Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Day 10: Souls is at the Heart of God

Today’s reading—Acts chapter 10—reveals God’s love for people outside of His family. Can you imagine being Peter and having an in-your-face vision that reveals two things: 1) You’re prejudice against Gentiles; and, 2) You don’t care enough about lost people outside of your immediate circle?

The first person that I ever led to the Lord some 27 years ago was a Caucasian gentleman—a fellow engineering student—a few months after I became a believer. We were students at Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, New Jersey. I was so excited that I literally ran down the main thoroughfare of Hoboken, as soon as I left the gathering where we had met.

Unlike Peter my struggle was not with culture, race, or our ethnic difference. Giovanni was Italian and you know my heritage—part Irish (L.O.L.). Albeit, I had huge struggles in other areas, which made Peter look like a saint. But, for those who are stuck with the dynamics of race and how it plays out in daily living, God wants you unstuck so that you can move freely across ever racial divide as His ambassador of reconciliation (2 Cor. 5:17-21).

What dramatic experiences have you had to move you across the room in an effort to align you with God’s plan? This question goes beyond racial issues to address all issues. Answering it will help move you along the healing path.

Have you ever had a vision like Peter’s wherein you saw yourself, saw God’s plan, and recognized the gap that existed between the two?

I pray that this journey will help you take back your fire for evangelism and the personal call to restore lost people to God’s family.

Have a great day in the Lord!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Day Nine: How God Catches Leaders

Acts chapter nine is one of my favorite stories concerning the acts of the Holy Spirit. The man who was to become the great apostle—Paul of Tarsus—was caught red-handed by the Holy Spirit as he was riding off to imprison Christians for their faith. Just because he did not believe what they believed, he wanted to rid the earth of them. Just because he thought that the believers were hurting Judaism, as he knew it to be, he wanted to rid the earth of them.

Fortunately, God is not afraid of big mouth, know-it-alls who are unafraid to voice their opinions and even demonstrate a willingness to back it up with warlike actions. Who in your life that’s fits this description? You need to have faith in God’s ability to save your big mouth, cocky, pugnacious friend or family member! Start believing God for their conversion. Ask God to catch them in His net like He did Saul.

In fact, after you read this blog drop to your knees and offer up this prayer to the Lord.

“Dear God, bring strong willed, unbelieving __________ to You in a dramatic way! Leave no stones unturned! Catch them in Your salvation net! May they immediately, like Saul, begin to share Your word and their conversion story with others. I ask You these things in the name of Jesus! Amen.”

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Bloggers, the purpose of this daily blog is not for me to preach to you or for us to preach to one another. Rather, we are to find encouragement to successfully complete our 40-day journey. We are also to offer praise reports citing how God has helped us reclaim areas of our lives that have been stolen by Satan or had been lying dormant through our own neglect or discouragement until now.

Cyndi’s testimony blessed me and even helped Erica (as did Wilene’s words) see how one has to be Spirit-directed even in sharing our faith.

So, drop a few lines—nothing lengthy—sharing how you’re reclaiming areas of your life through this journey. Remember, brief is good. And, if you have any sticking points or require further clarity with my daily blog, please let me know. Have a great day!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Day Eight: Sharing Your Faith

Congratulations! You made it through week one of our six-week (or 40-day) journey. We had some powerful meetings yesterday at the East Campus. I’m sure God did something similar at the West Campus. In Montclair, there was such an air of expectancy in each service that it was almost effortless on our part to receive personal breakthroughs from the Holy Spirit. Reading through the Book of Acts builds our faith to expect similar expressions in our day from the Holy Spirit.

In Acts chapter eight we discover the first instance in the history of the church that persecution occurred in association with the Christian faith. Notice, that while Stephen was being stoned to death because of his faith, Saul—the guy who we’ll later refer to as the Apostle Paul—was standing by giving approval to this wicked action.

Although this brutal act caused the church to go into a major panic and upheaval, the saints still shared their faith with unbelievers. Are you personally facing a tough trial? I mean a trial that absorbs all of your attention and energy. Even if your answer is “yes”, you still are called to share your faith with others. This is the model of Christianity that we are to emulate in our day.

In our journey to reclaim areas of our life that has been either lost, stolen by Satan, or simply non-functioning, let’s not limit it to material things. Why not include in your quest for wholeness the salvation of your family and friends. Consider these thought-provoking questions as you go throughout your day.

1. Have you established a prayer list which has the names of people of whom you’re praying for their salvation?

2. What are the names of those in which you’re intentionally developing a relationship so that you can influence them for Christ as the relationship grows?

3. Is your life so jam packed that there is no discretionary time for sharing your faith?

Notice how Phillip in Acts chapter 8 did not need an official church “evangelism” program to share his faith with people in Samaria or with the Ethiopian eunuch. Bloggers, let God use you this week as you endeavor to reclaim your evangelistic fervor!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Day Five: Learning to Live Obediently Before God

Can you imagine a church service where two people died dramatically because of their disobedience to God? Well, this is exactly what we read in Acts chapter five. Ananias and Sapphira—a married couple—were guilty of lying to the Holy Spirit. The result was sudden death. This kept the congregation walking in a genuine honor and fear (reverence) of the Lord. How are you doing in your obedience to God? C’mon now. How important is being obedient to God to you?

In the early part of my Christian experience I struggled to live obediently toward God. Now, obedience is easy, but it still requires an ongoing confrontation of my will. On our journey you will learn by personal experience that drawing closer to God requires making a stronger commitment to living an obedient life. If you choose to waffle in this area, you are also choosing the same path as Ananias and Sapphira. They loved the appearance of obedience without the inner quality of life to support such a position.

May I ask you four penetrating questions?

1) Is there anything in your recent past (within the last 12 months) that God has asked you to do and you’ve either hesitated or simply refused?

2) Is there anyone that God has told you to go to and share but for whatever reason you’ve not done it?

3) Is there anything in the present moment in which God has asked you to do but you’ve reasoned away the call to be obedient?

4) Ask yourself this question: Why am I afraid to live a fully obedient life?

Answering these questions will move you along the healing journey so that all of your life will be reclaimed, especially the inner call to submission and obedience to God.

I look forward to our time together in worship and around the sacred Scriptures this weekend. Have a great day!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Day Four: Personal Transformation

Have you ever been in a smoked filled room? Even if you don’t like the smell of the smoke, which I don’t; when you leave, the smell follows you. It is embedded in your clothing and also in your hair. On the flip side, being in the presence of God regularly is quite telling—it follows you. After an encounter with God you’re able to act, think, and interface with people based on the influence of the lingering presence of God.

We learn in Acts chapter four that the ordinary and unschooled men, Peter and John, demonstrated a unique courage and fearlessness simply as a result of hanging around Jesus. During this journey learn to spend special times lingering in the presence of God through prayer and worship. These times of soaking will literally heal you of fear and doubt. You will reclaim the interior areas of your life by having the medicine of courage applied to parts of your life wherein fear had taken up residency.

Notice, the prayer of the saints: “Now, Lord, consider their threats [the godless people] and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness” (Acts 4:29). Their outlook towards God was that they wanted to grow in courage, boldness, and fearlessness. Their prayers conveyed a faith that such a request was in keeping with His will and their need. As you read the postings of our fellow bloggers, it is evident that people are pressing into God for healing in their interior—their feelings, moods, and personality. Ask God today for His grace so that you can reclaim courage and boldness in your life where fear, doubt, and timidity may have ruled.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Day Three: The Power of Expectation

Expectation is such a powerful tool of the Holy Spirit that if not careful, we overlook its pungency. The third chapter of the Book of Acts opens with Peter and John being used as instruments of divine healing all because they created expectation in the mind of the crippled beggar. There words: “Look at us!” made the man anticipate a forthcoming blessing. He thought that a coin or two were going to be plucked into his waiting hand or basket. Rather, Peter’s faith-filled command followed: “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.” In the next moment the man is walking, jumping, and praising God.

Peter and John expected God to use them. The lame man’s initial expectation was quickly redirected by Peter’s words to a higher more sacred one, his healing. Once his expectation was aligned with Peter and John’s perspective his healing was sure to follow. What is your expectation today? Before you leave your home expect God to work a miracle in you, through you, and around you…today.

Expectation is spelled F.A.I.T.H. Your faith is activated when you start expecting God to use you. As Peter and John walked to the temple to pray, they walked in faith. You cannot go to pray without a solid faith in God. Their faith couldn’t be contained only for intercessory reasons, however. It spilled out because they saw something that could be changed if the lame man’s expectation was aligned with God’s will and plan. How about you? What remains beneath the will of God because your expectation has not been activated?

Expectation is activated once your heart becomes burdened for more…more deliverance…more blessings…more sanctification...more of the release of God’s power in everyday life. Today, expect a miracle! Expect to lead someone to Christ! Expect to receive a breakthrough in your marriage! Expect to bless someone! Expect to experience a new dimension in the Lord! Expect God to use you today!

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