More of Acts Chapter 2 Saturday, Oct 7 2017 

2.3-4 tongues like as of fire. At the Tower of Babel tongues scattered the world’s people into the far corners of the globe. This is the moment tongues assembles those dispersed people back into unity, purpose and direction. As Adam and Eve both spoke their first conversation, so now God is speaking to his new family of the church. The second man Adam is speaking to his bride, the church. Here in Jerusalem at the feast of the first fruits, the first sheaf of the New Covenant was being waved in thanksgiving to the reaping of the world harvest that was beginning. These Jews present had come from all over the world to celebrate the giving of the law on Sinai. On this momentous occasion the law was again being written, but this time it was being written on human hearts rather than stone tablets. It was the fulfillment of the prophecy of Jeremiah promising a new covenant. The paraclete ( the Holy Spirit as advocate or guide), had arrived. 

2.5-13 the assembled nations. These fifteen countries of dispersed Jews represented the whole world being visited by the supernatural creation of the church. In Genesis creation is natural, in Acts creation is spiritual. If we consider the works of Strabo (a Greek geographer, philosopher, and historian who lived in Asia Minor during the transitional period of the Roman Republic into the Roman Empire), we can easily see this list represents a bird’s eye view of the Roman Empire. These fifteen nations represent the old Parthian kingdom, the old territory of the Medes, and the Persians. The Greek speaking nations of the empire are not listed, as the tongues would not have impacted them for they spoke Greek already. It is notable that verse five clearly states, these were people from every nation under heaven. The tongues ushered in by the mighty wind gathered the dispersed from around the globe and introduced them to the spiritual creation of God, the church. The second creation had occurred and it was good. 
Thanks for reading today. 

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Acts 2 Monday, Sep 18 2017 

Verses 1-2

2.1 This Chapter is tantamount to Genesis 1. Genesis records the creation and beginning of all things. This chapter records the creation of the church and the beginning of all things relative to the church. From the inception, this salvation is for all people, all nations. The occasion of Acts 2 was not an accident. It was purposed by God as sure as the original creation of matter. Paul assures us of this when he says “when the fullness of time was come”. There are no accidents or coincidences with God. The creation of the church was in the mind of God before the first ray of light shattered the primeval darkness. God decided to redeem fallen man before man was created. Acts 15.18 says known unto God are all His works from the beginning of creation. To treat the church worldwide as an afterthought, or an alternate plan is the greatest of insults. It would mean God never intended to save the world, but was Himself a racist by only favoring a select group of people. This chapter is the inception, the beginning, of all the plan of God since Genesis. The panoramic unfolding of eternal salvation and gospel is now launched by Jesus Christ after His successful earthly ministry. It comes with force and explosive announcement.

2.2 rushing mighty wind. The assembled masses outside would never see the glory inside the upper room without some display or noise. So God sends the Holy Ghost in a mighty way and notifies those within earshot of the creation of the church. As in Genesis, it is no quiet beginning, but rather a Big Bang. Science says our universe began with a cataclysmic explosion. They probably are right. God spoke and things exploded into being. The same pattern manifests itself here. There is a divine announcement something is happening. In the original creation the Sons of God shouted for joy, and in this second creative act, the Sons of God again shout for joy. People from far away places like modern day Iran were witness of this incredible happening. In the days of the apostles Jewish communities were located primarily in the eastern Roman Empire. Greek was the common language. The people present in this chapter were from as far away as Mesopotamia and further east including Parthia, Media and Elam (present day Iran). God was announcing something powerful and exciting was happening. As in the Old Testament happening to the prophet Elijah in 1 Kings 19, after the wind there would be a voice. And the voice was the purpose of the wind.

Thanks for reading today….

Acts Chapter 1 Saturday, Sep 9 2017 

Chapter 1

1.1-5 the treatise. The greek word here is logos. The same word used in John 1.1, 14. It is also used in Hebrews 13.17 as “account”. It is the sum total. It is a multi dimensional word. It incorporates everything about a person or subject. So Luke is saying his former logos about Jesus is being continued. This establishes the point immediately that Acts is about Jesus. Without Jesus there is no book of Acts. Jesus is the source of all that is recorded. Historically Jesus was alive and is a historical personage. The narrative here is tagged to connect it with the ascension of Jesus, thus continuing the narrative without interruption. Some ancient writers went so far as to call Acts the fifth gospel. They say this because it is the continuation of Jesus’ acts through his followers. Jesus is present in every chapter and every page of this truism.

1.6-11 the ascension. The men who devoted their lives and future to the messiah ask him if this is the time He will restore the kingdom to Israel. Jesus does not answer their pointed question. Why? This seems an important moment and why withhold this simple answer. Jesus sidesteps their question and redirects them to the outpouring of the Holy Ghost. It is possible Jesus saw they were looking for the wrong fulfillment of Prophecy. It is also possible he was steering them away from their nationalistic viewpoint. It appears Jesus was leaving the blank unfilled so they would pursue the true goal of his coming; the church. As Jesus directs their attention to the Holy Ghost, he is taken up out of their sight. This is a clear injunctive. Jesus was clearly telling them to go forth and focus on the Holy Ghost, and not the national fulfillment of Israel. 

1.12-14. Jerusalem. This was important to fulfill the admonition that Jerusalem was the fountainhead of the New Covenant. Jesus had told them to tarry in Jerusalem until they were endured with power. Is 2.3, and Micah 4.2 both declare that the law shall go forth of Zion and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. Any attempt to define the church outside of the Jerusalem message is an error. Even the Apostle Paul checked his direct revelation from God to make sure it dovetailed with the message of Jerusalem, Gal 1.1-2. This is a powerful concept that even Paul’s revelation would be bogus if it did not match the Jerusalem template. The only true doctrine is the doctrine that aligns with what was preached in Jerusalem. Any doctrine that does not match what was preached at Jerusalem is false doctrine and must be jettisoned. 

1.15-22 replacing Judas. This is an interesting concept. There does not appear to be any instruction from Jesus to replace the fallen Apostle. There is only the admonition in Psalms 69.25. The second part spoken here is from Psalms 109.8. The decision to replace Judas was made on combining these two passages. Both passages would be classified as secondary meanings. This is one of the most difficult parts of hermeneutics. Without the guidance of the Holy Spirit we would never draw these conclusions. We are left to wonder if Jesus instructed them to do this? It would have been simple for Jesus to appoint the successor while he was yet with them. By not appointing Judas’ replacement, we are left with these puzzling thoughts. Did Jesus instruct them to do this? Why did Jesus choose not to do this? Did this decision come to them in the days of lingering prayer? Is this the initial beginning of fulfilling Matthew 16.19, where Peter begins to use the keys given him? Peter seems confident this needed to happen to fulfill the scriptures. Luke 24.44-46 declares Jesus opened their understanding concerning the law, the prophets, and the Psalms. It appears the defection, not the death was the cause of replacement. Later when James is killed, there is no replacement. 

1.23-26 Joseph or Matthias? Joseph the son of (bar)Sabas. Is this Barnabas of Acts 4.36? Lightfoot suggests he was the son of Alpheus, thus of the family of Jesus. Matthias has nothing that can identify him except his long association with the followers of Jesus. Clement of Alexandria speaks of the writings of Matthias around 200AD. Eusebius mentions a gospel of Matthias as well. We do know the man chosen by the casting of lots is never heard from again. The disciples seemed to feel this was necessary to do before the coming of the Holy Ghost. Possibly this was the final act of the old dispensation, sealing it forever. One thing was sure; if one whom Jesus had hand picked failed, how could they be sure their choice was the correct choice? They resorted to the time tested method of casting the lots. The lot fell upon Matthias. 

Thanks for reading today….

A Bus Kid’s Testimony Monday, Aug 7 2017 

My name is Lequante Abbott. I was born into a broken home with two other siblings. We each have different dads. We were very poverty stricken. I can’t remember a time when I was growing up that we didn’t have some government help. My father was never really present in my life. I can count the number of times that me and my biological father spent time together on one hand. Marijuana and alcohol was always present in the home and used at least 2-3 times a day. 

I can remember a time when we were so poor that we couldn’t afford to pay our water bill and our water was shut off for months, so we would have to go to my grandad’s house and bathe as well as take care of other things that needed a source of running water like washing our clothes and things like that. There was always a part of me that wanted better and I knew that there was something better out there, but I didn’t know where to turn to or where to look. 

I loved to fight and the rush that it gave me. At a young age depression set in. I felt empty all the time and I couldn’t feel anything but at least I could still feel pain from getting a good punch to the head as well as inflicting pain on others, so fighting was how I coped. I would just wake up angry and walk around in that state of mind all day and I had the mouth of a sailor. I cursed all the time and I put up walls because I didn’t want to let anyone or anything in. I had anger on top of anger bottled up inside. 

In my pre teen years I could remember there were nights when we didn’t have enough food for the whole family to eat at supper time and so I would let my younger brother have my share of food. There have been a number of days where the only food I ate was a school lunch and there were some days where I just went without. 

I started hanging out with a group of kids when I was fourteen and It was cool if you professed to be an atheist.  This group said that there was no God and that they didn’t believe in a God.  At the age of fifteen I started to feel a strange tug and I really didn’t know what was going on so I just kept doing all the wrong things that I was doing. 

One day I found a bible laying in the house. It was one of those little purse sized ones but I remember opening up that word of God and reading Genesis. It talked about God creating the heavens and the earth. I would go to school and say there was no God but when I got home I would pull that bible from underneath my bed and read from time to time. Deep down I knew that there was a God, how else can you possibly explain the world that we walk around on everyday, and the perfect creations that we see with our own eyes, and hear with our own ears. 

At the age of sixteen more depression set in because I was sick and tired of the life that I was living. I felt so hopeless and helpless in the environment that I was in. I still felt that tug but I didn’t know where to look or who to turn to. One day I got a knock on my door and it was my cousin Charlie who had been going to First Pentecostal Church in Union City Tn.  He invited me and my brother to church, so I went. Instantly when the music started playing and the spirit of God started moving I knew in that moment that this was what I was looking for.  I kept going back. 

One day before service Bro. Dwayne Uzzle began to explain to me what the Holy Ghost could do for me and how it could give me peace and joy and happiness. He gave me a quick bible study in the hallway. That service I got baptized in the name of Jesus and the next service I received the gift of the Holy Ghost. I have never been the same since. All of a sudden I started waking up happy not angry. My speech cleared up and I wasn’t cursing any more. My desires to fight left me. I had no need to fight anymore because I was made whole. Depression was replaced by joy and my loneliness was gone because Jesus was living inside of me. 

A year and a half after I received the Holy Ghost and was baptized I felt my call to the ministry. God has been using me and showing me things that I would have never in a million years been able to see. I am blessed to be apart of something that is so much bigger than just myself. Being able to be apart of the kingdom of God, and work in the kingdom of God, is something I cherish and will cherish long after I am gone. At first I was the only one in my family living for God. My grandad has now been baptized and received the Holy Ghost. 

My family is just now coming to grips with the changes that I have made in living for God. They thought that I was a part of some cult and that I was crazy and out of my mind to live the lifestyle that I had chosen to pick up and live. I am 21 years old and I am now helping pray through kids who remind me of how I was when I was growing up. I know that if God did it for me then he can do it in their lives as well. I am looking forward to seeing more bus kids and youth in general to get a hold of this truth, whether they are first generation or fifth. We all have to get it for ourselves. 

I am thankful, and will forever be thankful, for the day that God found me. He didn’t just leave me where he found me, but he changed my life forever. I am currently living with a family in the church (the Hamils) and we have become so close. They are practically my mom my dad and my brothers. They took me under their wing and they have had a part in raising me and instilling more Godly values in me. I am a better man because of this family. They have fed me and clothed me and have blessed me in many ways that I couldn’t even begin to explain. I am just thankful beyond words, and I am looking forward to what God has in store for my life in the years to come!

Thanks for reading today…

Concubines Monday, Jun 12 2017 

The subject of concubines is a difficult one for the western mind to grasp. Why was this allowed? Is it ok today? Why a concubine and not a wife? 

The first consideration is there were no provisions for a woman if she was without support of father, family, or husband. She had no social assistance to turn to. 

Secondly, due to wars and their prevalence there was usually more women in the society than men. This left women without any means of support. She was left with the option of being a harlot or prostitute, or becoming a concubine. 

A concubine had no wedding dowry to give her husband. God did not institute this way of life any more than He did slavery. What God did in the Old Testament was regulate the social customs of that historical era to provide fairness and equity. 

This was why the social institution of concubines existed in that day and not today. Today we have provisions for women and children who are destitute. 

A concubine in some ways was not the equal of a wife for no dowry had been provided. In other ways a concubine was equal in being supported and provided for as we see in the 12 tribes of Israel. In this chapter the concubine of a Levite is abused and therefore falls under the same consideration as a wife because protection was provided for concubines. The ensuing battle and it’s consequences would not be different if she had been a wife of the Levite.

Thanks for reading….

Samson Sunday, Jun 11 2017 

Samson. 

Few Characters in or out of the Holy Scriptures are as polarizing as Samson. From the amazing events around his birth, to his vow, to his marriage, to his incredible superhuman feats, and finally to his death, he captures our imagination. We are as fascinated with him as the Philistines were. His deeds of incredible strength and his bouts of weakness mesmerize us. 

 There is no one like him anywhere in the Bible. The secular world has heard of him and is one of the very few universal known personalities outside the Bible. His larger than life persona also carries those associated with him along with him. Who would have ever heard of Delilah? She would be just another unknown loose floosie except she met Samson. 

At the end Samson does not die quietly in old age as many famous people of the Bible. His death is like his life, explosive to the very last moment. Yet, he is enshrined in the hall of faith of Hebrews chapter 11. Samson is a quirk of great spiritual moments and the lowest lows a man can go. No life in the Bible better portrays the nation of Israel more aptly. Samson reflects his times. Incredible victories then paralyzing failures. 

He is the last judge presented. Possibly this is because he is the summation of this era more than any other individual. He was a product of this time when every man did that which was right in his own eyes. His life is laid bare for us to see the result of this 450 year period where God showed man that man cannot rule himself. 

The greatest revelation of life is we all have a little of Samson in us.

Thanks for reading today….

Acts: Introduction Thursday, May 25 2017 

Acts

Introduction

Oft times I have wondered about certain books of the Bible. I have thought, what if we did not have this book in our Bible? How would that affect the whole? When I place the book of Acts on that pedestal, and consider, I am certain of the answer.  

Only Acts and Genesis seem to hold the place of absolute. Without them we simply could not survive. They are both irreplaceable. 

The book of Acts was written by Luke. Luke is the only Gentile writer in the Bible. It is interesting to me that Luke is responsible for 25% of the New Testament. His two books equal one fourth of the volume of the New Testament.

I am not positive, but it appears to me that Luke wrote at the bequest of a wealthy patron named Theopholis. His two books address this individual. This was a common practice that carried well into the middle ages. A wealthy patron would sponsor someone to write a book or thesis. This is how men like Voltaire and Rousseau were supported financially.

To me, Acts is about three men. Those men are Simon (Peter), Saul (Paul), and Stephen. The book is evenly devoted to the ministry of Peter and Paul with Stephen being the bridge from one to the other.

The contrast of these two men is stark. Peter is a country fisherman. Paul is a polished cosmopolitan. Peter was ignorant and unlearned. Paul was a trained rabbi, having studied at the feet of Gamaliel. Peter spoke Aramaic, the common language. Paul could speak that language, as well as Greek. Peter was a country Jew, Paul was a Hellenistic Jew and a Roman Citizen. 

The first twelve chapters of Acts are about Peter. In chapter 13 the spotlight shifts to Paul and never moves back to Peter again. Peter, the great apostle fades from view in Acts.

How important is Acts as a book? It is irreplaceable. Without the book of Acts we would go from the Gospels to Romans. We would wonder who is Paul? What is the church? How did it start? Acts is the link to all of the New Testament.

Acts begins with the ascension of Jesus. It moves on to choosing Judas’ replacement. It then tells of Pentecost, the beginning of the church, and eventually documents the church’s emigration to the Roman Empire.

Christianity conquered the Roman Empire, period. The Roman Empire paved roads, established peace and continuity, and through this open door walked the church. The church flourished during the Pax Romana, the empire wide peace. Within 300 years 10% of the Roman Empire was Christian. 

 The book of Acts documents the beginning of this conquest of the church.

When the spotlight shifts to Paul in chapter 13, Luke begins to relate Paul’ missionary journeys. Paul made three journeys. ( Some scholars say up to five). The dates of these journeys are approximately;

46-48, first journey

49-52, second journey

53-57, third journey

It is simply amazing that in 47AD there were no churches in Asia Minor. In ten years there was a ring of churches that included every major city in Galatia, Macedonia, Asia and Acacia. This remarkable achievement has never been repeated anywhere globally.

On his first journey, when he gains his first convert, the Apostle Paul jettisons his Hebrew name Saul, and forever becomes know as Paul. He was the Apostle to the Gentiles and he bore his Gentile name to his death.

Luke is a gentile, writing a book about the gentile revival by the Apostle to the gentiles. This fact shows up in the book repeatedly. It is very clear in the story of the appointment of the deacons. When the division came and the controversy showed itself, out of the seven men chosen, 5 were Greeks according to their names. Luke makes this point, or rather the Holy Ghost does.

The final chapters of the book of Acts are concerning Paul’s last days. We are left with one of the biggest questions of life as to why the book ends so inconclusively. With the Holy Ghost inspiring the man called Luke, why no closure?  

The hypothesis is that the book is still being written in heaven. Maybe the final words were something like “to be continued”.

In the Gospels the grain of wheat fell into the ground and died. In Acts it brings forth much fruit. In Acts the church is born, then rises into prominence, and the world is never the same. As this magnificent book unfolds, the eternal purpose of God is revealed to mankind. God saves lost humanity. As the gospel invades Europe, major cities become revival centers. The greatest revivals of antiquity occur in the book of Acts. The conquest of the gospel is chronicled in Acts.

The loose threads of Judaism and the four hundred silent years gel and produce God’s greatest creation: the Church.

The Gospel moves from a Jewish subculture, to Samaria, to Asia Minor and finally to the Roman Empire. Herein is the fulfilled manifesto of Jesus Christ

Thanks for reading today….

Closing thoughts on Jeremiah Monday, Apr 24 2017 

The volume of Jeremiah in the Expository Series will be published soon. It is now at the printer. Here are my closing thoughts:

It is the final pen stroke of this major prophet, after a lifetime of faithfully executing his charge to speak the Word of God faithfully. Few times in the history of the world has a man like Jeremiah appeared. The span of his vision is worldwide. He was faithful to his calling. His ministry spanned decades and kings. He knew great luxury and deep poverty. He experienced unparalleled spiritual highs and unspeakable human deprivations. He complained, he cried, he exulted joyfully, he was maligned, he was imprisoned, he was rescued, still he remained faithful to his calling. He left behind one of the greatest works of penmanship the world has ever seen. God in His infinite wisdom saw fit to only anoint four men as major prophets. Jeremiah is in that elite quartet. His voice was opposed at times, ignored and dissed often, but it will live forever, for the grass withers and the flower fades, but the Word of our God shall stand forever.

Judges Chapter 21 Saturday, Feb 25 2017 

21.1-23 the preservation of Benjamin. Only the omnipotent God can maintain the balance of judgment and mercy. To judge this horrible sin yet maintain the mercy upon the tribe of Benjamin is truly a balancing act of God. We see here how He excels in it while guiding men through their own conscience to find a way to accomplish this balance. The bloodlust of Israel recedes quickly, and the result of the carnage is humbling. It appears even the women and children were massacred, for there are only 600 men left. It appears justice overshot the mark. One concubine-wife was killed in the beginning, and in return every married woman of Jabesh Gilead was slain. Only the virgins were spared. This provided wives for 400 men of Benjamin, but not all the men of this tribe. The solution they provided was to kidnap young women who danced at the celebration of the feast of Jehovah. This is probably the feast of tabernacles or the passover. These young maidens were paying tribute to Miriam and the dance of victory at the Red Sea.

21.24-25 conclusion. It is difficult to sum up 450 years in a short concise paragraph. These leaders performed feats never equaled in world history. They were military leaders as well as civil leaders. Their personalities and accomplishments are quite diverse. They preserved the way of life given them by the first generation of emigrant Israelis. The history here recorded covers every section of the promised land. The story of Judges is footnoted and amended in the short book that follows, the book of Ruth. Judges gives us the view into human hearts without the leadership of God. This theme is bridged into the Book of Samuel where Samuel, the last judge, transitions into the Monarchy. Judges does not end as per se. It transitions into the next phase of Biblical history, the 450 years of kings and one queen. Was this period of time a success or failure? It was both. The success is the nation survived the wars of seven other nations stronger than they were. The nation is preserved. The failure is the sinister actions of man without leadership. This era of every man doing that which was right in his own eyes stand as a sentinel of warning to every future generation. Mankind must have leadership. Without God, mankind sinks to austere levels of inhumanity.

Thanks for reading today….

Judges Chapter 20 Friday, Feb 24 2017 

20.1-16 the evidence. This entire story is horrible beyond comprehension. There is the Levite who could have divorced the concubine under the law but chose to reconcile. There is the concubine who played the whore. Then the Levite surrenders her to the sons of Belial. These men were worthless and evil. This title of Belial is later given to Satan himself. The leaders of the tribes investigate the charge and the evidence. The decision is made this cannot go unchallenged. The tribe of Benjamin is asked to give up the offenders. Benjamin refuses for reasons we cannot fathom.

20.17-48 There is a very detailed account of this battle. When God places exact details in the scripture it behooves us to pay attention. We are privy to their attitude, to their plans, and to their prudence by having these details. Like an archaeological find this provides us with understanding of their time. This is easier to understand when we realize this occured at the beginning of the time of the Judges. This particular mobilization of the tribes was not long after they had done this numerous times to invade the land. Had this event happened at the end of the four hundred and fifty years the assembling of the tribes might not have happened. The men of Israel follow the same customs of war they used in the invasion and conquest of Palestine. They killed the inhabitants and burned the cities. Ten percent of the army of Israel fell in the first two days of combat. The tribe of Benjamin comes very close to being obliterated. In the providence of God, a remnant of Benjamin is preserved so the first King of Israel and the greatest Missionary of all time will arrive in due time. If Benjamin had been wiped out there would have been no King Saul and no Paul the Apostle. Much of the unseen future was riding on this battle in the beginning of the days of the Judges. 

Thanks for reading today…

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