It takes hands to build a house, but only hearts can build a home.

Author Unknown

Saturday, August 26, 2006

My Study Notes: Chapter 8, TO LIVE IS CHRIST


So Saul headed toward Damascus. As he came near the city, a bright light from heaven suddenly flashed around him. Saul fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, ‘ Saul, Saul Why are you persecuting me?'

Acts 9:3-4

The Transformation of Saul Acts 9:11-43

Saul grew more and more powerful and baffled the Jews living in Damascus by proving that Jesus is the Christ. Acts 9:22

Saul was born again on a dusty road to Damascus. A light came on that no one was able to turn off although many tried.

After Saul’s conversion he left for Arabia, apparently to come to grips with what had happened.

When his quiet exile was over, he once again approached Damascus. This time he returned to preach the word of Christ. People would remember that he first came to take prisoners of the followers of the Way. Now he would be staying in their homes.

In physical appearance there was very little intimidating about him, but when the Spirit of God fell on him, he became more powerful. He brought together the teachings of the Old Testament Law and Prophets with their fulfillment in Jesus Christ.

Luke tells us that Christ appeared to the men on the road, but they did not recognize him. The proof was there. All they needed was to believe. The Jews knew Scripture, they just hadn’t recognized the One about whom the Scriptures were written.

In Galatains 1:18 we see that Saul wanted to become acquainted with Peter and left for Jerusalem. He probably assumed his place was with the other apostles. But when he tried to join them, the disciples were all afraid of him.

In Acts 9: 27 we are told that Barnabas took Saul and ‘brought him to the apostles’. Barnabas reached out a helping hand to a discouraged man. Saul took that hand and two lives bonded in that movement.

Barnabas offers us an example we don’t want to miss. His name was Joseph, but the disciples renamed him ‘son of encouragement ‘ . God used Barnabas over and over to give others the courage to be the people He had called them to be. Now he encouraged them to accept a new brother
He persuaded the apostles to accept the new convert and the most powerful preacher in all Christendom.

In Acts 9:30 we see the brothers push Saul on a boat to Tarsus to keep him from being killed.

Meanwhile the church throughout Judea, Galilee and Samaria was strengthened and encouraged by the Holy Spirit and grew in numbers

Acts 9:31

We should all try to be a Barnabas in another’s life. Take every opportunity to encourage fellow believers.

Next we’ll be taking a look at the meeting between Paul and Peter.

‘On Ya’ - ma

Saturday, August 19, 2006

My Study Notes:Chapter 6&7 TO LIVE IS CHRIST

My Bible Study Notes Chapters 6 and 7 TO LIVE IS CHRIST

Acts 5 7:59-8:1

While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed ‘Lord Jesus, receive my spirit’ Then he fell on his knees and cried out ‘Lord, do not hold this sin against them.’ When he had said this , he fell asleep And Saul was there, giving approval to his death.

Saul had arrived in Jerusalem just in time to hear this speech from Stephen.

Acts 6:8 says Stephen was a man full of God’s grace and peace and did great wonders and miraculous signs among the people.

Only a person full of the Holy Spirit can possess the kind of power Stephen had and yet remained full of God’s grace. Pride never accompanies power in the fully yielded life. His witness infuriated Saul’s fellow Jews.

Stephen stood accused, but instead of defending himself, he preached a sermon. Saul stood in the crowd and listened. The Bible mentions Saul in Acts 7:58. Meanwhile, the witnesses laid their clothes at the feet of a young man named Saul.

Stephen prayed for forgiveness of his persecutors. When we have trouble forgiving we should remember that forgiveness provides a powerful witness for Christ. Stephen’s words were to have a powerful impact on Saul.

Lukes account of Saul’s conversion is recorded in Acts 9:1-19. A blind and chastened Saul was led into Damascus where he would meet Ananias.

Saul had thought he had all the answers. In Acts 26:11 we are shown what his mental state was like during this time.

Many a time I went from one synagogue to another to have them punished and I tried to force them to blaspheme. In my obsession against them I even went to foreign cities to persecute them.

Jesus would send Saul to open the eyes of many , No one can teach us more about forgiveness than the forgiven.

We too can believe in something whole heartedly and still be wrong
Our sincerity means nothing if we are misdirected.

The next chapter will be on the transformation of Saul to Paul – from Persecutor to Preacher.

‘On Ya’ – ma

Saturday, August 12, 2006

My Study Notes: Chapter 5 TO LIVE IS CHRIST

The next day…the chief priests and the Pharisees went to Pilate. Sir, they said, we remember that while he was still alive that deceiver said, After three days I will rise again. So give the order for the tomb to be made secure until the third day.

Matthew 27:62-64

There were three groups within the Judism during the time of Paul

Herodians were influential Jews who supported the dynasty of Herod. Scholars think that Herodians were pro-Hellenistic and endorsed Herod’s promotion of Greek thought and customs in Palestine.

The Sadducees were a small group of very wealthy Jewish leaders.

The Pharisees were the largest and most important of the Jewish groups.
As leaders of the synagogues, they exercised great control over the populace. They were religiously conservative, believing in angels and the Resurrection, unlike the Sadducees.

John the Baptist caused the Pharisees a lot of unease. They didn’t like him from the start.

Luke 7:30 says;
But the Pharisees and experts in the law rejected God’s purpose for themselves, because they had not been baptized by John.

Many of the Pharisees disliked Jesus too. He exposed their self-righteous hearts by eating with sinners, and healing on the Sabbath.

When they confronted Jesus with endless debates of Scripture he left them looking foolish.

Nicodemus was a Pharisee and a member of the Jewish ruling council, He came to Jesus obviously representing a number of Pharisees, because John 3 :2 says, “ we know you are a teacher who has come from God.

John 12:42 tells us that many even among the leaders believed in Jesus. They refused to acknowledge that fact because they were afraid they would be put of out the temple.

We all have had an occasion to remain silent when it comes to our belief in Christ, because we are afraid of the disapproval of others. The silent believers were driven by fear.

John 11 tells how the Sanhedrin, the chief judicial council of the Jews, finally concluded that Jesus must die.

The High Priest Caiaphas mouthed one of Scriptures clearest statements of why Christ came to earth. He said it s better ‘that one man die for the people than that the whole nations perish.’ John 11:50

These men were the teachers and classmates of Saul of Tarsus. There were so blinded by self interest that they became willing to betray and murder Jesus, simply because he represented a threat to their power.

To understand the Jewish Pharisee Saul that would one day be the Apostle to the Gentiles, we must realize that evil lived in his heart. The Pharisees did everything in their power to make sure that the life of Jesus was finished.

It was finished except for the one thing that Luke 24:1-6 tells us

On the first day of the week , very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, ‘Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here, he has risen’

The work of Calvary is finished. No more payment for sin is necessary. Jesus did it, we can’t earn it or add to it. It is finished, yet we try to add our good works to His salvation.

Philippians 1:6 promises – He who began a good work in your will carry it on to completion until they day of Christ Jesus.

Sometimes , we just need to cooperate with the work He seeks to finish in us.

Next well be taking a look at the journey Saul makes from enemy of the cross to servant of the Lord. We’ll see the power of God change him from inside out.

With God all things are possible. We just have to believe.

Let us continue to offer Him a teachable heart, and let the transformation begin.

‘On Ya’ - ma

Sunday, August 06, 2006

My Study Notes - Chapter 4 TO LIVE IS CHRIST

Bible Study Notes

If anyone else thinks he has reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people Israel, of the ribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews, in regard to the Law a Pharisee…as for legalistic righteousness, faultless

PhiL. 3:4-6

The teachers young Saul encountered are described in Matthew 23

They made demands of others that they themselves did not keep

They made their religious actions into show to impress others

They loved to be the center of attention

And they not only wouldn’t enter the kingdom of God,

they prevented others from entering.

A terrible description

Matthew 23 also describes others

Godly people are valiant people They are people with the courage to ask God to spotlight areas of weakness, sin, and failure. Then God can strengthen, heal, and complete what is lacking

Inspite of their wrong actions we see the mercy of God

Matthew 23:37

O Jerusalem, Jerusalem you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing.

Yes, Jesus loved them –even in the depthof their wrong doings.

Will we ever be able “ to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ” – Eph. 3:18

Saul himself was a Pharisee and probably returned to Tarsus to serve as a teacher of the Law. Imagine how his thinking was was influenced by his own teachers.

Negative influences outweighed the positive . the law became his god. When you take the love out of obedience the result is law. Without love for God and His Word, we’re just trying to be good. Nothing can wear us out faster.

Identity boundaries are walls we put up to separate our groups from other groups. Just as gangs wear certain colors to show who is in their group, Churches and denominations develop distinctive teachings to accomplish the same goal

In Philippians 3:6 Paul says…his zeal was so great that he persecuted the church and his legalistic righteousness was ‘faultless’

He sought to live by the letter of the law. Daily rituals determined the first words out of Saul’s mouth in the morning, and every other aspect of his day.

His entire day was filled with ritual and he was strangled by the Law.

In Isaiah 29:13 we see what could be a model of the life of Saul

These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips.but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is made up only of rules taught by men.

We pray that God will forgive us when we act like Pharisees and that we will have hearts of devotion, not hearts full of laws.

Too many times we are caught up in laws and rules for living. May our hearts be open to the love of Christ and may we share that love with all we meet.

‘On Ya’ - ma

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

My Study Notes - Chapter 3 TO LIVE IS CHRIST

I am a Jew, born in Tarsas of Cilcia, but brought up in this city
Under Gamaliel I was thoroughly trained in the law of our fathers and was just as zealous for God as any of you are today

Acts 22:3

Saul’s father probably considered the best place for the continued education for his gifted son and set his sights on Jerusalem, the homeland – the fountain of Jewish learning.

Just decades before Saul’s visit, Herod the Great sought the favor of the Jews by rebuilding the temple and the entire city of Jerusalem. Inside the gates of the city were a large theater, a palace, an amphitheater, a hippodrome for horse and chariot races, and imposing fortified towers.

Herod’s temple was huge, and richly ornamented. Young Saul witnessed one of the most magnificent buildings in the entire world.

From a prison cell in Ephesus, Paul wrote that Christ had broken down the wall that separates Jew and Gentile. He was not just referring to any wall but the imposing structure he had faced on the temple grounds many years before.

He read Greek and Latin and had no trouble reading the notices on the middle wall that forbade any heathen to enter the sanctuaries of the house of God

In later years he wrote:

For he is our peace, who hath made both Jew and Gentile one, and had broken down the middle wall of partition between us.

Ephesians 2:14

He had a seat in the most important classroom in the Jewish world. Gamaliel , his teacher continues to be highly respected and the Jews called him ‘the beauty of the Law’

All of Saul’s religious training would be parts of God’s ornate plan. God would use what Saul learned at the feet of Gamaliel. In Acts 5:27-42 we see a sample of Gamaliel’s teaching.

The Jewish officials wanted to put the Apostles to death, but Gamaliel said:
Leave these men alone, let the go.For if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail. But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men. You will only find yourselves fighting against God.

Saul spent 5 of the most critical years of his life in Jerusalem. He became a teacher. The son of a Pharisee became a Pharisee.

Just as Paul was educated, we too need to read and study the Word of God. The Word should increase our love for God.

Next we’ll take a look at more of Saul’s travels .

‘On Ya’ - ma