. Many people had gathered in her home. They were praying there. 13 Peter knocked at the outer entrance. A servant named Rhoda came to answer the door. 14 She recognized Peter’s voice. She was so excited that she ran back without opening the door. “Peter is at the door!” she exclaimed. 15 “You’re out of your mind,” they said to her. But she kept telling them it was true. So they said, “It must be his angel.” 16 Peter kept on knocking. When they opened the door and saw him, they were amazed. 17 Peter motioned with his hand for them to be quiet. He explained how the Lord had brought him out of prison. “Tell James and the other brothers and sisters about this,” he said. Then he went to another place. 18 In the morning the soldiers were bewildered. They couldn’t figure out what had happened to Peter. 19 So Herod had them look everywhere for Peter. But they didn’t find him. Then Herod questioned the guards closely. He ordered that they be put to death.

I think the key sentence in this story is “BUT the church was earnestly praying to God for him.” This sentence acts as the explanatory reason for the miraculous event that follows. God was very ready to work a miracle on behalf of Peter and the fledgling Church; however, he wanted that Church to participate in that miracle through prayer.

I am also encouraged that my faith need not be great. These Christians had faith to pray, but there expectations were low! When Jesus is released, according to their prayers, they do not believe it is possible!! Nevertheless, they prayed and received their request from God. They became partakers in the miracle God would do.

“Lord, we are nothing if we are not a praying Church. Make us a praying Church and make me a praying member”.

Written by Andrew Mellor

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Thursday 14 July, 2016

Acts 11:19-30

19 Some believers had been scattered by the suffering that unbelievers had caused them. They were scattered after Stephen was killed. Those believers traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus and Antioch. But they spread the word only among Jews. 20 Some believers from Cyprus and Cyrene went to Antioch. There they began to speak to Greeks also. They told them the good news about the Lord Jesus. 21 The Lord’s power was with them. Large numbers of people believed and turned to the Lord. 22 The church in Jerusalem heard about this. So they sent Barnabas to Antioch. 23 When he arrived and saw what the grace of God had done, he was glad. He told them all to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts. 24 Barnabas was a good man. He was full of the Holy Spirit and of faith. Large numbers of people came to know the Lord. 25 Then Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul. 26 He found him there. Then he brought him to Antioch. For a whole year Barnabas and Saul met with the church. They taught large numbers of people. At Antioch the believers were called Christians for the first time. 27 In those days some prophets came down from Jerusalem to Antioch. 28 One of them was named Agabus. He stood up and spoke through the Spirit. He said there would not be nearly enough food anywhere in the Roman world. This happened while Claudius was the emperor. 29 The believers decided to provide help for the brothers and sisters living in Judea. All of them helped as much as they could. 30 They sent their gift to the elders through Barnabas and Saul.

These are exciting verses to read – describing the birth and early days of a new church. Antioch was born out of the overflow of believers having to flee persecution. As they moved on from their home to a find a new home – “in their going” they took the message of Jesus with them and shared it with the Greeks at Antioch.

I love the version of v20-21 in the Message Bible

Then some of the men from Cyprus and Cyrene who had come to Antioch started talking to Greeks, giving them the Message of the Master Jesus. God was pleased with what they were doing and put his stamp of approval on it—quite a number of the Greeks believed and turned to the Master.

They started talking… The result was the Greek’s lives changed eternally, the church at Antioch was birthed and discipleship began in earnest.

Lord – where am I going today? Open my eyes to the people around me – Your Kingdom transports lives from the Kingdom of darkness into the Kingdom of light – who can I be talking to about You today?

Written by Ps. Linda Quinn

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Wednesday 13 July, 2016

Acts 11:1-18

11 The apostles and the believers all through Judea heard that Gentiles had also received God’s word. 2 Peter went up to Jerusalem. There the Jewish believers found fault with him. 3 They said, “You went into the house of Gentiles. You ate with them.” 4 Starting from the beginning, Peter told them the whole story. 5 “I was in the city of Joppa praying,” he said. “There I had a vision. I saw something that looked like a large sheet. It was being let down from heaven by its four corners. It came down to where I was. 6 I looked into it and saw four-footed animals of the earth. There were also wild animals, reptiles and birds. 7 Then I heard a voice speaking to me. ‘Get up, Peter,’ the voice said. ‘Kill and eat.’ 8 “I replied, ‘No, Lord! I will not! Nothing that is not pure and “clean” has ever entered my mouth.’ 9 “A second time the voice spoke from heaven. The voice said, ‘Do not say anything is not pure that God has made “clean.” ’ 10 This happened three times. Then the sheet was pulled up into heaven. 11 “Just then three men stopped at the house where I was staying. They had been sent to me from Caesarea. 12 The Holy Spirit told me not to let anything keep me from going with them. These six brothers here went with me. We entered the man’s house. 13 He told us how he had seen an angel appear in his house. The angel said, ‘Send to Joppa for Simon Peter. 14 He has a message to bring to you. You and your whole family will be saved through it.’ 15 “As I began to speak, the Holy Spirit came on them. He came just as he had come on us at the beginning. 16 Then I remembered the Lord’s words. ‘John baptized with water,’ he had said. ‘But you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’ 17 God gave them the same gift he gave those of us who believed in the Lord Jesus Christ. So who was I to think that I could stand in God’s way?” 18 When they heard this, they didn’t object anymore. They praised God. They said, “So then, God has allowed even Gentiles to turn away from their sins. He did this so that they could live.”

Peter is back in Jerusalem. The Jewish believers are being critical of Peter going to the gentiles and eating with them. Peter then recounts what happened to him in chapter 10, how God specifically led him to the God fearing gentiles (Gentiles who had adopted the Jewish faith) and how the Holy Spirit fell on them as it He had upon them at Pentecost.

This was a sovereign move of God – Peter was not going to stand in the way, even though it screamed in the face of all his culture, previous beliefs and understanding of gentiles.

I am reminded that God will always come and do things His way and this may mess with my head, my church culture and my current understanding of Him. I need to be careful not to jump in and criticize and miss what God is doing or worse, to actually stand in His way.

Lord, help me to keep my heart open to you and your ways and to not have you so rigidly put in a box that I miss the move of your Spirit.

Written by Suzie Hodgson

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Tuesday 12 July, 2016

Acts 10:34-48

34 Then Peter began to speak. “I now realize how true it is that God treats everyone the same,” he said. 35 “He accepts people from every nation. He accepts anyone who has respect for him and does what is right. 36 You know the message God sent to the people of Israel. It is the good news of peace through Jesus Christ. He is Lord of all. 37 You know what has happened all through the area of Judea. It started in Galilee after John preached about baptism. 38 You know how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power. Jesus went around doing good. He healed all who were under the devil’s power. God was with him. 39 “We are witnesses of everything he did in the land of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They killed him by nailing him to a cross. 40 But on the third day God raised him from the dead. God allowed Jesus to be seen. 41 But he wasn’t seen by all the people. He was seen only by us. We are witnesses whom God had already chosen. We ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. 42 He commanded us to preach to the people. He told us to tell people that he is the one appointed by God to judge the living and the dead. 43 All the prophets tell about him. They say that all who believe in him have their sins forgiven through his name.” 44 While Peter was still speaking, the Holy Spirit came on all who heard the message. 45 Some Jewish believers had come with Peter. They were amazed because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on the Gentiles. 46 They heard them speaking in languages they had not known before. They also heard them praising God. Then Peter said, 47 “Surely no one can keep these people from being baptized with water. They have received the Holy Spirit just as we have.” 48 So he ordered that they be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked Peter to stay with them for a few days.

The apostle Peter is experiencing a pivotal moment here as he comes to the realisation that the gospel is not just for the Jews but for all the nations. This is exciting news for the group of Gentiles that he was speaking to at that time (and, of course great news for us here today too).

As I read this passage of scripture, a phrase in verse 42 stood out to me. Peter says “He (Jesus) commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that He is the one whom God appointed as judge of the living and the dead”.

Judge? I would have expected Jesus to command the disciples to preach that He is the saviour of the world – not judge.  God as our judge is not exactly a popular concept – especially not to our current generation. It’s very tempting to try and leave it out of the picture when we talk about Jesus, but it’s clear that we are not meant to do that.

Jesus reveals Himself in many ways in the bible – saviour, healer, shepherd, and much more. But if I am to fully embrace Jesus for all that He is, I need to also embrace Him as judge of all the world.

The idea of any type of judgement from God  gets a bit of a bad rap these days, but without it there is no right and wrong- everyone can just do whatever evil they want with no consequences.

As part of my faith I choose to trust that Jesus is perfect in all His ways, including His judgement. His judgment will be completely in line with His character- all knowing, all loving, and absolutely just. I may not understand how It will all work out, but I trust the One who is perfectly just.

Written by Shelley Witt

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