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Rev. William Ilnisky

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Today's Bible Passage

 

JAMES 1:16-18

Meditation

Once again James stresses the great truth that every gift that God sends is good. Verse 17 could be translated, “All giving is good.” That is to say, there is nothing that comes from God that is not good. There is a strange phenomenon here in Greek. The phrase that has been translated, “Every good and perfect gift,” is, in fact, a line of poetry. James may have had a rhythmic ear.
 
What he is stressing is the unchangeableness of God. God is the creator of the lights of heaven—sun, moon, and stars. The Jewish morning prayer says, “Blessed be the Lord God who hath formed the lights.” The lights change but He who created them never changes.
 
God’s greatest gift to us is regeneration. By the exercise of His own will He brought us forth into newness of life. God’s purpose was to present believers as a kind of first fruits. James and the other Christians of his generation were a foretaste of a great host of believers to come. The phrase of His creatures may indicate that believers are the first stage of the ultimate redemption of all creation, which is now under the divine plan since the fall.
 
James insists that, so far from ever tempting man, God’s gifts are invariably good. In all the chances and changes of a changing world, they never vary or change.  God’s supreme object is to re-create life through the truth of the gospel so that people should know that they belong to Him.
 

Life Application

Keep in mind that God does not change but He expects all of His creation of humans to change from being a sinner to accepting the new life He gives. God’s new life never comes to an end.

Praise and Prayer

“Dear God, I want to belong to You for time and eternity. I don’t want to be deceived by the tricks of the devil. Heaven in my desire. Amen!”

 

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Today's Bible Passage

 Meditation

Paul has embarked upon his last journey. Two things must have lifted his heart. One was the kindness of a stranger, for all through the voyage Julius, the Roman centurion, treated Paul with kindness and consideration that were more than mere courtesy. He is said to have belonged to the Augustan Cohort. That may have been a special corps acting as liaison officers between the Emperor and the provinces. Julius must have been a man of long experience and with an excellent military record. It may well be that when Paul and Julius stood face-to-face, one brave man recognized another. The other uplifting thing was the devotion of Aristarchus. It has been suggested that there was only one way in which Aristarchus could have accompanied Paul on his last journey and that was by enrolling himself as Paul’s slave. 
 
It is considered probable that Aristarchus chose to act as the slave of Paul rather than be separated from him—and loyalty can go no further than that.
 

Life Application

Are you willing to be like Aristarchus in someone’s life? Only you can decide that. Look around you and you will find more than one, no doubt.
 

Praise and Prayer

“Dear God, how thankful I am that I know You will go with me where ever I may have to go. Make me a personal friend like Aristarchus to others. Thank You for Your love. Amen!”

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Today's Bible Passage 

Meditation

Beyond doubt, Ananias is one of the forgotten heroes of the Christian Church. If it is true that the Church owes Paul to the prayer of Stephen, it is also true that the Church owes Paul to the brotherliness of Ananias.
 
To Ananias came a message from God that he must go and help Paul; he is directed to the street called “Straight.” This was a great street that ran straight from the east to the west of Damascus. When the message came to Ananias, it must have sounded mad to him. He might well have approached Paul with suspicion, as one doing an unpleasant task; he might well have begun with recriminations; but no; his first words were, “Brother Saul.”
 
What a welcome was there! It is one of the sublimest examples of Christian love. That is what Jesus can produce. In Christ, Paul and Ananias, the men who had been the bitterest enemies, came together as brothers.

Life Application

If God had chosen you, do you think you could have acted like Ananias when he greeted Saul? Is there a Saul in your life? Learn from Ananias.

Praise and Prayer

My dear Father, I am so thankful for Your love that is shown in so many different ways. 
 
But the love that is shown from Ananias to Paul is so wonderful. It brought them together and it shows me that it is Your desire for Your children.
 
Father, I am so thankful for this scripture that tells me how much You love Your children and how You protect us. Please forgive me for any wrong choices I may have made and guide me for the rest of my life. I want to please You by doing what You ask of me.
Amen!”
 
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Today's Bible Passage

ACTS 8:5-13

Meditation

When the Christians were scattered, Philip, who had emerged into prominence as one of the Seven, arrived in Samaria and preached there.  This incident of the work in Samaria is astonishing because the Jews had no dealings with the Samaritans (John 4:9).  The quarrel between the Jews and the Samaritans was centuries old.  
 
The fact that Philip preached there and that the message of Jesus was given to these people, shows the Church all unconsciously taking one of the most important steps in history and discovering that Jesus is for all the world.  We know very little about Philip but he was one of the architects of the Christian Church.  
 
We must note what Christianity brought to these people.  
 
  • It brought the story of Jesus, the message of the love of God in Jesus Christ.
  • It brought healing.  Christianity has never been a thing of words only. 
  • It brought, as a natural consequence, a joy that the Samaritans had never known before. Christianity radiates joy.

Life Application

Become a modern-day Philip and take Jesus everywhere you go because you live in a world of need. Jesus is still the answer!

Praise and Prayer

“Dear God, thank You for raising up people like Philip over the centuries. Now, please raise up new ones like him who will take the message of Your love to the world full of anger, bitterness, and broken hearts. Amen!"

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ACTS 7:37-53

"This is the Moses who told the Israelites, 'God will raise up for you a prophet like me from your own people.' He was in the assembly in the wilderness, with the angel who spoke to him on Mount Sinai, and with our ancestors; and he received living words to pass on to us.   Read more.

Meditation

The speech of Stephen begins to accelerate.  All the time, by implication, he has been condemning the attitude of the Jews; now that implicit condemnation becomes explicit.  In this closing section of his defense, Stephen has woven together several strands of thought.  
 
(1st) He insists on the continued disobedience of the people.  In the days of Moses, they rebelled by making the golden calf.  In the time of Amos, their hearts went after Moloch and the star gods.  
 
(2nd) He insists that they have had the most amazing privileges.  They have had the succession of prophets; the tent of a witness, so-called because the tables of the Law, were laid up and kept in it; the Law that was given by angels.  These two things are to be side by side-continuous disobedience and continuous privilege.  Stephen is insisting that the condemnation of the Jewish nation is complete because although they had every chance to know better, they continuously rebelled against God.  
 
(3rd) He insists that they have wrongly limited God.  They had finished up with a Jewish God who lived in Jerusalem rather than a God of all people whose dwelling was the entire universe.  
 
(4th) He insists that they have consistently persecuted the prophets and-the crowning charge-they have murdered the Son of God.  Stephen does not excuse them for the plea of ignorance as Peter did.  It is not ignorance but rebellious disobedience that made them commit that crime.  There is anger in Stephen's closing words but there is also sorrow.  It is sorrowful to see people who refuse the destiny that God offers them.
 

Life Application

How readily do you respond to the Holy Spirit's guidance and conviction?  The time is short, and we must be ready for the Savior's call.
 

Praise/Prayer

Dear God, I believe that You want all Your children to be ready for the call to heaven.  The time is short and we must be ready.  Amen!"
 
 
 
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ACTS 7:8-16 

Then he gave Abraham the covenant of circumcision. And Abraham became the father of Isaac and circumcised him eight days after his birth. Later Isaac became the father of Jacob, and Jacob became the father of the twelve patriarchs.  Read more

Meditation

The picture of Abraham is succeeded by the picture of Joseph.  The key to Joseph's life is summed up in his own saying in Genesis 50:20. His brothers were afraid that, after the death of Jacob, Joseph would take vengeance on them for what they had done to him.  Joseph's answer was, "As for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good."  Joseph was the man for whom disaster turned to triumph.  Sold into Egypt as a slave, wrongfully imprisoned, forgotten by men he had helped, the day yet came when he became prime minister of Egypt.  Stephen sums up the characteristics of Joseph in two words-grace and wisdom.

 
 (1st) Grace is a lovely word.  At its simplest, it means beauty in the physical sense; then it comes to mean that beauty of character that all men love.  Its nearest English equivalent is charm.  There was about Joseph that charm that is always on the great man.  It would have been easy for him to become embittered.  But he dealt faithfully with each duty as it emerged, serving with equal devotion as a slave or as prime minister. 
 
(2nd) There is no word more difficult to define than wisdom.   It means more than mere cleverness.  But the life of Joseph gives us the clue to its meaning.  Wisdom is the ability to see things as God sees them.  Once again, the contrast is there.  The Jews were lost in the contemplation of their own past and imprisoned in the mazes of their own Law. But Joseph welcomed each unfamiliar task, even if it was a rebuff, and adopted God's view of life.

 

Life Application

How do the words charm and wisdom fit your life?  Ask God to multiply these words to your life so that others will see Jesus in you more clearly.
 

Praise and Prayer

"Dear God, I, don't know if I have the charm and wisdom that Joseph had, but I want to be the person You want me to be.  Mold me and shape me into being that person.  Amen!"
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John 14:12-14 

Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.
 

Meditation

There could hardly be any greater promises than the two contained in this passage. But they are of such a nature that we must try to understand what they mean.
 
The appeal for faith in Jesus, which has run through this passage thus far, is continued through this scripture.
 
"He that believes on me", here "Me" is emphatic. This is believing in a continuing sense.   The believing must be in accord with the manifestations of the Father as revealed by Jesus the Son. All Jesus did was at the initiative of the Father not from His feelings "I only do what I see the Father do". Jesus said that one day His disciples would do what He did, and even greater works.
 
What did He mean?   "Whoever believes" is general, and not confined to the apostolic group. Which means this can and does include us. These will take place because of the coming of the Holy Spirit. Who would endue each believer with power for service? Could this "greater works" mean something like this: Jesus never reached outside Israel. Europe had never heard the gospel. He never met the moral degradation of Rome. It was not in His lifetime that Christianity went out to a world where the marriage bond was meaningless, where adultery was not even a conventional sin and where vice flourished. It was into that world the early Christians went; and was that world which they won for Jesus.
 
 It is into that world that today the Gospel continues to go by missionaries, satellite radio, internet, the printed page, and by us to our next-door neighbors. Could it be that this is what Jesus meant as "the greater than I have done you shall do"?
 

Praise/Prayer:   

Dear Father help me try and not figure what Jesus meant but accept You word and run with it. I want the dynamic of the Holy Spirit flowing through my being and into a world that is lost. I want to see the "greater works" in my life. Jesus, You said it would happen and I want it, whatever it is. Come Holy Spirit and be the river of living water flowing out of me. Use me now in my world and by intercession around the world. Amen
 
 
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John 14: 6 
 
Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
 

Meditation

The disciples' lack of understanding provides the opportunity for Jesus to clarify the revelation. The saying is commonly recognized as ranking with John 3:16 as an outstanding expression of the gospel.
 
The arrangements of the terms only express that the emphasis of importance. That is why Jesus said in vs. 4 "that you know the way." Jesus is the Way because He is the Truth, i.e., the revelation of God, and because the life of God is in Him. Have you ever been to a strange city and asked for directions and while the person is telling you, you are confused? Then just think if that person said "I'll take you there" what a relief. That person becomes the way, and we cannot miss it. That is what Jesus does for us.
 
He does not only give advice and directions. He takes us by the hand and leads us; He strengths us and guides us personally every day.
"I am the Truth". Many have told us the truth, but no one ever embodied it. There is one important thing about moral truth. One who teaches it must have the personal character.
 
Moral truth cannot be taught solely in words; it must be conveyed for example. No teacher ever embodied the truth he taught-except Jesus.
"I am the Life". This is what man is seeking. The psalmist said," You will show me the way of life". (16:11) Jesus' love for us brings us Life because life with Jesus is Life.
 
 
Praise/Prayer:   
Father, You know how easy I get lost and I needed someone to show me the way. You know how I struggle with believing people. I want to live my life to its fullest, so You gave me Jesus. He then gave me the Holy Spirit to be all the above for me personally. You knew that I would an internal guide and I have found that in the Holy Spirit.
Thank You Father, for these personal gifts. My life would be such a mess without Him. You are truly the giver of every good and perfect gift. I love you, Father. Amen!
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ACTS 2:44-47

 
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.   Read more
 

Meditation

It was a sharing Church. The unity among Believers in the early Church lead to their voluntary sharing; these early Christians had an intense feeling of responsibility for each other. This was a voluntary sharing to provide for those who did not have for the essentials of living. Here the daily life of Christians is described, distinguishing their activity in the Temple from that in their homes, where they ate their meals with gladness and generosity.

 

The fellowship, oneness, and sharing enjoyed in the early church are fruits of the Spirit. Joy is to be the mood of the believer. God's Spirit moves upon His worshiping people.   A gloomy Christian is a contradiction in terms. It was a Church whose people others could not help liking. There are two Greek words for good. Agathos simply describes a good thing. Kalos means that a thing is not only good but looks good; it has a winsome attractiveness about it. Real Christianity is a lovely thing. In the early Church, there was a winsomeness in God's people.   The breaking of bread is probably a reference to the Lord's Supper in conjunction with a full meal.

 

Life Application:

'Koinonia' cements the believers to the Lord Jesus and to each other. Be sure you are in a church where this is evidenced. Believe that evangelism will result from a church living in obedience to Jesus.
 

Praise/Prayer:   

"Dear God, My Father and Savior, thank You for all that You have done in the entire world. Now, after the world has experienced the terrible virus that has killed so many, I pray that You will bring peace and joy back to the world because only You can. Amen!"
 
 
 
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ACTS 2:42-47 

The Fellowship of the Believers
They devoted 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.  Read more

 
In the style of writing of that era, we are given a kind of lightning summary of the characteristics of the early Church. 
 
(1st) It was a learning Church; it persisted in listening to the apostles as they taught. One of the great perils of the Church is to look back instead of forward. Because the riches of Christ are inexhaustible, we should always be looking forward. We should count it a wasted day when we do not learn something new and when we have not penetrated more deeply into the wisdom and the grace of God. 
 
(2nd) It was a Church of fellowship; it had what has been called the great quality of togetherness. The church is a real church only when it is a band of brothers. 
 
(3rd) It was a praying Church; these early Christians knew that they could not meet life in their own strength and that they did not need to. They always met with God before they went out to the world; only then were they able to meet the problems of life. 
 
(4th) It was a reverent Church; in verse 43 the word that the Authorized Version translates fear has a sense of awe in it. It was said of a great Greek that he moved through the world as if it were a Temple. The Christian lives in reverence because he knows that the whole earth is the temple of the living God. 
 
(5th) It was a Church where things happened: signs and wonders were there (verse 43). If we expect great things from God and attempt great things for God, amazing things happen. More things would happen if we believed that God and we together could make them happen.
 

Life Application:

When you go to church what do you expect to take place? If nothing happens maybe it is because you didn't expect God to be present. Expect God's presence and expect miracles because He is there.
 

Praise/Prayer:   

"Dear God, I am so thankful for the Bible because it tells me all that You did in both the Old Testament and the New Testament times. So many wonderful miracles took place. God, please heal the sick in our world today. Our world is full of people who are sick because of the virus. Thank You, God, for Your wonderful love and grace. Amen!"
 
 
 
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