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1 Corinthians – This is God’s Church

Why are we studying Paul’s letter to the Corinthians? Even though this letter was written 2000 years ago, it is relevant for us today. The Corinthian church was full of broken, messed up people who were loved by God and who we learning how to love Him…much like us! The Corinthian church had issues – arguments, drunkenness, gossip, division. They did not understand the purpose of marriage, sex or how to love one another.

Paul opens his letter, “I thank my God always concerning you for the grace of God which was given you in Christ Jesus, that in everything you were enriched in Him, in all speech and all knowledge” (). His words do not seem to fit with the church described above but Paul understood that the church was saved by the grace of God, not their deeds. Paul understood that the church would grow in their understanding of grace, but that it is a process. Paul also knew we would need to show the same grace to one another that we have been shown by God.

Although this letter is a response to serious issues, it is intended to encourage and to disciple or lead the Corinthians into a deeper walk with Jesus. The people in this church were coming out of diverse and broken backgrounds. They were saved by grace through faith, and struggling to live out that faith. The letter gives instructions on many issues, and ultimately reveals the heart of God for His church.

For followers of Jesus this letter will bring encouragement and hope in the faithful, never-ending grace of God. In our weaknesses we are made strong in Him; He is for us not against us. For those who are not yet followers of Jesus but want to understand Him more, this letter gives great insight into His grace and love. Join us on Sunday mornings at 9:30 AM.

I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus, that in every way you were enriched in him in all speech and all knowledge—

Summer Camp 2015

Houseboats

Summer Camp 2015

We are excited to announce Summer Camp 2015! Summer camp is an amazing time where our group gets to step away for a week to focus on Jesus. We are taking junior high and high school students houseboating with Sonshine Ministries on the Delta July 12 -17 (Sunday – Friday). The cost is $385; scholarships are available so don’t hesitate based on finances. Sign up today and reserve your spot with a $100 deposit (spots are limited). God always does amazing things during this week and we look forward to how He will work this year.

Dates:
July 12-17, 2015

Location:
The Delta

Price:
Deposit – $100
Total Cost – $385

Register for Summer Camp HERE.

Together | Series Wrap-up

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Notes:

For the past five months we have looked at the church: what is the church, the identity of the church, the purpose of the church, why we gather together on Sundays and at midweek Community Group, why we worship. We touched on the two ordinances of the church, baptism and communion. We spent several concentrated weeks on the power and presence of Jesus in His church through the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit dwells within us, fills us, leads us, illuminates, and transform us into the likeness of Jesus. This is holiness. We defined holiness as being set apart, sanctified or peculiar. We have learned that God’s holiness permeates all that God is and all that He does; it is His otherness. When we become followers of Jesus He gives us His holiness. We are unique in Him and set apart in Him. As we begin to walk with Him our life begins to be shaped into His image or His uniqueness by the Holy Spirit whom Jesus places inside of us. Our uniqueness is not in our moral code or behavior but flows from our new hearts that beat in rhythm with Jesus.

Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.

The Spirit works within and transforms us from one degree of glory to the next. As we walk in holiness, we start to look more like Jesus. When Christ declared, “It is finished,” the veil in the temple separating the holy of holies from the common area or unholy place was torn. Before that moment no one dared go behind that curtain into the presence of God except the high priest who represented all the people once a year. He entered only after extensive washings, sacrifices and separation from all others and even then it was with great fear.

When the veil was torn, God was saying, “Come to me, you are holy through Jesus.” Jesus paid it all. We now walk in the holy presence of God gaining access through our Savior Jesus. As we look at His glory, the Spirit works in our lives to transform us into the same image. The process of holiness takes place individually and corporately. We are saved into a Body, the church, the bride of Christ, the family of God.

In Jesus we have been given a new race (not Jew or Gentile) and a new position. We are now a royal priesthood with a new citizenship; we belong to a holy nation. We live in America but our citizenship is in heaven, under new ownership. We are God’s possession with a new mission to proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called us out of darkness into His marvelous light.

But you are A CHOSEN RACE, A royal PRIESTHOOD, A HOLY NATION, A PEOPLE FOR God’s OWN POSSESSION, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; for you once were NOT A PEOPLE, but now you are THE PEOPLE OF GOD; you had NOT RECEIVED MERCY, but now you have RECEIVED MERCY.

Remedy, we were not a people. We were individually children of wrath, following the father of lies. But God has made us a people because of His mercy and we belong to a Body, the Church. We are saved personally and individually but not to be independent or individualistic. We are saved into the Church as a group of people who are interdependent on one another to function fully as God intended.

We need one another to encourage, to exhort, and to pray for our personal growth with Jesus and fulfillment of our mission. On a micro level, we are called out and into a family, the bride of Christ. On a macro level, this relates to the nations. Christians in the U.S. are needed by Christians who live across the world, like in Iraq.

Remember the prisoners, as though in prison with them, and those who are ill-treated, since you yourselves also are in the body.

Persecuted believers worldwide remind us of the suffering of Christ. As they represent Him and minister in His name, they suffer for Him () and continue to demonstrate His love and sacrifice. They are a part of our mission.

As believers, we have been made new in Jesus. We are not who we once were, so we need to stop giving into the mindsets and desire of the world (and the past) and start acting like a part of a Body. If we want to develop a sense of belonging and experience all that God has for us, then we give! We give our lives to Jesus, to His Body, because that is what He did for us on the cross. The church doesn’t exist for us, it exists for Jesus.

Peter takes the time to contrast who we were and who we are now. He reminds us what we have been saved from and what we have been saved into. BUT YOU… are new and different, a holy nation. BUT YOU are a royal priesthood, BUT YOU are a chosen people. When we think of old and new, we often think of behavior issues like drunkenness or greed or anger or jealously but we’ve also been saved out of our moral striving. We’ve been saved from self-sufficiency and self-reliance, many of the things the world looks favorably upon. This is where most of us struggle. We fall back into thinking, “I’m not so bad” or “I was a good person.” We forget how much we need God. We need Jesus and we can’t do it on our own.

But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ,…I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

Paul said that he forgot everything that was behind him and set his eyes on Jesus, to be like Him. He said it was all nothing compared to Jesus. We’ve been called out of darkness into life. God didn’t save us out of hell into nothing; He saved us into relationship.

The people of Israel were slaves to Egypt, in bondage for over 400 years. They worked long days with little food, and at one point, Pharaoh ordered all of the firstborn sons to be killed to control the population. They cried out to God and God heard them – He told Moses that He saw their affliction, heard their cries, and understood their suffering (). God sent a deliverer, Moses, and He delivered them from bondage in a great display of power and love. His deliverance was a great display of grace and He gave them more than they could even grasp – He split the sea and provided manna from heaven.

The rabble who were among them had greedy desires; and also the sons of Israel wept again and said, “Who will give us meat to eat? “We remember the fish which we used to eat free in Egypt, the cucumbers and the melons and the leeks and the onions and the garlic, but now our appetite is gone. There is nothing at all to look at except this manna.”

Israel forgot the bondage, the suffering, and God’s delivery. God set them free and provided for their every need, but they wanted more. They falsely remembered a life of bounty, of fish and meat. Their flesh deceived them, just as our flesh deceives us.

The manna God provided met their needs, but Israel thought they deserved more, that they were entitled to more. They also didn’t want to depend on God. The root of both of these attitudes was pride. Israel lost sight of what God called them out of and what He was calling them into. He was making them a nation and leading them to the land He had promised. All Israel had to do was follow God into the Promised Land, but instead they died complaining in the wilderness.

We are the church, the Bride of Christ, children of God, a holy nation, a royal priesthood, God’s people, chosen, called, empowered, indwelt by the Spirit of God
Himself to proclaim the greatest news in the history of mankind. Jesus died on the cross to pay the penalty for our sins, to make a way, when there was no other way. So how do we want to live? We can live in captivity, carnality, or consecration.

Captivity – Living in captivity means returning to our “Egypt”. If we think our days of bondage to sin were better, then we have not tasted the manna of life, Jesus, who meets our deepest hunger and quenches our driest thirst.

Carnality – Living in carnality is a life wandering in the wilderness. Do we struggle to depend on God? Are we discontent with His provision? Do we misremember the past as better than it was? If we look back to Egypt, it will rob us of joy. Lot’s wife turned back toward Sodom and turned to a pillar of salt (). She turned back because that’s where her heart and affection was.

Consecration – Living a consecrated life means understanding that we are on our way to the Promised Land, with our eyes on Jesus. Do we want to live as a child of God, a holy people, set apart for the most significant mission today, to proclaim the excellencies of Him who called us out of darkness into His marvelous light?There are no politics, no amount of money or goodwill to stop the evil in this world but there is the love of God. Against the love of God there is no law, meaning nothing can stand against Him. While the world frets and stirs and worry we proclaim the amazing love of God.

How are we living? Are we giving our time, resources, gifts and thoughts to the advancement of God’s kingdom as an ambassador, a royal priest, as a child of God? Or are we chasing the desires of our flesh, hoping to quiet the conflict in our heart while the world crumbles around us, families fall apart, kids are abused, and good intentioned people walk off the cliff following self-righteous religion? Are we willing to watch our brothers and sisters suffer and die in Pakistan, Iraq, Turkey, Somalia, Myanmar, without a thought, a prayer, a hand?

Jesus promised:

• An abundant life
• Joy overflowing
• Contentment in all circumstances
• Peace that surpasses understanding
• Love, real love, perfect love that casts out fear, never-ending love
• If we follow Him. If we walk in who He has made us, who He redeemed us to be.

If we aren’t experiencing what God has promised, then we aren’t following Him. There is no neutral. Revelation contains seven letters to the churches, where God commends and rebukes:

To the Church in Laodicea

“And to the angel of the church in Laodicea write: ‘The words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of God’s creation.

“‘I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, so that you may see. Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me. The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’”

This church had lost its dependency on Jesus. This church had lost its understanding of the great need they had spiritually. They believed they had it together, but they weren’t useful in the kingdom of God. They weren’t hot, bringing warmth, or cold, bringing refreshment; they were lukewarm, worthy only to be spit out.

“Behold, I stand at the door and knock” was written to a church, to Remedy, to stop being complacent and apathetic. God is saying to stop being middle of the road and lukewarm, or He will spit us out of His mouth. His message is in love – because He loves, He is saying, “Take heed! Listen up! I love you, this is why I’m saying this to you.” God is knocking; it’s not too late. “If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.” This is God’s invitation to us today.

Together we walk into the promises of Christ and become the church He designed us to be, and we experience all the things God has designed the church to do and be, and He is glorified, and many will come to know Him. All this is done in Christ and Him alone.

17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18 And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you also are in the body.

24 Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church,

But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ

Philippians 3:13-14

13 Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

3:1 Now Moses was keeping the flock of his father-in-law, Jethro, the priest of Midian, and he led his flock to the west side of the wilderness and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. And the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush. He looked, and behold, the bush was burning, yet it was not consumed. And Moses said, “I will turn aside to see this great sight, why the bush is not burned.” When the Lord saw that he turned aside to see, God called to him out of the bush, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.” Then he said, “Do not come near; take your sandals off your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.” And he said, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God.

Then the Lord said, “I have surely seen the affliction of my people who are in Egypt and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters. I know their sufferings, and I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land to a good and broad land, a land flowing with milk and honey, to the place of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites. And now, behold, the cry of the people of Israel has come to me, and I have also seen the oppression with which the Egyptians oppress them. 10 Come, I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring my people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt.” 11 But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?” 12 He said, “But I will be with you, and this shall be the sign for you, that I have sent you: when you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall serve God on this mountain.”

13 Then Moses said to God, “If I come to the people of Israel and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what shall I say to them?” 14 God said to Moses, “I am who I am.” And he said, “Say this to the people of Israel, ‘I am has sent me to you.’” 15 God also said to Moses, “Say this to the people of Israel, ‘The Lord, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you.’ This is my name forever, and thus I am to be remembered throughout all generations. 16 Go and gather the elders of Israel together and say to them, ‘The Lord, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob, has appeared to me, saying, “I have observed you and what has been done to you in Egypt, 17 and I promise that I will bring you up out of the affliction of Egypt to the land of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites, a land flowing with milk and honey.”’ 18 And they will listen to your voice, and you and the elders of Israel shall go to the king of Egypt and say to him, ‘The Lord, the God of the Hebrews, has met with us; and now, please let us go a three days’ journey into the wilderness, that we may sacrifice to the Lord our God.’ 19 But I know that the king of Egypt will not let you go unless compelled by a mighty hand. 20 So I will stretch out my hand and strike Egypt with all the wonders that I will do in it; after that he will let you go. 21 And I will give this people favor in the sight of the Egyptians; and when you go, you shall not go empty, 22 but each woman shall ask of her neighbor, and any woman who lives in her house, for silver and gold jewelry, and for clothing. You shall put them on your sons and on your daughters. So you shall plunder the Egyptians.”

Now the rabble that was among them had a strong craving. And the people of Israel also wept again and said, “Oh that we had meat to eat! We remember the fish we ate in Egypt that cost nothing, the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions, and the garlic. But now our strength is dried up, and there is nothing at all but this manna to look at.”

19:1 The two angels came to Sodom in the evening, and Lot was sitting in the gate of Sodom. When Lot saw them, he rose to meet them and bowed himself with his face to the earth and said, “My lords, please turn aside to your servant’s house and spend the night and wash your feet. Then you may rise up early and go on your way.” They said, “No; we will spend the night in the town square.” But he pressed them strongly; so they turned aside to him and entered his house. And he made them a feast and baked unleavened bread, and they ate.

But before they lay down, the men of the city, the men of Sodom, both young and old, all the people to the last man, surrounded the house. And they called to Lot, “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us, that we may know them.” Lot went out to the men at the entrance, shut the door after him, and said, “I beg you, my brothers, do not act so wickedly. Behold, I have two daughters who have not known any man. Let me bring them out to you, and do to them as you please. Only do nothing to these men, for they have come under the shelter of my roof.” But they said, “Stand back!” And they said, “This fellow came to sojourn, and he has become the judge! Now we will deal worse with you than with them.” Then they pressed hard against the man Lot, and drew near to break the door down. 10 But the men reached out their hands and brought Lot into the house with them and shut the door. 11 And they struck with blindness the men who were at the entrance of the house, both small and great, so that they wore themselves out groping for the door.

12 Then the men said to Lot, “Have you anyone else here? Sons-in-law, sons, daughters, or anyone you have in the city, bring them out of the place. 13 For we are about to destroy this place, because the outcry against its people has become great before the Lord, and the Lord has sent us to destroy it.” 14 So Lot went out and said to his sons-in-law, who were to marry his daughters, “Up! Get out of this place, for the Lord is about to destroy the city.” But he seemed to his sons-in-law to be jesting.

15 As morning dawned, the angels urged Lot, saying, “Up! Take your wife and your two daughters who are here, lest you be swept away in the punishment of the city.” 16 But he lingered. So the men seized him and his wife and his two daughters by the hand, the Lord being merciful to him, and they brought him out and set him outside the city. 17 And as they brought them out, one said, “Escape for your life. Do not look back or stop anywhere in the valley. Escape to the hills, lest you be swept away.” 18 And Lot said to them, “Oh, no, my lords. 19 Behold, your servant has found favor in your sight, and you have shown me great kindness in saving my life. But I cannot escape to the hills, lest the disaster overtake me and I die. 20 Behold, this city is near enough to flee to, and it is a little one. Let me escape there—is it not a little one?—and my life will be saved!” 21 He said to him, “Behold, I grant you this favor also, that I will not overthrow the city of which you have spoken. 22 Escape there quickly, for I can do nothing till you arrive there.” Therefore the name of the city was called Zoar.

23 The sun had risen on the earth when Lot came to Zoar. 24 Then the Lord rained on Sodom and Gomorrah sulfur and fire from the Lord out of heaven. 25 And he overthrew those cities, and all the valley, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and what grew on the ground. 26 But Lot’s wife, behind him, looked back, and she became a pillar of salt.

27 And Abraham went early in the morning to the place where he had stood before the Lord. 28 And he looked down toward Sodom and Gomorrah and toward all the land of the valley, and he looked and, behold, the smoke of the land went up like the smoke of a furnace.

29 So it was that, when God destroyed the cities of the valley, God remembered Abraham and sent Lot out of the midst of the overthrow when he overthrew the cities in which Lot had lived.

30 Now Lot went up out of Zoar and lived in the hills with his two daughters, for he was afraid to live in Zoar. So he lived in a cave with his two daughters. 31 And the firstborn said to the younger, “Our father is old, and there is not a man on earth to come in to us after the manner of all the earth. 32 Come, let us make our father drink wine, and we will lie with him, that we may preserve offspring from our father.” 33 So they made their father drink wine that night. And the firstborn went in and lay with her father. He did not know when she lay down or when she arose.

34 The next day, the firstborn said to the younger, “Behold, I lay last night with my father. Let us make him drink wine tonight also. Then you go in and lie with him, that we may preserve offspring from our father.” 35 So they made their father drink wine that night also. And the younger arose and lay with him, and he did not know when she lay down or when she arose. 36 Thus both the daughters of Lot became pregnant by their father. 37 The firstborn bore a son and called his name Moab. He is the father of the Moabites to this day. 38 The younger also bore a son and called his name Ben-ammi. He is the father of the Ammonites to this day.

14 “And to the angel of the church in Laodicea write: ‘The words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of God’s creation.

15 “‘I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! 16 So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. 17 For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. 18 I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, so that you may see. 19 Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent. 20 Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me. 21 The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne. 22 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’”

Together | The Spirit and Generosity

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Notes:

Last week we addressed God’s holiness and defined holiness as being set apart, unique or being sanctified. Although there is a moral component to being holy (doing what is right), there is also a being set apart from the ordinary and common, from the world’s attitudes, thoughts and values.

In one CG discussion last week, the leader asked, “How are you different today than a year ago?” As people shared the changes that had taken place in their lives, it was clear that values, desires, and attitudes had changed. That is what it means to become holy and set apart – as we value the things of the world less, we become more unique, more holy.

When we come into relationship with Jesus, He calls us out of darkness into His light. He calls us out and into, He makes us holy, and He makes us unique or set apart to Him. In Jesus we are holy and the process begins of becoming holy or set apart in our actions. So we are both holy and becoming holy, we are sanctified and becoming sanctified, we are set apart and are being set apart.

As this takes place the attitudes, thoughts, values and behaviors in our life change. We begin to see sin not just as a moral offense but an offense to God and offenses that quench His work through the Holy Spirit in our lives. More importantly, our desires change as we are being made holy. Our love for God and people grow and we begin to look at others differently and act differently towards them.

We see this in . The result of being filled with the Spirit is holiness, manifested by the fruit of the Spirit:

the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.

These are not common characteristics. This is what it means to be holy as it is the Holy Spirit who changes us. We are all about ourselves but when we are filled with the Holy Spirit, it changes us. Holiness comes through the power of the Holy Spirit. Jesus predicted the coming of the Spirit before His crucifixion and again after His resurrection before ascending into Heaven:

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.”

Jesus said that the Spirit would bring power to be His witness in proclamation of the resurrection and in living out a holy or unique life. Our lives will convey a message contrary to what the world communicates.

In we see an expression of the filling of the Holy Spirit or a holy life. The church (meaning followers of Jesus) was gathered together in the City of Jerusalem. They met regularly to pray, eat, and study the Bible (for them, the Old Testament). But there was something unusual about the gathering. Jews and Gentiles, free and slaves, men and women, were all gathered together. It was unheard of for Jews to worship with Gentiles. Even more unusual was that they were giving their possessions away:

And when they had prayed, the place where they had gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak the word of God with boldness. And the congregation of those who believed were of one heart and soul; and not one of them claimed that anything belonging to him was his own, but all things were common property to them. And with great power the apostles were giving testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and abundant grace was upon them all. For there was not a needy person among them, for all who were owners of land or houses would sell them and bring the proceeds of the sales and lay them at the apostles’ feet, and they would be distributed to each as any had need. Now Joseph, a Levite of Cyprian birth, who was also called Barnabas by the apostles (which translated means Son of Encouragement), and who owned a tract of land, sold it and brought the money and laid it at the apostles’ feet.

The people around them were amazed and recognized it as supernatural because thousands started following Jesus. These were holy, set apart believers who were brand new Christians reading the Old Testament in light of the Messiah. They were filled with the Spirit and submitted to His will, leading, and power.

Being filled is not having more of the Spirit in a quantitative sense, but a denying of self, the flesh, in submission to the Holy Spirit. That is what makes us holy or unique – we mirror or reflect God’s image. In the Garden of Eden, God created man in His image. That image was tarnished when Adam and Eve took their eyes off of God, essentially rebelling against Him. Their perfect relationship with their Creator and each other was broken.

Holy God, completely unique, could no longer walk with man as He did before. The wages of sin is death and a penalty had to be paid (). In the garden, God began to introduce us to His plan to send a savior, a Messiah, who would pay the penalty and take the judgment for all sin for those who believe in Him. The rest of the Old Testament unfolds the story of the coming Messiah, Jesus. The Gospels tell us of His coming, His life, death and resurrection, His ascension back into heaven, and the sending of the Holy Spirit. The church in Acts was set apart from darkness into light, walking in light because they were filled with the Spirit.

Being filled with the Spirit results in:

Boldness to proclaim Jesus – They were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak the Word of God with boldness and Apostles preached with great power the resurrection of Jesus (). We take Christ’s work on the cross for granted but He died for our sins. The Spirit reminds us and gives us understanding to the unseen significance of what He did. The Spirit helps us understand the love of God ().

Brings unity, not uniformity – The Spirit brings unity. The early church was made up of people from different cultures, economic status, and education levels, but they had one thing in common: Jesus. The Spirit of Jesus dwelled within them and their eyes were not on themselves but on Jesus. They did not focus on what they wanted or what was comfortable to them but on Jesus. The idea is not to be the same as everyone else but to love the same Jesus. The Spirit points us to Jesus and He is greater than our differences. We don’t demonstrate God’s love when we hang out with people just like us. Unity is supernatural.

Generosity – No one claimed anything for their own and no one was needy. We live in a self-focused world. We often use people and love things rather than love people and use things. We tend to love people just like us, who we’re comfortable with.

Generosity also extends to money. Money is not the issue – money is not evil in itself; the love of money or what money can bring is the evil. Power, control, status, material things, and security are all idols we seek and money provides them. Where and how we spend our money reflects our values. Jesus spoke a lot about money because of the effect it has on our hearts:

“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal. But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal; for where your treasure is there will be your heart also. The lamp of the body is the eye; if therefore your eye is clear, your whole body will be full of light. But if our eye is bad your whole body will be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!”

Jesus uses a metaphor to explain how money affects our perspective (the same metaphor is used in and 12). Light enters the body through the eye. If the eyes are blinded, then the whole body is dark. It does not matter if we are standing in a lighted room – if our eyes cannot see, we are in the dark. Money has the ability to affect all other aspects of our life. If our perspective on money is off, so will be our life.

The money itself is not the issue, but what it often represents to us: power, control, security, comfort, status. In many cases money satisfies the flesh. We do not want to trust God to provide; we want to depend on our credit card, our bank account, our position, our power to give us the things we desire, want, and need. These functional saviors are things we rely on apart from God that will get us what we think we need. An idol is a person, place or thing that we place our trust in over God and takes preeminence in our lives, like money.

This is not indicative of a Spirit-filled or set apart life but a life that is set on the flesh. Our God is a giving God and does not need our resources to accomplish His will but He does want our hearts. When we are reluctant to use our skills and abilities to serve Him, when we allocate our time to self-centered activities or allow greed to sit in our hearts, it will destroy us or at the very least, rob us of the best God has intended for us.

Being generous is a fruit of holiness and giving keeps us from getting too attached to things. Practicing generosity is a good thing. We are generous not to earn credit or because that’s who we are on are own. We are generous in Jesus because that’s who He is. That’s why generosity is an indication of holiness or being filled with the Spirit. We serve a generous God. We give love freely because He loves us freely. We give grace freely because God gives grace to us freely.

Barnabas was a man filled with the Spirit and a leader in the church who owned a tract of land. He sold the land and laid the money at the apostles’ feet for the needs of the body. He entrusted the leadership with the funds. He was not told to sell his land; he either saw needs to be met, or he was moved by the Holy Spirit out of an understanding of all that Jesus had done for him. He was willing to give Jesus everything and nothing was too much.

Barnabas went on to bring Paul into ministry and he traveled with Paul and preached the Word. He responded to the Holy Spirit and sold his property, which freed him to go where God called him. He was sent to Antioch when the Spirit of God began to work there and from Antioch he went to Tarsus to get Paul and then back to Antioch and the story continues. Had he not have given freely he may have been too encumbered to go. The Spirit led and Barnabas gave away his security – that is a unique life, a sanctified life, a holy life. A life submitted to the Holy Spirit is a unique life and it will look different from the world. Giving money did not make Barnabas holy or set apart; his heart was set apart and so he gave.

Abundant Grace was upon them all – A set apart life is characterized by abundant grace from God for us. We know the word grace and understand its meaning but we cannot fully experience God’s grace and His love without the Spirit. He illuminates and gives us understanding of what God has done. He gives the understanding of our brokenness and our inability to reconcile on our own. He gives us the faith to walk in grace, which brings freedom. We have the freedom to give others grace, freedom to love, freedom to forgive, freedom to let God move as He determines in the lives around us.

A holy life, a Spirit filled life, is a life of freedom. Our freedom comes from understanding that no one can love us more than Jesus did on the cross. When we are rejected by people or marginalized by the world, we aren’t losing anything. We worship this God who has made us peculiar, different, unique, holy and has set us free.

5:1 For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.

Look: I, Paul, say to you that if you accept circumcision, Christ will be of no advantage to you. I testify again to every man who accepts circumcision that he is obligated to keep the whole law. You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace. For through the Spirit, by faith, we ourselves eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love.

You were running well. Who hindered you from obeying the truth? This persuasion is not from him who calls you. A little leaven leavens the whole lump. 10 I have confidence in the Lord that you will take no other view than mine, and the one who is troubling you will bear the penalty, whoever he is. 11 But if I, brothers, still preach circumcision, why am I still being persecuted? In that case the offense of the cross has been removed. 12 I wish those who unsettle you would emasculate themselves!

13 For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. 14 For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 15 But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another.

16 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. 19 Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21 envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” (ESV)

4:1 And as they were speaking to the people, the priests and the captain of the temple and the Sadducees came upon them, greatly annoyed because they were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection from the dead. And they arrested them and put them in custody until the next day, for it was already evening. But many of those who had heard the word believed, and the number of the men came to about five thousand.

On the next day their rulers and elders and scribes gathered together in Jerusalem, with Annas the high priest and Caiaphas and John and Alexander, and all who were of the high-priestly family. And when they had set them in the midst, they inquired, “By what power or by what name did you do this?” Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, “Rulers of the people and elders, if we are being examined today concerning a good deed done to a crippled man, by what means this man has been healed, 10 let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead—by him this man is standing before you well. 11 This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. 12 And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”

13 Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus. 14 But seeing the man who was healed standing beside them, they had nothing to say in opposition. 15 But when they had commanded them to leave the council, they conferred with one another, 16 saying, “What shall we do with these men? For that a notable sign has been performed through them is evident to all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and we cannot deny it. 17 But in order that it may spread no further among the people, let us warn them to speak no more to anyone in this name.” 18 So they called them and charged them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. 19 But Peter and John answered them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge, 20 for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard.” 21 And when they had further threatened them, they let them go, finding no way to punish them, because of the people, for all were praising God for what had happened. 22 For the man on whom this sign of healing was performed was more than forty years old.

23 When they were released, they went to their friends and reported what the chief priests and the elders had said to them. 24 And when they heard it, they lifted their voices together to God and said, “Sovereign Lord, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and everything in them, 25 who through the mouth of our father David, your servant, said by the Holy Spirit,

“‘Why did the Gentiles rage,
and the peoples plot in vain?
26 The kings of the earth set themselves,
and the rulers were gathered together,
against the Lord and against his Anointed’—

27 for truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, 28 to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place. 29 And now, Lord, look upon their threats and grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness, 30 while you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant Jesus.” 31 And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness.

32 Now the full number of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one said that any of the things that belonged to him was his own, but they had everything in common. 33 And with great power the apostles were giving their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all. 34 There was not a needy person among them, for as many as were owners of lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold 35 and laid it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need. 36 Thus Joseph, who was also called by the apostles Barnabas (which means son of encouragement), a Levite, a native of Cyprus, 37 sold a field that belonged to him and brought the money and laid it at the apostles’ feet.

31 And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness.

32 Now the full number of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one said that any of the things that belonged to him was his own, but they had everything in common. 33 And with great power the apostles were giving their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all. 34 There was not a needy person among them, for as many as were owners of lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold 35 and laid it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need. 36 Thus Joseph, who was also called by the apostles Barnabas (which means son of encouragement), a Levite, a native of Cyprus, 37 sold a field that belonged to him and brought the money and laid it at the apostles’ feet.

23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

33 And with great power the apostles were giving their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all.

18 having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 19 and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might

19 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

22 “The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, 23 but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!

11:1 Now Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.” And he said to them, “When you pray, say:

“Father, hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come.

Give us each day our daily bread,
and forgive us our sins,
for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us.
And lead us not into temptation.”

And he said to them, “Which of you who has a friend will go to him at midnight and say to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves, for a friend of mine has arrived on a journey, and I have nothing to set before him’; and he will answer from within, ‘Do not bother me; the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed. I cannot get up and give you anything’? I tell you, though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his impudence he will rise and give him whatever he needs. And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 10 For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. 11 What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; 12 or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? 13 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”

14 Now he was casting out a demon that was mute. When the demon had gone out, the mute man spoke, and the people marveled. 15 But some of them said, “He casts out demons by Beelzebul, the prince of demons,” 16 while others, to test him, kept seeking from him a sign from heaven. 17 But he, knowing their thoughts, said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste, and a divided household falls. 18 And if Satan also is divided against himself, how will his kingdom stand? For you say that I cast out demons by Beelzebul. 19 And if I cast out demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your sons cast them out? Therefore they will be your judges. 20 But if it is by the finger of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you. 21 When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own palace, his goods are safe; 22 but when one stronger than he attacks him and overcomes him, he takes away his armor in which he trusted and divides his spoil. 23 Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.

24 “When the unclean spirit has gone out of a person, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, and finding none it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ 25 And when it comes, it finds the house swept and put in order. 26 Then it goes and brings seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they enter and dwell there. And the last state of that person is worse than the first.”

27 As he said these things, a woman in the crowd raised her voice and said to him, “Blessed is the womb that bore you, and the breasts at which you nursed!” 28 But he said, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it!”

29 When the crowds were increasing, he began to say, “This generation is an evil generation. It seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah. 30 For as Jonah became a sign to the people of Nineveh, so will the Son of Man be to this generation. 31 The queen of the South will rise up at the judgment with the men of this generation and condemn them, for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and behold, something greater than Solomon is here. 32 The men of Nineveh will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and behold, something greater than Jonah is here.

33 “No one after lighting a lamp puts it in a cellar or under a basket, but on a stand, so that those who enter may see the light. 34 Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your eye is healthy, your whole body is full of light, but when it is bad, your body is full of darkness. 35 Therefore be careful lest the light in you be darkness. 36 If then your whole body is full of light, having no part dark, it will be wholly bright, as when a lamp with its rays gives you light.”

37 While Jesus was speaking, a Pharisee asked him to dine with him, so he went in and reclined at table. 38 The Pharisee was astonished to see that he did not first wash before dinner. 39 And the Lord said to him, “Now you Pharisees cleanse the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness. 40 You fools! Did not he who made the outside make the inside also? 41 But give as alms those things that are within, and behold, everything is clean for you.

42 “But woe to you Pharisees! For you tithe mint and rue and every herb, and neglect justice and the love of God. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others. 43 Woe to you Pharisees! For you love the best seat in the synagogues and greetings in the marketplaces. 44 Woe to you! For you are like unmarked graves, and people walk over them without knowing it.”

45 One of the lawyers answered him, “Teacher, in saying these things you insult us also.” 46 And he said, “Woe to you lawyers also! For you load people with burdens hard to bear, and you yourselves do not touch the burdens with one of your fingers. 47 Woe to you! For you build the tombs of the prophets whom your fathers killed. 48 So you are witnesses and you consent to the deeds of your fathers, for they killed them, and you build their tombs. 49 Therefore also the Wisdom of God said, ‘I will send them prophets and apostles, some of whom they will kill and persecute,’ 50 so that the blood of all the prophets, shed from the foundation of the world, may be charged against this generation, 51 from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah, who perished between the altar and the sanctuary. Yes, I tell you, it will be required of this generation. 52 Woe to you lawyers! For you have taken away the key of knowledge. You did not enter yourselves, and you hindered those who were entering.”

53 As he went away from there, the scribes and the Pharisees began to press him hard and to provoke him to speak about many things, 54 lying in wait for him, to catch him in something he might say.