Monday, January 31, 2011

Paul Preaches in Macedonia

Now when they had gone throughout Phrygia and the region of Galatia, and were forbidden of the Holy Ghost to preach the word in Asia, After they were come to Mysia, they assayed to go into Bithynia: but the Spirit suffered them not. And they passing by Mysia came down to Troas. And a vision appeared to Paul in the night; There stood a man of Macedonia, and prayed him, saying, Come over into Macedonia, and help us. And after he had seen the vision, immediately we endeavoured to go into Macedonia, assuredly gathering that the Lord had called us for to preach the gospel unto them. Acts 16:6-10

Steps: 11, 12

After getting the message to go to the Gentiles from the leading Apostles in Jerusalem Paul headed out to preach. He wanted to go into Asia but God said no. After a short while God gave Paul a vision about going to Macedonia a nation just north of Greece. Paul was ready to go and to share the love of Jesus and His power to help people recover from sin. Now that he had his marching orders, nothing would hold him back from sharing his experience, love, and hope in Jesus.

Prayer for Today: God, help us to be willing to go out and share in any time and in any way that will be helpful to someone out there who is struggling in You. Give us the courage, the words, and the grace to help. Thank You for Your love.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Official Commandment from Jerusalem

Then all the multitude kept silence, and gave audience to Barnabas and Paul, declaring what miracles and wonders God had wrought among the Gentiles by them. And after they had held their peace, James answered, saying, Men and brethren, hearken unto me: Simeon hath declared how God at the first did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for his name. And to this agree the words of the prophets; as it is written, After this I will return, and will build again the tabernacle of David, which is fallen down; and I will build again the ruins thereof, and I will set it up: That the residue of men might seek after the Lord, and all the Gentiles, upon whom my name is called, saith the Lord, who doeth all these things. Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world. Wherefore my sentence is, that we trouble not them, which from among the Gentiles are turned to God: But that we write unto them, that they abstain from pollutions of idols, and from fornication, and from things strangled, and from blood. For Moses of old time hath in every city them that preach him, being read in the synagogues every sabbath day. Acts 15:12-21

Steps: 4,5,6,7,10,11,12

After Paul and Barnabas returned from Asia, they went to Jerusalem to discuss the issue of allowing the gospel to be preached to the Gentiles. After reviewing all of the information, and hearing the brethern, James, the brother of Jesus, declared that the gospel should be sent to the Gentiles for God had already declared that the gospel was to go out to all of the people in the world.

Prayer for Today: God, thank You for sending the gospel, Your good news, that we could also enter into this worship with You and receive Your gifts of recovery. Help us to use this gift, and then in turn to share it with others. Thank You for Your love.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Gospel of Recovery Taught in Antioch

And when the Jews were gone out of the synagogue, the Gentiles besought that these words might be preached to them the next sabbath. Now when the congregation was broken up, many of the Jews and religious proselytes followed Paul and Barnabas: who, speaking to them, persuaded them to continue in the grace of God. And the next sabbath day came almost the whole city together to hear the word of God. But when the Jews saw the multitudes, they were filled with envy, and spake against those things which were spoken by Paul, contradicting and blaspheming. Then Paul and Barnabas waxed bold, and said, It was necessary that the word of God should first have been spoken to you: but seeing ye put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles. For so hath the Lord commanded us, saying, I have set thee to be a light of the Gentiles, that thou shouldest be for salvation unto the ends of the earth. And when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified the word of the Lord: and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed. And the word of the Lord was published throughout all the region. But the Jews stirred up the devout and honourable women, and the chief men of the city, and raised persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them out of their coasts. But they shook off the dust of their feet against them, and came unto Iconium. And the disciples were filled with joy, and with the Holy Ghost. Acts 13:42-52

Steps: 3,4,5,6,7,10,11,12

In Antioch Paul and Barnabas were teaching the Jews on the Sabbath day and the Gentiles asked if they could hear it as well on the next Sabbath. That next Sabbath almost the whole city came to hear about recovery from Paul and Barnabas. When the Jews saw all of the people coming to Paul, and not to them, they were envious and jealous and started to gossip about the disciples. Paul and Barnabas confronted this addictive behavior and began to focus more of their energies on the Gentiles who were willing to listen honestly and then respond honestly as well. This established a pattern of behaviors in the disciples work, to focus on those who would listen and not get caught up in nationality.

Prayer for Today: God help us to hear Your truths through whomever You want to speak through. Help us to respond to truth and not to tradition. Thank You for seeking us out and sending unto us teachers that have something to say.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Peter Imprisoned

It was about this time that King Herod arrested some who belonged to the church, intending to persecute them. He had James, the brother of John, put to death with the sword. When he saw that this met with approval among the Jews, he proceeded to seize Peter also. This happened during the Festival of Unleavened Bread. After arresting him, he put him in prison, handing him over to be guarded by four squads of four soldiers each. Herod intended to bring him out for public trial after the Passover. So Peter was kept in prison, but the church was earnestly praying to God for him. The night before Herod was to bring him to trial, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains, and sentries stood guard at the entrance. Suddenly an angel of the Lord appeared and a light shone in the cell. He struck Peter on the side and woke him up. “Quick, get up!” he said, and the chains fell off Peter’s wrists. Then the angel said to him, “Put on your clothes and sandals.” And Peter did so. “Wrap your cloak around you and follow me,” the angel told him. 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. They passed the first and second guards and came to the iron gate leading to the city. It opened for them by itself, and they went through it. When they had walked the length of one street, suddenly the angel left him. Then Peter came to himself and said, “Now I know without a doubt that the Lord has sent his angel and rescued me from Herod’s clutches and from everything the Jewish people were hoping would happen.” Acts 12:1-11

Steps: 11, 12

Peter was taken captive and placed in jail to satisfy the Jewish leadership. While in jail he was chained with two chains because the king wanted to be sure that Peter did not escape. The angel came in an took Peter's chains off, and walked him through all of the gates and the angel left him in the streets. At first Peter thought he was in a vision, and then it dawned on Him that God had freed him from prison.

Prayer for Today: God, we accept today that You are able to free us from anything, from chains, prisons, and addictions. Help us to wake up and accept Your gift of freedom. Thank You for Your love.

Monday, January 17, 2011

The Gospel to the Gentiles

Then called he them in, and lodged them. And on the morrow Peter went away with them, and certain brethren from Joppa accompanied him. And the morrow after they entered into Caesarea. And Cornelius waited for them, and he had called together his kinsmen and near friends. And as Peter was coming in, Cornelius met him, and fell down at his feet, and worshipped him. But Peter took him up, saying, Stand up; I myself also am a man. And as he talked with him, he went in, and found many that were come together. And he said unto them, Ye know how that it is an unlawful thing for a man that is a Jew to keep company, or come unto one of another nation; but God hath shewed me that I should not call any man common or unclean. Therefore came I unto you without gainsaying, as soon as I was sent for: I ask therefore for what intent ye have sent for me?
While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word. And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost. For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God. Then answered Peter, Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we? And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then prayed they him to tarry certain days. Acts 10:23-29, 44-48

Steps: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 10, 11, 12

Peter responded to the call of the Holy Spirit and went to follow the three men that had been sent by the Roman Centurion Cornelius. When Peter arrived at the home of Cornelius he saw that there were many Gentile people there and he remembered what the Holy Spirit had told him that God had cleansed the people and he was to minister to them. Peter reminded the people that Jewish tradition forbade him from coming into the house but God had showed him that he was not to call any man common or unclean. After preaching to them Peter saw the Holy Spirit come upon the people and Peter saw that since God had approved and accepted them that there was nothing to hinder them from being baptized. This was the first major evangelistic effort for the Gentiles and it set the stage for all further work with God’s peoples in other nations.

Prayer for Today: God, help us to not let our personal traditions stop us from working and sharing for You. Grant us victory over our thinking and the thinking that our families have shared with us. Help us to give the gift of recovery from sin to anyone who wants it.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Peter’s Vision

On the morrow, as they went on their journey, and drew nigh unto the city, Peter went up upon the housetop to pray about the sixth hour: And he became very hungry, and would have eaten: but while they made ready, he fell into a trance, And saw heaven opened, and a certain vessel descending upon him, as it had been a great sheet knit at the four corners, and let down to the earth: Wherein were all manner of fourfooted beasts of the earth, and wild beasts, and creeping things, and fowls of the air. And there came a voice to him, Rise, Peter; kill, and eat. But Peter said, Not so, Lord; for I have never eaten any thing that is common or unclean. And the voice spake unto him again the second time, What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common. This was done thrice: and the vessel was received up again into heaven. Now while Peter doubted in himself what this vision which he had seen should mean, behold, the men which were sent from Cornelius had made enquiry for Simon's house, and stood before the gate, And called, and asked whether Simon, which was surnamed Peter, were lodged there. While Peter thought on the vision, the Spirit said unto him, Behold, three men seek thee. Arise therefore, and get thee down, and go with them, doubting nothing: for I have sent them. Then Peter went down to the men which were sent unto him from Cornelius; and said, Behold, I am he whom ye seek: what is the cause wherefore ye are come? And they said, Cornelius the centurion, a just man, and one that feareth God, and of good report among all the nation of the Jews, was warned from God by an holy angel to send for thee into his house, and to hear words of thee. Acts 10:9-22

Steps: 4, 5, 6, 10, 11, 12

While Paul is getting established as a Christian in Damascus, Peter is granted a vision of how to take the gospel of recovery from sin to the Gentiles. A Roman Centurion named Cornelius has sent three men to find Peter to invite him to come and share his experience, strength, and hope with Cornelius and his Gentile friends. God is aware of Peter’s thinking about it being illegal to speak to the Gentiles, because of his Jewish training and bigotry. Before the three men come to Peter, God gives Peter a vision of three sheets of unclean animals. After each sheet God tells Peter “What God hath cleansed that call not though common”. Peter was wondering what this vision meant and the Holy Spirit told Peter that the three men who were coming were sent by Him and that Peter was to go with them doubting nothing, for the Holy Spirit had sent them.

Prayer for Today: God, You know how easily we get confused when trying to sort out Your will from our human traditions. Grant us an awareness of what You want for us and give us the courage and instruction to do it as You instruct us. Help us to obey like Peter did.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Ananias – God’s Sponsor

And there was a certain disciple at Damascus, named Ananias; and to him said the Lord in a vision, Ananias. And he said, Behold, I am here, Lord. And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the street which is called Straight, and enquire in the house of Judas for one called Saul, of Tarsus: for, behold, he prayeth, And hath seen in a vision a man named Ananias coming in, and putting his hand on him, that he might receive his sight. Then Ananias answered, Lord, I have heard by many of this man, how much evil he hath done to thy saints at Jerusalem: And here he hath authority from the chief priests to bind all that call on thy name. But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel: For I will shew him how great things he must suffer for my name's sake. And Ananias went his way, and entered into the house; and putting his hands on him said, Brother Saul, the Lord, even Jesus, that appeared unto thee in the way as thou camest, hath sent me, that thou mightest receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost. And immediately there fell from his eyes as it had been scales: and he received sight forthwith, and arose, and was baptized. Acts 9:10-18

Steps: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 10, 11, 12

While Saul was meditating in darkness for three days, God was working with him explaining and revealing many things to him. At the same time God was working on a disciple named Ananias. God called him in a vision and Ananias responded. God told him about Saul and told Ananias to go and lay his hands on him for God gave a vision to Saul as well that there was going to be a man named Ananias that would come and heal him from his physical blindness while God was healing Saul from the spiritual blindness. Ananias was afraid to go to Saul because of Saul’s reputation, but God explained that Saul was going to be His man. Then Ananias obeyed and all was completed to God’s satisfaction.

Prayer for Today: God, help us to be healed from our physical ailments but more importantly heal us from our spiritual ailments. We want to see You and respond to You and then obey You trusting that You know more about all of these issues than we do. Thank You for Your willingness to work with people like us.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Paul’s Conversion

And Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went unto the high priest, And desired of him letters to Damascus to the synagogues, that if he found any of this way, whether they were men or women, he might bring them bound unto Jerusalem. And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven: And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks. And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do. And the men which journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice, but seeing no man. And Saul arose from the earth; and when his eyes were opened, he saw no man: but they led him by the hand, and brought him into Damascus. And he was three days without sight, and neither did eat nor drink. Acts 9:1-9

Steps: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 11, 12

Saul, soon to be called Paul, one of those who approved of the stoning of Stephen, was on his way to Damascus to capture more people and put them in prison for believing in the name of Jesus. On his way to find people who loved Jesus, Saul had the opportunity to meet Jesus personally. Jesus asked him why he persecuted Him. Saul asked who He was and God said that He was Jesus. Then Saul, now convinced that Jesus was real, asked what he should do? Jesus told him to go on into the city of Damascus and it would be told him what he should do. Saul was in the city three days and had been blinded by the brightness of the glory of Jesus. For three days Saul was fasting and praying and in deep sorrow for what he had done to the followers of Jesus, Whom Saul now accepted as real. Soon Saul would be taught his duty.

Prayer for Today: Father in heaven, You know the things we have done in our history on Earth. We have done most everything that can be done but sadly it was on the evil end of the spectrum. Today we ask for Your grace, like Saul. Forgive us for our ignorance, and forgive us for our downright evil behaviors. Help us to know what You would have us to do. Give us the time and opportunity and the awareness to feel sad and sorry as to how we have treated You in the person of Your children, and then help us to accept Your forgiveness. Thank You for Your love.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

The Great Scattering of the Church

And Saul was consenting unto his death. And at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria, except the apostles. And devout men carried Stephen to his burial, and made great lamentation over him. As for Saul, he made havock of the church, entering into every house, and haling men and women committed them to prison. Therefore they that were scattered abroad went everywhere preaching the word. Acts 8:1-4

Steps: 11, 12

After the death of Stephen the church was persecuted by the Jewish leadership and God used this to scatter His church all of over the local area and started the dispersion of the recovery message throughout Asia and then throughout the world. But the one who initiated the persecution was the Rabbi Saul. He was under conviction regarding the death of Stephen and he could not shake the message that God had placed on his heart. How he dealt with conviction on his heart was to persecute people who had the same belief system as Stephen. Acts 26:9-11. Yet God used this man to accomplish the spreading of the message to all the world.

Prayer for Today: God help us not to wrongly judge people who cause us to re-think our position. Help us to recognize Your hand in the activities of people who we do not agree with when You are using them to get us to look, think, and act differently than what we have done before. Help us to cooperate with You in any way that would be helpful to us and to others. Thank You for Your mysterious ways.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The Stoning of Stephen

Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye. Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted? and they have slain them which shewed before of the coming of the Just One; of whom ye have been now the betrayers and murderers: Who have received the law by the disposition of angels, and have not kept it. When they heard these things, they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed on him with their teeth. But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God, And said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God. Then they cried out with a loud voice, and stopped their ears, and ran upon him with one accord, And cast him out of the city, and stoned him: and the witnesses laid down their clothes at a young man's feet, whose name was Saul. And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit. And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep. Acts 7:51-60

Steps: 1, 2, 3, 11, 12

Stephen was one of seven deacons chosen in Acts 6 to minister to the new converts. Stephen was also a wonderful preacher who confounded the Jewish Rabbis with the truth. He was falsely charged with blasphemy and was brought before the Sanhedrin to testify to what he had said. He preached a wonderful sermon about the history of Israel and their continual rebellion against God. At the end of the sermon Stephen could see that they leaders were not listening to the truth but were continually looking for a way to condemn and kill him. At the end of his sermon he cut it short and pronounced guilt on the leaders and they acted out their hatred to God by killing His servant, the only one they could get their hands on. Stephen, the deacon/sponsor died trying to help his people see the light. It is also interesting that Stephen’s death marked the end of the 70 week prophecy of Daniel 9. This was the probationary period of time given to the nation of Israel to repent and come into right relationship with God. As a result of their killing of Stephen they testified, as they had also done at the trial of Jesus, that they did not want God ruling over them. Their murder of Stephen ended their time of probation, they cut themselves off from God, and Stephen’s replacement, Paul of Tarsus, sent the gospel message out to the whole world.

Prayer for Today: God, please help us to have soft hearts that we may hear Your messages from whomever You want to send. Help us to recognize You in their message and help us to receive it as something of value. Grant us Your great deliverance from our addictions to error and fear. Thank You for Your deliverance.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The Sponsor/Priest Gamaliel

Then stood there up one in the council, a Pharisee, named Gamaliel, a doctor of the law, had in reputation among all the people, and commanded to put the apostles forth a little space; And said unto them, Ye men of Israel, take heed to yourselves what ye intend to do as touching these men. For before these days rose up Theudas, boasting himself to be somebody; to whom a number of men, about four hundred, joined themselves: who was slain; and all, as many as obeyed him, were scattered, and brought to nought. After this man rose up Judas of Galilee in the days of the taxing, and drew away much people after him: he also perished; and all, even as many as obeyed him, were dispersed. And now I say unto you, Refrain from these men, and let them alone: for if this counsel or this work be of men, it will come to nought: But if it be of God, ye cannot overthrow it; lest haply ye be found even to fight against God. And to him they agreed: and when they had called the apostles, and beaten them, they commanded that they should not speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. And they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name. And daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ. Acts 5:34-42

Steps: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 10, 11, 12

Just as the leadership was about to make a fatal mistake their sponsor, Gamaliel, a famous lawyer and Rabbi stood up to counsel the brethren to not take this step and fight against God. His counsel was to leave them alone for if they were not of God they would fail and eventually die off or disband, and if they were of God there was nothing that the leadership could do to stop it. So the Jewish leadership called the disciples back in, beat them, and then commanded them to not speak in the name of Jesus and then let them go. The disciples response was in true recovery style – they rejoiced that they had been counted worthy to suffer shame for Jesus and then they went back to work sharing publically in the temple and in every house and they refused to stop teaching, preaching, and healing in the name of Jesus.

Prayer for Today: God help us when it is our turn to suffer for You that we will not be turned away from what You have asked us to do. We pray for wisdom, diplomacy, and firmness of recovery to do what You have called us to do. Thank You that we too can suffer for you when in harmony with you.

Monday, January 10, 2011

The Addictive Response of the Priesthood

Then the high priest rose up, and all they that were with him, (which is the sect of the Sadducees,) and were filled with indignation, And laid their hands on the apostles, and put them in the common prison. But the angel of the Lord by night opened the prison doors, and brought them forth, and said, Go, stand and speak in the temple to the people all the words of this life. And when they heard that, they entered into the temple early in the morning, and taught. But the high priest came, and they that were with him, and called the council together, and all the senate of the children of Israel, and sent to the prison to have them brought. But when the officers came, and found them not in the prison, they returned and told, Saying, The prison truly found we shut with all safety, and the keepers standing without before the doors: but when we had opened, we found no man within. Now when the high priest and the captain of the temple and the chief priests heard these things, they doubted of them whereunto this would grow. Then came one and told them, saying, Behold, the men whom ye put in prison are standing in the temple, and teaching the people. Then went the captain with the officers, and brought them without violence: for they feared the people, lest they should have been stoned. And when they had brought them, they set them before the council: and the high priest asked them, Saying, Did not we straitly command you that ye should not teach in this name? and, behold, ye have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this man's blood upon us. Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men. The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom ye slew and hanged on a tree. Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins. And we are his witnesses of these things; and so is also the Holy Ghost, whom God hath given to them that obey him. When they heard that, they were cut to the heart, and took counsel to slay them. Acts 5:17-33

Steps: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 10, 11, 12

As a result of the progress that the disciples were making in teaching and healing the people the religious leadership grew jealous and guilty. The arrested the disciples and put them in jail and then God released them and sent them back out to teach and heal. When they were arrested again the priests asked the disciples “Did we not command you to not teach in this man’s name? The disciples responded that they thought obeying God was a higher order than obeying man. Then the priests prepared to kill them.

Prayer for Today: God, help us to be willing to obey You over mankind no matter how high they are in the system. Help us to put You first in our hearts and lives. Thank You for Your mercy.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

The Gospel Combined with Healing

And by the hands of the apostles were many signs and wonders wrought among the people; (and they were all with one accord in Solomon's porch. And of the rest durst no man join himself to them: but the people magnified them. And believers were the more added to the Lord, multitudes both of men and women.) Insomuch that they brought forth the sick into the streets, and laid them on beds and couches, that at the least the shadow of Peter passing by might overshadow some of them. There came also a multitude out of the cities round about unto Jerusalem, bringing sick folks, and them which were vexed with unclean spirits: and they were healed every one. Acts 5:12-16

Steps: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 11, 12

After the testimony of Ananias and Sapphira, and the crippled man, people were convinced that the disciples were working in harmony with God. People were so convinced of the truth, and the power, of God to heal that people began to bring their sick to the disciples as they had brought them to Jesus. God healed every one of the sick, convincing people that they should join this group of people and share their experience, strength, and hope regarding the power of God to heal body and spirit.

Prayer for Today: God, help us to recognize Your power in our lives. Bring us healing, body and soul as well. Then help us to be willing to invest our time and energy into allowing You to teach us how to go out and heal, both body and soul. Help us to be representatives of You as You did to the disciples. Thank You for Your love and care.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Ananias and Sapphira – Money Addicts

But a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession, And kept back part of the price, his wife also being privy to it, and brought a certain part, and laid it at the apostles' feet. But Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost, and to keep back part of the price of the land? Whiles it remained, was it not thine own? and after it was sold, was it not in thine own power? why hast thou conceived this thing in thine heart? thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God. And Ananias hearing these words fell down, and gave up the ghost: and great fear came on all them that heard these things. And the young men arose, wound him up, and carried him out, and buried him. And it was about the space of three hours after, when his wife, not knowing what was done, came in. And Peter answered unto her, Tell me whether ye sold the land for so much? And she said, Yea, for so much. Then Peter said unto her, How is it that ye have agreed together to tempt the Spirit of the Lord? behold, the feet of them which have buried thy husband are at the door, and shall carry thee out. Then fell she down straightway at his feet, and yielded up the ghost: and the young men came in, and found her dead, and, carrying her forth, buried her by her husband. And great fear came upon all the church, and upon as many as heard these things. Acts 5:1-11

Steps: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

In the time of this story the early church is still getting its bearings and through the heart responses of the people enough money is coming in to care for the people who have been cast out of home and work because of their decisions to follow Christ. Because of the great needs of the people many are selling homes and properties to get the money to give to the church to help all of these displaced people. Ananias and Sapphira have been moved to sell a piece of property and want to give to the church but decide that they can give, and keep some of their promised money aside to profit by. They want the approval of the church and they want to make some money as well. So they sell the property and then they tell the church that they sold it for less money than what they received. When they knowingly were telling an incorrect sum of money and intentionally deceived the church, then God stepped in and used this case to warn the new church that God does not tolerate intentional deception. They were not looking for help and none more was offered. These two people, hardened in their addiction to money, were allowed to die to warn the rest of us to not trifle with God. Great fear came on the church and people gained confidence that God was really in control and He knew who was doing what.

Prayer for Today: God, You know our hearts and the addictive issues we suffer from. Protect us from ourselves and help us not to choose our addictions over You. Deliver us from our many addictions and grant us thy great peace.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Peter, John, and the Disciples Response to the Threatening of the Jews.

And being let go, they went to their own company, and reported all that the chief priests and elders had said unto them. And when they heard that, they lifted up their voice to God with one accord, and said, Lord, thou art God, which hast made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all that in them is: Who by the mouth of thy servant David hast said, Why did the heathen rage, and the people imagine vain things? The kings of the earth stood up, and the rulers were gathered together against the Lord, and against his Christ. For of a truth against thy holy child Jesus, whom thou hast anointed, both Herod, and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and the people of Israel, were gathered together, For to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel determined before to be done. And now, Lord, behold their threatenings: and grant unto thy servants, that with all boldness they may speak thy word, By stretching forth thine hand to heal; and that signs and wonders may be done by the name of thy holy child Jesus. And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness. And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul: neither said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common. And with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus: and great grace was upon them all. Neither was there any among them that lacked: for as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the prices of the things that were sold, And laid them down at the apostles' feet: and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need. And Joses, who by the apostles was surnamed Barnabas, (which is, being interpreted, The son of consolation,) a Levite, and of the country of Cyprus, Having land, sold it, and brought the money, and laid it at the apostles' feet. Acts 4:23-37

Steps: 11, 12

After being threatened, Peter and John tell the rest of the disciples, and the early church what happened to them. They prayed to God and He heard their prayers and baptized them again with His Holy Spirit and they went out again with boldness and taught the Word of God. They also shared all of their possessions one with another because many of them had lost positions of work as a result of their new convictions and God blessed them with selling houses and properties and giving the money to the disciples who shared with all people as they had need.

Prayer for Today: Thank You Lord that we can stand firm for You even when commanded to do otherwise by leaders. Help us to remember that You are our primary leader and it is our job to listen to You first and the rest of our leaders as they are in harmony with You. Help us also to share with others and You lead and direct. Thank You again for Your love.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

The Jewish Leadership’s Response to Peter’s Defense

Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus. And beholding the man which was healed standing with them, they could say nothing against it. But when they had commanded them to go aside out of the council, they conferred among themselves, Saying, What shall we do to these men? for that indeed a notable miracle hath been done by them is manifest to all them that dwell in Jerusalem; and we cannot deny it. But that it spread no further among the people, let us straitly threaten them, that they speak henceforth to no man in this name. And they called them, and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John answered and said unto them, Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard. So when they had further threatened them, they let them go, finding nothing how they might punish them, because of the people: for all men glorified God for that which was done. For the man was above forty years old, on whom this miracle of healing was shewed. Acts 4:13-22

Steps: 11, 12

When the Jewish leadership heard the response of Peter and John they decided to talk among themselves. They acknowledged that a miracle had clearly been done but to approve of the miracle would be to approve of the man that they had just killed just about two months before. They decided to threaten them to not speak any more on the subject to the people. Peter and John declared in response that they would obey God rather than man in issues like this one. Still the leadership threatened them and then turned them loose.

Prayer for Today: God, when it is our turn to stand firm for You even against the authorities of the land we pray that You will grant us strength so that we will put obedience to You above everything in this Earth. Help us to choose recovery over all other things.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Peter’s Defense Before the Sanhedrin

And it came to pass on the morrow, that their rulers, and elders, and scribes, And Annas the high priest, and Caiaphas, and John, and Alexander, and as many as were of the kindred of the high priest, were gathered together at Jerusalem. And when they had set them in the midst, they asked, By what power, or by what name, have ye done this? Then Peter, filled with the Holy Ghost, said unto them, Ye rulers of the people, and elders of Israel, If we this day be examined of the good deed done to the impotent man, by what means he is made whole; Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by him doth this man stand here before you whole. This is the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner. Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved. Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus. And beholding the man which was healed standing with them, they could say nothing against it. Acts 4:5-14

Steps: 4, 5, 6, 7, 10, 11, 12

The Sanhedrin, the Jewish ruling group, met to hear Peter’s defense about teaching the resurrection of Jesus and to hear how he had healed the crippled man. They asked by what power, a definition of name, had they healed the man. Peter testified that by the name, or power, of Jesus had this man been healed. Peter testified that by the power of the man whom these same rulers had killed, and who God had resurrected, was the crippled man healed. Peter then testified that in the name of Jesus, or the power, was the only way anyone could be healed on the entire Earth. The leadership was shocked by the boldness of the testimony of Peter and John. They knew that these men had not been educated in the Rabbinical schools yet there reasoning was solid and they knew that the only one who could have taught them such reasoning was Jesus, the very one whom they had killed, hoping that He would not be resurrected. On top of this the healed man was standing there and they knew that no one had the power to heal such a person unless it had been God Himself. Now they were stuck, how could they reject the testimony of reason, and miracle?

Prayer for Today: Help us Lord that when we see the data in front of us that we will surrender to logic, reason, truth, and Spirit with an open heart willing to see and to do as You guide and direct us. Thank You Lord for Your love.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

The Disciples are Arrested for Healing and Preaching

And as they spake unto the people, the priests, and the captain of the temple, and the Sadducees, came upon them, Being grieved that they taught the people, and preached through Jesus the resurrection from the dead. And they laid hands on them, and put them in hold unto the next day: for it was now eventide. Howbeit many of them which heard the word believed; and the number of the men was about five thousand. Acts 4:1-4

Steps: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 10, 11, 12

Peter and John were arrested for preaching that Jesus, a state and Jewish criminal, was resurrected from the dead. The resurrection of the dead was a doctrine, or teaching, that the Jewish leadership, especially the Sadducees, did not accept as truth. They therefore were going to be sure that this doctrine was not taught while they were in power. This was another example of religious persecution in Israel. The Bible taught the resurrection of the dead, an Jesus had certainly displayed that resurrection could and would occur in His presence. Then when Peter and John displayed supernatural power in the healing of the crippled man the leadership grew frantic enough to persecute by arresting the disciples. None the less 5000 more people believed in what the disciples were preaching, and displaying, and they joined the new church, thus making a new church of 8000 people in 2-3 days. God was revealing Himself through His disciples and the people were responding to the message of recovery from sin through Jesus.

Prayer for Today: God help us to recognize Your movings, and Your teachings through whatever source You choose to reveal Yourself through. Grant us the gift of spiritual discernment that we may recognized Your voice, and spiritual courage to accept it fully and freely when it comes. Help us to want to have victory over our addictions and to receive it from You. Thank You for Your love.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Jesus Heals A Man Through His Apostles

Now Peter and John went up together into the temple at the hour of prayer, being the ninth hour. And a certain man lame from his mother's womb was carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, to ask alms of them that entered into the temple; Who seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple asked an alms. And Peter, fastening his eyes upon him with John, said, Look on us. And he gave heed unto them, expecting to receive something of them. Then Peter said, 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. And he took him by the right hand, and lifted him up: and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength. And he leaping up stood, and walked, and entered with them into the temple, walking, and leaping, and praising God. And all the people saw him walking and praising God: And they knew that it was he which sat for alms at the Beautiful gate of the temple: and they were filled with wonder and amazement at that which had happened unto him. Acts 3:1-10

Steps: 1, 2, 3, 11, 12

Jesus sends Peter and John to the temple and they see a man crippled from birth. When the crippled man sees Peter and John he looks expectantly at them hoping to receive something special from them. Peter tells the man that he does not have silver or gold but what he does have he is willing to give and in the name of Jesus he heals the man. The three of them now go into the temple and the people recognize the man and are filled with wonder and amazement at what happened. When Peter sees the people looking at him as though he did something wonderful He preaches the gospel to the people in the temple informing them that it was not in his power to heal anyone but he healed in the name of Christ. Then he proceeds to tell the people how they can get healing and spiritual help if they really want it and that would be to come to Jesus for themselves, and if they will believe in Him He will help them just as much as He helped the crippled man.

Prayer for Today: God, grant us the faith, and then the opportunity to be healed physically and spiritually. Help us not to miss out on any opportunities to come to You for help and help us to believe You when You say You want to help us. Thank You for Your willingness to come to us, to find us, and to offer Your gifts to us. Help us not to turn away. Thank You again.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

The Church Grows

Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do? Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the LORD our God shall call. And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation. Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. And they continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles. And all that believed were together, and had all things common; And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need. And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved. Acts 2:37-47

Steps: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 11, 12

When Peter finished preaching a sermon about how the power of God had been displayed amongst the disciples and how it ministered to the people, and what it meant for Jesus, then the people were pricked in their hearts. They recognized that they were addicts and that they needed help. They asked the simple question “What shall we do?” Peter gave them instructions to be baptized and live the life that God had instructed them to live. That day 3000 people were added to God’s fellowship. They immediately began to share their experience, strength, and hope and the message continued out into the world for all to hear and all to decide and all to follow Jesus.

Prayer for Today: Help us to be willing to hear Your voice today in whatever form it may come. When it does come help us to be willing to accept it and to follow You wherever You would lead us. Thank You for seeking us out and offering Your love and acceptance.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Peter Explains the Anointing of God’s Church

And they were all amazed, and were in doubt, saying one to another, What meaneth this? Others mocking said, These men are full of new wine. But Peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice, and said unto them, Ye men of Judaea, and all ye that dwell at Jerusalem, be this known unto you, and hearken to my words: For these are not drunken, as ye suppose, seeing it is but the third hour of the day. But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel; And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams: And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy: And I will shew wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath; blood, and fire, and vapour of smoke: The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and notable day of the Lord come: And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved. Acts 2:12-21

Steps: 11, 12

All of the people were amazed when they heard the disciples speak in their own language about the mighty works of God in the life and death of Jesus Christ of Nazareth. Peter explains to the people that this was simply the outpouring of the Holy Spirit as spoken of in the book of Joel (Joel 2:28-32). God wanted the people to know that His power was still active, the He was still involved in the affairs of me, and that He was the One who had sent Jesus and now was displaying His power for the blessing and benefit of the people at Jerusalem. God wanted His people to know that whoever called on His name with an honest heart would be saved.

Prayer for Today: God, help us to hear about Your wonderful works, as we read these testimonies of people who were there to witness Your power. Help us to hold on to these things by faith and trust that You will do them for us also if we want to know truth and get solidly into recovery. You know Father that our addictions tend to dull our understanding of spiritual issues and today we call on Your name to deliver us from sin and to stabilize us in You. Thank You for Your love and patience with us.