Friday, November 16, 2012

November 16, 2012 … Standing in The Gap for Truth

Chronological Bible Reading Plan - Day 321

Passage of the Day: Reference of Today’s Chronological Bible Study: Acts, Chapters 4-6 To study these chapters, go to this link -

Highlight Passages: Acts 4: 10-12; 18-22; 29-31 : [NLT] … { Peter and John arrested by the Sadducees and brought to the Sanhedrin in Jerusalem after they had healed a crippled man and claiming it was done by the power of the resurrected Jesus. }  
10 Let me clearly state to you and to all the people of Israel that he was healed in the name and power of Jesus Christ from Nazareth, the man you crucified, but whom God raised from the dead. 11 For Jesus is the one referred to in the Scriptures, where it says, … ‘The stone that you builders rejected has now become the cornerstone.’ [Psalm 118: 12]12 There is salvation in no one else! There is no other name in all of heaven for people to call on to save them.”
18 So they {the religious leaders, after deliberation} called the apostles back in and told them never again to speak or teach about Jesus. 19 But Peter and John replied, “Do you think God wants us to obey you rather than him? 20 We cannot stop telling about the wonderful things we have seen and heard.” 21 The council then threatened them further, but they finally let them go because they didn’t know how to punish them without starting a riot. For everyone was praising God 22 for this miraculous sign—the healing of a man who had been lame for more than forty years. …   
{After Peter and Paul were released the believers in Jerusalem gathered to pray, praying …} 
29 And now, O Lord, hear their threats {from the religious leaders in the city and the people who blindly followed the leaders}, and give your servants great boldness in their preaching. 30 Send Your healing power; may miraculous signs and wonders be done through the name of Your holy servant Jesus.” 31 After this prayer, the building where they were meeting shook, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit. And they preached God’s message with boldness. 
Highlight Passages: Acts 5: 17-20; 27-30; 38-42 : [NLT] … {The Jewish council in Jerusalem did all they could to stop the Apostles from teaching, preaching, and healing; but they couldn’t because the Apostles were empowered by God’s grace.}  
17 The high priest and his friends, who were Sadducees, reacted with violent jealousy. 18They arrested the apostles and put them in the jail. 19 But an angel of the Lord came at night, opened the gates of the jail, and brought them out. Then he told them, 20“Go to the Temple and give the people this message of life!” 21 So the apostles entered the Temple about daybreak and immediately began teaching. … 27 Then they brought the apostles in before the council. 28 “Didn’t we tell you never again to teach in this man’s name?” the high priest demanded. “Instead, you have filled all Jerusalem with your teaching about Jesus, and you intend to blame us for his death!” 29 But Peter and the apostles replied, “We must obey God rather than human authority. 30The God of our ancestors raised Jesus from the dead after you killed him by crucifying him. 
{The Council wanted to have the Apostles killed; but a Pharisee named Gamaliel, whom we later learn was a mentor of Saul of Tarsus, intervened and advised the Sanhedrin to avoid making martyrs of the Apostles and creating a riot among the growing number of Christians, who numbered well in excess of 10,000 at the time. Gamaliel said, …}
38 “So my advice is, leave these men alone. If they are teaching and doing these things merely on their own, it will soon be overthrown. 39 But if it is of God, you will not be able to stop them. You may even find yourselves fighting against God.” … 40 The council accepted his advice. They called in the apostles and had them flogged. Then they ordered them never again to speak in the name of Jesus, and they let them go. 41 The apostles left the high council rejoicing that God had counted them worthy to suffer dishonor for the name of Jesus. 42 And every day, in the Temple and in their homes, they continued to teach and preach this message: “The Messiah you are looking for is Jesus.” 

My Journal for Today: Today I take in three more chapters from the Book of Acts; and I’ll focus my journaling on Chapters 4-5; but since I’m going to be discussing the courage of the disciples in the face of oppression from the religious leaders in Jerusalem shortly after the resurrection, you may want to go the end of Chapter 6 of Acts where the first Christian martyr, Stephen, is introduced. Tomorrow, as I know I’ll be assigned to study from Chapters 7-8 of Acts, the execution of this Greek Christian will be brought out; and I’ll likely comment on Stephen’s courage then. But Stephen’s boldness as a Christian witness is the main theme I want to discuss today.

In that regard, in Acts: Chapter 4-5, Luke documents the courage and boldness of the Apostles, men like Peter and John, who stood in the gap, witnessing for truth and preaching the good news of Christ, in spite of the rigorous opposition of the Sanhedrin, the powerful Council of religious leaders in that day, who diametrically opposed what these new Christians were boldly preaching. And note the change of attitude in Peter and John, both of whom had bolted and ran in fear when Jesus was arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane before the crucifixion; and especially Peter, of course, who was an absolute coward then, denying Jesus openly three times.

However, in these chapters, these men, now filled with the grace of God from the Holy Spirit, became bold witnesses for Christ, just as Jesus had charged them to be (see Acts 1: 8), having empowered these witnesses, in their anointed roles as Apostles, to go forth and preach the gospel message, healing and teaching in the Name of Christ. And these men would not be repressed or silenced in this, coming very close, on more than one occasion, to being executed falsely for their faith in Christ.

I really have only one point to make here in my journal comments this morning, … a point out of conviction.   >>> What would happen if Christians, like yours truly, would be bolder in our times … where the world is trying to silence and eradicate Christian concepts, like “Christ” and “God,” from our public discussion? If we Christians were more like the Apostles and Christians, men like Stephen, standing strongly and boldly for the Name of Christ, what would be the result in our culture today? What power from God’s grace would come upon us if we stood in the gap for truth like the Christians we read of in the Book of Acts?

My Prayer Today: … Lord, give me Your power to declare Your truth more boldly in my life. Amen

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