October 27, 2014 14:53 PM
After the Holy Spirit fell upon Jesus’ disciples, and Peter spoke to the crowd bringing three thousand souls into the Kingdom, we next see him and John going to the Temple to pray. Notice that the infilling of the Holy Spirit didn’t inspire the disciples to start a new religion. They were Jews and their Messiah was a Jew. Their intention was not to split with Judaism but to show their brethren how Jesus had fulfilled Scripture.
Before they could enter the Temple, they encountered a lame beggar by the gate called Beautiful (Acts 3:1-26) It was customary for family and friends to carry their handicapped loved one to various places around the city where there was enough foot traffic to give the injured party a chance to collect alms throughout the day. This alms collection was usually their only livelihood.
Though Peter and John had little in the way of money, their compassion was aroused when they saw the beggar. “Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk,” Peter boldly says. And after Peter pulled the man to his feet, the beggar began “walking and leaping and praising God.” Now the people knew this beggar well. They had seen him at the Beautiful gate for years. This was no sham miracle. This was real and they knew it.
At once, Peter began speaking of Jesus and how this whole miracle with the lame beggar was brought about through the power of Jesus and through His name. And the people listened. They listened to Peter talk about how and why Jesus died, then rose again. They listened to Peter talk about Moses and the Law and the prophets and how Jesus fulfilled them all. And Scripture tells us that five thousand of them believed that day(Acts 4:4). Five thousand! The healing of the lame beggar made the people want to hear what Peter said. The expounding of Scripture made them believe in the Healer.
Are miracles still for today? Many say no. But I don’t believe that. I’ve heard too many testimonies of supernatural healing, protection, provision. Many years ago it was customary that when an evangelist entered a new community the first thing he did was to seek out the sickest person in town. Then the evangelist would lay hands on that person and pray for healing. You see, the evangelist expected a healing. He believed God’s word that says, if a believer lays hands on the sick “they shall recover.” And when that sick person did, in fact, recover, the townspeople were open to hearing the Gospel. And then many believed.
Miracles aren’t for show. They are not meant as a theatrical ploy. They are meant to demonstrate to the nonbeliever that Jesus is very real and alive and powerful, and that His message is worthy of being heard. So, have any miracles occurred through my prayers or laying on of hands? Not that I know of. But the fault is mine and not in God’s Word. Though I truly believe that God can and does do miracles today, will He do them through me? And there’s the rub. And that’s the thing many Christians wonder: Will God do miracles through them? His word says, yes. And I think it boils down to this: are we willing to go out on a limb and pray for those who need prayer, and believe God’s Word? All the while understanding that it’s not us, but God working through us as His vessel? If we don’t step out and give Him a chance to use us, how will we ever know?
May God give us all the courage to stand on His Word and be truly used of Him.
Until next time,
June 17, 2013 16:42 PM
I was actually tempted to skip this next footstep. But when we study Scripture we need to have the courage to honestly view it all, even those passages that are troublesome or that might cause controversy. So here goes. Was the Apostle Peter really given authority over the Church? Was he really its head? Many believe that’s what Jesus meant in Matthew 16:18 when He told Peter “Thou are Peter and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” This occurred right after Peter correctly replied to Jesus’ question, “who do you say I am?”
But was Jesus really making Peter the head of the church? I can understand why some believe this, especially since it has spawned an entire hierarchy of heads or Popes, and a host of traditions, many of which are not Biblical, and because Ephesians 2:20 says that the church is “built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets.” Does that mean the Old Testament prophets were “popes” too? Heads of Judaism? Hardly. And what foundation is it talking about? Jesus, of course, who revealed Himself in scripture long before his arrival in Bethlehem’s manger. And finally, when you carefully examine the above scripture and understand that a word-play, like so often occurs in the Bible, was going on, a different meaning actually comes to light.
First, the word Peter in Greek is petros meaning a piece of rock, while petra is the word Jesus used when saying “on this rock (petra) I will build my church,” and petra means a massive rock like a mountain. So who or what is this petra? Well, it’s none other than Jesus Himself! 1 Corinthians 10:1-4 talks about how Moses and the Israelites ate the same spiritual food and drank the same spiritual drink, “for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them; and that Rock was Christ.” Both Colossians 1:18 and Ephesians 1:22 clearly state that Jesus is the head of the church. And 1 Corinthians 3:11 says Jesus is the foundation of the church while Peter himself in 1 Peter 2:3-8 says Jesus was the chief corner stone of the church.
And all this makes perfect sense since no mere man could ever be the head of Christ’s church. Only Jesus Himself can be its head. But what of Peter? What was Jesus saying in His play of words? In modern vernacular Jesus was calling Peter a “chip off the old block” with the block being Jesus Himself. I wonder if this was what Peter was remembering when he said in 1 Peter 2:5 that we are all “living stones” that make up the spiritual house of the church. It’s interesting to note that in verse 5 Peter also calls us a “holy priesthood” and in verse 9 a “royal priesthood” ending forever the need for any other priesthood.
In Matthew 15:6 Jesus tells the Pharisees, those religious folks, that they were making the commandment of God of none effect by their traditions. I think that’s why Jesus, right after stating He was going to build the church on Himself, issued this caution in Matthew 16:19 (Amplified), “I will give you (the church) the keys of the kingdom of heaven and whatever you bind (declare to be improper and unlawful) on earth must be what is already bound in heaven: and whatever you loose (declare lawful) on earth must be what is already loosed (lawful) in heaven.”
So, is a man, any man, able to lawfully call himself head of Jesus’ church? I don’t believe scripture supports that claim at all. On the contrary, it indicates that only Jesus can be its head.
If we expect to stand in these darkening days we must truly know and understand God’s word. And that can only be done by the guidance of the Holy Spirit. May God give each of us the courage to open our hearts and minds to His truth.
Until next time,
January 14, 2013 16:54 PM
I really like this one. In Luke 5:1-9 we follow Jesus to the Sea of Galilee where, after preaching to a crowd from Peter’s boat, He tells Peter to go out into deeper water and lower his nets. Peter is quick to reply that he’d been toiling all night and caught nothing. But he stops short of telling Jesus he thinks His suggestion is foolish. Instead, Peter does what Jesus asks. And what do you know? His nets nab so many fish they nearly break and Peter has to call his partners in another boat to come over and help haul in the catch.
How like Peter we are. We toil and toil on our own, often accomplishing little or nothing, when we should have waited for a word from the Lord. Just one word from Him can make all the difference between success and failure. How often I’ve run ahead and tried to work things out on my own, and then when I’ve felt utterly defeated, Jesus comes along and points me in the right direction, changing everything. It reminds me of Psalm 127:1 that says “unless the Lord builds the house they labor in vain who build it.” That can be said of all our endeavors. So why continue trying to do things without God?
The other thing I really like about this passage is how considerate Jesus is. Peter worked all night trying to catch fish and yet was obedient by taking Jesus in his boat just off shore while Jesus spoke to the crowd. If I’d been up all night I think I’d be off somewhere sleeping. But Peter’s sacrifice and obedience did not go unnoticed. For after Jesus finished addressing the crowd, he instructed Peter to lower his nets, knowing full well the outcome. The point is, we can never outdo Jesus. He is aware of our obedience and those times we may be inconvenienced or suffer for His sake. And though we may not always believe this or experience it immediately in our lives, Jesus will reward us with His peace, His joy and yes, sometimes with unbelievable success at our jobs or endeavors.
So when we cast our own nets, let us do it according to God’s direction. The outcome is sure to be greater than we can imagine.
Until next time,