“…Had A Powerful Effect.”

20 So the message about the Lord spread widely and had a powerful effect. — Acts 19:20 NLT

Acts 19:11-20 NLT

We are told in verse one that “God gave Paul the power to perform unusual miracles.”  In verse twenty, we see the reason for this was to spread the Good News about Jesus and the redemption story.  The spreading of the Gospel always has a powerful effect on all those that hear.  To those that hear and believe, it brings new life.  To those who hear but refuse to believe, it brings death.  Anytime the name of Jesus is spoken those that hear it must make a decision right then and there.  Either they will believe the Good News and receive life or they will refuse to believe and earn their way to hell.  When the name of Jesus is spoken with the intent to glorify God, it contains all of the power that was present at the resurrection of Jesus.  But when the name of Jesus is spoken with the intention of self-glory or for the mere purpose of gaining wealth, the result is confusion and chaos. Just ask the seven sons of Sceva.  God is a God of miracles and miracles are still being performed today.  Not all of us are given the power to perform miracles as Paul was.  God gives different gifts to members of the body of Christ so that it can be whole and bring glory to Himself. God doesn’t perform miracles on a whim or on demand.  Each time we witness a miracle we know that God has a purpose and a plan that requires a miracle to complete the plan.  Miracles always affect more than one person.   The person receiving the miracle is not the only one touched. Those seeing or listening that are already believers are encouraged and those who do not believe will be drawn to God.


“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” – Anonymous

“He Watches Everyone Closely…”

4 But the Lord is in his holy Temple;  the Lord still rules from heaven.  He watches everyone closely, examining every person on earth. — Psalm 11:4 NLT

Psalm 11 NLT

In Psalms 10-13, David seems to be more focused on those who are bent on doing evil than what God has done for him.  He questions God about why those people seem to be more successful than the righteous.  It is a question that many, if not all, of us have asked at some time or other.  Why are bad things happening to good people while the bad people seem to be receiving blessings?   God doesn’t seem to answer David directly, but rather allows David to arrive at his own conclusion.  David never gives up on God, even though he questions why God allows such things and why they continue for so long. He also questions whether God can hear his prayers or not.  When we are going through those rough patches, it is encouraging to know that we are not the only ones to wonder where God is and what He is up to.  Because David is a man “after God’s own heart”, he arrives at the right conclusion.  God is exactly where He is supposed to be doing exactly what He should be doing. He always has been, He is and He always will be there watching over us and doing what is best for us even though at times, it doesn’t “feel” like it.  Those  are the times we have to ignore “feelings” and stand firm on the knowledge that God is always with us and we are never alone.  Those are the times that God allows so that we know whether or not our head knowledge has become heart knowledge.  If what we know in our heads has taken root in our hearts, then we will pass the test when God examines us.  Should we fail, God has no qualms about having us take the test again and again until we pass it.

“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” – Anonymous

“…And Desperately Wicked”

9 “The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked.  Who really knows how bad it is? — Jeremiah 17:9 NLT

We are all very familiar with this verse from Jeremiah.  Since this verse is true and God says that He will give us the desires of our hearts, how do we reconcile the two verses?  As is usual, there are very few verses in the Bible that stand alone and these verses are examples of this.  The verse from Jeremiah is describing the heart that we are born with. Those hearts belong to the master of sin and only desire those things that please the flesh.  So, to reconcile these verses, we need to have a change of heart. We find a clue to God’s solution to the enigma in a passage in Ezekiel. This is an Old Testament verse that points to a future event.

26 And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart. 27 And I will put my Spirit in you so that you will follow my decrees and be careful to obey my regulations. — Ezekiel 36:26-27 NLT

Before Jesus died, He made a promise to us to send a Comforter and a guide to lead us into all truth. After He arose and ascended, He sent us His Spirit as promised in Ezekiel and by Jesus Himself.  Once we receive Jesus as our Savior and Lord, we receive the Holy Spirit into our hearts.  It is at that point, that the reformation of the heart begins.  We now bow to a new Master, Jesus Christ. Our heart is changed so that the desires of our hearts are now pleasing to God.  First, He gives us a new heart with new desires and then He can give us what our hearts desire.  The heart is new, but the reformation does not come overnight. It takes a lifetime of mortifying the flesh and when we come to the end of our life as a human, we will still be fighting that battle.  

“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” – Anonymous

“The Lord Is Near…”

18 The Lord is near to all who call on him,  to all who call on him in truth.  19 He fulfills the desires of those who fear him;  he hears their cry and saves them. — Psalm 145:18-19 NIV

Psalm 145 NIV

Have you ever felt frustrated and exasperated because you had prayed and prayed about something and it seemed as if God didn’t hear or worse yet, that He didn’t care?  Have you ever just wanted to scream at God and tell Him to answer you right now?
David felt that very same thing when he wrote Psalm 143.

Psalm 143 NIV

God is big enough to handle our frustrations with Him and He loves us enough to allow us to be frustrated.  We aren’t the first of His kids to throw a temper tantrum.  I am not saying that He likes it, but He can deal with it and still love us.  He is always there to carry us through it.  Again, not because of our faithfulness but because of His faithfulness.  That is why David could write Psalm 143 and Psalm 145.

“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” – Anonymous

“…And Since We Know He Hears Us…”

14 And we are confident that he hears us whenever we ask for anything that pleases him. 15 And since we know he hears us when we make our requests, we also know that he will give us what we ask for.  — 1 John 5:14-15 NLT

I believe God has obligated Himself to answer every prayer that a Christian prays.  I also believe that He does answer every prayer in one of four ways: Yes, No, Wait or gives a completely different answer than we expected and we don’t recognize the event(s) as the answer.  It would be foolish to think that God would give a positive answer to any request that required Him to violate His own Word or to give us something that would not be the best for us.  Just as parents, we realize that our kids often ask for things that aren’t good for them and we have to say “no”,  how much better does our heavenly Father understand and know what is best for us.  His great love for us requires Him to only give us His best.  The words we use or the format of the prayer are not the important things.  What is important is whether or not we have unconfessed sin in our lives.  Sin separates us from God and moves us from His umbrella of protection.  How much faith is required?  I believe that if we have enough faith to ask God for something, that is enough faith.  God has made precious promises to His children and He has never failed in doing exactly what He said He would do.  The fulfillment of those promises is based on His faithfulness, not ours.

32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?  — Romans 8:32 NIV

Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the [c]corruption that is in the world through lust. – 2 Peter 1:2-4 NKJV

“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” – Anonymous

“May He Grant Your Heart’s Desires…”

4 May he grant your heart’s desires  and make all your plans succeed. — Psalm 20:1 NLT

Psalm 20 NLT

When we  read verses like the one above  and others throughout the Bible, what thoughts go through our minds?  Does this mean that we can ask God for anything and expect to get it?  Is there any requirements for prayers to be of a certain form or prayed in a certain way?  Is God like a huge dispensing machine where we deposit a prayer and out comes everything we asked for?  Is/are there some particular thing(s) we must do before this is true?  Suppose a non-Christian reads the Bible, reads these verses and prays?  What answer could that person expect?  Is God obligated to answer every prayer?  if so, why? If not, why not?  There are two categories of people that pray; the unsaved and the saved.  I believe it could easily be proven that the only prayer from an unsaved person that God is obligated to answer is a prayer of repentance.  None of God’s promises besides salvation apply to the lost or unsaved.  Those of us who have prayed the “sinner’s” prayer and are now the redeemed are in a different place entirely.  Tomorrow a deeper look at some of these questions.

“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” – Anonymous 

“You Will Teach Me…”

11 You will teach me how to live a holy life.  Being with you will fill me with joy; at your right hand I will find pleasure forever.   — Psalm 16:11 NCV

Psalm 16:5 -11 NCV

Just as we would never leave physical babies alone to fend for themselves, neither should we leave Spiritual babies alone to fend off satan all by themselves. The great commission of Matthew 28 says to “go and make disciples”.  Making disciples or teaching a new baby in Christ to walk requires us to give up our most valuable non-renewable possession – time. We need to give of our time to teach new converts the value of daily prayer and meditating on the Scriptures.  We need to spend time with them teaching them that being saved does not mean that we will never be offended or that we will never fail.  We need to spend enough time with them to be sure that they understand that those offenses and failures does not mean that God does not love them.  God is, in fact, right there with them all of the time. He never sleeps nor slumbers and He never leaves us alone. Every time we fall, He is there to pick us up, clean us up, wrap His arms around us and love us until the pain goes away.  Most of all, we must teach them that their Helper lives right inside of them and is always there to teach, lead and guide  and help them to stand.

“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” – Anonymous

“And There Was Great Joy…”

31 And there was great joy throughout the church that day as they read this encouraging message. — Acts 15:31 NLT 

Acts 15:24-32 NLT

“There was great joy” when the people were told that they had done the one necessary thing they needed to do to be saved.  When we are first saved in today’s society, we need to be very careful who we listen to.  As Paul said, “if anyone, including an angel from heaven and/or me, comes to you and gives you some different message, that person should be cursed.”  Gal. 1:6 (my paraphrase}. The letter did go on to give the new converts some guidelines as to what they should or should not do. The letter did not claim that these guidelines had to be followed to complete their salvation.  It is still the same today, when we personally witness to someone who accepts Jesus as their Savior, we need to take a few minutes and give them some encouragement and guidelines as well.  We need to explain to them that satan will waste no time in trying to discourage them and make them doubt their salvation.  We need to encourage them to find a good Bible teaching church and a good mentor to help them along the way.  After the initial acceptance of Jesus as our Savior, we need someone to help us understand that the Holy Spirit will come alongside us and help us learn to “walk in paths of righteousness”.  

“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” – Anonymous

“Here’s My Instruction:”

16 Here’s my instruction: walk in the Spirit, and let the Spirit bring order to your life. If you do, you will never give in to your selfish and sinful cravings. –– Gal. 5:16 Voice 

Gal. 5:16-21 VOICE

Once a baby learns to stand alone, then it is time for the baby to practice toddling. You know those first shaky, unsure, unsteady steps.  The baby will start, maybe make a couple of steps and fall.  The baby needs someone there to catch him/her so he/she is not harmed.  It is a struggle and it takes a patient parent to watch as the baby falls over and over.  A good parent realizes that if the child never falls, he/she will never learn to walk by themselves.  It is the same in our spiritual walk.  First we crawl, then we learn to stand and then we start to take a few, unsure steps.  But never fear, just like an earthly parent is there to catch the toddler, God the Holy Spirit is there to catch us.  But just like the toddler, we will never develop strong spiritual legs if we are not allowed to try and fail.  Just as the toddler must be encouraged and learn to keep their eyes on the goal and not on their feet, we too must keep our eyes on the goal and not on our failures.  We need to be Jesus conscious and not sin conscious. The Holy Spirit will always be there to catch us, encourage us and cheer us on in the rough times.  Just as a child takes time to learn to react to his senses so that he/she can stay balanced, we must learn to listen to the Holy Spirit to keep our lives balanced. He will keep us on the path and away from those things that would do us irreparable harm.

“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” – Anonymous

“…Through Faith”

8 God knows people’s hearts, and he confirmed that he accepts Gentiles by giving them the Holy Spirit, just as he did to us. 9 He made no distinction between us and them, for he cleansed their hearts through faith.  — Acts 15:8-9 NLT

Acts 15:3-11 NLT

The  believers of the sect of the Pharisees wanted to require that all of the new believers who had not been circumcised must do so.  Peter stated that that was a requirement under the law and the law had been too heavy a burden for the Jews to bear.  So, he asked, knowing this, why would you lay this same unbearable burden on the new believers?   Throughout the history of the church, there have always been those who wanted to add requirements to God’s simple plan of salvation.  God says that “we are saved by grace through faith”  There is nothing else that is acceptable in His sight.  Nothing less and nothing more. That’s it.  When the thief on the cross asked Jesus to remember him, Jesus assured him that they would be together in paradise.  Nothing less, nothing more.  That is the key that unlocks the gates to heaven.  Once that step is taken, there are things that need to be done to enjoy the abundant life that Jesus said He brought to us. Those things do not add to the salvation plan, they just make for a more purposeful, abundant lifestyle here on earth and more rewards when you get to heaven.

“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” – Anonymous