Who are You, Lord?

Scripture reading for April 16th: Acts 9

Key Scriptures: Acts 9:1-6 “But Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. Now as he went on his way, he approached Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven shone around him. And falling to the ground he heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me? And he said, “Who are You, Lord?” And He said, “I am Jesus, Whom you are persecuting. But rise and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to do.””

Luke was a Gentile doctor and traveling companion of Paul after he was converted. He gives us this record of Paul’s conversion, probably directly from the source. Paul was a zealous Jew and Pharisee who thought he was doing God’s work to root out false teachers who claimed Jesus was the Christ. He held the coats of those who stoned Stephen and gave approval. He obtained papers to go to Damascus and round up more “Christ followers” when his plans were interrupted by a visit from Jesus, Himself. He was knocked down and blinded by a bright light from heaven and a voice asked him why he was persecuting Him. Saul (Paul) replied, “Who are You, Lord?” He was ignorant of the basic truth needed to repent. Jesus revealed Himself to Paul and instructed him in the next steps of a new life with a new purpose.

Acts 9:15-16 “But the Lord said to him (Ananias), “Go, for he (Saul) is a chosen instrument of Mine to carry My Name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel. For I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of My Name.”

Faith confession and prayer: Lord Jesus, thank You for revealing Yourself to me and all who follow You. You are the Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God and my Lord. As Your chosen instrument, send me today to those You have ordained to reach with the Gospel.

Jeremiah 1:4-5 “Now the Word of the Lord came to me, saying, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.””

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Persecution and preaching

Scripture reading for April 15th: Acts 8

Key Scriptures: Acts 8:3-8 “But Saul was ravaging the church, and entering house after house, he dragged off men and women and committed them to prison. Now those who were scattered went about preaching the Word. Philip went down to the city of Samaria and proclaimed to them the Christ and the crowds with one accord paid attention to what was being said by Philip when they heard him and saw the signs that he did. For unclean spirits, crying out with a loud voice, came out of many who had them, and many who were paralyzed or lame were healed. So there was much joy in that city.”

The martyrdom of Stephen, the deacon, caused a great persecution against the church of Jesus Christ. All except the apostles were scattered out of Jerusalem to various towns, regions and villages. Another deacon, Philip relocated in Samaria and quickly began preaching Jesus there. He drew crowds of people who listened to the Gospel message and saw the signs of healing and deliverance that were done through his ministry. From the suffering and scattered church, God brought much joy to the places where they went through the Good News they brought with them. Out of difficulty and trouble came times of refreshing from God’s presence with His own. They took God’s glorious presence with them everywhere they were scattered, and like seed, they grew and produced fruit!

Acts 8:25 “Now when they had testified and spoken the Word of the Lord, they returned to Jerusalem, preaching the Gospel to many villages of the Samaritans.

Faith confession and prayer: Lord Jesus, You worked all things for good and Your glory, even persecutions and martyrdom! Work in me and our troubled world as I share the Good News and carry the testimony and presence of Jesus Christ. Let there be much joy from healings and deliverance and salvation!

Psalm 20:5 “May we shout for joy over your salvation, and in the Name of our God set up our banners! May the Lord fulfill all your petitions!”

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Confronting the crucifiers

Scripture reading for April 14th: Acts 7

Key Scriptures: Acts 7:51-57 “”You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always resist the Holy Spirit. As your fathers did, so do you. Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? And they killed those who announced beforehand the coming of the Righteous One, whom you have now betrayed and murdered, you who received the law as delivered by angels and did not keep it.” Now when they heard these things, they were enraged and they ground their teeth at him. But he, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. And he said, “Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” But they cried out with a loud voice and stopped their ears and rushed together at him.”

Stephen, one of the seven chosen to serve the widows, was arrested and brought before the Sanhedrin. He was falsely accused of speaking against the holy place and God’s law. When asked by the high priest if this was so, Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit was given a wonderful ability to lovingly confront the religious leaders who had crucified Jesus. He shared Israel’s history of rejecting the prophets and confronted them of their complicity. Instead of listening and humbly repenting, they hardened their hearts and stopped their ears. As Stephen was about to be stoned, he saw a vision of Jesus Christ, standing at God’s right hand, ready to receive him! This was the trigger that moved the crowd to stone him. Before he ‘fell asleep’ he prayed, “Lord, don’t hold this sin against them.” Saul, (Paul) was holding the coats of the stoners and was included in his prayer. God used Stephen to confront the ‘crucifiers’ of Jesus in another act of mercy seeking their repentance, and then took him home as Jesus stood to welcome him.

Acts 7:59-60 “And as they were stoning Stephen, he called out, “Lord Jesus receive my spirit.” And falling to his knees he cried out with a loud voice, “Lord do not hold this sin against them.” And when he said this, he fell asleep.”

Faith confession and prayer: Lord Jesus, what a moving testimony of Your grace and loving appeal to those who crucified You and stoned Your disciple. Help me to show that love and mercy to those I encounter today and turn evil around to work for good. I look forward to seeing You in glory!

Genesis 50:20 “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.” (Joseph to his betraying brothers)

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Holy Spirit-filled servants!

Scripture reading for April 13th: Acts 6

Key Scriptures: Acts 6:1-7 “Now in these days when the disciples were increasing in number, a complain by the Hellenists arose against the Hebrews because their widows were being neglected in the daily distribution. And the twelve summoned the full number of the disciples and said, “It is not right that we should give up preaching the Word of God to serve tables. Therefore, brothers, pick out from among you seven men of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we will appoint to this duty. But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the Word. And what they said pleased the whole gathering and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolaus, a proselyte of Antioch.”

As the church grew, the needs of widows and their care became a point of conflict. The apostles called together the group of disciples and discussed how to deal with the problem. They knew that their responsibility was to pray and preach the Word so they asked that seven men, full of the Spirit and wisdom be identified and their reputations checked out. They then laid hands on them and appointed them to helping with the food distributions to the widows. This was God’s plan and He used it to multiply ministry and ministers! When you are filled with the Holy Spirit, you can do God’s work.

Acts 6:7 “And the Word of God continued to increase and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests became obedient to the faith.”

Faith confession and prayer: Lord Jesus, thank You for clear direction in how to multiply workers and servers in Your church. Thank You for the Holy Spirit and the gifts He provides to multiply disciples and serving! Thank You for those who lead in prayer and ministry of the Word.

Exodus 18:21 “Moreover, look for able men from all the people, men who fear God, who are trustworthy and hate a bribe, and place such men over the people as chiefs of thousands, of hundreds, of fifties, and of tens.”

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Obeying God, not men!

Scripture reading for April 12th: Acts 5

Key Scriptures: Acts 5:27-33 “And when they had brought them, they set them before the council. And the high priest questioned them, saying, “We strictly charged you not to teach in this Name, yet here you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching, and you intend to bring this man’s blood upon us.” But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men. The God of our fathers raised Jesus, Whom you killed by hanging Him on a tree. God exalted Him at His right hand as Leader and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. And we are witnesses of these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, Whom God has given to those who obey Him.””

Obedience to God has rewards now and in eternity. The high priest was in authority over Israel and had brought the apostles in earlier and sternly commanded them to not speak or teach in the Name of Jesus. The apostles, in opposition to these instructions from spiritual authority, had continued to boldly preach repentance and forgiveness in Jesus’ Name. Many signs and wonders were also being reported through the Name. Peter, when directly confronted, plainly told the high priest that they must obey God rather than men. He then accused them again of crucifying the Lord Jesus Whom the Father had raised from the dead and exalted to His right hand. This was the ultimate position of spiritual authority. Listen to the witnesses!

Acts 5:38-39 “So in the present case I tell you, keep away from these men and let them alone, for if this plan is of man, it will fail; but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them. You might even be found opposing God!” So they took his advice, . . “

Faith confession and prayer: Lord Jesus, thank You for the Holy Spirit and the boldness of Your witnesses recorded for us in Scripture. Deliver me from the snare of fearing men and empower me to obey You alone.

Proverbs 29:25 “The fear of man is a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is safe.”

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Praying for boldness!

Scripture reading for April 9th: Acts 4

Key Scriptures: Acts 4:27-31 “. . for truly in this city there were gathered together against Your holy servant Jesus, Whom You anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever Your hand and Your plan had predestined to take place. And now, Lord, look upon their threats and grant Your servants to continue to speak Your Word with all boldness, while You stretch out Your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the Name of Your holy servant Jesus.” And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the Word of God with boldness.”

Peter and John had just been before the Sanhedrin and were warned to never again speak or teach in the Name of Jesus. They told the Sanhedrin that they must listen to God and speak what they saw and heard from Him. After more severe warnings, they were let go for the man that was healed of his lameness from birth was over 40 years old. They went back to the gathering of disciples and shared what had happened. They all began to lift their voices in prayer and thanksgiving to God, declaring God’s plans and asking protection and power to speak His Word even more boldly! In answer, God shook the gathering place and they went out in great power.

Acts 4:33 “And with great power the apostles were giving their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all.”

Faith confession and prayer: Lord Jesus, shake my house and my church house as Your people gather to praise You and ask for more boldness! Work with us in signs and wonders to draw sinners to Jesus and heal broken people. Make me bold as the Lion of Judah! Amen! Let it be so!

Proverbs 28:1 “The wicked flee when no one pursues, but the righteous are bold as a lion.”

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Forgiven and refreshed!

Scripture reading for April 8th: Acts 3

Key Scriptures: Acts 3:14-20 “But you denied the Holy and Righteous One, and asked for a murderer to be granted to you, and you killed the Author of Life, Whom God raised from the dead. To this we are witnesses. And His Name–by faith in His Name–has made this man strong whom you see and know, and the faith that is through Jesus has given the man this perfect health in the presence of you all. And now, brothers, I know that you acted in ignorance, as did also your rulers. But what God foretold by the mouth of all the prophets, that His Christ would suffer, He thus fulfilled. Repent, therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord and that He may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus, . . .”

Peter and John were faithfully going to the temple at 9:00 am for prayer when they encountered the man lame from birth. He was begging for alms but Peter spoke a word of healing to him in the Name of Jesus Christ, commanding him to rise up and walk. As Peter took his hand and began to raise him up, the man was instantly made strong and was totally healed. This opened a door for Peter to preach the Gospel to the crowd at the temple, some of whom had demanded Jesus’ crucifixion. He explained how faith in Jesus had healed the man lame from birth and how faith in Jesus could bring forgiveness of their sins if they would repent and believe as well. God wanted to blot out their sins and ours and send the refreshing Holy Spirit! Witnesses are needed!

Acts 3:26 “God, having raised up His Servant, sent Him to you first, to bless you by turning every one of you from your wickedness.”

Faith confession and prayer: Lord Jesus, thank You for Your great mercy and for witnesses of that mercy and for the miracles You work showing You alone are the Christ. Give me boldness to proclaim Your truth and love to my generation and see them forgiven, refreshed and blessed. Through Your Holy Spirit, let miracles and gifts demonstrate Who You are to those I minister to.

Psalm 32:1 “Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.”

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Witnesses add souls!

Scripture reading for April 7th: Acts 2

Key Scriptures: Acts 2:32-38 “This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses. Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the Promise of the Holy Spirit, He has poured out this that you yourselves are seeing and hearing. For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he himself says, “‘The Lord said to my Lord, “Sit at My right hand, until I make Your enemies Your footstool.”‘ Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made Him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus Whom you crucified.” Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the Name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”

In chapter two, Luke faithfully records the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on that first Pentecost after Jesus’ resurrection. It was on that day at 9:00 am that the waiting and praying disciples, men and women, about 120 in total, were filled and baptized with the Holy Spirit and fire. This empowered them to go out of the upper room speaking in new tongues, and telling forth the wonderful works of God in language inspired by the Holy Spirit. Those Jews gathered from the nations in the temple courts heard them extoling God in their own languages and were perplexed. Peter stood up to preach and explained what was happening as fulfilled prophesy. He pointed them to Joel’s and David’s prophesy and called them all to repentance and baptism. Their sins would be forgiven and the promise of the Holy Spirit was for them as well, Jew and Gentile! Hallelujah! Three thousand were added to the 120 that day!

Acts 2:39 “For the Promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to Himself.”

Faith confession and prayer: Lord Jesus, thank You for the amazing grace and power You freely gave to Your disciples and all who would receive their word preached. Fill me afresh with the Holy Spirit that my witness will add many more souls to Your Church! Multiply the witnesses through me Lord!

Acts 2:41 “So those who received his Word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.”

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A new chapter of the Story

Scripture reading for April 6th: Acts 1

Key Scriptures: Acts 1:1-5 “In the first book, O Theophilus, I have dealt with all that Jesus began to do and teach, until the day when He was taken up, after He had given commands through the Holy Spirit to the apostles whom He had chosen. He presented Himself alive to them after His suffering by many proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God. And while staying with them He ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father, which, He said, ‘you heard from Me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now. “”

The book of Acts is a continuation of Luke’s eyewitness account of the events and acts of the Holy Spirit through Jesus’ disciples following Jesus’ resurrection and ascension. He wrote these accounts to Theophilus, whose name means “lover of God”. He was a Gentile convert to Jesus and Luke wrote to give greater understanding to the Gentile church of how our Lord empowered witnesses to take the Gospel from Jerusalem to Judea and Samaria and the ends of the earth. Acts is the historical record of the growth of the early Church after the Promise of the Father came upon them. This book has inspired believers throughout history to be filled with the Holy Spirit and allow God to use them to further His mission to reach the ends of the earth before Jesus returns. It records the acts of the Holy Spirit, mentioned over 50 times, through Jesus’ followers. In a sense, it is still being written until Jesus returns.

Acts 1:8 “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

Faith confession and prayer: Lord Jesus, thank You for sending the Promise of the Father, the baptism in the Holy Spirit to empower me and all Your disciples to reach the ends of the earth. Use me to add to the “acts of the Holy Spirit” in my life on earth and to multiply disciples who will take the Gospel of Jesus to the ends of the earth.

Acts 1:10-11 “And while they were gazing into heaven as He went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, Who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw Him go into heaven.”

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Promise, power, preaching!

Scripture reading for April 5th: Luke 24

Key Scriptures: Luke 24: 44-49 “Then He said to them, “These are My Words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in His Name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. And behold, I am sending the Promise of My Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.”

While He was with His disciples, Jesus Christ had repeatedly explained the Scriptures and plainly told them of His coming death, burial, and resurrection on the third day. Now, after the resurrection, on the evening of the third day, Jesus met with His disciples and showed them His glorified body of flesh and bones. They were full of joy and amazement but struggled to believe it was really Him. Jesus then again explained everything about Himself from the Law and Prophets, opening their minds to understand. He explained the Gospel of repentance and forgiveness of sins that was for all nations and peoples, beginning with the Jews in Jerusalem. He declared them “witnesses” and told them to wait in Jerusalem until the “Promise of My Father” came upon them. This would clothe them with the power needed to fulfill His mission of reaching the lost world.

Acts 1:8 “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

Faith confession and prayer: Lord Jesus, thank You for fulfilling all the Scriptures, which are Truth. Thank You for Your amazing plan to reach the whole world with Your appointed “witnesses”. Fill me afresh with the Holy Spirit and power to do Your will on earth as in heaven! I open my mind and heart today to better know You through the Scriptures.

Acts 2:38-39 “And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the Name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to Himself.””

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