DEVOTIONS AND SERMONS

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Speed His Coming
 

1. Sincerity does not equal salvation.

In Acts, we see many sincere, religious, but lost people.

* In Acts 2 they were broken, cut to the heart, but still needed "saving" (v.40).

* In Acts 8 the eunuch read the Bible, traveled 1000 miles to worship God, but he still did not understand (vv.30-31).

* In Acts 10, Cornelius was devout and sincere. He prayed, and God heard his prayers. But he still needed to hear the gospel and receive forgiveness of sins through Jesus' name (vv.43,48).

* In Acts 16:13-15, Lydia was a worshipper of God. But her heart still needed to be opened to the gospel.

Acts 16:13-15
13 On the Sabbath we went outside the city gate to the river, where we expected to find a place of prayer. We sat down and began to speak to the women who had gathered there.
14 One of those listening was a woman named Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth from the city of Thyatira, who was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul's message.
15 When she and the members of her household were baptized, she invited us to her home. "If you consider me a believer in the Lord," she said, "come and stay at my house." And she persuaded us.


* In Acts 18:24-28, Apollos fervently spoke about Jesus, but still needed the way of God taught to him more adequately, for he only knew the baptism of John. We can surmise he was re-baptised, because that is what they did to the twelve in Acts 19:1-5 who only knew the baptism of John.

Acts 18:24-28
24 Meanwhile a Jew named Apollos, a native of Alexandria, came to Ephesus. He was a learned man, with a thorough knowledge of the Scriptures.
25 He had been instructed in the way of the Lord, and he spoke with great fervor and taught about Jesus accurately, though he knew only the baptism of John.
26 He began to speak boldly in the synagogue. When Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they invited him to their home and explained to him the way of God more adequately.
27 When Apollos wanted to go to Achaia, the brothers encouraged him and wrote to the disciples there to welcome him. On arriving, he was a great help to those who by grace had believed.
28 For he vigorously refuted the Jews in public debate, proving from the Scriptures that Jesus was the Christ.


Acts 19:1-5
1 While Apollos was at Corinth, Paul took the road through the interior and arrived at Ephesus. There he found some disciples
2 and asked them, "Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?" They answered, "No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit."
3 So Paul asked, "Then what baptism did you receive?" "John's baptism," they replied.
4 Paul said, "John's baptism was a baptism of repentance. He told the people to believe in the one coming after him, that is, in Jesus."
5 On hearing this, they were baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus.


* In Acts 22:6-16, Paul saw Jesus, believed and obeyed him. But he still needed his sins washed away in baptism (v.16). It is very possible to be spiritual, sincere, and even be a worshipper of God, yet still be lost.

Acts 22:6-16
6 "About noon as I came near Damascus, suddenly a bright light from heaven flashed around me.
7 I fell to the ground and heard a voice say to me, 'Saul! Saul! Why do you persecute me?'
8 "'Who are you, Lord?' I asked. "'I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom you are persecuting,' he replied.
9 My companions saw the light, but they did not understand the voice of him who was speaking to me.
10 "'What shall I do, Lord?' I asked. "'Get up,' the Lord said, 'and go into Damascus. There you will be told all that you have been assigned to do.'
11 My companions led me by the hand into Damascus, because the brilliance of the light had blinded me.
12 "A man named Ananias came to see me. He was a devout observer of the law and highly respected by all the Jews living there.
13 He stood beside me and said, 'Brother Saul, receive your sight!' And at that very moment I was able to see him.
14 "Then he said: 'The God of our fathers has chosen you to know his will and to see the Righteous One and to hear words from his mouth.
15 You will be his witness to all men of what you have seen and heard.
16 And now what are you waiting for? Get up, be baptized and wash your sins away, calling on his name.'


2. The Church is for Every Nation.

Galatians 3:28-29
28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
29 If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise.


This indicates that there are no economic (slave or free), racial (Jew or Greek), or gender differences in Christ. Mt 28:18-20 says we are to "make disciples of all nations." Only a language difference could allow separate services.

Matthew 28:18-20
18 Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.
19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,
20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."


3. True Christians regularly confess their sins.

Matthew 27:1-5
1 Early in the morning, all the chief priests and the elders of the people came to the decision to put Jesus to death.
2 They bound him, led him away and handed him over to Pilate, the governor.
3 When Judas, who had betrayed him, saw that Jesus was condemned, he was seized with remorse and returned the thirty silver coins to the chief priests and the elders.
4 "I have sinned," he said, "for I have betrayed innocent blood." "What is that to us?" they replied. "That's your responsibility."
5 So Judas threw the money into the temple and left. Then he went away and hanged himself.


This shows how the religious leaders weren't ready to help Judas overcome his sins after he confessed.

Mark 1:4-5
4 And so John came, baptizing in the desert region and preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.
5 The whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem went out to him. Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River.


This shows that people confessed sin before their baptisms.

Hebrews 3:12-13
12 See to it, brothers, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God.
13 But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin's deceitfulness.
This talks about being responsible for the souls of all the brothers, and encouraging them daily to prevent hardening from sin.

James 5:16
Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.

This talks about confessing to each other.

4. The True Church Is United Worldwide.

When we read the book of Acts, we see the disciples having one church in every city. Paul would always know where the disciples were in each city, and he would stay with them (for example, see Acts 21:4, 7, 8, 16).

Acts 21:4,7,8,16
4 Finding the disciples there, we stayed with them seven days. Through the Spirit they urged Paul not to go on to Jerusalem.
7 We continued our voyage from Tyre and landed at Ptolemais, where we greeted the brothers and stayed with them for a day.
8 Leaving the next day, we reached Caesarea and stayed at the house of Philip the evangelist, one of the Seven.
16 Some of the disciples from Caesarea accompanied us and brought us to the home of Mnason, where we were to stay. He was a man from Cyprus and one of the early disciples.


Unity was forged in spite of disagreements-in Acts 15, for example, they all met together to get united on the circumcision issue
Galations 2:11-14, where Paul and Peter disagree, yet in 2 Peter 3:15-16 Peter commends Paul's writings as Scripture).

Galatians 2:11-14
11 When Peter came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he was clearly in the wrong.
12 Before certain men came from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles. But when they arrived, he began to draw back and separate himself from the Gentiles because he was afraid of those who belonged to the circumcision group.
13 The other Jews joined him in his hypocrisy, so that by their hypocrisy even Barnabas was led astray.
14 When I saw that they were not acting in line with the truth of the gospel, I said to Peter in front of them all, "You are a Jew, yet you live like a Gentile and not like a Jew. How is it, then, that you force Gentiles to follow Jewish customs?


2 Peter 3:15-16
15 Bear in mind that our Lord's patience means salvation, just as our dear brother Paul also wrote you with the wisdom that God gave him.
16 He writes the same way in all his letters, speaking in them of these matters. His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction.


Our movement should follow the teaching of Jn 17:20-23, where Jesus says that disciples should be "brought to complete unity to let the world know you have sent me."

John 17:20-23
20 "My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message,
21 that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.
22 I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one:
23 I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.


We have strong, talented leaders, who sometimes disagree, but we need to work things out so that we truly love each other. If someone goes from one city to another, we need to tell them who to meet.

5. Disciple-Making Is a Mark of God's Church.

Matthew 28:18-20
18 Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.
19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,
20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."


This gives us the great commission of Jesus. He promised them he'd always be with them if they made disciples. Teaching obedience in others is much harder than getting them to say a prayer and "believe" in Jesus. We need to patiently walk with people, helping them change their day-to-day lives and become true followers of Jesus.

1 John 2:3-6
3 We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands.
4 The man who says, "I know him," but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him.
5 But if anyone obeys his word, God's love is truly made complete in him. This is how we know we are in him:
6 Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did.


This clearly says that if someone says "I know him" but does not obey his commands, he is a liar and the truth is not in him!

The churches in the book of Acts were growing, disciple-making churches. Their purpose was to save sinners. See Ac 1:15; 2:41; 2:47; 4:4; 5:41-6:1; 6:7; 8:4; 9:31; 16:5, where we find the churches actively evangelising, and growing in numbers. Also 1 Cor 4:15 (10,000 guardians in Christ!) and Col 1:6,23 (fruit all over the world!). Growth does not prove that we are from God. But a lack of growth can be some sort of indication that a group is not from the Lord.

Acts 1:15
In those days Peter stood up among the believers (a group numbering about a hundred and twenty)

Acts 2:41
Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.

Acts 2:47
praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.

Acts 4:4
But many who heard the message believed, and the number of men grew to about five thousand.

Acts 5:41-6:1
41 The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name.
42 Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Christ.
6:1 In those days when the number of disciples was increasing, the Grecian Jews among them complained against the Hebraic Jews because their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food.


Acts 6:7
So the word of God spread. The number of disciples in Jerusalem increased rapidly, and a large number of priests became obedient to the faith.

Acts 8:4
(Acts 8:4 Those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went.

Acts 9:31
Then the church throughout Judea, Galilee and Samaria enjoyed a time of peace. It was strengthened; and encouraged by the Holy Spirit, it grew in numbers, living in the fear of the Lord.

Acts 16:5
So the churches were strengthened in the faith and grew daily in numbers.

1 Corinthians 4:15
Even though you have ten thousand guardians in Christ, you do not have many fathers, for in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel.

Colossians 1:6,23
6 that has come to you. All over the world this gospel is bearing fruit and growing, just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it and understood God's grace in all its truth. 23 if you continue in your faith, established and firm, not moved from the hope held out in the gospel. This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven, and of which I, Paul, have become a servant.

6. True Christians Are Always Persecuted.

2 Timothy 3:12
In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted,

This says that anyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ will be persecuted.

John 15:20
Remember the words I spoke to you: 'No servant is greater than his master.' If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also.

This says that if they persecuted Jesus, they'll persecute his followers.

Matthew 5:10-12
10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11"Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.
12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.


This explains that when people "falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me" that we are blessed.

Indeed, Jesus was slandered, and called "a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners" in Luke 7:34.

Luke 7:34
The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and you say, 'Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and "sinners."'

Similarly, in Ac 17:6, the Christians were accused of causing trouble all over the world,

Acts 17:6
But when they did not find them, they dragged Jason and some other brothers before the city officials, shouting: "These men who have caused trouble all over the world have now come here,

and in Ac 24:5 they called Paul a "ringleader of the Nazarene sect."

Acts 24:5
"We have found this man to be a troublemaker, stirring up riots among the Jews all over the world. He is a ringleader of the Nazarene sect

Paul admitted this in Ac 24:14, "I admit that I worship the God of our fathers as a follower of the Way, which they call a sect."

Acts 24:14
However, I admit that I worship the God of our fathers as a follower of the Way, which they call a sect. I believe everything that agrees with the Law and that is written in the Prophets,

1 Peter 4:12-16
12 Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you.
13 But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.
14 If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you.
15 If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler.
16 However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name.


Peter told us not to be surprised that we suffer for being Christians.

Jesus said,

Luke 6:26
Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for that is how their fathers treated the false prophets.