Pure from Men’s Blood

How little does it take to make the pure impure?

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Acts 20:26-27 Wherefore I take you to record this day, that I am pure from the blood of all men.  For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God.

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I urge you to take the time to read Acts 20:17-38 for a fuller view of what Paul was saying.  Then come back to our Text for Today.  In his own words, Paul said he was “pure from the blood of all men for I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God.”  Do you see the words, “for I have?”  This statement of Paul could have been stated in this manner; “I am pure from the blood of all men because I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God.”  Look at it once more, for you need to see with clarity what Paul was saying.  He was clearly stating that the reason he could say he was “pure from the blood of all men,” was because he had been diligent to proclaim the whole counsel of God.

He did not say he was pure from the blood of all men because he had done everything perfectly, or because he had not angered or offended certain people.  It was not because he was a flawless human being, already having achieved outward perfection in Christ.  It was not because he was a flawless grammarian, or such an eloquent speaker.  The reason he made such a statement is completely singular in substance and cause.  Paul said it was because he had not failed, or shunned to declare unto those to whom he preached, “all the counsel of God.”  And the “counsel of God” about which Paul spoke came from the revelation God had given him.  He did not preach the revelation of someone else.

It is from that understanding that I now write.  Paul was not sharing the revelation of Peter, James, John, Luke, or Jude.  We know he was aware of at least some of what they wrote, but his preaching came from his own revelation.  I don’t know of any minister today that KNOWS IT ALL.  All those I DO know will tell you they know SOME things.  Many of us may say some, or many, of the same things.  That is because the revelation each of us possesses, though coming THROUGH the teaching and ministry of others, came FROM Holy Ghost.  But there are some things against which we must guard.  When we speak, we should speak from that revelation WE HAVE TRULY RECEIVED from God, regardless of the channel.  It simply is not fruitful to declare another man’s revelation.  It may sound good.  It may have received a great response from those who heard it.  But that does not license one to preach it.  Before you preach it, make sure it has truly been revealed to you by Holy Spirit.

Manna for Today – Acts 20:17-38; Joshua 1:6-9; Proverbs 4:20-23; Matthew 12:34-37; Romans 3:4

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Strategic Meetings

You’ve heard it said, “Sometimes, it’s not what you know, but who you know.”

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Acts 20:14 And when he met with us at Assos, we took him in, and came to Mitylene.

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If you want to travel fast, go alone.  If you want to travel far, go with a team.  I know that’s probably not an exact quote,  but it clearly makes the point.  We need one another.  Paul wrote that one part of the body cannot say to another part of the body, “I don’t need you.”  He also said that the head cannot say to the foot, “I don’t need you.”  From those words, think on this; Jesus is the Head of the body.  If Jesus cannot say to any part of the body, “I don’t need you,” then surely, we need one another.  Let that sink into your thinking.  We need one another.

The people you know are important elements of your life.  Don’ you think it to be wise that one would seek to have people in his life that strengthen him, protect him, speak truth to him, instruct him in right things, lead him in the right directions, and encourage him in the right matters?  I encourage you to pay close attention to the people around you.  As a human being living in this world, you will have all kinds of people around you, perhaps daily.  You can’t stop that.  But you can monitor the kind of people you allow to get close to you, and if they do not meet certain standards, you do not allow them into your inner circles of influence.

Stop and think about it for a moment.  Jesus was that way about His ministry.  As it regards eternal life, His love for us is so great that He has offered it to “whosoever will.”  And while He is not looking for perfection in those He calls to certain roles of ministry, He does have certain levels of expectation.  He does not accept novices into certain arenas of ministry.  And there were times when those who had been anointed, lost that anointing.  Consider King Saul, who according to the Scriptures, was rejected from being king for disobedience.

Whom you know is important to you, for they area those with whom you meet most often.  No, it may not be a scheduled office meeting, but when you connect with them, those meetings are strategic for your life.  Guard yourself.  Be selective about whom you allow into your life, especially about those whom you allow to get close to you.  Yes, you are the light of the world.  But remember, lights can be put out by the mis-handling of their source or intended purpose.  Choose your acquaintances, and especially your friends, wisely.  As much as possible, make every one of them strategic; important; meaningful.  Live a strategic life.

Manna for Today – Acts 20:7-16; Isaiah 1:18; Matthew 18:19-20; Proverbs 11:14; Acts 15:25-28

Some Lessons to Learn

Sleep can be so wonderful.  It can also be costly.  Through it all, there is God.

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Acts 20:9-10 And there sat in a window a certain young man named Eutychus, being fallen into a deep sleep: and as Paul was long preaching, he sunk down with sleep, and fell down from the third loft, and was taken up dead.  And Paul went down, and fell on him, and embracing him said, Trouble not yourselves; for his life is in him.

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From the very beginning today, I urge you to read the complete passage of Acts 20:7-16 so that you might see a full picture of what we are discussing.  At the center of the story we see, someone fell asleep.  Ah, sweet sleep.  In his speaking to a particular gathering of people, Paul had become (what we call) long-winded.  He began speaking at mealtime (probably around 6 PM), and preached until midnight.  That was probably five hours of preaching at that point.  Lesson to learn – if God has given you something to say, say it, and don’t stop until you’re finished.

Around midnight, Eutychus, having fallen asleep, fell from a lofty window to his death.  Lesson to learn – it makes no difference how powerful or important a message from the Lord is, people are people, and they can go to sleep, even at important times.

When it was discovered that the fall had killed Eutychus, Paul was not dismayed, but rather went into action.  He was available to Holy Ghost.  He went down to the body and embraced it.  Then he made a powerful statement of faith.  He said, “His life is in him.”  Lesson to learn – even at the most tragic of moments, when what has happened, be it human error or demonic attack, let nothing distract you from the mission you are on for the Lord.  This is a hard statement, but when we refuse to be distracted, keeping the Lord as our primary focus, that exaltation of Him will provoke Him to move supernaturally.

The Scriptures teach that when the Word is sown, Satan will come immediately to steal that Word from your heart.  While the fall of Eutychus likely had nothing to do with demonic influence (he simply fell asleep while sitting in a comfortable place after a great meal), his death could certainly be used by Satan as a great distraction to steal the Word from all the hearers.  But Paul’s action kept focus on the Lord and the Word, which according to Romans 1:16, is the power of God unto salvation.  Lesson to learn – let nothing take your attention from the Word of God.  It is your life, your health, your provision, your faith deliverer and builder, and your armor.  Hold fast to it at all times.  It is life to you, and health to all your flesh.  Distractions come only to get your focus on problems and away from the solution – the Word.

Manna for Today – Acts 20:7-16; Romans 10:17; Hebrews 11:1-6; Mark 4; Proverbs 4:20-23; Luke 1:37

Never Travel Alone

It is not good to travel alone, especially in the work of the ministry.

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Acts 20:4-5 And there accompanied him into Asia Sopater of Berea; and of the Thessalonians, Aristarchus and Secundus; and Gaius of Derbe, and Timotheus; and of Asia, Tychicus and Trophimus.  These going before tarried for us at Troas.

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It has been said that if you want to travel fast, go alone, but if you want to enjoy the journey, take someone with you.  With more than 48 years of ministry behind me, I can tell you that statement is accurate.  It is a simple truth.  Not only is the journey more enjoyable with companionship, especially if your companions are loyal members of your team, but the potential outcome is multiplied in its measure and effectiveness.  That it defined primarily by two terms; agreement and synergy.

Agreement arises from the Greek word for symphony.  Consider a symphony for a moment; many players, many different instruments, a conductor, different notes, different sounds, different tones, and yet when played properly, it might be said that everyone involved, form the conductor to the least frequently used percussionist is on the same page.

The other word is synergy.  A synergy might be more clearly understood when we say the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.  Allow me two examples.  First, consider a great ship like the aircraft carrier U.S.S Ronald Reagan.  How many tens of thousands of parts does it take to make up that gigantic ship?  I have no idea of the number.  But the truth is, none of the parts, or even all the parts in a pile achieve the status or importance of the collective of the parts when all of them are assembled in their proper relationship to one another.  Second, consider the effectiveness of a team.  Studies have shown that a flock of geese flying together can fly seventy percent farther in one flight that one goose can fly alone.

Now put the terms together.  Imagine the quality and quantity of work that can be accomplished when synergy (all the respective parts filling their respective roles in a quality a manner as possible), and agreement (each member of the team playing his part according to the task assigned to him, all the while being in the same tuning and tempo as every other part) come together.  The potential of that is impressive indeed.  Paul understood this principle, though he may not have used the same terms.  Not only did he understand it, he put it into practice and taught it to those who shared in his ministry.  In our Text for Today, he was accompanied by seven brethren at the beginning of his journey.  And when his ministry is examined, we see these principles carried out, and having their impact on the success of his work.  There may be times when you need to be alone, but try to make sure travel is not one of them.  Enjoy the journey, and make your travel companions a witness of your character.

Manna for Today – Acts 20:1-6; Amos 3:3; Matthew 18:19-20; 1 Corinthians 1:10; Mark 6:7

Where is Our Conviction in Praise?

When did it become improper to sing the same praise song more than two or three times?

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Acts 19:34 But when they knew that he was a Jew, all with one voice about the space of two hours cried out, Great is Diana of the Ephesians.

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Something I have witnessed in our modern church troubles me.  We seem to have moved from under-standing the need to truly praise our God into an arena where entertainment of the congregation is the objective.  I must say that this phenomenon troubles me greatly.  I tell you deliberately and boldly, this ought not be in the church of the Lord Jesus.

Take a moment to re-read our Text for Today.  Consider the actions of a city, largely populated with a polytheistic group of unbelievers.  They considered Diana as the principle goddess of Ephesus.  In their darkness, worshipping a false god who had never made any sacrifice for them, they were willing to stand in defense of her, and shout with one voice, “Great is Diana of the Ephesians” for a space of two hours.  And yet in our churches today, where we say that we worship the Lord Jesus Christ, the true and living first begotten Son of God who paid with the sacrifice of His Own body and blood, for our complete redemption, but find it difficult to have a praise service more than 30-minutes long, and in that we must sing four or five well-accompanied songs.  I know this speaks to some level of indictment towards the church, but as an old adage states, if the shoe fits, wear it.

I ask you to consider the following questions.  What is wrong with honoring, praising, and worshipping our God for hours, perhaps singing only one, or perhaps two songs?  Are we so focused on ourselves that we dare not risk boring the people who largely come to watch and listen to the music in our churches?  Have we come to a state of existence in which the congregation has become an audience, and the praise leaders have become entertainers?

Let us once again turn our hearts the Lord in true worship; worship that is in spirit and in truth.  Let us once again shout to the Lord in triumph, give honor to His Name.  No, it’s not about how many songs we sing or do not sing, nor is it about the time spent in the act.  It is about sincerity of purpose and intent of heart.  And when our thinking is right, and sincerity of purpose and intent of heart is right, we won’t care how many, or few, songs we sing, or the amount of time we invest in that glorious act.  It will all be about honoring Him.  Let us enter in to honor Him.  He is worthy of all praise, and He has made us worthy to be called the children of God.  So, praise the Lord, all ye people.  Shout unto God with the voice of triumph!

Manna for Today – Acts 19:21-41; Hebrews 13:15; 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18; Psalm 150:6; John 4:23

Something to Do With Money

What role does money play in your life?

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Acts 19:24-25 For a certain man named Demetrius, a silversmith, which made silver shrines for Diana, brought no small gain unto the craftsmen; Whom he called together with the workmen of like occupation, and said, Sirs, ye know that by this craft we have our wealth.

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The Scriptures tell us that the love of money is the root of all evil.  Money is not evil.  The desire to have money for the right purposes is not evil.  But when we love money, we have become a self-centered, self-absorbed, self-serving people.  In this present world, money is needed.  It is the currency of our land, and in some form or another, the currency of the world.  Whether dollars, or pesos, or cidis, or shillings, or solis, or marks, or francs, or pounds.  It is currency, money, that we use to purchase what we need, pay for services, or anything else that needs to be done in the economic arena.  We need money.

In our Text for Today, we can see that Demetrius, a silversmith, and many other craftsmen of his particular metal, silver, had become quite wealthy in their work.  They worked the silver, but it was the money that it provided that they held.  It was the currency they held, regardless of the nation from which it came, that determined their wealth.  So, when someone came along, and in their words, actions, and ministry, appeared to be attacking their means to the wealth they had accrued, they were perceived as threats to their business, income, and future.   With regards to human beings, nothing has changed, even in our modern word.  Think of this.  Many thugs on our streets have had Christian influence in their lives.  Many secular singers, including rap and some of the most vulgar music imaginable, have had Christian influence in their lives.  Many actors, athletes, and other famous people have had Christian influence in their lives.  It’s not so much that they hate God or Christianity, but that they love money more.  And when true Christianity is preached, when the truth of faith is set forth, they sense their industries being threatened, and because of that, they believe their wealth and livelihood is likewise threatened.

And when those who hold the love of money in high regard feel their wealth threatened, their reaction to the things of God can be drastic, very negative, and even hostile.  Wake up, church; we cannot allow our-selves to be put off in our attempts to reach the world because of our perceived reasons for rejection.  We need to operate from a position of true knowledge.  I know of only three things that can reach a darkness-entrapped world; the love of God, the absolute truth of God, and the manifest power of God.  Love is obedience to the Word, truth bring light, and the manifest power of God gets attention.  Let’s get busy.

Manna for Today – Acts 19:21-41; 1 Timothy 6:10; Mark 4:19; Mark 10:24; Luke 4:18; Luke 16:11

 

We Need It Today!

Prevailing Word is growing Word. 

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Acts 19:18-20 And many that believed came, and confessed, and shewed their deeds.  Many of them also which used curious arts brought their books together, and burned them before all men: and they counted the price of them, and found it fifty thousand pieces of silver.  So mightily grew the word of God and prevailed.

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If ever there was a time, a season, an age, when we needed to see the Word of God grow and prevail, it is this present hour.  And we need desperately to see that growth and prevailing power to the end of this age.  I know it is the will of God, but the question is, are we, the church, willing to pay the price to see it come to pass in our individual lives?  Take another look at our Text for Today to determine the things we must do to see it happen.

It is speaking about believers.  The text did not say that many unbelievers came, but rather that “many that believed came.”  One of the great things that was needed in the early church is surely needed today.  So much sloppiness, laxity, and even infidelity exists in the church today.  It existed in the early church, and believers who were caught up in those things had to come, confess, reveal themselves openly to the Lord.  It’s not that He doesn’t know what is happening.  He knows all.  But unless the Christian who is caught up in such things openly confesses his sin to the Lord Jesus, there is no cleansing.  This is more than repentance.  If the sin is not confessed, the seed of it still remains and will produce fruit long after one believes himself to be safe from falling prey to it.

Not, too, that there were things that had people caught up in what the Scriptures says were “curious arts.”  That, too, is rampant in today’s church.  There are many new age concepts, traditions of men that make the Word of God of none effect, and many things thought harmless that are in truth, devices of the enemy to steal you away from the things of God, and then steal the things of God away from you.  My friend, what Father gives you in His kingdom to serve and work for Him, He does not simply take from you.  Consider Samson.  God did not take Samson’s great strength from him.  Samson gave it up himself when he told Delilah his secret.  Then when he gave up his secret, the enemy cut his hair, stealing his strength.  But even then, when his hair grew back, his strength returned to him.

So it is today.  A weakened church needs to repent of its failures and confess its powerlessness and sin.  And believers must cast away the “curious devices” in their lives, allowing the fire of Holy Spirit to consume it.  Then, once again we will see the Word of God grow again in the church and prevail.  Remember, the church overcomes the enemy by the blood of the Lamb (repentance & confession), and the word of their testimony (prevailing through the Word).

Manna for Today – Acts 19:11-20; Mark 4; Isaiah 55:11; Joshua 1:6-9; Psalm 119:89; Matthew 15:6; Mark 7:13; Revelation 12:11

 

Who Are You?

How are you known in heaven, on earth, and in hell?

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Acts 19:15 And the evil spirit answered and said, Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are ye?

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Today, I have three questions for you to consider.  (1) Who are you in heaven?  (2) Who are you in the earth?  (3) Who are you in hell?  For the clarity of understanding, perhaps that question could be better phrased by asking how you are known in the three realms I have named.  Let’s examine the answer to each question as it should relate to the believer.

How are you known in heaven?  That is an issue of faith.  Have you made Jesus your Lord?  If so, you have been born again, and your identity is settled in heaven.  There you are looked upon as the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus.  You are a child of God, and heir of God, and a joint heir with Jesus Christ.  You are a member of the body of Christ and a peculiar, unique treasure to Jehovah God.

How are you known in earth?  That is an issue of choice and integrity.  Regardless of your relationship to God, you character is a matter of your own choosing and having the integrity to live that life.  As a Christian, you should be known as one.  Your words, actions, to some degree, your appearance, your attitude; all these are means of expressing who you are in Christ.  And each of those elements is a matter of your own choosing.  If you are a person of integrity, you will choose to live out those characteristics that identify you clearly as belonging to the Lord, and representing Him in the earth.

How are you known in hell?   That is a matter of fruit and work.  Jesus was clearly known in hell for two primary reasons.  They were the fruit He bore in His earthly ministry, and the works He did in His earthly ministry and His fulfillment of the plan of redemption.  He cast out many devils, and through that work was well known in hell by reputation.  And following His crucifixion, he walked through the regions of the damned, defeating every demon force of hell, and finally totally defeating Satan himself, stripping from him the keys of death and hell, not to mention freeing those kept in Abraham’s bosom to go with Him to heaven.  Yes, Jesus was, and is, intimately known in hell.  But what of Paul.  He never went to hell, so he could not be known there in the up-close-and-personal manner in which Jesus was known.  But Paul did cast out many devils, deliver many who were oppressed, and pull many souls back from the brink of damnation in eternity without Christ.  So though not personally known in hell, he did indeed have a name of great reputation.

So, how are you know in heaven, earth, and in hell?

Manna for Today – Acts 19:11-20; Romans 10:9-10; 2 Corinthians 5:17-21

Who Do You Know?

There are people you know, and then there are people you know.

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Acts 19:15 And the evil spirit answered and said, Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are ye?

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Over my 70 years of living, I have learned, and am continually reminded of the need to be very selective in the use of words.  We Americans, in general, are far too lax in our use of many words and terms, often accepting as synonymous words that are not.  I am often asked if I know a certain person.  My answer is likely not what is expected.  If I do not know the name, the answer is simple. “No.”  But when I do have knowledge of who someone is, most of the time my answer will be one of two things.  One, “I am familiar with the name,” or two, “I am acquainted with that person.”  It is only when I have had the opportunity to build a relationship with someone that I will respond, “I know that person.”

To say you know someone when you’ve only heard or read of them is actually untrue.  I don’t believe such a statement is generally intended as a lie, but that is still what it is.  To say you know someone when you are, in truth, only acquainted with them is also untrue, and whether intended to be a lie to deceive, is still that; a lie.  All that being said, perhaps we should determine to use our words more accurately and deliberately be speakers of truth.  To say you know someone, you need to know more about them than their basic statistics and be able to recognize them in a crowd.  You need to have a relationship with them.

In our Text for Today, we see a prime example of that.  Twice we see the phrase, “I know.”  Once it refers to Jesus, and the other refers to Paul the Apostle.  In our Text for Today in the Greek language, two different words are used for “know.”  To “know” Jesus implies having a deep understanding and having had direct interaction with Him.  To “know” Paul refers to having heard of him, being familiar with his name.  In the Greek language, the difference in words makes all the difference.  But in English, there needs to be some explanation.   This is not intended to be a lesson in the proper use of the English language.  What is being attempted is to bring the reader to an awareness of the responsibility of the child of God to communicate accurately what is being said.  Please understand, dear read, that accuracy in the use of our words, for the Christian, is a matter of life and death for those to whom we communicate.  I urge you to follow Paul’s admonition.  “Study to show yourself approved unto God, a workman that does not need to be ashamed.”  For you and me, that requires study, diligent study, and thoughtfulness about how we use the words of our mouth.  You see, in your tongue is the power of death and life.

Manna for Today – Acts 19:11-20; Matthew 12:34-37; Romans 3:4