June 20

Acts 4:23-37

Peter and John were just released from being questioned and threatened by Jewish religious leaders. The two return to their own companions, their Christian friends. They told them the religious leaders had commanded them not to speak in the name of Jesus.

This group knew there was opposition from their religious leaders, leaders who put Jesus to death. They knew eventually their lives could be in danger as well. Together they raised their unified voice to God:
They mentioned how God accomplished His purpose in Christ through the opposition.
They asked God to notice the threats against them.
They asked for boldness to speak God’s word.
They asked God to stretch out His hand of power to heal. They asked from signs and wonders to be done through Jesus.
We see another example of a physical shaking.
They were filled with the Spirit. They had already been initially filled, and the Holy Spirit lived on the inside of them. From this, we can understand the Holy Spirit can move on us again and again.
They spoke the word of God with boldness.
They had one heart and one soul. They had a common goal and a shared passion.
They were in a time of persecution from the Jewish leaders, as well as the Romans.
They came together in community during persecution, taking care of one another, including their combined resources.
The apostles spoke with great power.
God’s grace, His supernatural favor and ability, was with them all.
The people contributed to the cause of Christ financially.

The early church was coming together for a common cause. It was a cause they were willing to make sacrifice, a cause of launching the kingdom of Jesus Christ in the hearts of people in their region and beyond.

Today, let’s continue to stir ourselves up to serve Jesus and build His kingdom. In the times of Acts, it was the start of Christianity. Now, nearly two thousand years later, we live in a world where the Gospel blankets the globe. Jesus is coming back. May we live with the same zeal as our brothers and sisters in Acts, winning as many as we can before Christ’s return!

Nehemiah 12-13

In chapter 12, there is more record of the Hebrews in Jerusalem after the building of the second temple. The priests and Levites are given mention by name.

In verse 27, Nehemiah dedicates the wall and gives temple responsibilities.

In chapter 13, Nehemiah makes reforms. As part of the reforms, sinful people are kept at a distance from the glory of God in the temple. The Ammonites and Moabites were surrounding people groups that lived in idolatry and wickedness. They also hired Balaam against Israel. Many had intermarried with them and brought in a wicked lifestyle. For that reason, Ammonites and Moabites were not allowed to come to the temple for worship.

God offers people the opportunity to repentant and turn away from sin. This was true under the old covenant, and it is true under the new covenant. Mixing sin with what is holy is always dangerous. Under the old covenant, the blood of animals could only cover the penalty for sin, so judgment was severe when rules were broken. Under the new covenant, the blood of the Messiah removed the penalty for sin, and grace was offered. Our relationship with God could not be earned by performance, but it could be received through surrender and obedience. However, if someone receives grace, and knowingly continues in sin, that person will draw the consequence of hardship, even death. In Galatians 6, Paul addresses the Christian choosing sin, saying God isn’t going to be mocked. If you sow sin, you will reap the consequences.

We’re called to love people. If someone does not know God, the Christian is to be evangelistic and win that person to the Lord. The Christian is not to participate in what is wicked. There is a difference between being a light alongside a unsaved person and participating in their sin. If a Christian thinks the right method of winning the blind is by condemning them for not seeing, then that Christian is wrong. Jesus didn’t come to condemn; He came to save.

If someone is saved, but is still living a carnal lifestyle out of ignorance, he or she needs to be taught so the Word can be applied. Not only does there need to be teaching; but there also has to be revelation. Sometimes this is a process and patience is required. Often, lies have to be undone and souls have to be restored out of dysfunction. God is merciful, always working to teach, to train, to move by His Spirit; however, if someone continually resists His loving instruction, consequences for sin still come. I think of Jesus on the cross, praying for His brothers and sisters that put Him there, saying, “Father, forgive them. They know not what they do.”

If someone is saved, but is in bondage to sin, meaning something has a strong hold on their life that is continually pulling them back into wrongdoing, that person may need deliverance or Christian support to help them find freedom.

If someone knows God, but they have been through trauma that has damaged them, the Christian is to use wisdom and compassion in leading that person to healing and wholeness. If a Christian thinks the right way to deal with a traumatized Christian is to condemn with a hard and judgmental attitude, then that Christian could do more damage than good.

God knows the heart. He knows when someone feels at a distance from Him. He knows when someone is lost or hurting or confused. God knows when someone needs teaching or to experience His love and power. He knows when someone feels judged and pushed away from His love.

God even has compassion on the religious person who thinks he or she is doing the right thing. I’m so glad God didn’t give up on the Apostle Paul. Jesus approached Paul, who was resisting Him and persecuting Him, but knew Paul only needed revelation. He knew if Paul could see clearly, then he would make the right choice.

God also knows when people are being rebellious or hardening their heart. God will allow hardship and judgment to come, but even then, God hopes that person will wake up and turn back to Him.

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