Music and Memories

Music helps us connect life experiences with past memories. We need older songs to help us remember God’s Word and His faithfulness. At the same time, we also need new songs to make new connections. Words may challenge the mind, but music speaks to the heart.

This morning while reading through Psalm 9, I was reminded of a Keith Green song from years ago that helped me connect God’s Word during some difficult circumstances.

“I will give thanks to the LORD with all my heart; I will tell of all Your wonders, I will be glad and exult in Thee.” 

I remember the verse because of a simple musical tune. I’m reminded of times as a much younger man when I was faced with decisions to either give in to doubt and become bitter OR trust the LORD and give thanks.
Now years later, I can rejoice in the God who delivered me and continues to lead me. The Keith Green song is definitely dated and probably wouldn’t mean much to my kids or a younger generation. They need new songs to remind them of God’s Word and His faithfulness.

And the reality is that I need new songs, too, to be reminded that God is still working in the world. He’s still making things new. And He’s still working in me.

Follow me… as I follow Jesus Christ.

Racial Reconciliation

Achieving racial reconciliation is challenging and seemingly impossible — both in our country and within the church. The stipulations imposed on us because of our differences should not determine how we relate to one another, but sadly, it seems they do.

The most recent deaths of Alton Sterling (Baton Rouge, LA) and Philander Castile (St. Anthony, MN) by police and the deaths of 5 police officers (Dallas, TX) by Micah Johnson have once again ignited lingering embers of hatred and fear within our nation. We hear cries of “Black Lives Matter,” “Blue Lives Matter”, “All Lives Matter,” and more — each with their own allegations, critics, and followers.

Reconciliation 6When it comes to racism in America, it seems like our country hasn’t learned from the past or grown up from its failures of slavery, the Civil War, Jim Crow laws, segregation, and social bias. We can point fingers, blame politicians, scoff at social activists, and become hardened to the problems. We can remain ignorant to it or try to ignore it. But the problems of racism and the realities of its hatred are only increasing. Today, racism in America is no longer just a black and white issue.

Racism comes in all shapes, sizes, and colors. Racism isn’t just a southern problem, an urban problem, a Middle-East problem, or a American problem. Racism is a human problem. And it has always been a sin problem. It can be found in every culture but, it is most visible when cultures clash and inequities are felt.

At its core, racism begins with selfish pride and can be flamed into selfish hate when influenced over time with experience. Its siblings, classism and elitism, come from the same selfish, sinful, Satantic origins.  Racism won’t be eliminated from the world until sin is cleansed from our hearts and removed from the world in God’s time.

Human history, especially American history, demonstrates that diversity can too often complicate life and contradict holiness, but in Christ, a place where by grace we belong, we find unity. Lord help us, “above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins” (1 Peter 4:8).

Reconciliation 4With this prayer, may we who belong to God’s family by faith in Christ alone always celebrate and prioritize our Christian family identity in Christ above ALL else (including our view of police or our stance on politics) and find our unity in Christ as the truest definition of our lives regardless of our skin color, cultural differences, socio-economic backgrounds, family status, or political leanings.

We need to live the way Christ wants us to live— united in Him. Diversity within the body of Christ has been the DNA of Christianity from the first century, and especially of the church—and the Lord delights in it!

Our reconciliation with others will never happen by pursing unity – it will only come from pursuing Christ who reconciled us to God.

Consider the following Scriptures:

For if, while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, then how much more, having been reconciled, will we be saved by His life! And not only that, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ. We have now received this reconciliation through Him. (Romans 5:10-11)

In Christ, God was reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed the message of reconciliation to us. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, certain that God is appealing through us. We plead on Christ’s behalf, “Be reconciled to God.” (2 Corinthians 5:19–20)

Only when we are reconciled with God through faith in Christ as our death substitute can we have hope of reconciling with others through life’s sojourn.
Reconciliation 1Since the shooting of Michael Brown on August 9, 2014, in Ferguson, Missouri, our country has become a tinder box of racial tension, division, and fear. Over the last week of the latest racial conflicts in our country and here in our community, we’ve heard some rhetoric that seems way over the top. We’ve experienced the anger and fears between the black community and law enforcement. We’ve been horrified by the vengeance of misguided individuals. But, should the overreaction of some cause us to overreact or worse, not react at all?

What can I do?  What can you do? WHAT CAN WE DO?

Intercede through prayer. Ask God to soften our hardened hearts, reveal our racial blind spots, and heal the deep festering wounds. The Lord God is the only one who can do so (Psalm 139:23–24). We know that reconciliation is God’s will according to His Word (Romans 12, Ephesians 2, and 2 Corinthians 5), so let’s pray without ceasing that we will be His ambassadors of peace and ministers of reconciliation. Let’s pray for those who are grieving deeply today over the loss of lives and weep with them. Let’s pray that we will respond to God as we reach out in grace to others – even those who are different and see the world differently than we do. Let’s pray for our brothers and sisters who are living in fear because of the color of their skin. Let’s pray for our police officers and other first responders who are serving faithfully during days of intense scrutiny and pressure. Let’s pray for the Lord to give wisdom to our governing authorities as they lead our country, “so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity” (1 Timothy 2:2).

Instruct your own heart and mind through clear teaching of God’s Word under the direction of the Holy Spirit. We must recognize that the misinterpretation of the Bible has been utilized as a tool of prejudice and the misuse of Scripture as weapon of racism throughout American history, so we must approach Him in humility to learn from the Lord rather than reinforce our anger, justify our distrust, or rationalize our sinfulness. Let’s read more of the Bible to feed our souls with God’s heavenly perspective (could I suggest Ephesians?) than refreshing your newsfeed on social media which is filled with the vitriolic bias of humanity’s limited viewpoints.

Interact with others who are different. Let’s build intentional relationships (friendships), with neighbors, coworkers, classmates, and, especially, fellow members of God’s family who are different ethnically or racially. Let’s be those who are quick to listen to others who view the world differently because of their culture or their experiences, slow to speak our mind and share our opinions, and slow to become angry with those who are different than us. This starts with believing the best rather than assuming the worst of others who like us, bear God’s image. Verbally acknowledge the hurts and fears of others and seek reconciliation in Christ.

Reconciliation 5I confess, the outlook of this ongoing racial conflict which has been embedded in our nation since its beginnings and within our sinful hearts since the Garden (Genesis 3) looks hopeless. But, with God, nothing is impossible (Genesis 18:14; Matthew 19:26; Mark 10:27; Luke 1:37, 18:27).

Please, Lord Jesus, hear our prayers, transform our hearts, and reconcile our relationships.

Follow me… as I follow Jesus Christ.

Who are you following?

Social Media

Who are you following? Not just on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, or Instagram.

Who is influencing your life? Is it your favorite writer or author? Is it a particular blogger that puts words to your thoughts? Is it a specific actor or a favorite show? Is it a musician or band that is always playing in the background? Is it an artist that paints your world? What about a teacher or professor that challenges your thinking? Is it a politician that voices addresses your issues? Is it an athlete that is a role model for you?

Who is influencing your values? Who is shaping your beliefs? Who is impacting your behavior? Whose life is your life imitating? And most of all, who is reaching your heart?

“Guard your heart above all else, for it is the source of life.” (Proverbs 4:23)

ShipwreckIn our media saturated society, we can’t avoid or escape the Sirens’ Song that lures the unsuspecting to shipwreck their lives on the rocky shores of self-achievement, self-satisfaction, self-sufficiency, and self-indulgement. All around us are “godless enemies” (Philippians 3:18-19) who feed their appetites, find satisfaction what should cause embarrassment, and fall with gravity’s destructive force to the physical, material, and sensual things of this world.

With so many influences that threaten to bring our lives crashing down, we need to follow the godly examples available to us that encourage us to set our hearts on Jesus and things above (Philippians 3:8-10Philippians 3:20, Colossians 3:1-2). In his letter to his friends in the prestigious Roman colony of Philippi, Paul wrote,

“Join in imitating me…” Philippians 3:17

Paul could encourage others to follow his example because he was passionately following Jesus Christ himself. Paul had one clearly defined goal in life on this Earth: to get to know His Savior more and more until he saw Him face-to-face. Knowing Jesus was the greatest, most important thing to Paul. That’s why he could say the same thing to the Corinthians,

“Imitate me, as I also imitate Christ.” (1 Corinthians 11:1)

Paul’s own example encourages us to make knowing Jesus Christ the focus of our lives. But his example of following Jesus was not the only one available. He went on to say,

“Observe those who live according to the example you have in us.” Philippians 3:17

Who are the godly examples that God has placed in your life that you should follow? Teachers in your school? Parents in your home? Leaders in your church? A mentor or a friend?

Over the course of my life, God has brought so many godly men and women into my life who have dramatically influenced my relationship with Jesus: Jack Reeves has modeled Christ-like love and compassion to me since I was in high school — when I needed it the most. Ken Carozza, Rick Smith, Allen Frans, Mike Cahill, and Russell Allen when I was in college. Walt Baker greatly impacted my life on a mission trip to Haiti and first encouraged me to consider ministry as a pastor. There are so many professors from Dallas Theological Seminary who have my influenced walk with Christ in the classroom, on the racquetball court, around the table, and especially, in the local church: Doug Cecil, Bob Chisholm, Tom and Mary Constable, Charlie Dyer, John and Karen Grassmick, Hall Harris, Bob and Pearl Lightner, Mike and Penny Pocock, and many more. The influence of pastors Don Geiger, Steve Faubion, Roger Raymer, and Neil Ashcraft will forever impact how I serve Christ as a pastor. Faithful friends, like Jonathan Baker, Tony and Lisa Evans, Derek and Tammy Hughes, David and Carol Morgan, and Stan Willis (and his wife/my sister, Lori) have walked beside DeeDee and me and carried us through some of life’s dark days. Likewise, there are faithful people who are a few years older and much wiser, like Dan and Jodi McEvilly, Doug and Linda Salser, Philip and Heidi Graham, Gary and Dionne Coppinger, and Rich and Julie Thomas, who have pointed me to Jesus continuously and always encourage me to trust in Him. The godly examples of faithful servant leaders and friends at PlanoBibleChapel are, also, lives well-worth imitating. Of course, DeeDee, our kids, our parents, and our siblings (Lori and Debbie) are the ones who know me best and see me, most often, at my worst, serve as the greatest examples of Christ-like humility and love because I see them up close, too.

The examples of these great people, and so many more, as well as their passion to follow Jesus continue to impact me today. In fact, if you’re still reading this reflective rambling, you are probably on my heart and mind, too, because you’ve encouraged me to follow Jesus and live for Him.

ClimbingThis week, let me challenge you to take three practical steps of following the examples of godly influences in your life.

1.  Meet with at least one person who has been a Christ-like example to you. Meet them for coffee or lunch. Share with them how God has used them in your life to encourage you in your desire to follow Jesus. Be specific in how their life has been a model for knowing Jesus more and more.

2. Write a note to at least one other person who has influenced your life with Christ, but lives out of town or is, otherwise, unavailable to meet face to face.

3. List at least two ways that you will imitate the Christ-like lives of those people and then live like them, like Jesus, this week.

We all need living examples of following Jesus and, more importantly, we need to imitate their lives to find joy and fulfillment.

“I consider everything to be a loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.” (Philippians 3:8)

Follow me, too… as I follow Jesus Christ.

Kingdom of Priests

telescopeSo often, especially in the US, our identity seems to get wrapped up in our possessions (homes, cars, finances, etc..) and our value is usually related to what we do (teacher, engineer, manager, etc..). But God has called us to find our worth and our purpose in our relationship with Him. He has set us apart as believers in His Son, Jesus, to magnify Him like a telescope (bring God closer) or a microscope (make Him larger) for others to see and trust Him.

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for His possession, so that you may proclaim the praises of the One who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light. (1 Peter 2:9)

All the figures that Peter chose to describe the church originally referred to Israel. In contrast with the highly regulated, highly structured responsibilities and duties of the priests of the Israelites, however, the believer in the Lord Jesus Christ today has a direct access to God through the Savior. We are all priests; we can come near the presence of the Lord without an intermediary. Yet our privilege as believer-priests can only really be appreciated against the background of priests under the Old Covenant. When God gave the Law to Moses on Mount Sinai, He said that Israel would be a kingdom of priests (see Exodus 19:5-6) who would stand between God and the rest of humanity representing people before God. Within the tribes of Israel, though, God set apart Aaron and his descendants to serve Him as priests to Israel.

“The Lord told Aaron, “You will not have an inheritance in their land; there will be no portion among them for you. I am your portion and your inheritance among the Israelites.'” (Numbers 18:20)

microscopeReading this passage (Numbers 17-18) in my personal Bible reading this morning, I was reminded that God gave all the other tribes of Israel physical land as an inheritance to possess, rule, and manage, but to the tribe of Levi, God promised to provide for their physical needs through the offerings of His people. Most importantly, God said their personal identity and their real worth was to be found in Him: “I am your portion and your inheritance.” Likewise, as believer-priests today, our identity and our worth is not determined by what we possess or even by how we perform, but by our life is hidden in Jesus Christ. In order to discover our true identity, our real value, we have to look for it, but it’s there, revealed in Christ.

“Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.” (1 Peter 2:10)

In Colossians 3:3, Paul, likewise, says, “For you have died,  and your life is hidden with the Messiah in God.” In fact, Jesus is your life (Colossians 3:4). God has provided all we need for acceptance with Him and godly living in Jesus.

“To Him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood and made us a kingdom, priests to His God and Father, to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. “(Revelation 1:5-6)

What is Advent?

Advent_WreathWhat is this thing called Advent?

In 4th and 5th century Gaul and Spain, Advent was a preparation not for Christmas but for Epiphany. That’s the early-January celebration of such diverse events in Jesus’ life as his Baptism, the miracle at Cana, and the visit of the Magi. In those days,  believers spent Advent’s 40 days examining their hearts in worship.

It was not until the 6th century that Christians in Rome began linking this season explicitly to the coming of Christ. But at that time, and for centuries after, the “coming” that was celebrated was not the birth of Jesus, but anticipation of His Second Coming. It was not until the Middle Ages that the church began using the Advent season to prepare to celebrate Christ’s birth. And even then, this newer sense of the Lord’s advent or coming did not replace the older sense—the Second Coming.  The muted, somber anticipation of waiting remained alongside the joyous celebration of Jesus’ birthday.

So, modern liturgy divides Advent into a period, through December 16th, during which the focus is Christ’s Second Coming, and a period, from December 17th to the 24th, focusing on His birth. We light candles in anticipation of His Second Coming and in celebration of His incarnation. It starts with the Old Testament passages foretelling the birth of a Messiah and New Testament passages trumpeting John the Baptist’s exhortations and the angels’ announcements.

Christ came with great anticipation and with plenty of prior notice! See Simeon in Luke 2:25-35. Prophets and angels joined to proclaim his coming! And now we can join too, with the cloud of witnesses in the same proclamation!

Waiting in the LordAnd in the protected, quiet times of meditation, I can respond as I imagine believers have done on every Advent since the tradition began: I can bow my head and prepare for the return of the One who is always present, but who seems distant in my mind during the busyness of the season. I can mourn for my hardness of my heart. I can hope in His grace. And I can rejoice that in answer to the cry, “O come, O come, Emmanuel,” He came.

During Christmas, we’re rushing around, busy with parties and programs and presents and plans. It seems like there’s hardly time to wait. But celebrating the waiting and longing for “the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ? (Titus 2:11-14) is precisely what Advent is all about.

Discouragement

Have you ever been discouraged? The days are lonely and the nights are long.

Discouragement typically comes to us because we’ve looked outward and found that our expectations of life or expectations of others have not been met. Problems, especially relational problems, tend to isolate us and discourage us. So after looking outward and becoming discouraged, we then look inward only to discover that we really can’t help ourselves either. The only solution for days of discouragement is to look upward to God. And that’s exactly what David did in Psalm 142.

The superscription of Psalm 142 identifies the time when David wrote this psalm. He did so when he was “in the cave,” evidently while Saul was pursuing him. He was not necessarily alone; 1 Sam 22:1 tells us that David “took refuge in the cave of Adullam. When David’s brothers and his father’s whole family heard, they went down and joined him there. In addition, every man who was desperate, in debt, or discontented rallied around him, and he became their leader. About 400 men were with him.”

CROWDSA cave (or a home, a cafeteria, an office,  or a church) filled with the echoes of demanding voices can be lonely. Have you ever felt alone in a crowd? It may seem a contradiction in terms, but the greater the number of people present, the more intense the feeling of loneliness can be. Psalm 142 suggests to us that even though David saw his family & friends around him, he felt alone. For David, his sense of isolation was like a knife in his heart. No one understood the depth of his emotions. No one seemed to care what he felt or how he suffered. He was discouraged.

The psalmist spoke as one who had no other hope of deliverance but the LORD God. He looked upward. He calls this prayer Maschil—a psalm of instruction, because of the good lessons he had learned in the cave, learned on his knees, which he desired to teach others. One of the reasons we wear out the pages of the psalms is that it helps us simply to know that somebody has gone before us—even thousands of years before us. We find comfort in recognizing the emotions we’re feeling here and now displayed in a man who lived so long ago. David gives us a biblical perspective for when we experience days of discouragement, too.

There are days we feel down (vs. 3) David said, “my spirit is weak within me” The Hebrew words literally mean “the muffling of my spirit.” What vivid terminology—have you ever felt a muffled spirit? David has come to a place where he has begun to distrust his powers of judgment. He is no longer certain where to turn or what course to take. Life has become a great flood rushing in upon him, and he struggles to stand firm against the current. David closes his eyes with a sinking heart. He puts his head farther down in his hands and whispers, “O Lord God, what now? What would You have me do?”

discouragedThere are days we feel deserted (vs. 4) David shared, “no one stands up for me; there is no refuge for me; no one cares about me.” This may be one of the saddest verses in the Bible. Everyone around him seems indifferent to his desperate need. No one seems to care for his life. It is really a haunting cry, “No one cares for my soul.” Have you had days like that? I know I have.

There are days we feel depressed (vs. 6) “Listen to my cry for I am very weak,” said the psalmist. Isn’t that what the condition of depression is all about? David, a man deeply loved by God, a man of profound spiritual experience and wisdom, grappled with depression throughout his life. The word that David uses for weakness is the word for indentation. He applies that condition to his soul. David is saying, “I’m suffering from an indentation in my soul. I am depressed.” All of his hope and joy were gone; his thoughts had turned inward. At one time, the problem had been a simple one—King Saul was hunting him down to kill him. But now David’s plight was something more abstract, something considerably more complex, something whose source was David’s own heart. He had allowed his circumstances to drive him inward. He had come to fall back on his own resources, and those resources were now spent; the well had run dry. There was nowhere else for David to turn. He no longer sensed the presence of God in his life. He was down, deserted, depressed and defeated.

There are days we feel defeated (vs. 6) “Rescue me from those who pursue me, for they are too strong for me.” There can be no doubt that discouragement defeated David. There had been a time when he had sent a stone into a giant’s head; now he was defeated in his own mind. When we put our hopes, dreams, and expectations in people, we will eventually be discouraged. So how do we overcome days of discouragement?

David gives us practical instruction. He teaches us how to depend upon God. There is no cave so dark or a hole so dark that God cannot hear us when we cry out to Him in total dependence.

Depending on God's WordWhen we depend completely upon God rather than people, we will find fellowship with His people and experience communion with Him.

We can reveal our problems to God (vv. 1-2) The repeated words and ideas throughout highlight the David’s anguish. He sees God as his only hope. “I cry aloud… I plead aloud… I pour out my complaint… I reveal my trouble.” It’s as though he was telling us how he had prayed on this occasion. He poured out what distressed him to God as one pours water out of a pot, namely fully. David reveals His problems before the Lord—not that he is angry or resentful but simply that he wants to tell the Lord all about his trouble and grief. It is comforting for him to know that when his strength is all but gone, the LORD knows what he is going through.

We can recognize our presence before God (vs. 3) David recognized that “although my spirit is weak within me, You know my way.” David says, whatever I’m going through, whatever I’m experiencing, God knows how I’m feeling, He knows the danger I’m in.”

We can realize our provision in God (vs. 5) “I cry out to You, O Lord; I say, ‘You are my shelter, my security in the land of the living.’”  See His Eye is on the Sparrow.

As we depend totally upon God, only then, we can rejoice with the people of God (vs. 7) Free from the prison of discouragement, David said, “the righteous will gather around me because of Your goodness to me.” It seems that much of our discouragement in our families, which extends to the family of God, is rooted, founded, and based upon the expectations we have of people. We are disappointed and critical of our fathers and mothers, sisters and brothers, because they are not giving us what we want or what we think we need. We look outward and we’re discouraged. We look inward and are depressed. But encouragement in life and in relationships isn’t grounded in what happens or what others can give us. Rather, it is grounded in what we have freely received by grace from God through Christ – encouragement flows from God when we look upward to Him and His goodness to us through Christ.

When we depend completely upon God rather than people, then we find fellowship with His people and experience communion with Him.

We can live sacrificially for each other, because we are bound together in Christ, who meets our every need. I don’t need you to fill my cup, because Christ already has and only He will. You don’t need me to fill your cup, because Christ already has. I can serve you sacrificially and you can serve me sacrificially, because we come to one another in Christ who is our all in all. “If there is any encouragement… make your attitude that of Christ Jesus…” (see Philippians 2:1-11).

looking-upwardIt’s not just the world that needs a Savior —  I need One. You need One. And at just the right time, God sent His Son, Jesus (Galatians 4:4-5). During days of discouragement, we look upward to Him and discover His abundant goodness.

Follow me…. as I follow Jesus Christ.

Can I Get a Witness?

witnessWhatever else we are as followers of Jesus (leaders, teachers, students, pastors, theologians, servants, philosophers, etc.), we are primarily witnesses of who He is and what He’s done. Whatever we might become and whatever we might do, everything is subordinate to our life purpose of personally telling others about Jesus. After His resurrection and immediately prior to His ascension to heaven, Jesus told His disciples,

“You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come on you, and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”  (Acts 1:8)

The word “witness” is used twenty-nine times as either a verb or a noun throughout the book of Acts. A witness is somebody who tells what he or she has seen and heard. When you are on the witness stand in court, the judge is not interested in your ideas or opinions; he only wants to hear about what you have actually heard, what you have actually seen, and what you specifically know. witness_standOur English word martyr comes from the Greek word (μάρτυρες) translated “witness” in Acts 1:8. Martyrs provide legal testimony, and establish facts to convince a judge and/or jury of an individual’s vindication or condemnation. Church tradition tells us that all but one of the eleven apostles who heard this promise were witnesses in life and martyrs in death (John died in exile). While many of God’s people have sealed their witness by laying down their lives, more have been rejected and ridiculed by others. For the last 2,000 years, God has empowered His disciples to be faithful witnesses even when they faced the most intense opposition. That same power for witnessing is available to us today through God’s Holy Spirit. Our task is not to convince people, but to testify of the truth of the gospel. As a witness of Jesus, we call attention to what we know of Him through His Word and through our relationship with Him and share His message with others. As a witness, we proclaim the reality of His death and resurrection. When Jesus says, “you will be My witnesses” He uses a future indicative verb (as in “you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come”); it’s a statement of fact, more than a specific command. A witness is what we are as a follower of Jesus Christ rather than a command of something we are to do. The the question, then, is not whether we will be a witness, but rather, what kind of witness will we be? witness_characterIn a courtroom, if an witness has an eyewitness testimony that cannot be disputed, then the only recourse of a prosecuting or defending attorney is to attempt to discredit the character of the witness. It’s the same with us as witnesses for Jesus Christ. Regardless of the truth of His life, death, and resurrection, if our behavior and character is not consistent with our belief and confession, then our testimony will be damaged. However, if our life lived in the Spirit of God is characterized by faith in Jesus and brings glory to Him with life of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control (Galatians 5:22-23), then our witness can be powerfully effective. We see this consistent life of testimony lived out in Jesus’ followers in Acts 4. Peter and John were proclaiming that Jesus had been resurrected from the dead, so the religious and political leaders seized them and put them in jail. The next day, Peter and John were put on trial and stood before the rulers, elders, scribes and the High Priest of Israel as witnesses to the power of God’s Holy Spirit and the resurrection of Jesus.

“When they observed the boldness of Peter and John and realized that they were uneducated and untrained men, they were amazed and recognized that they had been with Jesus.” Acts 4:13

The Sanhedrin observed in Peter and John what they had seen in Jesus; specifically, courage to speak boldly and authoritatively without formal training (cf. Matt. 7:28–29; Mark 1:22; Luke 20:19–26; John 7:15). They may also have remembered seeing them with Jesus (John 18:15–16). These powerful, educated rulers may have looked on these former fishermen with contempt, but they could not question what they had seen in the lives and character of these men. Based on the witness of their lives, the rulers couldn’t come up with a charge that would stick, that would keep them in jail. It’s amazing how ordinary people are able to do extraordinary things with the Spirit of God at work in their lives.

“Peter and John answered them, ‘Whether it’s right in the sight of God for us to listen to you rather than to God, you decide; for we are unable to stop speaking about what we have seen and heard.‘” (Acts 4:19–20)

witness_2As witnesses by the power of His Spirit, Peter and John simply couldn’t keep quiet about Jesus. In the same way, all of us can be effective witnesses in our neighborhoods, in our schools, in our workplaces, in our communities, around our state, throughout the country, and around the world.

Can I get a witness? As believers in Jesus Christ, we are all witnesses. What kind of witness will we be?  Are we a credible witness or a contemptible one? Are we quietly living for Jesus or actively telling others about Him? When people observe your life and mine will they recognize us as followers of Jesus?

Follow me… as I follow Jesus Christ.