Good Shepherd Church invites you to our Good Friday outdoor worship at the farm. A life-size cross and bluegrass music. The passion story and speakers that touch your heart. A full moon and a couple hundred friends from all over Camarillo. A hay ride. We put sideboards on a flatbed trailer and give our attendees a slice of their childhood memories sans the snow. Sit on straw bales. Perfect for the kids. Bring a warm jacket and a blanket!
Good Shepherd invites you to Easter Sunrise at the beach. Worship together as waves crash on the shore & the sun peeks out over Point Mugu. Join in the celebration of Jesus’ resurrection with us! He is Risen! Bring a warm jacket and a blanket. We'll bring the coffee & hot chocolate!
Sunday April16, 2017 at 6:30 a.m.
Point Mugu Beach, on the PCH
In the entry-level study, listeners will examine the creation of the first congregation -- 120 people in Jerusalem. Then they will examine how that one church grew to 3,120 believers during the next 50 days -- the day Jesus sent the Holy Spirit on those 120 and Peter preached a message that lit the city on fire. The rest of the book, all 28 chapters, takes us through God's invention of living congregations. God is the author and finisher of His Church. God designed, tested it, multiplies it and makes it grow. With that growth in mind, we will work our way through 30 weeks of the historical record. Author: Luke, the close companion of the Apostle Paul. Recepient: "O excellent Theophilus," the friend to whom Luke, "the physician," Paul calls in him Colossians 4, wrote the letter. Possibly a Roman noble or a Jewish member of the Pharisees or Saducees. Date: Between 60 and 63 AD. Content: God traces the first church in Jerusalem to how it expands from there to northern Israel, Syria, Asia Minor (in modern day Turkey), up into Greece (the letters to Corinth are fascinating) and then on to Cyprus, Crete, north Africa and then The Roman Campital in Italy. Paul also waxes about preaching in Spain.
Acts 16: European Mission Trip
Macedonian Call and the Philippian Jailer
AS WE MOVE INTO ACTS 16 THIS WEEK ON SOUL BREAK... A STUDY OF ACTS 16, takes you on a missions trip with Paul and Silas. You will note the following changes in the Book of Acts as we enter the second half of the study:
a) The Apostle Paul becomes the predominant character in the history of the last half of Acts.
b) Peter, though just as significant as a leader in the Lord's work during his generation, mentioned less regularly than he is in Acts 1-15. The council of Jerusalem, which met around 52 AD to pull together a letter that explains to the Gentiles how salvation works, finds Peter in a leadership role.
c) But the last chapters of Acts describes how the gospel of Jesus spreads through the Roman Empire, and Paul, with Barnabas and Silas (and apparently Luke), is assigned the task by God to carry the message of Jesus to the whole of the Roman Empire.
CROSSING THE SEA FROM THE MIDDLE-EAST INTO EUROPE...
In the first half of Acts, we travel to Macedonia. This week we're going to jail -- with Paul and Silas.
The last half of Acts 16 describes how Paul and Silas responded to a late-evening incarceration during their first week in Europe. As my grandmother used to say, "That's a fine how-do-you-do!" Nonetheless, Paul and Silas, the new ministry team, responded with singing worship songs. I'm not sure if young Luke, the writer-narrator traveling with them had visitation rights, or if he was just waiting in the guest room of Lydia, the hospitable entrepreneur who had invited the team to stay at her house in Philippi.
But the jailer, whom the Bible tells us elsewhere was named Stephanus, was in for the night of his life. He took, one might say, four steps backward, and one mile forward that night. The evening started with two unusual prisoners, some live music, a life-shattering earthquake, the threat of a possible jailbreak, the inevitable suicidal moment that followed, then the most memorable morning of his life. Within nine hours, the jailer was born again, hosted a baptismal service in his house, provided an early-morning brunch for the house, then welcomed the city authorities for an unexpected apology.
It was a day to remember -- and because the Holy Spirit wanted to make sure we never forgot it -- He inspired Luke, the writer-physician, to tell the story for the ages. The historical record is now 20 centuries old, but whenever I think about late-night worship, I think about earthquakes and salvation prayers -- with parents, kids, household workers and the Apostle Paul, during his first European missions trip.
AN EASY OUTLINE OF ACTS 16 LOOKS LIKE THIS...
You can see, in the passage below, how Paul and Silas are the objects of anger in Philippi because they have delivered a young slave girl from demonic possession. The woman was being used and manipated by local brokers and hucksters who were using her to "foretell the future" -- and making a great profit in using her (Note Acts 16:16). When Paul and Silas were annoyed by her daily pronouncements -- "these men are telling you how to be saved" -- Paul called on the demon to leave, and the spirit left "immediately." That was the end of the business for the men who were the oppressed girl's marketers. Their jealously and anger briefly placed Paul and Silas in jail. Note: Your spiritual work and healing will not be appreciated by all. Some will be as "greatly annoyed" as were Paul and Silas toward the girl, with you.
Three guarantees for disciple makers
1. SOME WILL RESENT YOU (19-24)
19 Her masters’ hopes of wealth were now shattered, so they grabbed Paul and Silas and dragged them before the authorities at the marketplace. 20 “The whole city is in an uproar because of these Jews!” they shouted to the city officials. 21 “They are teaching customs that are illegal for us Romans to practice.” 22 A mob quickly formed against Paul and Silas, and the city officials ordered them stripped and beaten with wooden rods. 23 They were severely beaten, and then they were thrown into prison. The jailer was ordered to make sure they didn’t escape. 24 So the jailer put them into the inner dungeon and clamped their feet in the stocks.'
Also note, in versese 24-34, how some people will respond to your abiding trust in the Lord. Paul and Silas are locked in place, in stocks and behind bars (verse 24), and they respond with praise. "The other prisoners were listening," but so was God. The miracle didn't occur because Paul and Silas were making long requests for it -- no complaints were apparent during this celebration of praise in Phillippi -- but "suddenly there was a massage earthquake." What ensues (a suicide attempt, the non-attempted jail break, the salvation prayer moment for the whole family and household, and a brunch and baptism to boot, brings a whole new set of converts, the second group following Lydia in southern Europe. Note: People will respond to you when you share the gospel.
2. SOME WILL RESPOND (25-34)
25 Around midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening. 26 Suddenly, there was a massive earthquake, and the prison was shaken to its foundations. All the doors immediately flew open, and the chains of every prisoner fell off! 27 The jailer woke up to see the prison doors wide open. He assumed the prisoners had escaped, so he drew his sword to kill himself. 28 But Paul shouted to him, “Stop! Don’t kill yourself! We are all here!” 29 The jailer called for lights and ran to the dungeon and fell down trembling before Paul and Silas. 30 Then he brought them out and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” 31 They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved, along with everyone in your household.” 32 And they shared the word of the Lord with him and with all who lived in his household. 33 Even at that hour of the night, the jailer cared for them and washed their wounds. Then he and everyone in his household were immediately baptized. 34 He brought them into his house and set a meal before them, and he and his entire household rejoiced because they all believed in God.
Finally, note as you study verses 35-40, that you don't have to fear for your future, nor fret your circumstances, when you are a disciple-maker. When the city officials ask Paul to leave, Paul refuses to do so -- interestingly -- without an apology. "They have publicly beaten us without a trial," says Paul in verse 37, "and put us in prison." Paul is not only a Roman citizen, well aware of his rights, but he is also a rather stubborn opponent to those who act unjustly. They want us to leave secretly? No way, says Paul. Let them come and apologize, before we invoke our rights as citizens of Rome. The public apology comes quickly and humbly. The city officials begin "begging" Paul to leave. A threat of litigation, the embarassment of a hasty judgment, and the miraculous breaking of a Roman jail -- please leave, Paul, say the officials. We apologize. Note: Sinners get their just desserts. But the best delivery is not from the jail. Nor is it from the wrongful handling of the local Roman authorities. Your best release comes from the Lord, after your work is done, after death, and after salvation comes full circle. God is for you. Do not fear humans, nor humans authority. Death and jail are no threats to you, the disciplemaker. You are under the care and direction of Almighty God.
southern Europe. Note: People will respond to you when you share the gospe
3.GOD WILL RELEASE YOU (35-40) 35 The next morning the city officials sent the police to tell the jailer, “Let those men go!” 36 So the jailer told Paul, “The city officials have said you and Silas are free to leave. Go in peace.” 37 But Paul replied, “They have publicly beaten us without a trial and put us in prison—and we are Roman citizens. So now they want us to leave secretly? Certainly not! Let them come themselves to release us!” 38 When the police reported this, the city officials were alarmed to learn that Paul and Silas were Roman citizens. 39 So they came to the jail and apologized to them. Then they brought them out and begged them to leave the city. 40 When Paul and Silas left the prison, they returned to the home of Lydia. There they met with the believers and encouraged them once more. Then they left town.
Acts 8: When to Be Baptized
For Soul Break, May 25, 2016 By James L. Johnson
"36 As they rode along, they came to some water, and the eunuch said, “Look! There’s some water! Why can’t I be baptized?” 38 He ordered the carriage to stop, and they went down into the water, and Philip baptized him.." (Acts 8:36-38, NLT)
How long should you wait before you are baptized? It doesn't have to be long. Philip likely waited less than an hour before the Ethiopian treasurer was baptized. If you study Acts 8, you can see the following time line. It happens in the Summer of 33 A.D., just weeks after Christ ascended and teh church began to grow. After the new Jerusalem deacon, Stephen, gets stoned publicly, the Christians in scatter across Israel.
1. Philip is preaching effectively in Samaria. (Acts 8:4-8)
2. An angel of the Lord directs Philip to the desert road on the way to Gaza (Acts 8:26)
3. Philip explains Isaiah 53 and the salvation message of Christ to the Ethiopian Eunuch (Acts 8:28-35)
4. Somewhere along the way, while riding in the chariot on the desert road, the Ethiopian Eunuch is saved.
5. Philip grants the treasurer's request to be baptized, after the African noble is saved (Acts 8:38)
6. Philip and the Ethiopian treasurer go on their way, rejoicing (Acts 8:39-40) IF YOU HAVE NOT YET BEEN BAPTIZED, THE TIME IS NOW God's invitation for you to be baptized is open. Mark 16:16 says, "believe and be baptized and you will be saved." Jesus commaded his followers go "go and make disciples" (Matthew 28:19-20) by baptizing people "in the name of" the Father, Son and Holy Ghost. Romans 8 says believers are "buried with Christ" when they are baptized. In Acts 8:13, you can see that Simon, an immature spiritual newbie, was baptized right after he confessed Christ as Savior. In Acts 16, Paul baptized the Philippian jailer and his family within hours of his salvation, which took place after midnight. It appears the whole family was baptized before the sun came up. YOU CAN BE BAPTIZED RIGHT AWAY TOO Though baptism is not a ritual requirement that earns you the gift of salvation, newly saved believers should be baptized right away. Don't wait. If you have been baptized already, you do not need to be re-baptized. Ephesians 4 says "there is one Lord, one faith, one baptism." God is the acting agent in a baptism. It is not a work you do to earn salvation, nor is baptism an act a pastor or minister performs on you. Baptism is God's work. Accept it as a work of the Spirit. Some new followers imagine they should be baptized a second time, even though they were baptized as babies or small children. The baptism does, however, need to be done "in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit." If you were baptized in a cult, or in a church that does not hold to the Divine Trinity, you should be baptized in the manner Matthew 28 commands.
Many great Christians were baptized as babies, came to conscious faith later in life, and were never rebaptized. Such was the case for modern spiritual leaders such as John Calvin, Martin Luther, CS Lewis, Dietrich Bonhoeffer -- baptized as babies and their "one baptism." Other great Christians in history were baptized as very young children, and affirmed the baptism as valid. Those included leaders such as Polycarp, Irenaeus, and Justin Martyr and John Chrysostum.
WHAT TO DO?
If you need to be baptized, find a church that affirms Jesus as Lord and confesses the Bible as God's Word, and request baptism right away. Look for a godly and Biblical pastor or teacher and share your testimony. Like the Ethiopian eunuch, ask if you can be baptized now. Follow the pattern of Acts 8:35, "as they rode along, they came to some water and the eunuch said, "Look! There's some water! Why can't I be baptized?"
DOES IT MATTER HOW?
Though some of my good friends claim only full immersion, under water, is the only form permissible in a valid baptism, I have yet to find that verse in the Bible. The Bible remains silent on the required mode of baptism. It simply says, "to be baptized." Some claim that the primary meaning of the Greek word baptidzo, is "to immerse." I have not found that verse either. The word means "to wash, to pour, or to immerse." Some claim that Jesus and the eunuch, in their baptisms, "came up out of the water," meaning they had to be underneath it. But Philip and the eunuch went "down into the water," that is, down the bank and into the body of water, and then the baptism began. Philip and the Eunuch did not go "down under the water," they stepped "down into" the water, and then the baptism took place.
So I practice, like many, such as Luther and Calvin, practice both forms -- full immersion and pouring. It is not the amount of water, or the percentage of wetness on a believer, that valideates the baptism. The power and validity of the baptism abides in the Lord, in the Spirit, and in the Word, not in your proper methodology.
If you are a believer, get baptized. Jesus is waiting for you.
Acts 4: On a Roll
For Soul Break, May 15, 2016 By James L. Johnson
"And when they had summoned them, they commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus." (Acts 4:18, NLT)
Have you ever been intimidated? People with power, men with money, women with a fierce personality want you to know. You're not in charge. They lock eyes with you. They want to make it clear. Don't push us any farther. Go away. Go home. SHOWDOWN IN JERUSALEM: PETER NEVER FLINCHED In Acts 4, you find Peter and John getting kicked out of a meeting with the national and religious power brokers of Jerusalem. They put them in jail, from 4 p.m. or so until the next morning. Then the nobles and celebrated heads of state "put them in the center." They said, "By what power or in what name are you doing these things?" The young fishermen from Galilee were not intimidated. Gentlemen, Peter answered. We have to tell you. It's Jesus. No doubt about that. We're not backing down. The "chief priests" and elders, the "captain of the temple guard" and the academic nobles ("Sadducees") were telling them to stop. That's enough, they said. We will let get away with this one. You can run free. Just don't talk about Jesus any more. HOW MANY WAYS DO WE HAVE TO SAY THIS? "No, that's not going to work," said Peter and John. We're going to have to keep talking about Jesus. So says Acts 4:19, "But Peter and John answered and said to them, "Whether it is right in the sight of God to give heed to you rather than to God, you be the judge; 20 for we cannot stop speaking about what we have seen and heard." 21 When they had threatened them further, they let them go (finding no basis on which to punish them) on account of the people, because they were all glorifying God for what had happened; 22 for the man was more than forty years old on whom this miracle of healing had been performed. 23 When they had been released, they went to their own companions and reported all that the chief priests and the elders had said to them." AIN'T NO STOPPING US NOW: APPLICATION Have you ever been on a roll? You can’t stop. Your fortunes change. It’s a whole new attitude. There is a new spring in your step. A bounce. That’s what was happening in Acts 4. The believers were showing up everywhere. Everywhere you turned, there was a new convert, another new family, more friends showing up. With Christ, everything is made new. What happens after you are born again? All across the city of Jerusalem, the new believers were popping up. Brand new Christian families starting new congregations. They were in every quarter of the community of 50,000. People started noticing. On the one hand, people were afraid of them. On the other hand, they were full of love. They were a bundle of contradictions. The new Christians were nobodies. But why was everybody talking about them? They had no political power or clout? But why was everyone afraid of them. They had no money? But why did they have so much to give away? That still happens today. For that reason, I want you to open up to Acts 4, and examine with me what is going to happen when you and your friends get saved. Let’s study four promises for new believers. I find three promises to new believers in the passage below. 1. You will keep going (18-23) The rulers commanded the two young apostles to keep quiet. "But Peter and John answered and said to them, "Whether it is right in the sight of God to give heed to you rather than to God, you be the judge; 20 for we cannot stop speaking about what we have seen and heard." There was no stopping the disciples. There will be no stopping you if you are born again. 2. You will speak up (24-31) When I was a new Christian, I was so shy. I never thought I could be a witness for the Lord. I would rather have jumped out of an airplane. But when the Holy Spirit came into my heart, he gave me the ability to start conversations and build friendships. I became bolder and stronger. The same thing happened with the new believers in Acts 4: "When they heard this (report)," says verse 24, "they lifted their voices to God with one accord." They knew who God was. They were unafraid to speak up together. The same thing will happen to you as you experience God's presence. Look at verse 31. "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." What else happened to the new believers in the church? They started to stick. The same thing will happen to you. 3. You will cling together (32-37) From that point on, the people started to care for each other, share with each other, Christians meeting needs of Christians. It was not required, there were no communist communes, no wages garnished, no demands to look at W-2s -- it's all voluntary. "And the congregation of those who believed were of one heart and soul," says verse 32. "And not one of them claimed that anything belonging to him was his own, but all things were common property to them." There was unity, loyalty and a willingness to cover needs. No one was poor. "There was not a needy person among them," says verse 34, "for all who were owners of land or houses would sell them and bring the proceeds of the sales 35 and lay them at the apostles' feet, and they would be distributed to each as any had need." That's the way it works in the family of God.
Revisiting Acts 1: The Spreading Flame
For Soul Break, May 6, 2016 By James L. Johnson
"And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere...to the ends of the earth." (Acts 1:8, NLT) The Book of Acts is about the spread of the Gospel. It's about how a tiny congregation of 120 grew to global prominence. "Big deal," we say. It really is. The growth of the Gospel of Jesus, to me, staggers the imagination. "You will be my witnesses," Jesus tells 11 disciples on a hill in a relatively unknown country, just a half-mile outside of a regional religious center, Jerusalem. "You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you," Jesus tells them. You will soon be "telling people about me everywhere." He says you will tell people in the city of Jerusalem, less than a mile away. He says you will be my witnesses "through Judea," the regional center around Jerusalem, about 20 miles in diameter. "In Samaria," Jesus said, about 20 to 60 miles north. And then Jesus throws in the caveat. "To the ends of the earth." THE ENDS OF WHERE? Two thousand years after the fact, we take it for granted. The claims of Jesus have spread. Publishers have printed between five and six billion copies of the Bible in the world, in 530 languages, and 2,883 languages have at least some of the Scriptures published in their tongue. We have seen how the Word has spread. It's all over the world. It's in every country. The name of Jesus covers the globe. At least 2.2 billion of the world's 7.4 billion people call themselves "Christians." The Muslim population is growing at 1.6 billion, 1.1 billion people call themselves secular or non-religious, and 1.0 billion identify as Hindu. That still leaves Christianity, nominally, as No. 1 -- almost least one third of the world identifies with the name of Jesus Christ. TELL THAT TO THE ELEVEN AND TO THE OTHER 109 BELIEVERS But that would have seemed incredible to the 120 first Christians in Acts 1. This eclectic band of Hebrew speakers, every single one of them Israelis, either from Galilee, and a few from Judea. Precious few from nobility -- perhaps only a handful, including Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus, had money. Some were "prominent women" who had funded Jesus and the disciples for three years while they preached and taught and healed and were made into disciples in the villages, towns and cities of the tiny nation of three million people. Who were they? Fishermen, tax collectors, Galilean outsiders in an ethnic nation of religious conservatism. Uneducated serfs in a middle-eastern country far away from the giant conglomeration called the Roman Empire. Rome was a Mammoth, a democratic-like military power with a bulging economy and 65 million people. On a globe of 300 million people, that would be 20 percent of the world who would call themselves Romans. And there stands the huddle, gazing into the sky, hearing Jesus's command to move forward (Acts 1:8), watching Jesus ascend into heaven (Acts 1:9), huddling in a prayer meeting in an upper room in Jerusalem, 120 of them, all "in one place," (Acts 1:15), deciding which of the 120 would take the place of Judas as one of the Twelve, as official witnesses of his death and resurrection. It came down to two men, Joseph and Matthias (Acts 1:23) and they rolled dice, or cast lots. The lot pointed to Matthias. And they 12 were back in business. LONG STORY SHORT: 28 CHAPTERS Acts is the story of how 120 people grew from a tiny band of young believers in the capital of Judea into to a thriving body of 10,000 believers who spread all the way to Rome. Luke, the friend of Paul, is an active physician's report with an historian's eye who puts the story to pen in 28 chapters. He covers the first 30 years of the churches spouting up after Jesus ascended. Luke stands amazed how Peter and James lead the first 120 to a radiant band of 5,000 within weeks. When when Christianity's worst enemy, Saul, becomes its most productive proponent two years later, in 35 AD -- what happens then? Peter and Paul take the growing family of 5,000 converts to Antioch in Syria, to Persia and Asia, to Greece and Crete and Cyprus, to the port cities of North Africa. And within just 30 years, you have Paul and a group of vibrant leaders between the ages of 20 and 60 standing in the highest court of Rome. In 28 chapters, Luke cuts off the story, with Paul standing in the courtroom, finding favor among the world's biggest power brokers. That's the Book of Acts. And so, we contend, Acts 1 shows us the beginning of the early church's first travelogue, The Book of the Acts of the Holy Spirit, using the Apostles.
For Soul Break, May 7, 2016 By James L. Johnson
"All the believers devoted themselves to the apostles teaching, and to fellowship, and to sharing in meals, and to prayer." (Acts 2:42, NLT) THE FIRST CHURCHES IN ACTS Have you ever wondered what the first churches were like? In Acts 2, you find them. They are simple and organic. They are local. And you see a growing family of believers, with "a sense of awe" (vs. 43) and people "taking their meals together with great joy and generosity" (vs. 46). It is the year 33 AD, the summer days bringing these new Christians together in Jerusalem, and they have grown from 120 to 3,000 people. They don't meet in one place. They have no church buildings. There are no parking lots. No church bulletins. No membership rolls. They meet it fellowship circles all over the city (population 50,000 at the time). They don't belong to one congregation, cramming a few thousand people together in a massive auditorium. They meet in little huddles. They speak in at least 15 different language groups. Family groups at mealtimes. Dozens of people coming to the temple to pray. Bible teachers like Peter and Thomas and John and James the Less were teaching the Bible, here and there. Organizing this growing, flowing family into one group would be like gathering in the waves of the sea into sandy beach holes. They come and go. Some speak Arabic, some speak Greek. Some come from Pontus, Cappadocia, Mesopotamia, regions of Asia, and from Libya in Africa. Every color, shape, size and language. We have flocks here, and I can relate to flocks. When I think of churches, I think about sheep. Which is a fascinating concept, if you think about it, for me – a man who grew up in the suburbs, who has never owned or touched or fed a sheep in my life, never held a lamb in my arms, never sheered one, or owned one, to be sure – I would be terrified to “carry one” a sheep in my bosom,” as Isaiah 40:11 describes it. ON THE ONE HAND, I’M AN OUTSIDER I have never been to Israel, never visited Jerusalem, never met an apostle. I'm a foreign sheep. I'm the wrong color. I'm white and have blond hair and have relatives who live in the cold north lands, and my ancestors were Vikings. They were Nordic farmers and sailors who can't speak a word of Hebrew or Greek, or Aramaic, or Arabic, for that matter. I'm a different kind of sheep from a different fold. So I like it when I hear the first churches were little families, small flocks of people groups and families who came from different places. John 10:1-5 says, “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter by the door into the fold of the sheep, but climbs up some other way, he is a thief and a robber. But he who enters by the door is a shepherd of the sheep. To him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he puts forth all his own, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice.” (NASB) Jesus is a shepherd of all kinds of sheep. ON THE OTHER HAND, I’M AN INSIDER I like the metaphor -- even though I know so little about those wool-bearing creatures Jesus always spoke about. I don't know diddly about sheep. If it were not for the Minnesota State Fair or the 4-H Club’s annual competition in Ventura California, or if I had never visited the Baker farm in Amery, Wisconsin, one summer, or tried to borrow three of them for our church’s annual “Christmas Eve in the Barn Event” one time, would have never come within 60 miles of a sheep. I did, once, borrow heavily from a book by W. Phillip Keller called “A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23” for a message I once prepared. That one book is as far of a study of sheep as I have ever gone. But I still think about sheep when I think about churches. Jesus steered me that way. When Jesus talks about His flock of sheep in John 10, and you are a pastor of a church called Good Shepherd, you can’t help but see the parallels. Jesus could have used so many other real-world parallels. He could have spoken of his congregation as a political party – one of his disciples, Simon the Zealot, belonged to one. He could have made the analogy of a religious organization – the Pharisees and Sadducees would have related. He could have made the parallel of a trade union – the Roman Empire hub of Ephesus had a great organization of silversmiths. Instead, Jesus spoke of sheep in flocks. In John 10, Jesus says the fold is a secure place with a legitimate Savior. A thief, Jesus says, “climbs in.” But the true shepherd “enters by the door” (vs. 2). The sheep belong to the shepherd, they “hear His voice” (vs. 3) and there is an individual connection and a personal relationship between the Savior and the saints. “He calls His own sheep by name” (vs. 3). The shepherd does drive his believers like steers. They are not his cattle herd. He “leads them out,” says verse 4. “He goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice.” (John 10:5). THAT’S WHY I’M IN In Acts 2, it all comes together for me. When Jesus saves you, when you repent and are born again, you become one of the sheep. But you don't look or sound the same as all the other people. We're flocks, not herds. We're little huddles, not major corporations. Jesus takes us where we are, uses the languages we speak, puts us with people we barely know, and carries back into families who thought we long left. God made us that way. The flock of Jesus, the congregations Jesus pulls together, and places in protective places, with under-shepherds and flocks of like-minded believers standing, feeding and living with each other, this flock is known for following the Good Shepherd. He knows them individually, and speaks to them, and they follow Him. So it is with the church of Jesus. They gather and follow – they don’t run away from Jesus or ignore His voice. They stand close by. He leads them. IN JOHN 10, JESUS TALKS TO THE INSIDERS The flock analogy confused the disciples, John said. Maybe it was because they were fishermen from Galilee, or like Matthew, a former tax collector, or just because they were young men, still so new to the Lord. John writes in verse 6, “This figure of speech Jesus spoke to them, but they did not understand what those things were which He had been saying to them.” So Jesus spoke up and explained it again – sticking with the metaphor. "All who came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them,” Jesus said in verse 8. "I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture,” says verse 9. "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” Those are parallels even I can understand, city dweller that I am. A Savior, a Good Shepherd, who speaks to his sheep and leads them to pasture. He does not use or abuse or take advantage of His sheep. He gives them life, and they love Him for it. They know Him. You can huddle with that church, His “little flock.” That is Jesus calls it in Luke 12. Little not because it’s so small, but because it is precious to the one who owns it. The Lamb of God, as John the Baptist called Jesus in John 1. He is the One who was slain like the perfect lamb of The Passover in Exodus 12. He is the One who will “separate the sheep on His right hand and the goats on His left,” in Matthew 25. He knows His own by name and says, “You are mine.” He gathers the vulnerable ones, the ignorant ones, the precious lambs who need the security of the fold, under the watch of a caring shepherd-pastor, and who are given “abundant life” (verse 10). When I think about those early churches, and the sheep and the flocks where they gathered, I find myself thinking, "Yes, I'm a sheep, and I like those simple gatherings." Meal times of love, prayer times and fellowship. A thousand people groups and a thousand languages. One shepherd but a million huddles. That's fine with me. Acts 2 is still happening. And you: are you connecting with one of those huddles? Are you a part of a little flock? James L. Johnson, for Soul Break, May 6, 2016
Fifty Facts about Acts
For Soul Break, May 2, 2016 By James L. Johnson NOTE: To complement our verse-by-verse study in Acts, Soul Break is offering "Fifty Facts about Acts." We will take readers, listeners and Bible students through the essentials of the history of the first century believers in a thorough-but-entry-level way. Join us as we take Luke's investigative report, one bite at a time -- or one byte at a time. FACT 1: Paul's friend Luke wrote the book of Acts.
Luke was the renaissance man of the New Testament.
He was an observer, historian, journalist, physician and a net-worker. He had a way with people. Though not an eye-witness of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, he was a student and biographer of the events central to the Gospel. A close friend of Paul, who calls him "the beloved physician," Luke admits he was compulsive about the details. In Luke 1, he writes to his friend "O Excellent Theophilus," and says there have been "many who have set out to write out accounts of the events" of Jesus Christ. He's not an original, said Luke about himself. He's a perfectionist. "They used the eyewitness reports circulating among us from the early disciples." He was no casual historian. He studied. He obsessed. He relayed medical details, he clarified geography, he pin-pointed days, months and years, and he included more parables of Jesus than any other writer. No gospel is longer. No one includes more references to women (Luke refers to more than 40 women in his writings). No record more thorough. His two volumes cover 25 percent of the New Testament. No writer pens more chapters and verses than Luke. No other writer charts 38,000 words in the New Testament. Matthew hits 18,000. Mark publishes 11,000. John prints 32,000, if you include all five of his books. But Luke covers the details. Luke writes to his friend "Theophilus," likely a nickname, which translates, "Friend of God," or "God lover." Theophilus is a mystery to us. The Bible lays out only the basics about him: His name, his noble title, and the reality that Luke, Paul's closest ministry companion, penned one quarter of the New Testament especially for him. It is likely that Theophilus is either a) a Roman noble who sought the exact nature of the history of Jesus and the early church, or b) a Jewish Pharisee who was curious about Christ but cautious to be publicly identified. So Luke writes to him, and puts his work into two volumes. As you see in the verses below, Acts 1:1-3, Luke refers to his first publication, "my first book." He also clarifies his purpose. "I told you about everything Jesus began to do and teach until the day He was taken up to heaven."
FACT 2: Luke wrote Acts around 62 AD. Luke was a gifted, young contemporary of the Apostle Paul, and was not apparently present during the three years of Christ's ministry. He would have missed the death and resurrection of Christ, around 33 A.D. But Luke did not miss much after that. A keen observer, a diligent journalist, and a "much-loved physician," Luke had an eye for detail. His accurate report focuses on the big picture, but accurately handles the microscope details, too. The time line is pretty simple. Jesus the Messiah carried on his ministry, by most accounts, between 30 to 33 A.D. Paul, Luke's fast friend, did not encounter Christians -- he hated them at first -- until 35 A.D. After encountering Jesus in a vision on the Road to Damascus, while on an orthodox Jewish mission to terrorize and harass Christians in Syria, the Lord Jesus met him on the road, leaving Paul blind. "Who are you, Lord?" Paul asked. "I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting," Luke's account tells us (Acts 9:4).
In Acts 1, Luke leaves no doubt about when the time in starts. Sometime “during the forty days after he suffered and died,” Luke says, Jesus “appeared” to the apostles, “from time to time, and he proved to them in many ways that he was actually alive. And he talked to them about the Kingdom of God.” One time, says verse 4, during a meal, his disciples asked him, “Has the time come” that you are restoring the Kingdom to Israel? Instead of chiding them for focusing on datelines, Jesus says, “It is not for you to know times and epochs.” Note: Jesus does not deny that He will return to “restore the kingdom to Israel.” Immediately after that comment, Luke notes, he “ascended” back into heaven. Here is where the Acts timeline really begins. The first day of the new little church, watching Christ rise to the Heavens, about 40 days after His death, 33 AD.
The rest of the Book of Acts covers 29 years – 33 AD to 62 AD. Using his research from eyewitnesses for Acts 1-8, Luke’s personal presence does not start until Acts 9, the day of Saul’s conversion, in 35 AD. The Bible does not tell us where Luke met Paul, but Luke's report is especially personal: Luke notes the place in the road, quotes the dialogue (vs. 4-6), notes the repeated exclamation of Jesus: “Saul! Saul!,” (vs. 4), gives the persecutor’s answer, “Who are you, Lord?” (vs. 5), tells you the day his sight returned, (vs. 9, “three days later”), and takes readers to the house address where Paul finds Ananias (Straight Street, house of Judas (vs. 11).
Luke likely pens the book in 62 A.D., or shortly thereafter. Recent archaeology discoveries have confirmed the precision of Luke's account (The Politarch Inscription of Acts 17, The find of “Gallio, Proconsul of Achaea,” as mentioned in Acts 18. As to why not later than 62 AD, the early dating is logical. Luke abruptly ends his report in Acts 28, with Paul awaiting trial in Rome (a trial that took place in 62 A.D. Nero's fierce persecution of believers in Rome in 64 A.D. It would also be odd for Luke not to mention the tragic destruction of Jerusalem at the hands of Roman General Titus -- it was the ancient day parallel to 9-11 – if the writing was post-70 AD. Likewise, Luke's puzzling failure to report Paul's death (67 AD), or Peter's (68 AD), would beg the question, “’why not?” With that in mind, I propose the book was written in 62 AD, about 30 years after the death and resurrection of Jesus, and eight years prior to the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. JL Johnson, For RI Unlimited On Soul Break, May 2, 2016
FACT 3: Two of the last three appearances of Jesus on earth occur in the Book of Acts
"After saying this, he was taken up into a cloud while they were watching." (Acts 1:9) Two of the last appearances of Jesus occur in the Book of Acts. Where are they?
1. The Asension. The first of the three is in Acts 1:4-9, when Jesus has a meal with "the apostles" and tells them not to leave Jerusalem until "The Father sends the gift" of the Holy Spirit. Immediately after this conversation, says Acts 1:9, Jesus was "taken up into a cloud" while the 11 apostles stood staring up into the sky. Angels appeared to the 11 and said Jesus would not be coming back for a while -- it has been almost 1,985 years since then.
2. The Road to Damascus. The second was when the Apostle Paul met Christ on the road to Damascus in Acts 9. It was "a voice" that confronted Paul in verse 4, but for Paul it was a physical encounter. "I am Jesus," the Lord told him when Saul/Paul inquired of his name. "Now get up and go into the city" of Damascus, Jesus tells him. The Lord directs him to the house of Judas on Straight Street (9:11). One could argue that Christ appears to Ananias at the Straight Street house, but the passage says it was "a vision" (9:10). I count the encounter as one. Which takes me to the third.
3. The Island of Patmos. The Apostle John, 60 years after Paul's conversion on the Syrian Road, sees Jesus on an island off the West Coast of Turkey, near Ephesus. There at Patmos, says Revelation 1, John "saw one speaking to me" (vs. 12), and "I fell at His feet" (vs. 17). Jesus told John there on the island, "Look, I am alive." (vs. 18). The rest of the Apocalypse of John is a personal encounter with Christ -- it may have been an hour, a day or longer. John doesn't say. But the entire reading of Revelation takes 90 minutes, and the book plays as if a continuous present-tense meeting between John, Jesus, the angels, and the citizens of heaven. John receives the Revelation of the last days of earth and the beginning of Heaven and Hell, but the encounter itself serves as the final record of Christ's record of personal visits in the Bible.
JL Johnson, May 4, 2016
A Message from Acts 3: He Jumped Up
May 1, 2016
"He jumped up, stood on his feet, and began to walk! Then walking, leaping and praising god, he went into the Temple with them." (Acts 3:8, NLT)
For the Israeli disabled man, it was likely an ordinary afternoon. Not much to look forward to in Jerusalem. Another day sitting at the Temple Entrance, asking religious people for money.
SOME OBSERVATIONS ABOUT ACTS 3
It was about 2:45 p.m., and there he was again, sitting at The Beautiful Gate, trying to make eye contact with people heading into a prayer service. Most people looked the other way. But not Peter and John. There was a new spring in their step. Peter and John had just received the Holy Spirit's power -- a bizarre morning when the 120 followers of Jesus began preaching the Gospel in foreign languages. They heard words coming from their mouth they had never known, nouns and verbs and powerful participles they had never studied, and people miraclously started listening to the cacophony of Bible preachers. On that unforgettable day, Peter gave his first public gospel message -- a sermon recorded in Acts 2 -- and 3,000 people in the city converted within the next few hours. Naturally, Peter and John were pretty psyched up when they walked into a prayer service at the same worship center. Peter saw a lame man, and the lame man saw him. Peter "looked at him intently," says Acts 3:4, and yelled, "Look at us!"
What? The disabled man must have thought: "Wait, what? Someone's talking to me?" Yes, I want to talk to you, Peter said, but I have no cash. "I don't have any silver or gold for you, but I'll give you what I have," says verse 6. "In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, get up and walk." Peter then grabbed him by the right hand, and pulled him up, and the disabled man became an aspiring Olympic athlete, a powerful dancer, and the focus of attention to everyone at the prayer service, all at once. He was healed, says verse 7, and instanty began to walk and jump and praise the Lord. His once-atrophied ankles, knees and calves were know powerful and strong. "Then," says verse 8, "walking and leaping and praising god, he went into the Temple with him." The former anonymous beggar in the city became a local legend. "All the people saw him," says verse 9, "and heard him praising God."
DO I KNOW YOU?
When they realized he was the lame begger thay had seen so often at the Beautiful Gate, "they were absolutely astounded," says verse 10. "They all rushed out in amazement," says verse 11, to stare at the man, now clinging to Peter and John, refusing to let these young new spiritual leaders go. That must have been awkward. Even more so, when the former Simon Bar Jonah wanted to give another loud spiritual speech. That's when Peter started giving Public Sermon No. 2. "Peter saw his opportunity," says verse 11, and addressed the crowd. 'People of Israel,'" Peter said. "What is so surprising about this? And why stare at us as though we had made this man walk by our own power and godliness?" Peter shouted. "It s the God of Abraham... the God of our ancestors... who has brought glory to his servant Jesus by doing this."
SOME APPLICATIONS ABOUT ACTS 3: HOW DOES THIS HISTORICAL EVENT APPLY TO ME?
This anecdote makes me jump for a couple of reasons. First, I stare at disabled people, and second, I am disabled too.
Yes, I admit. I'm a starer. I can't help but look. But I'm pretty good at disguising my propensity to gawk. My whole family does it. We're curious people, and we can't help but wonder: "What's going on there?" No, doubt, if I were living in Jerusalem in the day of Acts 3, I would have been the first in a line of stunned and staring spectators. But even more significantly, I can relate to the beggar even more now. I walk on crutches and use a walker, my leg wrapped in a bloody bandage, and hobbled by a lame knee. A few weeks ago I popped my knee out of joint and snapped a ligament. Last week I underwent a major knee surgery. I will be lying here for another week or so.
Now I sit at my own beautiful family gate, on a couch near the entrance of our Camarillo house, trying to make eye contact with people whom I beg to do favors, right inside the front porch. I won't walk regularly for about two months. I won't leap for a year. I may praise God loudly, but I won't be jumping, leaping, and drawing attention to myself by my athletic prowess. So I think about the lame man in a new way. I can only imagine how that disabled begger must have felt when Peter grabbed him by the right arm. "Hey, don't do that! It's going to hurt!"
I'm also amused at the idea of Peter and John staring intently at the man and saying, "Look at us!" The audacity of two other quotes in Acts 3 makes me break out laughing. The first one is "In the name of Jesus Christ, get up and walk." Oh right, I was hearing the man say, then "don't do that! Hey, leave me alone! Isn't it intriguing to think of young, vibrant Peter making a potential fool of himself by pulling up a disabled person and telling him to walk?
The second humor-inducing quote I see is when Peter says to the crowd, Hey, what are you looking at? To think of it -- this crowd, already "absolutely astounded," by the spectacle of the man doing an Olympic gymnastics floor routine in and around the temple, now getting the what-for from Peter? He clears his throat, seizes the opportunity to make Mega Sermon No. 2, and says, "why are you guys so surprised?" And the kicker, "Why are you staring at us?" Peter, the lightning-tongued gawker from Galilee, surely chuckled at his own joke. "Why are you staring at us, as though the man was healed by us?" His inference? It's okay to stare, but you're staring at the wrong person. It goes unstated in Acts 3, but is as clear as crystal in my book. All those people, headed to a prayer meeting, and none of them staring at, looking for, gazing intently at God. "You should be staring at Yahweh."
JUST LIKE US
Why is it we stare at the disabled people, wonder at the leaping athletes, and marvel at the young celebrities, but never gawk at the Lord. I suppose it's because we are, like the baffled blind people at the prayer meeting, so clueless about the miracles God is doing every day.
Lord Jesus, help me stare at you, and wonder at your works, marvel at the miracles you do every day, get surprised by the stunning, supernatural stories of divine celebrity you are writing every day, in your history of the actions of your new apostles. Like it says in Psalms, I want to 'tell of your wonders," and want to "praise you, O Lord, with all my heart." Help me walk and leap and wonder at your incredible works.
James L. Johnson, for Soul Break, May 1, 2016
A Message from Acts 4:
There once was a dorm with five students: Somebody, Anybody, Everybody, Nobody and Natasha.
Who was there for Natasha? It was the worst week of her life.
Natasha was alone. Finances were bad…Didn’t have a car…Long way from home. Everybody saw her need. Somebody suggested that one of the DA’s should help her. Anybody could have stepped in. But who was there to be an encouragement? Nobody. Nobody did everything in that dorm. Nobody invited them home for the weekend. Nobody asked if they wanted to study together at Caribou. Nobody prayed. Don’t think the others didn’t care. Somebody suggested they start a Special Needs Committee. Everybody thought it was a good idea. Anybody could have extended a loving hand. But who had initiative? That’s right. Nobody did. Nobody cared. Nobody visited. Nobody wrote an anonymous letter with cash inside. And Nobody listened. Somebody said she should have invited Natasha to Women of Faith conference. Everybody thought Donna Bogott would help. Anybody could have been a listener. But who was available to spend a Saturday night together?
Nobody. Nobody was there. Nobody took the step. And of course, Natasha had a pretty bad year. Almost left, but didn’t. And where were the deans? Well, the deans, of course, needed Somebody to help. But he was busy with Everybody’s problems.
That’s what we’re going to talk about this year. How when Jesus takes over in your life, He causes Christians to care for each other. And the message is entitled, “You Still Care?. “
And if you would turn with me to Acts 4:32-37, I think you will find…
THREE ATTITUDES TO HELP YOU CARE FOR CHRISTIANS IN THE BODY:
You are us, 2) He is alive, and 3) Your need is my need. (Read Acts 4:32-37)
If you look at the passage we just read, I want you to notice a few realities about the situation. First, this is brand new church. It’s a church in Jerusalem, made up of people who probably who were probably not in their comfort zone. It appears that most of these were ethnic Jewish, living in a proud, loyal, intolerant Jewish culture. They had relatives in the city…friends who couldn’t understand why they had left the synagogue…why were they doing this? Everything is new. The church is just organized, perhaps just 15 to 18 months since they started, like us.
And so here is a description of how they survived as a new church plant. And I want you to notice three attitudes that prevailed in their fellowship.
1.YOU ARE US (VS. 32)
People cared about Mikaela and Annika on August 27. Annika and Mikaela were kicked out of business at the Minnesota State Fair this summer. MIKAELA AND ANNIKA ZIEGLER, STATE FAIR. What was interesting to me how people embraced little Mikaela and Annika Ziegler the Friday after they were shut down. You may recall that the sisters, ages 7 and 4, were selling pop, juice and water from their home in St. Paul when a city inspector shut them down because they didn’t have a license. MSNBC and ABC radio placed calls to the family. NBC’s “Today Show” got on their side. They were headlined on the Drudge report. They showed up at city hall Friday to pay for a $60 license so they could sell lemonade. And finally St. Paul Mayor Randy Kelly got on their side. His exact wording: “Leave the little girls alone.” (Star Tribune, Saturday, Aug. 30, 2003). And so by Friday afternoon the Ziegler girls were back in business. Why did people get on the side of little Mikaela and Annika? Was it because it was a political issue. Because they wanted everybody to skip the license fee? No, it was because people embraced two little girls. Annika and Mikaela became, in a sense, our little girls. Leave them alone! They were us! As their father, neuropsychologist at the U of M said, “This is not what less government is about. This is about being a kid.”
Vs. 33, “And with great power the apostles were giving testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus.”
Look at 34, “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 see verse 35, “and lay them at the apostles’ feet, and they would be distributed to each as any had need.”
Look at a man named Joseph in Acts 4:36-37,
*Jesus on a cross.
*Not that we loved Him.
*Cast all your cares on Him because…He cares for you.
Let Jesus care for you. Let Jesus care through you. Be of one heart and mind. And say, you are us…He is alive…and your need is my need. Go to the one who met your need at the cross and cared for your soul – and let him cover your sin and cause you to care!
Pastor James L. Johnsonteacher on Soul Break, 98.3 Upcoming Broadcasts; www.kdar.com
M-F, 12:30 p.m. and 10:30 p.m., KDAR, 98.3 FM You can also go on-line and catch archived recordings of recent Soul Break broadcasts on this website, by clicking on "Listen" and "Soul Break Audio."
Acts 1 says (NLT)...
1 In my first book I told you, Theophilus, about everything Jesus began to do and teach
2 until the day he was taken up to heaven after giving his chosen apostles further instructions through the Holy Spirit.
3During the forty days after he suffered and died, he appeared to the apostles from time to time, and he proved to them in many ways that he was actually alive. And he talked to them about the Kingdom of God.
4 Once when he was eating with them, he commanded them, “Do not leave Jerusalem until the Father sends you the gift he promised, as I told you before.
5 John baptized with water, but in just a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”
6 So when the apostles were with Jesus, they kept asking him, “Lord, has the time come for you to free Israel and restore our kingdom?”
7 He replied, “The Father alone has the authority to set those dates and times, and they are not for you to know.
8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
9 After saying this, he was taken up into a cloud while they were watching, and they could no longer see him.
10 As they strained to see him rising into heaven, two white-robed men suddenly stood among them.
11 “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why are you standing here staring into heaven? Jesus has been taken from you into heaven, but someday he will return from heaven in the same way you saw him go!”
12 Then the apostles returned to Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives, a distance of half a mile.
Acts 4 says (NLT)...
33 With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all 34 that there were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned land or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales 35 and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone who had need.
36 Joseph, a Levite from Cyprus, whom the apostles called Barnabas (which means “son of encouragement”), 37 sold a field he owned and brought the money and put it at the apostles’ feet.
Acts 6 says...
1 In those days when the number of disciples was increasing, the Hellenistic Jews among them complained against the Hebraic Jews because their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food.
2 So the Twelve gathered all the disciples together and said, “It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the word of God in order to wait on tables. 3 Brothers and sisters, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them 4 and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word.”
5 This proposal pleased the whole group. They chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit; also Philip, Procorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas from Antioch, a convert to Judaism. 6 They presented these men to the apostles, who prayed and laid their hands on them. 7 So the word of God spread. The number of disciples in Jerusalem increased rapidly, and a large number of priests became obedient to the faith.
8 Now Stephen, a man full of God’s grace and power, performed great wonders and signs among the people. 9 Opposition arose, however, from members of the Synagogue of the Freedmen (as it was called)—Jews of Cyrene and Alexandria as well as the provinces of Cilicia and Asia—who began to argue with Stephen. 10 But they could not stand up against the wisdom the Spirit gave him as he spoke.
11 Then they secretly persuaded some men to say, “We have heard Stephen speak blasphemous words against Moses and against God.” 12 So they stirred up the people and the elders and the teachers of the law. They seized Stephen and brought him before the Sanhedrin. 13 They produced false witnesses, who testified, “This fellow never stops speaking against this holy place and against the law. 14 For we have heard him say that this Jesus of Nazareth will destroy this place and change the customs Moses handed down to us.”
15 All who were sitting in the Sanhedrin looked intently at Stephen, and they saw that his face was like the face of an angel.
380 Arneill RoadCamarillo, CA (805) 384-9243 Hours: 9am - 12pm, 1pm - 3pm M-F
All Content © Good Shepherd Lutheran Church. All Rights Reserved.