Beyond the New Birth

Being born again is in no way the end of anything, but the beginning of something reaching still farther.

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Acts 18:26 And he began to speak boldly in the synagogue: whom when Aquila and Priscilla had heard, they took him unto them, and expounded unto him the way of God more perfectly.

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I became a Christian as a child at the age of ten.  In those earliest years after my conversion, I was so hungry for the things of God that I would often weep for them.  Though in my teen years I grew somewhat indifferent, deep inside I never lost that hunger.  When I married, I found that “good thing” of which the Word speaks, and surely found favor of the Lord.  It was right after marriage that the hunger I knew as a child came boiling back to the surface.  But now it was twelve years after being born again.  We were attending a different church than when I was a child, and a greater interest was taken in young men than in mere boys.  (Be warned here, my friend.  Never lessen your interest in a believer because he is a child.  That child will grow up, and those early years of nurturing are so important.)

I was like a young lion encountering his mother after being separated from the pride for a time.  I had become so strongly imprinted on the things of God, that when I came back to them fully, I knew I was going in the right direction.  I have never stopped pursuing that direction.  But then, as a 22-year old, the church we attended showed me something beyond what I had known.  I wanted it twelve years earlier, but had no idea how to ask for it, or even what it really was.  Ah, but now; now I was learning.  I needed to be filled with Holy Ghost.  I needed something in me more powerful than I had known, greater than I had known, more enriching than I had known, to empower me, to teach me, to enrich the depth of knowledge of His Word.  I needed to be filled with Holy Ghost.  And so, at twenty-two years of age, I asked for and received the infilling of Holy Spirit with the initial physical evidence of speaking in other tongues as Holy Spirit gave utterance.  Yes, it’s real, and I would not trade it for anything in the world.

To the Spirit-filled believer I say, “Re-fill, re-fire, and allow the Lord to use you to ignite others.”  To the Christian who has not yet received the fullness of Holy Ghost I say, “Ask, and you shall receive.  This precious gift of God is yours for the asking, but you must be a believer to receive that of which I write.  Jesus said to receive Holy Spirit, you must have a relationship with God so you can call Him Father.  Is God your Father?  Then He has a gift just for you, and He longs for you to receive it.”  To the unbeliever I say, “Go to Romans 10:9-10, read it, and act on it.  The best is yet to come.”

Manna for Today – Acts 18:18-28; John 14:15-17; Acts 1:8; Acts 2:1-13; Acts 8:4-24; Acts 9:1-19;          Acts 10:1-48; Acts 19:1-7

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Know When to Walk Away

There are some things in this life you simply do not attack.  Sometimes you must simply walk away.

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Acts 18:6 And when they opposed themselves, and blasphemed, he shook his raiment, and said unto them, Your blood be upon your own heads; I am clean: from henceforth I will go unto the Gentiles.

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I have always been a very competitive person.  The bottom line is, I love to win.  When I played softball, I played to win.  When I bowled, I bowled to win.  When I golfed, I golfed to win.  When I competed in some arena of martial arts, I competed to win.  Now I’m 70 years old, and though some of the more vigorous competitions in my life are behind me, I still play to win.

But over a lifetime of competition, I learned some very valuable lessons.  My greatest opponent in competition of any kind is ME.  My greatest enemy is Satan.  And if Satan can cause me to think that someone else is my enemy, he can use that to cause me to hurt other people.  You see, I clearly know how competitive I am.  I fully realize I play to win.  And with all these lessons I have learned, I have also learned that if I direct my time, my talent, and my treasure to the right projects and in the right manner, I use my competitive drive, not to hurt anyone, but to motivate myself in the things that serve to inspire myself and those with whom I work and whom I serve.

But as competitive as I am, and I know some of my readers are very competitive as well, I am also a people person.  I love to be around good people.  I love to help people.  I love to point people in a direction that enables them to rise to their highest possible potential.  Because of that, it is easy for me to develop connections with people.  But even when I am operating at my highest possible level, I sometimes discover that someone has entered the picture who truly doesn’t want to be helped, or someone who, in reality, wants to damage the work the Lord is doing through my life.  Don’t think that I am thinking too highly of myself.  Jesus died for you, too.  That makes you a very precious possession of the King of kings.  Value yourself, for you can truly only value others to the degree you value yourself.  Remember, you are to love your neighbor AS yourself.  For that reason, it is imperative that the believer learns to be led by Holy Spirit, clearly directed in his steps and guided in his choices.  As never before in the history of the church, the believer needs to know when to walk away, when to shake off the dust from his feet, or when to press in to minister to someone.

Manna for Today – Acts 18:1-17; Matthew 10:14; Mark 6:11; Luke 9:5; Luke 10:11; 2 Timothy 2:22;   Acts 13:51

Be Reasonable

To be reasonable does not mean to compromise.

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Acts 18:4 And he reasoned in the synagogue every sabbath, and persuaded the Jews and the Greeks.

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God’s Word in our chief fixed asset in life.  It is settled forever in heaven.  The Word and Jesus are One.  God cannot lie.  The Word of God will never pass away.  These things we believe and know to be true.  Therefore, we declare boldly, “Let God be true, and every man a liar.”  When Isaiah penned the words of the Lord, “Come now, and let us reason together,” he was showing that our God is reasonable.  But Malachi wrote that God never changes, and in Hebrews we read that Jesus is the same, yesterday, today, and forever.  So how can our God Who never changes, and our Lord Who is forever the same be considered reasonable?  The answer to that is found in the true definition of the word reasonable.  Let’s look at it a little closer.

The word reasonable Is actually two words combined; reason and able.  In its simplest form, the word reasonable means to be able to reason.  Now think for a moment.  That does not mean to compromise.  Yet in our present point in history, that is precisely what many people believe it to be.  They think that if two people reason together, there will have to be compromise to keep things reasonable, or within the bounds of reason.  But that is NOT what it means to be reasonable.  To be reasonable is to be in a position of possessing adequate wisdom, understanding, and knowledge to be able to persuade another person.  Therefore, to be able to reason in any situation means you come to the table with truth, knowledge, and an ability to express that knowledge in an acceptable manner.

Think of this, it is the Lord Who said, “Come now, and let us reason together.”  He then states and obvious condition (your sins are as scarlet), followed by an outcome that defies natural explanation (they shall be white as snow).  Note again, the Lord said, with those premises stated, “Come now, and let us reason together.”  To the natural mind, that would seem to be totally unreasonable.  And yet God approaches it as reasonable.  Think on that. How can He paint such a picture?  It is because He understands what it means to be reasonable; it means being able to reason.  So, what the Lord is doing is setting forth a few simple questions.  (1) Can you reason?  (2) Are you willing to reason?  (3) Do you want to reason?  And with those questions asked, the answer lies with the one to whom they are addressed.  If your answer is, “yes,” then you are not about to enter into an argument or a debate.  You are about to enter into a discussion with the brightest, most accurate, most intelligent being that has or ever will exist – Jehovah God.  Therefore, to truly reason with God is to realize that He is right.

Manna for Today – Acts 18:1-17; Isaiah 1:18; Romans 3:4; Psalm 119:89; John 1:1 & 14; Hebrews 6:18

First Common Ground

We must find an element about which we can unite before we will ever have united ministry.

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Acts 18:3 And because he was of the same craft, he abode with them, and wrought: for by their occupation they were tentmakers.

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Look closely at our Text for Today.  I want you to note something that is conspicuously absent.  Take a moment and read the Acts passage referenced in our Manna for Today.  Note that Paul chose to abide with Aquila and Priscilla.  That is plainly stated.  But a point that is not stated stands our conspicuously.  Note it closely; nothing is said of Paul abiding with them because they were Christians, because they were Spirit-filled, because they were members of the body of Christ, because they were able teachers of the Word, or because they became is close followers to ministered to him greatly.  I find it intriguing that while all these things are true according to the Scriptures, the reason for Paul’s dwelling with them was because they were “of the same craft,” that being tentmakers like Paul.

There, do you see it.  At the moment Paul joined them in the tentmaking trade, he likely knew little if anything of their testimony, and it would seem evident that he knew nothing of their future involvement with him in his ministry.  He joined with them because of their trade.  They had that in common.  Think of that as we continue.

In recent years, I was doing leadership training in Nairobi, Kenya.  I am from a Pentecostal background, but the ministers I was training were non-Pentecostal.  In some places in the world where I’ve been, they, in fact, seem to be completely contrary to one another.  But they’re not.  I said to them, “You and I really can’t get along.  You’re of a particular denomination and I am Pentecostal.  We really can’t work together.”  And then I cited some doctrinal differences.  The shock on their faces was evident.  But then I turned it around on them.  I asked if they believed in Jesus; if they believed in the blood of Christ; if they believed the Bible.  To each question, their response was a resounding “Yes!”  Then I said, “So, what if, instead of focusing on our differences, we chose things on which we could agree; perhaps just one solid Biblical truth, and then focused 100% of our energies on that work?  What could happen?”  They got it!  The next day in their conference, there were large number of Pentecostal ministers present.  They realized that our differences often serve for nothing but to keep us apart.  But, if we can find a place of agreement, what God can do becomes even more phenomenal.  We have so many differences with so many people.  Find a point of agreement, connect there, and release the power of God to make changes that can impact the world.

Manna for Today – Acts 18:1-17; Matthew 18:19-20; 1 Corinthians 1:10; Amos 3:3; Acts 18:18-26; Romans 16:3; 1 Corinthians 16:19

Cast Out

You can be an outcast without being cast out.

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Acts 18:2 And found a certain Jew named Aquila, born in Pontus, lately come from Italy, with his wife Priscilla; (because that Claudius had commanded all Jews to depart from Rome:) and came unto them.

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In our Text for Today, we are introduced the Aquila and Priscilla, a husband and wife ministry team, Jewish by birth, Christian by choice and the grace of God, and outcasts from their hometown by Claudius Caesar.  That is quite an introduction for these two servants of God.  What I want you to focus on for a moment is that they were outcasts.  But they were outcasts who had been cast out.

But you and I, dear friend, are living in a different time.  In the day of which our Text for Today speaks, lepers were outcasts; having been put out of the camp (city, or community) because of their leprosy.  They were isolated from the uncontaminated.  When people were cast out, as were Aquila and Priscilla, they had to leave the hometown of their choosing, and live somewhere outside contact with people they no doubt loved and served.  And over many centuries, that was the pattern of being an outcast; cast out of family, community, city, and even nation.  And while that may still occur in a small number of nations in our world today, such is not the general rule.  We live in a different age.

In our time of modern convenience, housing as we understand it today, and with the advent of extreme use of social media, being an outcast will likely not resemble how it appeared 2,000 years ago.  Today, you can be an outcast while living in your own home, attending you home church, holding down a long-term job, and even surrounded by family.  While we have more means of communication than ever in history, and while messaging and sending pictures so others can see certain images are likely at their highest levels in history, true communication is, when you consider 7.3 billion people on the planet, at an all time low.

In real communication, there is a desire to understand.  It is amazing to me that with billions of people all over the world owning cellular telephones, there is less personal voice communication.  Texting, videos, messaging, Instagram, and the like, have all but replaced face-to-face communications, genuine telephone conversations where you can hear someone’s voice, and old-fashioned letter writing.  We’re likely using more words than ever in the history of man, but communication has slipped to an all-time low.  In the context of our modern age, there are multiplied millions of outcasts who never left home, community, or church.   Should we, as Paul did Aquila and Priscilla, come to them?  How many like Aquila and Priscilla might we find?  We will not know unless we try.  Just a thought.

Manna for Today – Acts 18:1-17; Matthew 25:40-45; Mark 6:11; Luke 10:8

Close Proximity

What do you do when people follow you without invitation?

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Acts 17:34 Howbeit certain men clave unto him, and believed: among the which was Dionysius the Areopagite, and a woman named Damaris, and others with them.

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You’ve heard of magnetic attraction.  That is a natural force in which the north and south poles of magnetic force attract one another.  Almost everyone has played with a magnet at some time, and witnessed the result of a magnetic force on certain metal objects.  And then you’ve likely heard the old adage, “Birds of a feather flock together.”  While these may be examples of attraction in nature, in the kingdom of God, I believe it is different.  I am convinced that every believer has a place in the body for which Father has chosen and equipped him.  I likewise believe that when that place is truly known to the believer who loves and desires to please Father, they will be attracted to that position as naturally as bees are to pollen.  It is part of their God-given makeup, and only there can the fullness of joy the Lord has provided for them be experienced by them.

In our Text for Today, there were people whose lives were impacted by Paul, and they “clave unto him.”  The word “clave” speaks of a relationship in which one person is, in essence, glued to another person.  And when God’s design finds a place of unity in people who are following and obeying God, strong unions and connections are made.  That is what was happening with some of the people Paul was winning to the kingdom.  They clung to him as if they were glued to him.

For your own good as a believer, you need to be aware of these principles.  If you love the Lord and are living to serve Him, there are people whose lives you will impact who will love you and appreciate what you have done in their lives, but will not follow you closely.  There are others who will follow you, or even support your ministry from time to time in obedience to the Lord.  And then there are those who become glued to you.  No matter where you are, they know about, pray for you, will give to support the work you do, and if you ever need them, they will be there for you.

When the believer attempts to determine who those people are, we will often make grave mistakes, possibly drawing people into an arena of ministry for which they are not fitted at all.  This connection must be left to the work of Holy Spirit.  Let Him lead; let Him decide; let Him direct.  But to the believer, I urge you, be ready, for when such a person is set in your life, glued to you, you need to be in a position to move with God, not only for your own sake, but now for the sake of those who are glued to you.  That kind of close proximity is established by God.  And remember, it’s not just about marriage; it’s about all things – what God has joined together, let no man put asunder.

Manna for Today – Acts 17:16-34; Matthew 28:18-20; 1 Corinthians 11:1; Ephesians 5:1

Preach Resurrection

How much preaching and teaching are we hearing today of the Resurrection?

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Acts 17:32 And when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked: and others said, We will hear thee again of this matter.

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I’ve a question for you today.  Why does it seem that preaching and teaching from the pulpit today, preaching and teaching that should be filled with resurrection life, seems to be producing so little of the fruit of resurrection?  The law of Genesis declares that in the seed is the life necessary, not only to produce fruit after its own kind, but in the fruit will be more seed of identical genetic to produce yet more fruit.  That law is true, and cannot be changed.  Therefore, if the fruit and subsequent seed do not reveal resurrection life, then the seed that is being sown must be of some aberrant sort.  It may look good, sound good, and even feel good to have it sown in someone’s life, but if the fruit that is produced does not taste of resurrection life, then the seed that was sown was not that of resurrection life.

I fully realize that when the sower sows the Word, there are different kinds of ground into which the seed was sown.  I likewise realize that the ground determines whether or not there will be resulting fruit.  But the ground does not change in a way that produces fruit that doesn’t rise from the seed sown.  Let me state it simply.  If you plant corn, expect corn.  It will not produce cabbage.  If you plant beans, expect the kind of beans you planted.  It will not produce squash.

When Paul preached the “resurrection of the dead,” some refused the truth, mocked it, and produced nothing at all from the seed sown.  But others said, “We will hear thee again of this matter.”  For these, a doorway to salvation had been opened.  That does not mean they walked through it, but at least they had not rejected that door.  Keep in mind, that Door is Jesus.  From that message, the Door being opened, light can flood a life and decisions of life and wisdom can be made.  Study resurrection; meditate on resurrection; preach and teach resurrection.  The God of this hour for the church is the same unchanging God of Paul the Apostle.

But here is a point we need to consider.  The Word of God will not return void, but will accomplish that which pleases Father, and prosper in its doing.  So, what of those who reject the message of resurrection?  When the truth is delivered, if a person rejects that truth, and sadly, they leave this world with Christ, it cannot be said they left without knowledge, and therefore, there is no excuse.  Live in such a manner that no one you meet can leave this world with any ability to truthfully indicate that you left them with an excuse.  Again I say to you, preach resurrection.

Manna for Today – Acts 17:16-34; Romans 10:6-17; 2 Corinthians 5:17-21; Isaiah 55:11

Divine Poets

How much beauty have we sadly lost by our removal of literary arts from our churches?

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Acts 17:28 For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring.

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Let’s begin with the final statement of our Text for Today.  We read, “For we are also His offspring.”  If we are “His offspring,” then we surely carry about in us His spiritual DNA.  He has divinely inspired the Scriptures.  If we carry His spiritual DNA, then surely it lies within, at least some of us, a divine ability to produce literary work of great quality and nurtures the life that is in us.  And since part of His divine inspiration resulted in poetic works like the Psalms, there surely in lies within, at least some of us, a divine ability to produce a poetry with life-nurturing qualities.

Now look at the opening statement of our Text for Today.  “For in Him we live, and move, and have our being.”  What a powerful statement that is!  That statement addresses our entire existence.  It is “in Him” that we live, move, and have our being; not out of Him.   Outside of Christ, there exists only death, destruction, and depravity.  What is so sad is that many who are born again, who already live in Him, instead of abiding under the shadow of the Most High, seem to simply exist under the shadow of death, destruction, and devastation.  This should not be the case, my friend.

Are you a child of God?  Are you born again?  Is Jesus Christ your Lord and Savior?  If so, then you are in Him, and being in Him, you should be enjoying His life, moving in His power and ability, and having your identity fulfilled in Him.  If you are enjoying His life, then nothing of death can touch you.  If you are moving in His power and ability, then you can do all things through Christ which strengthens you.  If your identity is fulfilled in Him, then nothing of death, destruction, or devastation has any hold on any part of your life.

Please note, I did not say there would be no attacks against you.  As long as we live in this present age, we must deal with the enemy of our soul.  But the supernatural ability of God that resides in you sets you above all the enemy can try to level against you.  Rise above it.  Speak the Word of God over your own life as a great orator.  Allow Holy Spirit to form in you the poetry of the Kingdom, speaking to yourself in psalms, and hymns, and spiritual songs; singing and making melody in your hearts to the Lord.  Let the poetry of the Lord loose with your tongue by faith in the Name of Jesus.  Let your heart create spiritual sonnets that sing of the sweetness and goodness of the Lord.

Manna for Today – Acts 17:16-34; Genesis 1; Joshua 1:6-9; Proverbs 4:20-23; Isaiah 55:11; Luke 1:37

One Blood

Any way you look at it, we all still came from one paired set of DNA; Adam and Eve.

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Acts 17:26a And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth

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Don’t ask me how it all works.  I’m neither a doctor, nor a research scientist.  I don’t know how DNA and its component parts function.  I don’t know how atoms, the very building blocks of all physical matter, function, but I know Who created them.  What I don’t know, I don’t know.  What I do know, I do know.  Some would say it’s purely a matter of faith.  I agree, it takes faith to believe it.  But I will go further and say this.  There are myriad proofs that the Word of God is true, and with the knowledge that God confirms His Word with signs following, I have come to the place in my personal life, that not only do I believe what the Bible says to be true, but I know it’s true.

One of the things I know is that Father has made the whole world of one blood.  There may be other bloods similar in make-up and content to human blood, but human blood is distinguishable from all other kinds of blood.  There may be different types of blood; A, B, AB, and O, and there may be positives and negatives of all those types, but still, human blood is set apart from all others.  At that point, I must admit that though I am very familiar with the Scriptures, I find it amazing, and in many respects, completely unfathomable, how mankind can treat one another with such hatred, degradation, bitterness, and rejection.

Yes, I know it is an issue arising from sin.  But then I know the work of Jesus, the love of God, and the plan of redemption.  And yet, even in the church, we can find such division, dissention, and disparity.  My friend, these things should not be.  One of the greatest weaknesses existing in the church is its present state of division, and in most cases, relative powerlessness to overcome issues of division.  If only we, the body of Christ, would focus on the main issue to which each one of us is called.

  • Five-fold ministers, perfect the saints.  Don’t fight one another.  Don’t try to be what you’re not.
  • Saints, do the work of the ministry.  Preach the Gospel to every creature.  Win the lost.  Baptize converts.

There!  Do you see it?  Accept your birth right.  Stop being selfish, self-seeking, self-satisfying.  Forget denominationalism if you intend to fulfill your destiny.  It’s a great destiny, and is available to the entire bloodline of man.  It will be manifest, however, only in those who are washed in the blood of the Lamb.  Is that you?  Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?  If so, live your destiny.

Manna for Today – Acts 17:16-34; Genesis 1:26-31; Ephesians 4:11-13

Time for Stirring

Have you ever known, or do you now know time when your spirit is stirred within you?

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Acts 17:16 Now while Paul waited for them at Athens, his spirit was stirred in him, when he saw the city wholly given to idolatry.

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Is your spirit stirred within you today?  As Apostle Paul saw the condition of the city of Athens, “his spirit was stirred within him.”  Has your spirit ever been stirred?  To be “stirred” is to be so moved that it would cause your heart to beat faster, almost as if you were engaged in rigorous physical activity.  It happened in our Text for Today to Apostle Paul.  It happened to Jesus prior to His arrest and crucifixion as He looked over the city of Jerusalem.  It happened to Father when he looked at the city of Nineveh in which there was more than 120,000 who could not discern between their left hand and right hand.

Look about you today.  While it is likely that the vast majority of people we know do know the difference between their right and left hands, their knowledge of the spiritual things of life is saddening indeed.  Multitudes think themselves to be spiritually okay because they are aware of who God is.  Additional multitudes know that people talk about God, but have no true awareness that He even truly exists.  And just as bad are the multitudes have no awareness at all of God, Who He is, what He can do, and that He loves them.

And let us not fail to recognize that even in the church world today, there are multitudes that claim a relationship with God, but produce no fruit, do not believe His Word, and give no credence to His Word.  Yet they call themselves Christian and attend church.  My friend, the Scriptures have not changed.  We still know the people of God by their fruits.  For that reason, perhaps we should ask ourselves, “What fruits are we producing that give clear evidence of our relationship with Christ?”

I cannot help but believe that the Lord’s heart is stirred by the condition of the world and His church at this hour.  Likewise, I cannot help but believe that our hearts should be stirred as well by the same things.  We are the light of the world.  Should we not be stirred to illuminate the darkness about us?  We are the salt of the earth.  Should we not be stirred to preserve all those we can from the destruction, decay, and degradation of those under sin’s dominion?  We are His ambassadors?  Should we not be stirred to speak His truth and bring all we can into His embassy (the church)?  We are His disciples.  Should we not be stirred to model the life of Christ as living epistles wherever we are?  It is time to be stirred, and that continuously.

Manna for Today – Acts 17:16-34; Matthew 23:37-39; Jonah 1-4; Matthew 7:16-20