Category: Acts–BibleTrekToday

Casting Out Evil Spirits

Scripture reading for November 13th: Acts 19-20

The Apostle Paul had begun his third missionary journey to reach those in the province of Asia.  (Acts 18:23) He ended up in Ephesus where he found a group of disciples gathered.  These twelve men had been baptized into John’s baptism of repentance but had never heard about Jesus Christ.  Paul gave them the Gospel of Jesus, told them about the Holy Spirit and then laid hands on them.  The Holy Spirit came on them and they spoke in tongues and prophesied!  Thus the church at Ephesus was born. Paul’s ministry went on there for nearly three years.  This event took place about 20 years after the first Pentecost!

Following this event, Paul spoke in the synagogue, as was his custom.  He went to his own brothers, the Jews, first and sought to win them to Jesus.  This caused a conflict so he left with the new disciples and went to another place in the city, the lecture hall of Tyrannus, and continued to preach and teach there for two years.  His ministry was so effective that all the Jews and Greeks in the whole province of Asia heard the word of the Lord!  (Acts 19:10)

The Lord has promised that signs will follow those who obediently preach the Gospel.  (Mark 16:15-20)  As Paul preached here in Asia, God did extraordinary miracles through him as a help in winning the lost and confirming that Jesus is the Christ.  These miracles included supernatural healing and casting out evil spirits.  (Acts 19:11-12)  Even as handkerchiefs and aprons taken from Paul were sent,  the  sick were healed and delivered!

Paul’s preaching of Jesus and these extraordinary miracles caused some Jewish exorcists to try and imitate Paul’s methods.  They tried to cast out a demon from a possessed man “in the name of Jesus, whom Paul preaches.”  The demon spoke to them, “Jesus I know, and I know about Paul, but who are you?”  (Acts 19:13-15) The result was that these seven exorcists were severely beaten by the demon possessed man!  The word of this happening and all the miracles brought a revival of holiness.  Fear seized the populace and they confessed their evil deeds, sorcery, and witchcraft.  They publicly burned their books and charms and the word of God spread and grew in power!

What lessons can we learn from this account of Paul’s preaching in a town with strongholds of witchcraft?  God’s power is no match against the powers of the Devil!  Jesus told us that in His Name, we would cast out devils!  The warning is that we must know this Jesus personally.  It can’t be a second hand thing or you will be in trouble, just like the seven who tried it.  Demons recognize and know both Jesus and those who have Him as Lord!  In His name, extraordinary miracles will follow the preaching of the Gospel and the ministry of those who obediently go!  Be bold as you enter your mission field today!

Tags : , , , ,

Household Salvation?

Scripture reading for November 12th: Acts 16-18

One of the prayers that I have prayed for my family is that they would all be saved and walk with the Lord during their time on earth.  God has been faithful and I am very thankful.  All my children are serving the Lord and have a personal walk with Him.  A question that comes up from reading today’s passage about the Philippian jailer getting saved with his whole household, is this: does the Bible promise salvation to each person’s entire family?  Can I apply this story and the verse about the jailer and his house responding to the Gospel to claim my family?

“But Paul shouted,”Don’t harm yourself! We are all here!”. . . . “The jailer called for lights, rushed in and fell trembling before Paul and Silas.  He then brought them out and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”  . . “They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved–you and your household.” They spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all others in his house.  At that hour of the night the jailer took them and washed their wounds; then immediately he and all his family were baptized. Acts 16:28-33

I believe that this record does inspire faith for us to believe God for our entire family to be saved.  With faith in God, nothing is impossible.  We should ask for the salvation of our families and households and stand in faith in God’s word and mercy.  However, when looking at the rest of Scripture, I feel that it doesn’t promise that all will be saved.  Each person must choose to repent and believe on the Lord for himself.  God doesn’t make anyone believe!  However, our prayers keep the door open and invite God to send laborers and continue to draw the person to saving grace.

God doesn’t want anyone to be lost!  (1st Timothy 2:4-5)  He has done everything necessary to provide salvation for every person.  He draws each person by the Holy Spirit.  Yet, each person has a free will and the ability to choose his own way or God’s way.  If we could be made to be saved, all would be saved!  Jesus taught that the way of salvation was narrow and few were on that narrow path.  The way of destruction is broad and many are on it.  (Matthew 7:13-14)  Each person in a household must choose to repent and follow Jesus.

Prayer is a powerful thing!  We must always pray and live by faith for our loved ones!  Take time to pray that your household will be saved and that the Lord will draw them to Himself!  We don’t want to miss out because we don’t ask!

Tags : , , , , ,

Spiritual Direction Through a Word

Scripture reading for November 11th: Acts 13-15

Wouldn’t it be nice to have God just send someone to tell you what He wants you to know?  Have you ever had someone give you a word from the Lord that confirmed something the Lord had been showing you to do?  Do you believe that God knows everything and wants to share some of His knowledge with you?   These and other questions should set us thinking as we read today’s passages from Acts.  God uses people to give words of knowledge and prophesy.  Lets look at the principles for using these “words”.

“In the church at Antioch there were prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene,  Manaen (who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch) and Saul.  While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.”  “So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hand on them and sent them off.” Acts 13:1-3

In this account of the early church at worship and prayer, we find that the Holy Spirit used one of the prophets or teachers to give a word to Barnabas and Saul.  This was not a directive word, but a confirming word.  Note that the Holy Spirit had already called them to this work personally previous to this time.  This word came during a time of corporate worship and the church obediently responded.  They prayed more and fasted and then laid on hands and sent them off on the ministry journey laid out for them by the Holy Spirit.  We find that God has prepared the “good works” and all we need to do is respond in obedience.  (Ephesians 2:10)

When we get a word of knowledge or prophesy spoken over us, we must always test it in several ways.  First, does it line up with what the Lord has been saying already to us?  God doesn’t give second-hand mail!  Second, does it line up with the Word of God and purposes stated in Scripture?   Words must always agree with the written word of God or at least not be in conflict with the revealed will of God.  Next, is the Spirit in you in agreement with that word?  Do others with the Holy Spirit agree and bear witness with the word?  These tests are important before moving on a word.

God does truly direct His children and sometimes uses others to confirm to us a word.  Mary and I experienced this when God spoke to us through two different people about having children in our old age!  One of the words was written down and our son reminded us of it years later.  It helped us confirm our direction and follow God’s leading!  May the Lord direct your life each day by His Holy Spirit!  May you learn to properly discern the will of God!

Tags : , , , , ,

Gentile Pentecost

Scripture reading for November 10th: Acts 10-12

Have you ever struggled to understand what God is doing and wants to do?  You are in good company!  In this section of Acts, the Apostle Peter needed a vision from the Lord to help him overcome an area of prejudice that came from his Jewish upbringing and religion.  Sometimes we learn things wrong and God knows how to work with us to get us straightened out again.  Thank God for His mercy and patience!

This story begins with a Gentile centurion named Cornelius who feared God and gave generously to those in need  as well as praying regularly.  One day, Cornelius had a vision and saw an angel of God who spoke his name plainly!  (Acts 10:3)  The angel told him that his prayers and gifts to the poor had come before the Lord and that he should send for a man named Simon Peter to come.  In the meantime, God gave a vision to Simon Peter while he was on the roof praying.  In this vision he saw a sheet with all kind of animals, reptiles, and birds of the air.  A voice told him to get up, kill, and eat!  Peter protested to the Lord that he had never eaten anything unclean.  The voice spoke a second time warning him not to call anything impure that God had made clean.  This had happened three times when the men who came from Cornelius knocked on the door. The Spirit spoke to Peter about them and told him to go with them.  Peter heard and obeyed, inviting the men in and then going with them.

The next day, they entered the house of a Gentile, something a good Jew would never do.  Cornelius told him about his vision and why he sent for him.  He invited Peter to speak to them all the Lord would have him say.  What an open invitation!  Peter began to preach the Gospel and as he preached, the Holy Spirit came upon them and they all began to speak in tongues and praise God just like on the day of Pentecost!  Peter and all the Jews with him were amazed at what God had done and they baptized these new believers in water. Peter stayed with them a few days.

What can we learn from this?  First, God knows how to reach people who are hungry for more!  He will work with sincere believers who have prejudice to help them with truth.  He recognized these Gentiles for their prayers, gifts to the poor and seeking of God.  Their works came before the Lord and He acted to send them a person who could help them understand Him more fully.  God is no respecter of persons.  He gave the same Holy Spirit to the Gentiles as those in that upper room on Pentecost!  What a wonderful Savior!  Spend time in prayer today seeking the Lord for clarity and new direction!  You can have a new Pentecost today!

Tags : , , , , ,

Saul’s “Jesus Encounter”

Scripture reading for November 9th: Acts 8-9

In today’s reading we have the account of the conversion of one of the most influential people in the early days of the church.  The first 11 chapters of Acts are primarily centered around the life of Peter and his ministry to the Jews around Jerusalem.  Chapter 9 gives the account of Saul, a zealous Pharisee, who was a persecutor of the early church and was bent on protecting Judaism and eliminating disciples of Jesus.  He is spoken of first as one who gave approval of those who stoned Stephen. (Acts 8:1)  An encounter with Jesus is what Saul needed to radically change his world-view!

“Meanwhile, Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples.  He went to the high priest and asked for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any there who belonged to the Way, whether men or women, he might take them as prisoners to Jerusalem.  As he neared Damascus, on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him.  He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, “Saul, Saul, Why do you persecute me?” “Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked.  “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,” he replied.  So get up and go into the city and you will be told what you what you must do.” Acts 9:1-6

Saul had been hunting down disciples, having them arrested and in some cases put to death.  As he traveled on a mission to Damascus, the Lord met him personally.  The light of glory threw Saul to the ground and blinded him.  Jesus asked him a simple question.  The question reveals that when anyone persecutes one of Jesus’ followers, He feels it personally!  Saul was also addressed by first name.  Jesus knows each person by name and knows where they are and what they are doing.  He has plans for those who will be teachable and repent.

Thankfully, Saul repented during the period of blindness that lasted three days.  God sent a disciple named Ananias to lay hands on Saul to receive his sight back.  Ananias was initially afraid of Saul because of his reputation, but God revealed that Saul was His chosen instrument to reach the Gentiles.  (Acts 9:15-16) After he was healed and baptized, Saul began to preach the Gospel in the very synagogues that he had come initially to hunt Christians in!  What a difference an encounter with Jesus makes!

This man’s ministry is the subject of Acts 12-28, and he tells his testimony of this Jesus encounter several times.  Saul became the Apostle Paul who would be a great missionary to the Gentiles and write 13 New Testament books.  His “Jesus encounter” is still being talked and written about over 1900 years later!  Many other “sinners” have found Christ through his testimony!  What amazing love and grace is found in our Lord!

Tags : , , , ,

Sunday Rest and Reflection:Pentecost Power!

Dearly beloved friends,

Greetings in the Name of Jesus Christ!  Another week is beginning and God’s people gather in buildings, homes, and small groups to celebrate the resurrection of our Lord!  We are so blessed to know Him and love Him!  From the rising of the sun to the going down of the same, Jesus is being praised around the earth in every country and culture.

However, many still do not know Him.  Over half the earth’s 6.3 billion people still have not heard of Jesus Christ. Many are lost in false religions and are entering eternity under God’s wrath.   His Church is charged with going and telling every one!  To do this Jesus sent the church the gift of the Holy Spirit.  The Holy Spirit is a person who lives in each one who is saved and has repented of sin.  He wants to fill us with “living water” and power to share that “living water” with the lost of the world.

Many Pentecostals seem caught up with emotional experience of God and speaking in tongues and even the gifts of the Spirit.  They go from meeting to meeting craving more of God’s presence and desiring to see miracles.  This is all well and good, but misses the mark!  God gave the Holy Spirit to equip us to be His witnesses to the lost world.  He sent us to go.  He promises us that the signs and miracles will follow us as we are out doing the work of ministry and reaching the lost!  We must leave the meeting empowered by the presence of the Holy Spirit to reach our lost friends and family.

Listening to God’s directing voice helps us know when to talk and when to be quiet and pray.  We must pray in the power of the Holy Spirit for then we pray according to the will of God.  (Romans 8:26-28)  We build ourselves up in our faith as we pray in the Spirit. (Jude 20)  No one can come to Christ unless drawn by the Father so we desperately need the Spirit for evangelism. (John 8:44, 16:8-11)  The Holy Spirit give us direction and boldness to speak and act in the face of persecution.  God has empowered His Church!

As you attend church this Lord’s day, pray that the place where you meet will be shaken by the power of the Holy Spirit!  Ask the Lord to fill you again with the Holy Spirit!  Go into the week to fulfill God’s command to reach the lost!  Have a great week in Jesus!

In His Love, Pastor John

Tags : , , , , ,

Would You Lie to God?

Scripture reading for November 7th: Acts 5-7

Lying is a sin!  One of the ten commandments states that we should not give a false accusation against a neighbor! (Exodus 20:16)   God hates a lying tongue! (Proverbs 6:17-19)  Lying causes mistrust because lies are usually found out and the person’s character is degraded by all who know the truth.  Lying breaks relationships, marriages, homes, and even churches!  A lying tongue hates the one it hurts!  (Proverbs 26:28)  A false witness will not go unpunished and he who pours out lies will perish! (Proverbs 19:9)  The devil is a liar and can speak only one language: “LIE!” (John 8:44)

The Book of Acts records the history of the early church from just before the day of Pentecost and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit to the imprisonment of the Apostle Paul in Rome.  Very early in the history of the new church, Luke writes to tell us the story of a couple who told a lie that cost them very dearly.  This is the story of Ananias and Sapphira found in Acts 5:1-16.

The lie that this couple told was a lie of omission.  They sold some of their property and made an offering to the Apostles for the use of the church.  The price of the property was more than what they gave, but they told the Apostles that they gave all the money to the Lord when they had kept some back for themselves.  Now it wasn’t wrong not to give it all.  It was only wrong to lie about what they had given.  Scripture doesn’t say why they did this.  It may be that they wanted to look good and seem more dedicated than they really were.  It may be that they dedicated more than they were willing to give and decided to keep some back.  Whatever the reason, we only have the startling results!

“Then Peter said, “Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit and have kept for yourself some of the money you received for the land?  Didn’t it belong to you before it was sold? And after it was sold, wasn’t the money at your disposal?  What made you think of doing such a thing?  You have not lied to men, but to God.””  “When Ananias heard this, he fell down and died. And great fear seized all who heard what happened.” (Acts 5:3-5)

This happened in the same way to his wife Sapphira.  Both of them died immediately as a result of lying!  This should make each one of us think and evaluate our own hearts and giving.  We need mercy more than ever!  This is a New Testament story to warn God’s people that dealing with God is serious business!  Amazingly, the church grew and many souls were added after this judgment!  God is building a holy church without spot or wrinkle!  The Holy Spirit is a Spirit of Truth!

Tags : , , , ,

Power to Be a Witness

Scripture reading for November 6th: Acts 1-4

I was saved as a young teenager in a little country Methodist Church in rural Iowa.  I gave my life to Jesus but did not know about the Holy Spirit or His work on my behalf.  I grew up, went to college, got married and began to build a family and farming business, still unaware of His presence and power.  I rededicated my life and my wife got saved in our late twenty’s and we began to hear about the Holy Spirit.  The people we were studying the Bible with were different.  They had power in their lives and were full of joy.  The talked about being filled with the Holy Spirit and we heard some of them praying in a different language.  When we visited their church, we heard a message in a different language and then an interpretation!  This was fascinating!  We even heard them singing in other languages and it sounded like heaven!

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Acts 1:8

This experience began with a promise and command from Jesus right before He ascended into heaven.  He ascended into heaven and two men dressed in white told the disciples that this same Jesus would come back in the same manner as He left them.  They were to wait for the promise of the father as Jesus had told them!  (Luke 24:49-53)  This power from on high was sent from the Father to bless the disciples and enable them to do the work of God.

We all know what happened on the Day of Pentecost in Acts 2:1-4.  The disciples were all together in the upper room and suddenly, the wind began to blow inside their room!  Tongues of fire entered and rested on each one and they all began to speak with other tongues and glorify God.  They went out from that room speaking in other languages telling the wonderful works of God.  Peter stood up and preached and 3000 repented, were saved, baptized and told to receive this gift of the Father for power!  (Acts 2:38-41)  The church was born and powerful witnesses spread the Gospel throughout the world!

Let me encourage you to seek the Lord for this power.  Simply ask Him to fill you with the Holy Spirit.  (Luke 11:9-13)  The Holy Spirit is our “helper” sent from the Father to live in those who believe on Jesus Christ.  (John 16:7-15)  He takes the Word of God and reveals it to us.  He is our Counselor.  He convicts the world of sin, righteousness and judgment.  He is with us to strengthen us and enable to be a witness.  We receive Him when we repent and are born again.  We are filled with Him when we seek the Lord Jesus for that power.  May God fill you with His Holy Spirit!  (Ephesians 5:18)

Tags : , , , , , , ,