Welcome to the ACTS Podcast!

A group of shepherds would become the first people outside of Jesus' family to know of his arrival (Luke 2:8-20).  We often think in our society that to have an impact we must harness the forces of earthly power.  If only Christians controlled TV! If only Christians ruled the nations! Yet God's way is often very different.  The Gospel of Luke teaches us that God can take obscure and poor people and use them to transform the world.

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It is called Bethlehem-Ephratah, both names of the same city, as appears in (Genesis 35:19).  It was little among the thousands of Judah, not considerable either for the number of the inhabitants or the figure they make; it had nothing in it worthy to have this honor put upon it; but God in that, as in other instances, chose to exalt those of low degree, (Luke 1:52). (Henry, M. 1994)

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The Christian gospel is the proclamation of an event, the event of Jesus Christ.  In the Christian view of reality, Jesus is final. He is the revelation of God and the revelation of true humanity.

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The point that John is making here is that no man has seen God at any time, but God today can manifest Himself through believers loving each other.  Since the world in general is not seeing Jesus as He is presented in the World of God, the only way it will know of God's love is through the lives of believers who represent Him.

(Dr. J. Vernon McGee, 1991)

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Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said: Forgiveness is not an occasional act, it is a permanent attitude.

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"The marvelous truth of divine forgiveness is the foundation for a positive Christian self-image" (Hoekema, 1913).  Sometimes one's difficulty to forgive is directly proportioned to one's thinking too highly of oneself.  If my thinking is that I am too good to forgive you; then I have a poor self-image, in light of the fact that I am a Christian.

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Forgiveness, like love, is a concept as much as a feeling.  If your assumptions about it are extreme or unrealistic, you may never forgive, or you may forgive too quickly.

(Abrahams- Spring, 1997)

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Suffering is the crucible in which faith and confidence in God is developed.  Suffering for the sake of righteousness is intended to make us into the people that God wants us to be.  To remember the dark times when God stood by us finally made a "way of escape" is a source of nourishment to continue in faith (Anderson & Saucy, 1997)

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Isaiah was talking about a believer who obeys God yet walks in darkness.  He was not talking about the darkness of sin, nor even the kingdom of darkness.  Rather, he was talking about the darkness of uncertainty.  (Anderson & Saucy, 1997)

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You must thank God in the midst of your pain.  Tell Him you trust Him.  Praise Him for what He can do, for what He is doing, as you do so pressure will lift.  You will be given a garment of praise to replace a spirit of heaviness. (John White, The Fight, Inter Varsity, 1976).

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The reality of Peter’s view of Christian suffering being inevitable requires that we have a Christian response to suffering.  We may not always be able to identify the source of our suffering, but if we are Christ’s disciples, we can expect to be persecuted.  Jesus said, (John 15:20) …If they persecuted Me, they will persecute you also. 

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Whether our suffering is physical pain, poverty, or spiritual turmoil, all of these provide opportunities for us to minister to each other and not only give blessings, but also to receive blessing through service.

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Augustine said, God wants to give us something, but cannot, because our hands are full- there's nowhere for Him to put it.  Suffering empties our hands so that God can give us Himself, the true treasure of life.

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Despite our natural aversion to suffering, Scripture tells us that we can expect it and, in fact it is a necessity for spiritual growth. In the words of J.I. Packer, 'suffering Christianly is an integral aspect of biblical holiness, and a regular part of business as usual for the believer.' 

Neil T. Anderson & Robert L. Saucy, The Common Made Holy, Harvest House Publishing, Oregon, (1997, p. 368).

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That suffering is necessary for building character is one of the clearest truths of both life and Scripture.  Jesus Himself is the greatest example.  Apart from the suffering He endured to pay the consequences of our sin, He knew suffering that helped produce something in His own life.  (Neil T. Anderson & Robert L. Saucy, The Common Made Holy, Harvest House Publishing, Oregon, (1997, P. 369))

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While each individual is responsible for his or her moral/spiritual choices, the leaders who set the tone of a society are accountable as well.  In this powerful chapter Ezekiel presents God's indictment of his people's "shepherds"--their political and spiritual leadership (34:1-6)

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Courage is the willingness to fight when appearances or history tell you that you are bound to lose.  The opposite of courage is timidity, the refusal to engage in a struggle deemed lost from the outset.

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To whom do we go when things get difficult? Who provides the assurance of safety and deliverance for you?

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The soul is the spiritual and immortal part of man, which thinks and reasons, has a power of reflection and prospect, which actuates the body now, and will shortly act in a separation from the body.  Our souls are our own not in respect of dominion and property (for we are not our own, all souls are mine, says God), but in respect of nearness and concern; our souls are our own, for they are ourselves. 

(Henry, M. (1994) Matthew Henry's commentary on the whole Bible: complete and unabridged in one volume (p. 1699). Peabody: Hendrickson.)

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Dr. Paul Brand writes: I take comfort in the fact that somehow, in the mysterious resources of the human spirit, even pain can serve a higher end. (Philip Yancey, 2006)

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When we hurt; prayer, preparation and hope for life's pain is extended, we just need to understand that God expects His people to provide the care for one another and that's community.

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Here are the words of a health professional: Ministering to the loneliness of a suffering person requires no professional expertise.  When I have asked, "Who helped you most?" usually patients describe a quiet, unassuming person: someone who was there whenever needed, who listened more than talked, who didn't keep glancing down at a watch, who hugged and touched and cried. (Yancey, 2006)

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Guest Pastor from First AME by The Sea.

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Dr. Charles Swindoll, in his book, David, ask this question: What is your spiritual legacy, dads? Will your children grow up knowing that their father served the Lord God willingly, with a whole heart? Are you modeling that for them in your life? There is no better teaching tool in the life of a child that the model of a parent's life surrendered to the Lord God.  (Swindoll, 1997)

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David was a man that loved God...he was still a man after God's heart.  He sinned, but his sin was no greater than your sin or mine; ours simply have not been recorded for all to read.  (Swindoll, 1997)

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When the child learns successful strategies based upon communication and socially acceptable behavior, anger takes its normal place in the array of human emotions. When the child learns antisocial strategies, anger can become the dominant theme. (Garabarino & Bedard, 2001).

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Intensifiers of Pain is a term used by Dr. Paul Brand for responses that heighten the perception of pain within the conscious mind.  These intensifiers- fear, anger, guilt, loneliness, helplessness- may have more impact on the overall experience of pain than any prescription drug you might take. (Yancey, 2006).

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The cure for being chronically behind is to acknowledge the problem and then schedule some time to simply catch up. [Valery Burton says] this means saying no to anything  new until you have the opportunity to tie up all your loose ends... After you have taken the time you need to get caught up, it is critical that you not return to the same behaviors that landed you in trouble in the first place. (Burton, 2005)

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Guest Speaker: Rodney Johnson

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Hanna is a reminder that mothers are the makers of men and the architects of the next generation. (MacArthur, 2005).

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Do you love Jesus with an incorruptible love? You have probably heard that question asked in a little different way: If God is such a loving God, why does He allow bad things to happen?

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True freedom doesn't just lie in a person's right to make choices.  It comes by making responsible choices based on the truth of God's Word so that the freedom that Christ purchased for us on the cross can be a living reality. (Anderson & Saucy, 1997)

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The Apostle is careful in the first place to shew us, that we have not in ourselves any inherent strength; and that, consequently, we must depend entirely on God. 

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Rev. David P. Metoyer

 

We are either in the process of resisting God's truth or in the process of being shaped and molded by his truth.

(Charles Stanley)

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St. Paul, at the very time that he is endeavoring to recruit the Christian army, tells us plainly, that the enemies we shall have to combat are the subtlest and most powerful of any in the universe.  Deceit and violence, the two great engines of cruelty and oppression, are their daily practice and delight.

 

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Be exalted, O God, above the heavens; let Your glory be over all the earth. Psalm 108:5 (NIV)

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"Ostensibly, Mark's account is the story which would be told by one of those who accompanied Jesus, and John's is the story which would be told by one of those who were at Jerusalem and heard of his approach" (Dodd, Historical Tradition, 156)

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Thomas Brooks, the seventeenth-century English preacher and pastor, wrote about many of Satan's clever strategies in his classic work entitled Precious Remedies Against Satan's Devices.  Among them he notes that Satan, as he did Eve in the garden, presents the pleasure and profit of sin, but hies the misery that will follow (Anderson & Saucy, 1997)

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The emphasis on the saving and enabling power of God in the first half of the epistle sets the stage for the ensuing paraenesis (instructions) in the latter half of the epistle. In particular, in anticipates the admonition to resist the hostile spiritual "powers" (6:10-20). (Arnold, 1992)

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The primary evidence that one has met God is in the disappearing of one's opinion and cleverness.  According to graded absolutism, the universal commands of Scripture such as the prohibitions against blasphemy, idolatry, adultery, murder, lying, and so forth are absolute, and these are binding on all men at all times and all places. Christian ethics are to be applied to both, the employee and the employer, making for a harmonious workplace.

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"I believe that overall my child's life will be better than my life has been." There is a fine line between enablement and empowerment, and it is in between this line that parents often exists.

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God can turn any marriage into a masterpiece.  Every marriage is unique, expressed by the colorful personalities of each spouse and textured by the circumstances at play in their lives.  Blending these to make marriage work is divinely inspired art form- challenging to master but definitely worth the effort. (Family Life Today, 2012, The art of Marriage)

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Spirit filling is necessary in order to experience the full extent of the ministry of the Spirit to a believer.  In other words, it is necessary to grow in spiritual life. ...The opposite of being controlled by the Spirit is being controlled by the flesh, or carnality.  Carnality and spirituality are basically matters of control, although each kind of controlled life will, of course, exhibit distinct characteristics.  But it is the control - not the characteristics - which makes one either carnal or spiritual (Charles C. Ryrie, 1965- Moody Press)

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"Many imagine, that when they have believed in Christ, the work in them is complete: and if they were then to die, it is true that they would be complete; because it is said of all believers, "Ye are complete in Christ, who is the Head of all principality and power." But no man in this world is so complete, but that he still needs to be urged forward, by warnings and exhortations, and promises and examples."

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In her book, "Who switched off my brain?", Dr. Caroline Leaf asks the question : Are you making toxic choices over healthy choices ? Toxic choices... can linger in our minds and our lives, causing us to experience emotions, like regret, doubt, and unforgiveness. 

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An imitator is a person who copies the behavior or actions of another. You have to know the actions of the one you are imitating.

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Paul shifts from this theology of the unity and diversity of the mystical body of Christ to spell out behavioral patterns that he expects to see in the church and in the lives of the saints.  

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