Psalm 34:8

Get a fresh taste!

It seems like liberals are trying to out-liberal each other. Well, not to be outdone by New York’s recent abortion law, Virginia is considering revising its abortion laws.

The bill allows for abortion even during labor. Yes, you read that correctly. And if a baby is delivered? Virginia Governor Ralph Northam responded,

If a mother is in labor…the infant would be delivered. The infant would be kept comfortable. The infant would be resuscitated if that’s what the mother and the family desired, and then a discussion would ensue between the physicians & mother.

Note: Governor Northam says, “The infant would be delivered.” Infant. Not “clump of cells”. Not “product of pregnancy”. Infant. Three times the Governor used the term “infant“. There is absolutely no way to say this bill is anything but a push for infanticide.

Where is the outcry?!

In today’s Bible reading from Acts 6, we see a situation arising that is similar to what we see in the Old Testament when Moses finds himself frustrated by doing all the work. Moses’ wise father-in-law tells him to lighten his load by delegating responsibility to other men. (Exodus 18:13–23)

At this point in our reading, the church is growing rapidly. We have already seen that God is taking care of the needs of everyone through the generosity shared by everyone. But already, things are beginning to break down. Some of the Greek believers accuse the Apostles of favoring one group and neglecting another.

Like Moses, the Apostles realize that God hasn’t called them to do everything themselves. They need help so they can devote their energies to prayer and the ministry of the Word.

So they pray and then they delegate the task of taking care of the daily needs to a group of seven men “of good reputation, full of the Spirit and wisdom”. (Acts 6:3) These seven men are appointed for the task of “serving tables”, making sure that no one goes hungry.

Application

Contrary to what we’d like to admit, there were problems in the early church. Even a few months into its existence, people are feeling neglected. Perhaps there was some truth to the accusation. But it seems clear from Dr. Luke’s description that there was no malice in the neglect; they just needed to make sure that no one went hungry.

How do you respond when someone is treated neglected or treated unfairly, especially by church leaders? Do you assume the worst? Do you add to the drama by gossiping with others who have nothing to do with the problem … or the solution? Of course, that never happens in churches today, right?

Well, rather than complaining and gossiping, perhaps God wants to use you as a part of the solution. Assume the best. Pray for your leaders — and everyone else for that matter — and ask God how He would have you to be part of the solution.

In today’s Bible reading, we see a very wise, well-respected religious leader, Gamaliel who advises the other religious leaders to back off in persecuting the followers of Jesus. He says that if this is like the other times with other radical leaders, the movement will die off in time. However, he says, if this is a God-thing, you will find yourself fighting against God. And that won’t work out well for you. (Acts 5:39) So the other leaders agreed. They had the apostles flogged and sent them away, forbidding them to preach in the name of Jesus.

So how did the apostles respond? “Then they went out from the presence of the Sanhedrin, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to be treated shamefully on behalf of the Name.” (Acts 5:41 CSB)

Application

Many Christians in America think they know what persecution is. We’ll often see Facebook posts complaining that store cashiers are told they can’t say “Merry Christmas” to customers. We often lament that America would be such a better country again if only we could get prayer back into the schools.

Newsflash: Most Christians in America have no idea what real persecution is!

It is impossible to remove prayer from school. Prayer will never be absent in American classrooms as long as students are required to do work and take tests!

Honestly, it was never the responsibility for classroom teachers to teach our children how to pray. And teachers probably had very little impact on students when they said an opening prayer at the beginning of the day or to say the blessing when students lined up for lunch.

And if prayer were to be “allowed” back in the classroom, who determines the person leading the prayer? If I still had a student at home, I personally wouldn’t want a Wiccan, Hindu, Muslim, or any other unbeliever leading my child in prayer to a god my kid doesn’t believe in.

If you think you know what persecution is, let me ask you when was the last time you were beaten with sticks simply because you talked about Jesus? When was the last time you were the target of hand-sized rocks, dragged out of town and left for dead simply because you talked about Jesus? When was the last time your shirt was torn off your back and you were repeatedly beaten with a cat-of-nine-tails simply because you talked about Jesus?

And yet, that’s what happened to believers in the early church on a regular basis. This was done by religious leaders! All because they dared to talk about Jesus.

Their response was startling, “They rejoiced that they were counted worthy to be treated shamefully on behalf of the Name.” (Acts 5:41)

The next time you feel that you (or another believer) are told you can’t wear a cross on your work uniform or you’re told that you can’t say, Merry Christmas, ask yourself 1) is this really worthy of being labeled “persecution” and 2) are you rejoicing that you are being persecuted — or are you just griping?

In Today’s Bible reading from Acts 4, we see Peter and John responding to an accusatory question from a room full of Jewish leaders, “By what power or by what name have you done this? (Acts 4:7)

The question reminds me of the same question posed to Jesus by perhaps the same people. Jesus responded with a question about the origin John the Baptizer’s authority (Luke 20:3). When they responded, we don’t know, Jesus told them that He wouldn’t respond to their question. (Luke 20:8)

Peter and John’s response didn’t follow the same route as Jesus’. They simply responded that their authority came from Jesus. (Acts 4:10)

The response of those religious leaders is stunning. They recognized that neither of these Disciples was a seminary; they were simple, ordinary men. But these leaders also recognized that these men had been with Jesus. (Acts 4:13)

Application

Perhaps you are like Peter and John and you’ve never been trained by a seminary faculty to study and preach. That’s OK! Nowhere in the Bible are we told that a believer — or a preacher for that matter — has to go to seminary in order to speak God’s Word. Now, there is nothing wrong with going to seminary; ordinary people can learn a lot in seminary classes and in relating with other believers in a seminary environment. But the Bible does not make a seminary education a requirement for proclaiming God’s Word.

The only true qualification for proclaiming God’s Word is found at the end of Acts 4:13, “They recognized that they had been with Jesus.”

Have you been with Jesus? If you have, you have an authority that you can never gain by taking classes in a theological institution. No panel of church leaders can grant you that authority. Sure, you can have a wall full of diplomas and certificates, but you won’t have Kingdom authority unless you’ve been with Jesus.

Studying the Bible

OK, Jesus isn’t walking among us now. So how is someone supposed to be with Jesus?

That’s a great question! Going to seminary is good and can help. So can going to church. But if you really want to be with Jesus, you have to spend time with Him in His Word. You have to log time in His Word and in prayer. You have to practice the spiritual disciplines. (see affiliate links below for more information about the spiritual disciplines)

All of these things are tools to help you spend time with Jesus. As you spend time with Him, people will recognize that you have been with Jesus. So there! Go spend some time with Jesus!

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