Tomorrow is Father’s Day….A day to recognize and express our appreciation to our Dad’s but also, a time for us Dad’s to commit ourselves to being the Father’s and men God wants us to be.
A great example for us is Barnabas. In Acts 11:25, the Bible says of Barnabas, “Barnabas was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and strong in faith. And many people were brought to the Lord.”
Barnabas was a good man. At times, we may be talking with someone and a person’s name comes up. We may ask, “what do you know about him?” The other person may respond, “He’s a good man.”
What does it mean that a man is a “good man.” It means he’s honest, he’s trustworthy, doesn’t gossip… it may even mean he’s a Christian… “He’s a good man.”
Barnabas was “full of the Holy spirit…” This means Barnabas was living a spirit-filled life. This phrase may be more significant than the one that says he was a “good man.” Barnabas was a spirit-filled man.
A spirit-filled man is led by the Spirit of God. A spirit-filled God manifest the fruit of the spirit in his life.
But also, Barnabas was “strong in faith.” This meant Barnabas had a strong faith in God.
Men… if someone asked someone else about us… what would they say? Would they say, “He’s a good man… a spirit-filled man… a man who loves the Lord?” Hopefully they would.
If they couldn’t then we need to address that. We need to be men who have a strong walk with the Lord and live a spirit-filled life.
Are you harboring a grudge with someone?
Are you bitter with someone?
It happens. As we go through life, we will be disappointed and let down by people. And when it happens, we can hold onto that grudge.
But it’s not good spiritually or physically to harbor a grudge. Remember the Lord’s prayer? Jesus taught us to pray, “Forgive us trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.” So, we are taught to forgive.
Proverbs 17:9 says, “Love prospers when a fault is forgiven, but dwelling on it separates close friends.”
Notice the verse says… “Love prospers when a fault is forgiven.” Love PROSPERS. That means that love abounds when a fault is forgiven. But when we hang onto a fault, there is hatred.
Are you hanging onto a grudge? If so, I encourage you to turn it loose. You may say, “But you don’t know how much someone hurt me.”
I understand… but you still need to let it go. Let me ask you something; What good is it doing to hang onto the grudge? What are you expecting to happen? Are you expecting the person who hurt you to ask forgiveness? You can’t control that.
So, if you are hanging onto a grudge, you are sitting around every day mad at someone. That’s not a healthy way to live. Several years ago I read that a reason people won’t let go of a grudge… a reason people won’t forgive is that when they do, it’s as if they are “letting someone off the hook.” If that describes you, let me tell you a secret; the person you are harboring a grudge against may not realize there is a hook.
A couple of years ago, I went through an experience that left me bitter with someone. Holli and I were talking about it and I told her if this person would admit they hurt me… that they were wrong, I could move on. She replied, “Gregg, you are looking for something you aren’t going to get.”
She was right. And by God’s grace, I moved on.
Don’t hang onto grudges. It’s done. None of us have ever had anything done to us that is any greater than what we did to put Jesus on the cross.
Love PROSPERS when a fault is forgiven.
We live in a very diverse society.
White, Black, Hispanic, Asian, Republican, Democrat, etc…
And, if we aren’t careful, we can judge people based on their color, background, etc.
However, instead of judging, we should remember the words to the little children’s song;
“Red and Yellow, Black and White.
They are precious in His sight.
Jesus loves the little children of the world.”
God doesn’t see color or ethnic background. God just sees people… people with souls who need to know Christ.
In the early chapters of the book of Acts, the gospel was being presented to the Jews. But God didn’t intend for the Jews to be the only ones who heard the gospel. God intended for all people to hear the gospel.
In Acts 10, there is a story about how the gospel crossed a barrier to begin to reach the Gentiles. Simon Peter was on the rooftop of a house praying. While he was praying, he became hungry. Peter fell into a trance and had a dream. In his dream, a sheet was lowered from heaven that had all kinds of animals on it. Peter heard the Lord say, “Arise Peter, kill and eat.”
But Peter responded, “Surely not Lord, I have never eaten anything unclean!”
The sheet was lowered a second time and Peter heard the voice of God again and he responded the same way. This happened three times and the sheet was taken up into heaven. After this, Peter began to wander what it meant.
About that time, there was a knock on Peter’s door. It was men that had been sent by Cornelius of Caesarea. He had been told to send men for Peter. Cornelius was a Gentile and Peter was a Jew. He didn’t think the gospel was intended to reach the Gentiles but, he went with these men.
Peter gets to the home of Cornelius and the Bible says, the Holy Spirit came down in mighty form. Witnessing this, Peter knew that the gospel was for Gentiles as well as Jews. Peter said, “I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism” (Acts 10:34).
God does not show favoritism. God loves everyone.
Do you have a tendency to judge people or show favoritism? We are all human and it can happen but it shouldn’t continue. God showed Peter that the gospel was meant for everyone… regardless of background. The same is true today.
In the early days of the church, God gave the apostles the power to do miracles. In Acts 9, Peter was in the town of Lydda. There, he met a named Aeneas who had been paralyzed and bedridden for eight years Peter went to him and said, “Aeneas, Jesus Christ heals you! Get up and roll up your sleeping mat!” (Acts 9:32-35). And the Bible says that Aeneas was healed! Hearing this, the whole town of Joppa and Sharon saw Aeneas walking around they turned to the Lord.
What was the purpose of this miracle?
It was to verify the early church. The church was very young then. It was viewed like a cult would be viewed. So, to prove to skeptics that the church was legit, God used miracles to convince people that His church was real. This wasn’t a cult, it was real.
The same power that God used to heal Aeneas is available today. I don’t want challenge you are facing, but God can help. I’m not saying God will heal you… that’s God’s business, not mine. But, the power that was used to heal Aeneas is available to you.
It’s available to help you with your temper if needed.
It’s available to help you with your addiction if needed.
It’s available to help you with your job if needed.
It’s available to help us with whatever challenge we are facing.
God used signs and wonders in the first century to prove that the church was real. The same power that produced those signs and wonders is available to use today. Ask the Holy Spirit to empower you today.
Every Christian has a testimony. Our testimony is the story of how we were converted… how we became a Christian. Everyone’s conversion story is different. Some of them are pretty routine while others are dramatic. If your testimony is not dramatic, you can hear a dramatic testimony and you can begin to doubt if your testimony is legit because your testimony is not dramatic.
In Acts 9, we read one of the most dramatic testimonies ever. It was the testimony of Saul of Tarsus.
Saul had been persecuting Christians. He was going to Damascus to persecute Christians when suddenly, a great light burst out of the heavens. It was so bright, it knocked him off his mount. Lying on the ground, Saul heard the voice of the Lord who said, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?”
Saul replied, “Is it thou, Lord?”
God told Saul to go to Damascus where he remained for three days before God sent a man named Ananias to find Paul. When he did, he told Saul God’s mission for him was to be a missionary to the Gentiles.
Saul’s conversion was dramatic but every conversion story is different. It may be that you have questioned your salvation because your story isn’t dramatic. I understand. I’ve done the same. But every story is different.
I was raised in a Christian home. I didn’t drink or do drugs… I was living a pretty routine life. But I reached a point where I knew I needed to accept Christ and I did. It wasn’t a dramatic thing for me. Maybe your story is similar to mine.
Today, if there was a time when you received Christ, rejoice in that. Thank the Lord for His sacrificial gift on the cross of Calvary! Your story doesn’t have to be dramatic to prove you are saved.
How often does God forgive us? How many times can we go to God asking for forgiveness? Is there a limit on the number of times God forgives us?
I certainly hope not because if there was, I’d be doomed. What about you?
Psalm 130:3-4 says, “Lord, if you kept a record of our sins, who, O Lord, could ever survive? But you offer forgiveness, that we might learn to fear you.”
“Lord… if you kept a record of sins…” I am SOOOO thankful God doesn’t keep a record of my sins. If He did, I would have no hope.
We are all human and frail. We sin. We slip. We can have the best of intentions and yet, we still sin.
But thanks be to God, God doesn’t keep a record of our sins. If we repent of our sins, God forgives us.
Paul said “Love does not keep a record of wrongs” (I Cor. 13:5).
God doesn’t keep a record of our wrongs either which is why we should worship and serve God.
One of the leaders of the Christian church was Saul of Tarsus whose name was changed to “Paul.” The book of Acts tells us that Paul went on three missionary journeys preaching the gospel of Jesus. He wrote thirteen books in the New Testament. The doctrine of the Christian church was pretty much shaped by the apostle Paul.
But, like Moses, and David and Matthew and Peter, Paul had some major baggage yet, God used him. In Acts 7, Stephen is persecuted and dies for preaching the gospel. At the end of that chapter, we find this verse that reads, “…His accusers took off their coats and laid them at the feet of a young man named Saul.”
Then, the first verse of the eighth chapter reads, “Saul was one of the witnesses, and he agreed completely with the killing of Stephen.”
Then, Acts 8:3 reads, “But Saul was going everywhere to destroy the church. He went from house to house, dragging out both men and women to throw them into prison.
So, Saul was in agreement with killing Stephen and, was persecuting Christians. But in Acts 9, the Bible records Saul’s conversion. Saul was going to Damascus to persecute Christians when suddenly, a great light appeared in the sky and it was so bright, it knocked Saul off his mount. Lying on the ground, Saul heard the Lord say, “Saul, Saul, why are thou persecuting me?”
Saul replied, “Is it thou Lord?”
At that moment, Saul of Tarsus was converted. His life changed from persecuting Christians to being called by God to preach the gospel.
Maybe you think you have too much baggage in your past for God to use you. Maybe you think there is no way God could possibly use you. Friend, your past doesn’t matter. What matters is your willingness to serve.
Today, if God is speaking to your heart about serving, don’t resist because you think you have messed up too badly. God used Paul and God can use you. Also, don’t refuse to let someone else serve who may have some baggage. We are all sinners saved by grace. Jesus forgives us and will use us.