Today we are reading Acts 5. In this chapter we read about the continuing trial of Peter and John. The chapter concludes in a remarkable way. “So in the present case I tell you, keep away from these men and let them alone, for if this plan or this undertaking is of man, it will fail; but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them. You might even be found opposing God!” So they took his advice, and when they had called in the apostles, they beat them and charged them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. Then they left the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name. And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they did not cease teaching and preaching that the Christ is Jesus.”
‭‭Acts‬ ‭5:38-42‬ ‭ESV‬‬ After that brutal and hateful treatment the disciples…REJOICED! Why did they rejoice? I saw recently that Iran is the most dangerous place to be a Christian.  Believers are regularly arrested and even killed for their faith. Ironically, Christianity is growing faster in Iran than any other place on earth. Can you see the connection? Persecution of Christians results in powerful growth of believers. Why do you think this is? Today we have the freedom to live our faith and share it. Some day that may not be true. The time is now for us to share our faith. May God give you the zeal of Peter and John to teach the Gospel! Pastor Tim

Today we are reading Acts 4. In this chapter we read about Peter and John being interrogated about the healing on the lame man. Peter’s response is powerful! “Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, “Rulers of the people and elders, if we are being examined today concerning a good deed done to a crippled man, by what means this man has been healed, let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead—by him this man is standing before you well. This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”” Acts‬ ‭4:8-12‬ ‭ESV‬‬ We see that by the Holy Spirit Peter is extremely bold and courageous. Why is that so amazing? Was there a time when Peter was afraid? The Holy Spirit can help you to not be afraid also. What causes you anxiety? The Holy Spirit can give you peace. May God raise you up to be a bold and courageous witness of the Gospel! Pastor Tim

Today we are reading Acts 3. In this chapter we read about Peter and John healing a man on the way to the Temple. The people gather in amazement and look at Peter and John as if they did this in their own power or strength. “And when Peter saw it he addressed the people: “Men of Israel, why do you wonder at this, or why do you stare at us, as though by our own power or piety we have made him walk? The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, the God of our fathers, glorified his servant Jesus, whom you delivered over and denied in the presence of Pilate, when he had decided to release him. But you denied the Holy and Righteous One, and asked for a murderer to be granted to you, and you killed the Author of life, whom God raised from the dead. To this we are witnesses. And his name—by faith in his name—has made this man strong whom you see and know, and the faith that is through Jesus has given the man this perfect health in the presence of you all.” Acts‬ ‭3:12-16‬ ‭ESV‬‬ When we consider our personal ministry we must always remain humble. I heard Pastor Robert Morris speak about his ministry where he was concerned that his church was growing too fast and he told God “this is too big for me!” He then said God told him, “It has always been too big for you but it is not too big for me!” The same is true for us. It is God who does the work—we are just being His instruments! May God do something amazing through you today! Pastor Tim

Today we are reading Acts 2. In this chapter we read about the Holy Spirit being poured out on Pentecost in Jerusalem. “Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.” And with many other words he bore witness and continued to exhort them, saying, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation.” So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.” Acts‬ ‭2:37-41‬ ‭ESV‬‬ The Holy Spirit is given to equip God’s people for the ministry He has called them to. Peter’s Holy Spirit powered sermon resulted in 3,000 people coming to believe in Jesus. How has the Holy Spirit empowered you? Are there times when you pray for God to give you the Holy Spirit for a special ministry task? As descendants of the disciples we can expect God to give us the Holy Spirit in the same way and for the same purpose—to bring others to salvation. Pastor Tim

Today we are reading Acts 1. In this chapter we read about about Jesus ascension into Heaven and the replacement of Judas among the disciples. “So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” And when he had said these things, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.”” Acts‬ ‭1:6-11‬ ‭ESV‬‬ Have you ever wondered how the disciples felt as they watched Jesus be lifted up and disappearing among the clouds? Sometimes, at a graveside service, balloons are released and the people watch them rise up…it’s like watching your loved-ones drive away after a wonderful visit. The disciples must have felt anxious because immediately there are two angels there to reassure them. How does knowing Jesus will return give you comfort? Reach out today to your fellow Christians and comfort them with words of reassurance. Pastor Tim

Today we are reading John 21. In this chapter we read about Jesus’ appearance to His disciples in Galilee. “When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.” He said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.” He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep. Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you used to dress yourself and walk wherever you wanted, but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you do not want to go.” (This he said to show by what kind of death he was to glorify God.) And after saying this he said to him, “Follow me.”” John‬ ‭21:15-19‬ ‭ESV‬‬ With these words Jesus reinstates Peter who had denied Him when Jesus was on trial before the High Priest. These words were so important to Peter personally, the ministry God had prepared for him and for us today! What would have happened if Jesus had not reinstated Peter? Who do you need to offer a word of consolation and reconciliation? Pastor Tim

Today we are reading John 20. In this chapter we read about Jesus’ resurrection and appearance to the disciples and Mary Magdalene. “On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.” And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.””
‭‭John‬ ‭20:19-23‬ ‭ESV‬‬ In this passage Jesus gives to the disciples the honor and authority to forgive the sins of believers. This was one of the first things He said to them after His resurrection. Why do you think this was so important to Jesus? In our tradition we give this authority to the pastor, as Jesus’ representative. Next time you worship, pay special attention to the pastor’s words after the confession of sins. God bless you and keep you in His grace. Pastor Tim

Today we are reading John 19. In this chapter we read about the conclusion of Jesus’ trial, His Crucifixion and death and His burial.“After this, Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said (to fulfill the Scripture), “I thirst.” A jar full of sour wine stood there, so they put a sponge full of the sour wine on a hyssop branch and held it to his mouth. When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.”
‭‭John‬ ‭19:28-30‬ ‭ESV‬‬ Death seems to be such a minimal event in comparison to the life a person lives. Bodily functions slow. Breathing stops. The heart stops beating. That’s it. It is the complete defeat of our mortality. With Jesus, though, it is different. His death is the payment for the sins of every human being. When He says, “It is finished”, our unpayable debt is paid in full. So, for those who believe, our death becomes a doorway to paradise. No more defeat of mortality but the reality of immortality. May God bless you with an eternal perspective on all things—even death!  Pastor Tim

Today we are reading John 18. In this chapter we read about Jesus being arrested and the beginning of His trial. We will focus on His response to Governor Pilate. “So Pilate entered his headquarters again and called Jesus and said to him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” Jesus answered, “Do you say this of your own accord, or did others say it to you about me?” Pilate answered, “Am I a Jew? Your own nation and the chief priests have delivered you over to me. What have you done?” Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.”” John‬ ‭18:33-36‬ ‭ESV‬‬ What are the implications of Jesus’ statement, “My kingdom is not of this world.”? In this world there is a constant power struggle. People struggle and strive to obtain things like wealth and power. Jesus is not concerned about that struggle. His battle is not with flesh and blood but with the devil and his servants. In Jesus’ name we have a victory over sin, death and the devil. May God guide you away from the struggles and pursuits of this world and to focus on things that have eternal significance. Pastor Tim

Today we are reading John 17. In this chapter we read about what is called Jesus’ High Priestly Prayer. “”I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.” John‬ ‭17:20-21‬ ‭ESV‬‬ This prayer was offered by Jesus on the night He was betrayed. Immediately following this prayer, Jesus leaves the upper room with His disciples, crosses the Kidron Valley and goes to the garden which is called Gethsemane. I have always found it fascinating that, in these dramatic moments of Jesus’ passion, He prays for “those who will believe”—that’s us! When He was giving His life for the sins of the world, Jesus thought of us. Jesus continues to think of us. He is concerned about everything in our lives. May this thought bring you comfort and peace! Pastor Tim