Monday, November 19, 2012

November 19, 2012 … “Christians” Causing Controversy

Chronological Bible Reading Plan - Day 324

Passage of the Day: Reference of Today’s Chronological Bible Study: Acts, Chapters 11-12 To study these chapters, go to this link

Highlight Passages: Acts 11: 15-18; 22-26 : [NLT] … {Peter, returning to Jerusalem from missionary travels was challenged by Jews, who’d heard of Gentiles being saved. Peter explained what he had observed and what he reasoned.} 15“Well, I began telling them [i.e., the Gentiles] the Good News, but just as I was getting started, the Holy Spirit fell on them, just as he fell on us at the beginning. 16 Then I thought of the Lord’s words when he said, ‘John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’ 17 And since God gave these Gentiles the same gift he gave us when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I to argue?” 18 When the others heard this, all their objections were answered and they began praising God. They said, “God has also given the Gentiles the privilege of turning from sin and receiving eternal life.” …  
{ We are introduced to Barnabas by Luke, who later became a companion of the Apostle Paul in missionary work for Christ. Here we also are first introduced to the first use of the term “Christian” being used to describe converts to Christ, either Jewish or Gentile. } … 
22 When the church at Jerusalem heard what had happened, they sent Barnabas to Antioch. 23 When he arrived and saw this proof of God’s favor {i.e., Gentiles being filled with the Holy Spirit}, he was filled with joy, and he encouraged the believers to stay true to the Lord. 24 Barnabas was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and strong in faith. And large numbers of people were brought to the Lord. 25 Then Barnabas went on to Tarsus to find Saul. 26 When he found him, he brought him back to Antioch. Both of them stayed there with the church for a full year, teaching great numbers of people. (It was there at Antioch that the believers were first called Christians.)  
Highlight Passages: Acts 12: 1-5; 18-19 : [NLT] … {The persecution of the early Christians continued, under Roman appointed leaders, like Agrippa I, who executed the Apostle James and imprisoned Peter. }  
1 About that time King Herod Agrippa {the grandson of Herod the Great} began to persecute some believers in the church. 2 He had the apostle James (John’s brother) killed with a sword. 3 When Herod saw how much this pleased the Jewish leaders, he arrested Peter during the Passover celebration 4 and imprisoned him, placing him under the guard of four squads of four soldiers each. Herod’s intention was to bring Peter out for public trial after the Passover. 5 But while Peter was in prison, the church prayed very earnestly for him.  
{Peter escaped by God’s intervention and returned to the people gathered, praying for Peter, in the home of John Mark’s mother. They we all astonished at Peter’s miraculous escape, as was King Agrippa.} … 
18 At dawn, there was a great commotion among the soldiers about what had happened to Peter. 19 Herod Agrippa ordered a thorough search for him. When he couldn’t be found, Herod interrogated the guards and sentenced them to death. Afterward Herod left Judea to stay in Caesarea for a while. {Shortly thereafter, Agrippa, was gripped by pride when people around him began to worship him as a god; and taking to this adulation, he was immediately struck dead by God.}

My Journal for Today: In Chapters 11-12 of Acts we read of how much controversy was being raised internally, within Christianity, over Gentiles being converted and filled by the Holy Spirit as well as Jews, as well as the political controversy being created for Roman rulers in Judea by this growing movement of “Christians” (the name being used for the first time in the Bible in Acts 11 in Antioch where a large number of Greek Gentiles were coming to Christ).

The controversy Christians cause when they openly live for Christ [which is true worship] is still found to this day in the world, … isn’t it? As soon as people in the world, ruled and master-minded by Satan, are confronted by even one Christian who worships Christ for Whom He is by living for Him, let alone a number of Christians making up a church assembly, there is friction; and God, pouring His empowering grace into His Church, will bring growth and conversions. Isn’t it interesting that even today, the church grows exponentially much faster in areas where there is oppression of Christians than it does in geo-political areas where the Church has little or no opposition. Look at how fast converts are being reported today in China and in the Muslim controlled areas of the world as opposed to here in Bible-belt of southern USA.

When Peter was imprisoned, as documented by Luke in Acts 11, the Christians gathered and prayed; and God intervened dramatically with Peter being sprung from prison. And when authorities, like King Agrippa, the first, clamped down on Christians, God even struck a leader, like Agrippa, dead.

It raises the question ... What if the church would ban together in this modern era of growing oppression of Christianity and humbly pray TOGETHER for God to intervene – perhaps praying like the prayer of 2nd Chronicles 7: 14 [linked for your study]- what would God do for/with His beloved Church?” I’ll leave it to you to ponder this reality … as I am this morning.

Perhaps we need even more rigorous controversy and oppression in our “Christian” world for us to be brought together, humbly praying for the Bride of Christ to be released and experience revival as was witnessed in the world at the time reported by Luke in these chapters in Acts.

My Prayer Today: … Lord, do what You must to bring Your Church together, humbly praying for You to heal our land. Amen

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