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Attached to Jesus

Attached to Jesus

WHY IS OUR EXPERIENCE OF JESUS, AND CHURCH, SO DIFFERENT FROM WHAT WE TYPICALLY SEE IN THE BIBLE? Take, for instance, the second chapter of Acts. Today, it seems like the best we can do is market a biblical brand of Jesus and Christianity – but when it comes to making...
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The Resurrection: Are the Stories Really Different?

The Resurrection: Are the Stories Really Different?

The following is an outstanding resource on the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, by Tim Chaffey. His work is sure to build your faith, and perhaps the faith of someone you know . . .

Christ’s Resurrection — Four Accounts, One Reality

by Tim Chaffey on April 5, 2015 Audio Version

Christ’s Resurrection led to a confusing day, as His followers raced around the city. Skeptics point to alleged contradictions to prove Scripture wrong. Can the four Gospels be reconciled?

The Gospels can’t keep their stories straight! How many women went to the tomb and when did they leave? How many angels visited the tomb? Did Jesus appear to all the women or just Mary Magdalene?

Actual contradictions in the Resurrection reports would raise serious concerns for Christianity. If these discrepancies are legitimate, they would be a strike against the preservation of Scripture, but errors would not prove anything against the truth of the Lord’s Resurrection or the infallible original records. Nevertheless, Christians need not worry. These accounts can be reconciled. Indeed, when we put all the pieces together, the wonder of the Resurrection shines out in even greater glory.

Early Morning

When did the women go to the tomb, and how many went?

The Gospels refer to different times and name different women who arrived at the tomb. Matthew states that “Mary Magdalene and the other Mary” came to the tomb as it “began to dawn” (Matthew 28:1). Mark adds Salome to the group and claims that they came “very early in the morning” (Mark 16:1–2). Luke agrees that it was “very early in the morning” and names “Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other women” as those who came to the tomb (Luke 24:1, 24:10). John wrote that “Mary Magdalene went to the tomb early, while it was still dark” (John 20:1).

When we put all the pieces together, the wonder of the Resurrection shines out in even greater glory.

Regarding the timing of the women’s trip, the sticky point is John’s claim that they went to the tomb “while it was still dark” (John 20:1). Was it very early in the morning at dawn, or was it still dark? One plausible solution is that the phrases used in the Gospels all refer to the same general time. Much of the sky is still dark when the day begins to dawn very early in the morning.

Perhaps a better solution is that John may have described when the women initially left for the tomb, while the other Gospels described when the women arrived. If they lodged in Bethany, as they had done earlier in the week, then the women would need to travel about two miles to reach the burial site (John 11:18), plenty of time for the sun to rise.

Resolving the differences in the number of women listed is straightforward. At least five women went to the tomb, since Luke names three of them and then says “other women” went too (at least two). Notice that Matthew does not say that only two women were there. Mark does not say only three women were there. They simply focus on the women they name. Although John names only Mary Magdalene, he is clearly aware that she was not alone. Reporting to Peter and John, she said, “They have taken away the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid Him” (John 20:2, italics added).

Was the tomb already open, and how many angels appeared?

Mark 16:4, Luke 24:2, and John 20:1 state outright that the stone had been rolled away from the tomb prior to the women’s arrival. Matthew’s wording has caused some consternation. After writing about the women going to the tomb he writes, “And behold, there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat on it” (Matthew 28:2). Although this description follows his mention of the women heading to the tomb, Matthew does not claim that this event occurred as the women arrived. Instead, he provides helpful details about what had already happened.

The angelic appearances have also drawn criticism. Was there one angel at the tomb, as described in Matthew 28:2–7 and Mark 16:5–7, or two angels, as stated in Luke 24:4–7 and John 20:12? This minor difficulty is easily explained. There were two angels. Neither Matthew nor Mark claims that only one angel was at the tomb. The complete number does not appear in their accounts. It is not a problem that Mark and Luke call the angels “men,” since angels frequently appeared in the form of men and were identified as such elsewhere (Genesis 18:1–2; Daniel 9:21).

Order of Appearances

The alleged contradictions already mentioned are relatively easy to reconcile, but resolving the diverse accounts given in the four Gospels and 1 Corinthians 15:5–8 concerning the post-Resurrection appearances is more difficult. None of these accounts mentions all of the Lord’s appearances, so the information must be pieced together from all five sources.

When and where did each woman see Jesus?

This is the most complex issue concerning the reporting of appearances.1 Matthew asserts that the women visited the tomb and saw an angel. While they were on the way to tell the disciples, Jesus appeared to them. There would be no difficulty here except that John has Mary Magdalene individually returning from the tomb to report to Peter and John that the body had been taken away. Only after her return to the tomb with the two disciples is she granted the privilege of being the first to see the risen Savior. So how can both accounts of women seeing Jesus be accurate? Many Gospel harmonies have been written, and there are a handful of plausible solutions. I believe the following scenario makes the best sense of the available data (see map).

As mentioned above, at least five women set out for the tomb in the early morning, probably from Bethany. As they neared the tomb, they noticed the stone had been removed. Apparently, Mary Magdalene left the other women to alert Peter and John. Based on her comment about not knowing the location of the Lord’s body, it seems that she was not among the women who encountered the angels at the tomb.

Meanwhile, the other women entered the tomb and encountered the angels. One of the angels proclaimed that the Lord had risen, and then “the women went out quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to bring His disciples word” (Matthew 28:8–9).

So how could Jesus first appear to Mary Magdalene (Mark 16:9) and then to the other women? As they headed for the tomb, why didn’t Mary, Peter, and John cross paths with the other women who were going to tell the disciples?

The key to resolving these dilemmas is to understand that Peter and John were probably not staying in the same place as the other disciples. Remember, although all the disciples “forsook Him and fled” at His arrest (Matthew 26:56), Peter and John were brave enough to enter Jerusalem to find out what would happen to Jesus (John 18:15). Of course, Peter fled in shame at the rooster’s crow (Matthew 26:75), but John was present at the Cross (John 19:26). At some point, John and Peter met up, and they were likely staying together in Jerusalem when Mary Magdalene came to the door on Sunday morning.

Where were the other disciples, then? We cannot be certain, but they may well have stayed in Bethany. After all, this is where Jesus often stayed on trips to Jerusalem, and Bethany was on the eastern slope of the Mount of Olives (Mark 11:1), the location of Christ’s arrest.

If these suppositions are correct, then all of the difficulties are resolved nicely. Mary Magdalene first left the tomb and entered nearby Jerusalem to get Peter and John. During that time, the other women encountered the angels and then left the tomb to set out on the two-mile trip to Bethany to tell the other disciples. They may have stopped along the way to tell Clopas and an unnamed disciple about the morning’s events (Luke 24:22–24), or they may have split up so that a couple of them could inform these men. In all likelihood, “the wife of Clopas” was among these women (John 19:25).

Meanwhile, Peter, John, and Mary raced to the tomb. The men entered the tomb, saw the grave clothes, and then left. Mary stayed behind, weeping outside the tomb. When she looked into the tomb, she saw two angels (John 20:12), and after explaining her grief to them, she turned around and saw the Savior (John 20:16). After Mary departed to tell Peter and John about seeing the risen Lord, Jesus appeared to the other women who were on their way to Bethany (Matthew 28:9).

Three More Appearances on Sunday

The remaining appearances of Christ on that day are much easier to follow. Luke wrote about Clopas and a companion meeting the Lord while they walked from Jerusalem to Emmaus. They did not recognize Him until He broke bread with them (Luke 24:30–31).

They immediately returned to Jerusalem to share the good news with the disciples, who were gathered together without Thomas (John 20:19–24). Upon their arrival, they were told by the disciples that Jesus had appeared to Simon Peter (Luke 24:34; see also 1 Corinthians 15:5). It is unclear whether Peter saw Jesus before the two disciples saw Him on the road to Emmaus.

As they shared exciting details about the day’s events, Jesus appeared to the whole group. At first they were frightened, but the Lord showed them His scars and then ate some broiled fish and honeycomb (Luke 24:40–43).

Remaining Appearances

Jesus continued to appear to people over a forty-day period (Acts 1:3). Eight days after His Resurrection, Jesus appeared to the disciples again, and this time Thomas was present (John 20:24–29).

Over the next few weeks Jesus appeared to seven disciples at the Sea of Galilee (John 21:1–2). While still in Galilee, the disciples also saw Jesus on a hillside (Matthew 28:16–17). This may have been the event Paul mentioned where Jesus appeared to over 500 people at once (1 Corinthians 15:6). After that, Jesus was seen by His half-brother James, the son of Mary and Joseph (1 Corinthians 15:7).

The disciples returned to Jerusalem, where Jesus appeared to them a final time. He delivered the Great Commission, led them out to Bethany at the Mount of Olives, and ascended into heaven (Luke 24:50–51; Acts 1:9–11).2

Conclusion

Luke declared that after Jesus suffered and died on the Cross, He showed Himself alive “by many infallible proofs” (Acts 1:3). Skeptics will surely continue to question Scripture and neglect reasonable solutions to the dilemmas they propose. It’s hard for them to be open-minded about sensible answers because Christ’s Resurrection, if true, is a miracle that demonstrates Jesus is Lord—a truth contrary to their secular worldview, which rejects miracles and the supernatural. No matter how many objections unbelievers raise, Christians can be confident there are no contradictions in the Word of God.

To read the original article, courtesy of Answers in Genesis, click here.

HOW HAS THIS ARTICLE ENCOURAGED YOU, OR SOMEONE YOU KNOW? DIDN’T TIM CHAFFEY DO AN OUTSTANDING JOB?

Michael Anthony Blog - Godfactor.comABOUT ME: Most of the lessons I’ve learned in life I’ve learned through failure. I typically publish my blogs Tuesday through Friday, here and on Facebook. We welcome and read comments from readers just like you because they help us (and others) think and grow. Don’t be shy. Chime in.

My first book, published by Thomas Nelson, is slated for release in March, 2018. For more about me, click on the image or here. If you’d like to request an interview, or to explore the potential of my speaking to your group, click here.

 

 

The Crown of Thorns: A Helmet, Not A Ring? (Free download, too)

The Crown of Thorns: A Helmet, Not A Ring? (Free download, too)

When we think of Good Friday and what Jesus endured on the cross, many of us envision a ring of thorns wrapped around the sides of Jesus’ head. Movies and television almost universally depict the crown that way. Historically, however, that depiction may be inaccurate. The crown of thorns Jesus wore may have looked more like a helmet than a ring, digging into not only the outer part of his scalp, but also His entire head.

The pain would have been excruciating. There are six (6) nerves that encapsulate the human scalp – and they are very sensitive.[1] Aggravated by the piercing of a sharp object, such as a thorn, even more pain could then be inflicted by something as gentle as a gentle breeze. If the scalp were carpeted with thorns, as was most likely the case with Christ, the pain would have been out of this world.

“Don’t confuse being unworthy with being worthless . . . You are worth a GREAT deal to God.”

Fitting that the Son of God, Who was and is out of this world, would endure out-of-this-world pain for you and me. Why? One reason is because you are valuable to God. He doesn’t make junk — and He certainly wouldn’t send His unique, one of a kind Son to die for junk. While He hates your sin, He LOVES you so much that He would send Jesus to take your place. Remember that the next time you think you’re worthless. No, you’re not junk at all. While none of us is worthy of Jesus’ death, we are worth more than we realize. You are worth a great deal to God. Don’t confuse being unworthy with being worthless.

To help make your Easter special, we’re offering you this free download, “The Physical Death of Jesus Christ.” Written by a medical doctor, and originally published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), it will open your eyes to what was really involved in Jesus’ crucifixion. We hope it opens your heart, too, so that this Easter – and every day of the year – is one filled with the love and grace of Jesus Christ. CLICK HERE TO GET YOUR INSTANT DOWNLOAD.

LET US KNOW WHAT YOU THINK — WE LOVE TO READ YOUR COMMENTS! AND DON’T FORGET TO SHARE THIS BLOG ON YOUR FACEBOOK WALL . . .

[1] Nerves of the Human Scalp: Supratrochlear, Supraorbital, Zygomaticotemporal, Auriculotemporal, the Lesser occipital, and the Greater occipital nerve


Michael Anthony Blog - Godfactor.comABOUT ME:
Most of the lessons I’ve learned in life I’ve learned through failure. I typically publish my blogs Tuesday through Friday, here and on Facebook. We welcome and read comments from readers just like you because they help us (and others) think and grow. Don’t be shy. Chime in.

My first book, published by Thomas Nelson, is slated for release in March, 2018. For more about me, click here. If you’d like to request an interview, or to explore the potential of my speaking to your group, click here.

 

 

An Open Letter To The Church in America: Is God Is Giving Us What We Want?

An Open Letter To The Church in America: Is God Is Giving Us What We Want?

I THINK WE MAY HAVE PASSED THE TIPPING POINT. At best, we’re willing to tolerate God, but not hungry enough to dig into Him. We seem more enthusiastic about chicken and ribs at a summer barbecue. Even a casual look at America reveals this truth. If you’re a Christian, you know it’s true because it’s most likely true in your own life. It’s something I wrestle with as well. A great many of us seem to be rowing the same boat in the same direction, and it’s killing our nation. It’s time to stop the boat, get out, and seek another means of transportation. Christians, we’re in a very dangerous place. It’s time to head for safe harbor.

“When Moses watched the burning bush, I’m fairly certain he wasn’t thinking, ‘Dark Roast or House Blend?'”

I think God may be giving us what we want. It’s not what we need, but the reason we don’t have what we need is because we’ve convinced ourselves that our wants are more important than our needs.

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We are the ones who are largely to blame for the absence of God in our society, and have the nerve to express our anger at the world when the anger should be focused upon our own luke-warmth. Yes, we talk about God and we let everyone know the moment we’re against something. But are we really for God? Need I suggest the answer that you already find resonating within?

COULD YOU PLEASE PASS ME SOME JESUS?

It should be obvious that the American brand of “Christianity” and “church” is so heavily syncretized that it’s nothing at all like the distilled faith found in the Bible. So many of us are so adept at syncretism, “the combination of different forms of belief or practice, the fusion of two or more originally different inflectional forms,”[1] that we don’t realize “syncretism” is a synonym for the nuclear bomb mother of all sins: idolatry.

HAS SOMETHING OTHER THAN GOD BECOME YOUR “CONSUMING FIRE”?

We’re famished, but we keep feasting on anything other than Jesus. We love our smart phones, our computers, our television programs, our food, cars, houses, clothes, toys, sports, schedules and our reputations. It all amounts to our love for comfort and convenience more than the power and presence of God. Our love for God. And we’re okay with it. This is our problem.

All we’ve done is sprinkle a little Jesus onto the rest of our lives, a dose of spiritual, feel-good, hocus pocus in our efforts to get the best life we possibly can. We love the idea of Jesus dying for us – but hate the idea of dying to ourselves so that the life of Christ can flow through us. In the end, we aren’t at all living our best life possible. We’re settling for a mere shadow of what could be.

THE SIXTY-MINUTE MYTH

This week, I learned of yet another large church elsewhere in America that guarantees their services will be only sixty minutes long, that they offer contemporary music and a “fun” time for children. Brothers and sisters, are these really the things for which a churches should be known? Are we branding and marketing our music and lengths of services, primarily dispensing donuts and coffee, or don’t we have Someone far better to offer? When Moses watched the burning bush, I’m fairly certain he wasn’t thinking “Dark Roast or House Blend?” Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with great music (I play guitar), fun (I love to laugh) and a rich cup of coffee — unless we are more excited about those things than we are Jesus.

“. . . at the end of our days, we’re not willing to adjust our lives to the movement of God the way biblical characters did. No wonder we don’t have what they had.”

If a church is to be engaged in any “business” at all, it is to be engaged in the business of giving people the opportunity to meet the Maker of their Souls, the Creator of the Universe, the One Whose love is so potent it led Him to be beaten, spit on, and spiked to a tree. We’ve forgotten that the greatest need of the day is to give people the chance to be blown away by God so He becomes the all-consuming love of their life.

Believe me, as a pastor, I get it. If we don’t give the people what they “want,” we will never get around to giving them what they need. And what they need (what we all need) is Jesus, unfiltered. 2 Corinthians 3:16 says,whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away.” But we want to keep Jesus veiled, as if unveiling Him will drive people away. Our insanity is ironic, systemic and pathetic. I’m not saying that in a condescending way. I’m saying it with tears that don’t do justice to the way God must feel about our apologizing for His Son. God put His Son on display for all to see, but we think the better approach is to introduce Him in increments? Who is playing God in the American Church equation?

OUR PROBLEM IS OUR SOLUTION: WE ARE APOLOGIZING FOR JESUS WHEN WE SHOULD BE UNVEILING HIM.

OUR SOLUTION IS OUR PROBLEM

Our problem is our solution. We Christian leaders aren’t getting around to giving people environments where they can encounter Christ head-on in life-changing ways that will leave our syncretistic sweet tooth in the dust. Our approach isn’t helping people. It’s hindering them, significantly. If you’re a church leader, be careful you’re not just giving people what they want. Give them what they need, and what people need most these days is a soaring ascent into the presence of God.

If you’re just a Christian, and not a church leader, help your leaders break the cycle we all need broken. Help your church, and all her ministries, become environments where God can move with increasing freedom, power and purpose. Stop settling for mere donuts, coffee, hip music and fun activities. While there is nothing intrinsically wrong with those things, they are, alone, no substitute for the presence of God.

FILLING UP ON GOD

We love the stories about Moses and the burning bush, David and Goliath, and all the other accounts where God showed up and saved the day – but at the end of our days, we’re not willing to adjust our lives to the movement of God the way biblical characters did. We want God to move in our timetable, at the flick of a switch we get to pull, having forgotten that God transcends time and our methods. And we wonder why we don’t experience the joy, deep sense of awe, and deeper movement of God like the people in the Bible? No wonder we don’t have what they had.

God is a great initiator, but eventually He needs us to respond. I think that time has come.

SYNCRETISM STINKS: IT’S TIME TO FILL UP ON JESUS – AGAIN AND AGAIN AND AGAIN.

We can have as much God as we are willing to tolerate. I think it’s time we stop tolerating Him and begin calling out to Him to completely interrupt us so that we learn, once again (or perhaps for the very first time) what it is to love Him with all our heart, mind, strength and soul – and to love our neighbor as ourselves.

It’s time our lives underwent an extreme make-over that dealt syncretism a death blow. That make-over must be revisited moment by moment, day-by-day, on a personal level, to ensure it does not again creep in and take away holy ground once given to God. Then, when we come together in our churches, we may very well find the God who created the Church in the first place.

NEVER MIND OTHER PEOPLE. IS YOUR HUNGER FOR GOD WORTH A FOLLOW?

[1] Dictionary.com

Michael Anthony Blog - Godfactor.comABOUT ME: Most of the lessons I’ve learned in life I’ve learned through failure. I typically publish my blogs Tuesday through Friday, here and on Facebook. We welcome and read comments from readers just like you because they help us (and others) think and grow. Don’t be shy. Chime in.

My first book, published by Thomas Nelson, is slated for release in March, 2018. For more about me, click on the image or here. If you’d like to request an interview, or explore the potential of my speaking to your group, click here.

Life is School: Pay Attention To Your Child Because Your Child Is Paying Attention To You

Life is School: Pay Attention To Your Child Because Your Child Is Paying Attention To You

LIFE IS SCHOOL, and if you have a child, you are their primary teacher, like it or not.The truth is that your children are watching you, and paying attention to you even if you are not watching and paying attention to them. Most lessons a child learns are not learned within the walls of a classroom, but from you, in the daily grind of life. This is the real classroom. Parenting is the most awesome responsibility this side of Eden. When you make the most of who you are, you improve the odds that your child will positively follow in your footsteps.

The public vs. homeschool debate is, in some ways, a mute point because every child is being homeschooled. Children watch how you interact with people – and from your interactions they will develop their own approach to mingling, conflict resolution, how to have a conversation and more. Your child watches how you handle stress – and by watching you they will develop their stress management (or mismanagement) skills. Your child observes how you use your time, money, and every other resource God puts into your hands. In other words, you are teaching your child how to live, for better or worse.

The fundamental question in child-rearing is this: Are you paying attention to your child, being intentional about how you are living so that what they learn by observing you is worthwhile and God-glorifying? If it isn’t, don’t blame your child. Start making changes with yourself, and you must may find that your child follows your lead.

YOUR CHILD IS FOLLOWING YOU — AND LEARNING FROM YOU — ALL THE TIME. IS HOW YOU’RE LIVING WORTH A FOLLOW?

You have already begun to teach your child about the following, and so much more:
  • The importance of the virtual world compared to the real world right before their eyes. How is your use of your smart phone, tablet, computer and television influencing your child? Do you look your child in the eye when talking, and when he/she is talking to you, or are you distracted by something else?
  • The value of money. Do you save, invest, spend carelessly? In watching you, what is your child learning about money? Does it grow on trees or come as a result of hard work? What are you teaching them about debt and freedom?
  • The irreplaceable value of time. What are you teaching your child about the most precious resource they will have, their time? Do you waste it or value it? Do you plan for meaningful times together, use a calendar and show them that time, once it is gone, never comes back?
  • Forgiveness and reconciliation. One of the biggest obstacles in all of life is created when we refuse to forgive people and pursue reconciliation. Are you a forgiving person, or given to bitterness? This one thing will be responsible for much of their happiness, or grief, in all of life. Do you want your child to be happy or miserable? Carefully consider, then, what you are modeling for your child about forgiveness and reconciliation.

The truth is that you child is watching you all the time. What are they learning? Even when you don’t realize it, they are watching you, developing their outlook on life, communication skills, financial strategy and just about everything — by watching you. Are you giving them good things to watch, so that you set your child up for success?

WHAT ONE OR TWO THINGS CAN YOU SIT DOWN AND FOCUS ON THIS WEEK IN YOUR OWN LIFE, START GETTING IN ORDER, AND IMPROVING? DOING THIS WILL NOT ONLY HELP YOUR OWN LIFE – IT MAY VERY WELL SAVE YOUR CHILD FROM A LIFETIME OF HARDSHIP. Remember, your child is watching you, and learning.

Michael Anthony Blog - Godfactor.comABOUT ME: Most of the lessons I’ve learned in life I’ve learned through failure. I typically publish my blogs Tuesday through Friday, here and on Facebook. We welcome and read comments from readers just like you because they help us (and others) think and grow. Don’t be shy. Chime in.

My first book, published by Thomas Nelson, is slated for release in March, 2018. For more about me, click on the image or here. If you’d like to request an interview, or explore the potential of my speaking to your group, click here.

 

Secret Weapon: Charged, Fired Up, Fearless & Fruitful

Secret Weapon: Charged, Fired Up, Fearless & Fruitful

LIKE YOU, I LEAK. In fact, I’m so good at leaking that if I could patent the process I’d be a millionaire capable of turning my profits into one charitable success story after another. I’d have money to feed the poor, clothe the needy, fight human trafficking and more. My problem is that I seem to be wired with an autopilot feature that steers me toward embracing a life of comfort and convenience more than anything else – including the glory of God and His agenda above all else. What’s the cure? The filling with the Holy Spirit. When you’re filled with the Holy Spirit, you’ll be charged, fired up, fearless and fruitful. We need the power of God coursing through our lives. In fact, it is only when we depend upon the Holy Spirit that we can truly live for Jesus Christ.

The Holy Spirit is God’s not so secret “secret weapon.” He transforms us from being walking contradictions into living sacrifices, people on fire for Jesus Christ, unafraid to stand up and speak out in a day of hate and fear. I’ve found that the real challenge begins with me, not what’s happening in the world. I need the Spirit of God to do a mighty work in me each day – moment by moment – so that sin in my own life is pushed back, and the agenda of God is somehow advanced through the most unlikely conduit – me.

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PEER PRESSURE PETER
The same is true for you. It’s true for everyone. One of the things all humans tend to do is think we are unique, but we aren’t. We all face the same problems, though to different degrees. The solutions, therefore, often have similar ingredients. When it comes to overcoming sin in my life, the same solution is effective in your life: the Holy Spirit. He is one of the greatest gifts God gives the believer. Are you enjoying that gift?

Like you and me, Peter the Apostle had a propensity to give in to peer pressure — and peer pressure hinders the flow of God’s Spirit. He denied Jesus three times because he was afraid of people. But Acts 4:8 is a testimony of his transformation, courtesy of the Holy Spirit. It says, “Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them: “Rulers and elders of the people!” He went on to testify fearlessly for Christ.

Peter’s transformation is striking, because he was already filled with the Holy Spirit in Acts 2:4: “All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit …”

WHEN GOD LEADS, HE EMPOWERS. Why not let the Holy Spirit lead you in every area of life?

SPIRITUAL AMNESIA
How quickly we forget what the first believers understood: the filling with the Holy Spirit is not something that happens once and for all. It’s something that must happen perpetually if we expect to be charged, fired up and fruitful for Jesus.

So, how are we filled with the Holy Spirit? One of the lessons I’ve learned from my own failures is that I not only leak, but I’m also a magnet that attracts other things to take the place of what only God can satisfy. I not only leak, but I also get filled up on things I need to resist – because those things take up space that is best taken only by the presence and power of God. I’ve found that I leak less when I guard myself against things that don’t align with honoring God.

HERE’S WHAT WE CAN DO
I need to watch what I watch. This is true not only for the internet and television, but also for what I allow to play in the theater of my mind. The Bible says, “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5). If this is true of my thought life, how much more true is it about what I allow my eyes and ears to feast upon?

Common sense tells us that garbage in will lead to garbage throughout. Do you allow yourself to watch, listen to, and think things that you wouldn’t if everything were out in the open before Jesus? Guess what? It already is. The good news is that the Holy Spirit can clean up our lives if we let Him.

In the end, we leak because we allow ourselves to fill up on things that don’t honor God. These are the things that end up coming our of us. The first step to being filled – perpetually – with the Holy Spirit, is to get into the daily and moment-by-moment practice of emptying ourselves of what dishonors God. When that happens, the leaks begin to take care of themselves.

IS THERE ANYTHING MORE I COULD SHARE THAT MIGHT HELP YOU IN YOUR JOURNEY? WHAT STRUCK YOU AS YOU READ? WE’D LOVE TO HEAR YOUR THOUGHTS . . .

Michael Anthony Blog - Godfactor.comABOUT ME: Most of the lessons I’ve learned in life I’ve learned through failure. I share them happily because doing so may spare you from making the same mistakes. I typically publish my blogs Tuesday through Friday, here and on Facebook. We welcome and read comments from readers just like you because they help us (and others) think and grow. Don’t be shy. Chime in.

My first book, published by Thomas Nelson, is slated for release in March, 2018. For more about me, click on the image or here. If you’d like to request an interview, or to explore the potential of my speaking to your group, click here.

Attached to Jesus

Attached to Jesus

WHY IS OUR EXPERIENCE OF JESUS, AND CHURCH, SO DIFFERENT FROM WHAT WE TYPICALLY SEE IN THE BIBLE? Take, for instance, the second chapter of Acts. Today, it seems like the best we can do is market a biblical brand of Jesus and Christianity – but when it comes to making good on the promise, we struggle with the delivery. I think it boils down to the fact that the first believers understood what it meant to be attached to Jesus. Today, we seem clueless.

 

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Acts 2:42 says,

“They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.” — ESV

The Greek word translated as “devoted” has lost so much of its meaning today, in our individualistic, segregated, divorce-ridden world. We think we know what it means, but the truth is that we all need a refresher. The Greek word for “devoted,” could easily be translated as any of the following:

  • To wait on
  • To be faithful to
  • To busy oneself with
  • To hold fast to
  • To persevere in
  • To spend much time in
  • To give constant attention to
  • To attach oneself to

The phrase I love the most is that last one. Don’t you? When inserted, Acts 2:42 is resurrected with magnificent practicality:

They attached themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.”

I think a main reason we don’t experience Jesus the way the early believers did is because we’re not attaching ourselves to Him. Instead, we are attached to so many other things. What are you attached to more than Jesus?

We expect God to move in power on Sunday when we haven’t been attached to Him all week long. It’s time to take a second look at Acts 2:42-47 and land the plane. What I mean is that it’s easy to look at that passage as it applies to church life – but we have to remember that church life is a reflection of each of our lives. We need to look at Acts 2:42-47, not from the 50,000 foot view, but from the landing strip of our own lives:

They attached themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.” — NIV

We want God to show up in power in our churches on Sunday – and that can happen, but only if we refuse to live lives that are detached from Him throughout the week. I think we need to be discontent with God’s absence in our personal lives and families the other six days of the week. If you and I became attached to apostolic teaching (putting the Bible into practice), spending quality time with our family and friends, and drawing near to God in prayer, I think we’d see Jesus in our midst much more when we all gather together. It’s not magic. When individuals become attached to Jesus, and those individuals come together, the group is attached to Jesus, too. Jesus shows up.

Acts 2:42-47 isn’t socialism. It’s real, biblical Christianity. Socialism is merely Christianity stripped of the Holy Spirit’s power, without the presence of Jesus or His Kingdom agenda. If we want the impact of our money reduced to pennies on the dollar, we ask (and even welcome) the government to take and redistribute it. But government redistribution of money is no substitute for what God alone can do through people who are truly attached to Jesus. If we want the power of God manifest in ways that lead people to the feet of Jesus, we need to be attached to Jesus – individually and in our families. When that happens, the discrepancy between our experience of Jesus and church, and what we read in the pages of the Bible, will disappear.

I don’t know about you, but I’m hungry for the kind of Christianity that shaped history.

What about you, your family, and your church? Isn’t it time that you became attached to Jesus in the same ways the first believers were? Is there anything you or your family is attached to more than Jesus?


Michael Anthony Blog - Godfactor.comABOUT ME:
Most of the lessons I’ve learned in life I’ve learned through failure. I typically publish my blogs Tuesday through Friday, here and on Facebook. We welcome and read comments from readers just like you because they help us (and others) think and grow. Don’t be shy. Chime in.

My first book, published by Thomas Nelson, is slated for release in March, 2018. For more about me, click on the image or here. If you’d like to request an interview, or to explore the potential of my speaking to your group, click here.

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