• Famine Forecast Nothing is beyond the control of God. For those who will accept this as more than a trite cliche, there is peace and even freedom. Our circumstances are the not ebb and flow of a random universe, but the divinely directed course of the Almighty. Not only does He allow, but He orchestrates our situations for His glory and our good. This confidence liberates the Christian to accept his lot with full assurance that it will produce precisely what the Lord intended if he will trust and persevere. “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” (Rom 8:28) The first century Church was about to have their faith tested by difficult circumstances in the form of famine. Some prophets from Jerusalem had come to Antioch, bringing with them the message that widescale famine was approaching. The Scriptures are not so explicit, but it seems reasonable that it was this news that prompted them to come, warning their Antioch brethren. Luke writes in retrospect, informing us that the famine occurred during Claudius’ reign. Tiberius Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus, was emperor from 41AD until his death in 54. (His adopted son Nero succeeded him on the throne.) Historians: Tacitus, Josephus, and Suetonius all make mention of this famine and place it in approximately 46AD.

• Faith Building The famine certainly didn’t take the Lord by surprise. Rather it provided the Giver of daily bread with an opportunity to teach His people. “Now He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness;” (II Cor 9:10) Paul was referring to another gift sent to Jerusalem when he wrote this letter to the Corinthians, but the principles are non-specific. God is the one who provides both seed and bread, but is interested in a greater harvest – one of righteousness. Would God allow – even direct a famine? Consider what was gained by the Church as a result. The Lord could have provided manna just as easily, but instead used the Church as the mechanism of His provision. “And in the proportion that any of the disciples had means, each of them determined to send a contribution for the relief of the brethren living in Judea.” (Ac 11:29) Jerusalem was forced to recognize their gratitude to Antioch. Antioch in turn (though experiencing famine as well) was able to share and receive their reward just as the Philippians would later when sharing with Paul. “Not that I seek the gift itself, but I seek for the profit which increases to your account.” (Php 4:17) And both congregations were reminded to seek first His kingdom and rely on God to feed and clothe them. (Mt 6:31-33) They would soon need that faith for what they did not know was coming – Nero, and Roman persecution. Through the famine, God was preparing the Church just as He had the apostles, by forcing them to trust Him for their most-basic needs. Having come through that test, they would be ready to trust Him more. Such lessons of faith cannot be learned any other way. God will not leave the Church unprepared for the tasks and challenges that await her. A present-day famine of sorts looms larger each day on the horizon, and the faithful will be stronger because of it. Come Lord Jesus.

Next Week: Peter and James
Mark Miller

• Commission in Action Early Christians took the commission of Christ seriously, and in the peace that followed Saul’s departure for Tarsus, the Church continued to grow for that reason. The command to Go, Make disciples, Immerse them, and continue to teach them, (Mt 28:19-20) remains our directive, and is the only evangelism program endorsed by Jesus. Peter was doing exactly that. “Now as Peter was traveling through all those regions, he came down also to the saints who lived at Lydda.” (Ac 9:32) Saints were already present at Lydda, and the first of the apostles would continue to teach them there. When he arrived, he was met by a man named Aeneas (a paralytic) and Peter healed him. He rose as did the interest of the locals in Jesus Christ who was credited with having restored the bed-ridden man. As a result, “And all who lived at Lydda and Sharon saw him, and they turned to the Lord.” (Ac 9:35)

• One Good Turn The Scriptures describe the reaction of those who believed in Jesus through Peter at Lydda. It says they “turned to the Lord.” Like many terms throughout the Bible, this one also can be defined by God’s characteristic usage. Earlier in Acts, we learn that turning results in the wiping away of sins (Ac 3:19). Later to the Corinthians Paul adds, “but whenever a person turns to the Lord, the veil [of the Law] is taken away.” (II Cor 3:16) Turning therefore, from a Biblical perspective, is synonymous with conversion, and thus baptism. Peter had come to the saints in Lydda, yet his efforts among the found yielded opportunity to work among the lost.

• For Whose Sake? Separated from Lydda by only a dozen or so miles is Joppa on the sea coast. The news of healing at the former quickly traveled to the latter, and so when a Christian woman named Tabitha fell ill and died they sent the day’s journey to fetch Peter and bring him back to Joppa. When Peter arrived, there were already mourners for Dorcas (as she was also known) gathered at the house. The body had been placed in an upper room, and there the widows whom she had helped stood in their grief, with the garments she had made for them. “But Peter sent them all out and knelt down and prayed, and turning to the body, he said, “Tabitha, arise.” And she opened her eyes, and when she saw Peter, she sat up.” (Ac 9:40) This sign of a true apostle was not lost on the people of Joppa, and many believed in the Lord. Peter therefore stayed for some time in the city, presumably teaching those who had believed and reasoning with those who hadn’t. What a marvel it must have been to witness the healing of Aeneas, or the raising of Tabitha, but the miracle was not for their sakes. Certainly, Tabitha’s lot was not improved by her premature resurrection. Rather, those wonders were given to persuade the people around them in order that they too might believe and turn to the Lord.

Next Week: Devout Cornelius
Mark Miller

2 Thessalonians 3:13-17

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Nehemiah Part 2

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Nehemiah Part 1

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Drawing Near To God
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Those Who Work Diligently Among You

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1 Thessalonians 5:4-8
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How God Sees Those Who Are Lost

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1 Thessalonians 2:13

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A Word To Fathers

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Mar 13 2011

1 Jude 1:1-4

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1 Jude 1:1-4

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Mar 06 2011

1 John 3:1-4

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1 John 3:1-4

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If you are wondering what live stream is about. I’m working on a live video stream that will allow anyone that has an Internet connection to see the sermons live! But right now it is unavailable. I will let keep you updated as soon as anything changes. Thanks!

Feb 20 2011

1 John 1:1-5

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1 John 1:1-5

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