Monday, October 09, 2006

Acts 29 Daily -- Acts 11


ACTS 11…

1Now the apostles and the brethren who were throughout Judea heard that the Gentiles also had received the word of God. 2And when Peter came up to Jerusalem, those who were circumcised took issue with him, 3saying, "You went to uncircumcised men and ate with them." 4But Peter began speaking and proceeded to explain to them in orderly sequence…
When Peter returned to Jerusalem, he was given the riot act! They couldn’t believe that he was associating with the Gentiles—the unclean—and that he would have given them the word of God in such a way that they received it. So, Peter shares with them the vision he was given where God made it clear, “What God has cleansed, no longer consider unholy.” And, he also shared the message Cornelius was given by the Lord to seek Peter out. Then he says, 12"The Spirit told me to go with them without misgivings these six brethren also went with me and we entered the man's house.

Cornelius was told that Peter would speak words by which he and all his household would find salvation. 15"And as I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell upon them just as He did upon us at the beginning. 16"And I remembered the word of the Lord, how He used to say, 'John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.' 17"Therefore if God gave to them the same gift as He gave to us also after believing in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could stand in God's way?" 18When they heard this, they quieted down and glorified God, saying, "Well then, God has granted to the Gentiles also the repentance that leads to life."
PRINCIPLE #1—God will continually break down your boxes and burst your bubbles, while blowing your mind! When Jesus is acting, you’ll find things gloriously out of control.

19So then those who were scattered because of the persecution that occurred in connection with Stephen made their way to Phoenicia andCyprus and Antioch, speaking the word to no one except to Jews alone. 20But there were some of them, men of Cyprus and Cyrene, who came to Antioch and began speaking to the Greeks also, preaching the Lord Jesus. 21And the hand of the Lord was with them, and a large number who believed turned to the Lord.

22The news about them reached the ears of the church at Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas off to Antioch. It’s like the home office was nervous again…fearful that some sort of movement might break out without their guidance and blessing, so they sent a very good man—Barnabas. 23Then when he arrived and witnessed the grace of God, he rejoiced and began to encourage them all with resolute heart to remain true to the Lord;

NOTE two things here…
1. Barnabas witnessed the “grace of God”…not a new, highly organized program that was working in good ways, but the grace of God among these people.
2. Barnabas encouraged these new believers to keep on keeping on…keep doing what you’re doing—true to the Lord. He’s not soliciting submission to the home office (the leadership in Jerusalem)…he’s not asking them to join a certain fellowship.

Luke goes on to say, 24for he was a good man, and full of the Holy Spirit and of faith and considerable numbers were brought to the Lord.

Now NOTE what Barnabas did. 25And he left for Tarsus to look for Saul; 26and when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch and for an entire year they met with the church and taught considerable numbers….

ONE QUICK NOTE HERE: The name Saul is interesting at this point. I’ve heard all my life that “Saul was his Jewish name before he became and Christian and Paul was his Christian name.” BUNK! If that were true, then Paul ought to be called Paul here, since this is well after being apprehended by Jesus. I think this devilish little mis-truth is one of many little ways to keep us off message. Saul was the Jewish way of saying Paul and Paul was his Roman name. Paul (Saul) was still Jewish after bowing his heart to Jesus. Jesus doesn’t change your cultural background, when He enters your life. He transforms you inside out with all your cultural quirks and nooks and crannies.

PRINCIPLE #2—It’s not my fellowship; it’s the fellowship of Jesus. The leadership of believers in Jerusalem thought this movement around Jesus in Antioch was theirs to guide and control, but it wasn’t. By the grace of God, it was the fellowship of Jesus. NOTE—a few people gathered in Antioch around the NAME OF JESUS and a FELLOWSHIP BROKE OUT!

Then, NOTE Barnabas. He was obviously enthused by the excitement and new life of the fellowship in Antioch, so he sought out Saul to solicit his help in loving and teaching the considerable numbers who were gathering together in the name of Jesus. They stayed there for one year, but they didn’t feel the need to claim this fellowship as their own or to call themselves church planters at the next “pastors’ conference”, because it was clear to them that this was the FELLOWSHIP OF JESUS. And, this was the case throughout the early church…there was no misconception as to who owned or who was the planter of the fellowship…it was always Jesus.

What a difference it is today! That’s my church…I planted this church in 1980…ME, MY, MINE, and I. And, you know what, I struggle with this same thing with the fellowship where we gather. It’s easy for me to be hurt when someone leaves or chooses not to be part of the things we are doing together…as if this is a personal affront to me—as if it is MY FELLOWSHIP. I have to remind myself over and over that this is the FELLOWSHIP OF JESUS and wherever we go, we have the privilege of gathering with others from all of the flavors of ethnicity, religious affiliation and economic levels in this fellowship.


In the name of Jesus,
Tim Timmons


In this Jesus journey we're walking together the "last" supper will never be the same for me again. Monday morning, before leaving for Delhi by train, we had a few strategic meetings that were set. Each one was significant, but one of them was epic!

The mentors/disciples of Jesus in India have been learning the principles and teachings of Jesus for a minimum of 3 years. As in the case of the early disciples of Jesus, we experienced their first ever with them. We gathered together--the 8 plus Isaac and JoJo--with grape juice and bread and explained what Jesus called the covenant supper with His disciples. It was the original intent of Stephen, before his untimely death, to have this covenant supper with these young disciples. So we felt the urge to follow through on Stephen's behalf.

We explained the theme of covenants throughout the history of the world and how Jesus felt it necessary to eat this covenant supper with His disciples before He left. We shared about the bread being the body of Jesus and I shared about the cup being the "covenant of His blood" that Jesus shed for us all, bringing forgiveness of our sins forever. Then as the text in Gospels reads, they sang and hymn and went out to the mount of Olives, so we led them in Amazing Grace and could have gone out to the Himalayas. I explained to them that this amazing grace was Jesus' unconditional love for us and we shared with them that this covenant supper was a life-covenant with Jesus and with one another until Jesus returns.

WOW! This was most moving to experience this "first" with these dear young men who love Jesus and count on His love for them. In so many ways Stephen was Jesus to them, loving them unconditionally...and they see that. We gave them a new Gospels and Acts with their names and our signatures, commemorating this covenant together.

I can see this kind of thing happening in the various cultures and communities where Jesus is lifted up. As Christians, presenting Christianity, this would never happen so purely, simply and deeply. This has nothing to do with Christianity, but everything to do with Jesus. I can't wait to share more with you....

Acts 29 Daily -- Acts 10


ACTS 10…

In the 2nd chapter of Acts the Spirit came upon the believers in Jerusalem to indwell them permanently…in chapter 8 we witnessed the Samaritan believers receiving the Spirit in the same way. Now, in chapter 10 there is a fascinating story about how the Gentiles, the non-Jews, received the Spirit in the same way.
1Now there was a man at Caesarea named Cornelius, a centurion of what was called the Italian cohort, 2a devout man and one who feared God with all his household, and gave many alms to the Jewish people and prayed to God continually.

Cornelius has a vision from an angel of God. The angel said,
"Your prayers and alms have ascended as a memorial before God. 5"Now dispatch some men to Joppa and send for a man named Simon, who is also called Peter; 6he is staying with a tanner named Simon, whose house is by the sea."

At the same time, Peter, staying in Simon’s house in Joppa…a beach house…also had a vision.
11and he saw the sky opened up, and an object like a great sheet coming down, lowered by four corners to the ground, 12and there were in it all kinds of four-footed animals and crawling creatures of the earth and birds of the air. 13A voice came to him, "Get up, Peter, kill and eat!" 14But Peter said, "By no means, Lord, for I have never eaten anything unholy and unclean." 15Again a voice came to him a second time, "What God has cleansed, no longer consider unholy." 16This happened three times,
Four quick observations here…
God commands Peter to violate the dietary laws within the Law of Moses.
Peter refuses…his obedience to the Law was overriding the word of God, Himself.
God gives Peter the ultimate explanation… “What God has cleansed, no longer consider unholy.”
God had to do this three times…this seems to be what Peter needs…a triple dose of a truth in order to get it.

As he finished the vision, Cornelius’ men were already at the door of Simon’s beach house, asking for Peter. Peter didn’t have time to analyze what was happening. They were invited in for the night…
And on the next day he got up and went away with them, and some of the brethren from Joppa accompanied him. 24On the following day he enteredCaesarea. Now Cornelius was waiting for them and had called together his relatives and close friends.
NOTE that Cornelius invited his relatives and his close friends to hear what Peter was going to share with them.

Now watch this…
25When Peter entered, Cornelius met him, and fell at his feet and worshiped him. 26But Peter raised him up, saying, "Stand up; I too am just a man." 27As he talked with him, he entered and found many people assembled. 28And he said to them, "You yourselves know how unlawful it is for a man who is a Jew to associate with a foreigner or to visit him; and yet God has shown me that I should not call any man unholy or unclean.
Peter acknowledged how strange and even “unlawful” for a Jew to associate with a group of Gentiles, but that God overruled and sent him.

29"That is why I came without even raising any objection when I was sent for.
Cornelius explained the vision God had given him about how to find Peter and finished with…
33"So I sent for you immediately, and you have been kind enough to come. Now then, we are all here present before God to hear all that you have been commanded by the Lord."

34Opening his mouth, Peter said: "I most certainly understand now that God is not one to show partiality, 35but in every nation the man who fears Him and does what is right is welcome to Him. 36"The word which He sent to the sons of Israel, preaching peace through Jesus Christ (He is Lord of all)-- 37you yourselves know the thing which took place throughout all Judea, starting from Galilee, after the baptism which John proclaimed. 38"You know of Jesus of Nazareth, how God anointed Him with the Holy Spirit and with power, and how He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him.

44While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who were listening to the message. 45All the circumcised believers who came with Peter were amazed, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also. 46For they were hearing them speaking with tongues and exalting God. Then Peter answered, 47"Surely no one can refuse the water for these to be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we did, can he?" 48And he ordered them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked him to stay on for a few days.

I love this scene…NO MATTER YOUR BACKGROUND OR UPBRINING OR CULTURE, YOU MAY COME TO GOD AND RECEIVE HIS SPIRIT TO INDWELL YOU. This is because God shows no partiality to anyone, but in every nation the man who fears God and does what is right is welcome to Him…all this is done through the person of Jesus.

NOTE what we know about Cornelius…
He as Roman soldier in a prominent position.
He was not a Jew (or as we might say today…not a Christian)…he was a Gentile and not affiliated with any synagogue (church).
He was a god-fearing man.
He was prone to charity.
He was a man of prayer…a man who sought out a “higher power” in his life.

Cornelius came from a Roman cultural background and was found to have a heart bent toward God. This is the first group of Gentiles brought into the fellowship. The story gives us some key insights into who and how people come into a relationship with Jesus.

WHO? Anyone whose heart is bent toward God, no matter the cultural background, may come into the fellowship of Jesus.
HOW? When a person seeks God out with all his heart, God will provide a way to bring that person, family and friends, into fellowship with Him.

So, with this in mind, it’s important to remind ourselves that…
FIRST—We all come from a different cultural background.
SECOND—Jesus is not owned by Christianity.
THIRD—No matter your background—Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, Christian, Catholic, Mormon, Baptist, non-religious, whoever—you can come into fellowship with Jesus.

When Jesus is lifted up, all men are drawn to Him. Therefore, if Jesus is all that matters, then why do we spend so much time on other matters?

In the name of Jesus,
Tim Timmons