Monday through Friday with People of Faith: Day 239/260: Peter and John

Read Acts 4:1-22

Be Bold For Jesus

The religious leaders were not happy with Peter and John and their activities in the temple. The two apostles were taken into custody and brought before the Sanhedrin. Undaunted by the opposition, Peter boldly declared again the gospel: Jesus was crucified, He was raised from the dead, and He is the only One who can save anyone. “Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).

What Peter said on that day is still true today. The truth upon which Peter and John stood in the first century is the same truth upon which we must stand in this twenty-first century. May we never shrink back from declaring the gospel to those who need it most, to those who trust in themselves and their own power.

The rulers threatened the apostles and “commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus” (Acts 4:18). Peter and John refused to back down. They refused to be intimidated. They refused to be silenced. “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you more than to God, you judge. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard” (Acts 4:19-20).

Are you bold in the gospel, or do you hide your faith? Are you afraid of upsetting friends? Of strained relationships within the family? Or do you take advantage of the opportunities to spread the gospel when they are presented to you?

It is important to be prepared for those opportunities and to pray for them. Peter later wrote a letter to Christians and encouraged them, “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear” (1 Peter 3:15). Are you ready to be bold for Jesus?

Monday through Friday with People of Faith: Day 238/260: Peter

Read Acts 3

Pointing To God

In Acts 3, we are told of the healing of a man who had been lame since he was born. He was laid at the temple gate every day to ask for money. Peter took notice of the man and said, “Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you: in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk” (Acts 3:6). Peter took the man by the hand and lifted him up, and he could walk! A miracle had occurred!

As Peter, John, and the man entered the temple, an amazed crowd gathered around them. Peter took advantage of this opportunity to deflect their attention away from himself and direct them instead toward Jesus. “Men of Israel, why do you marvel at this? Or why look so intently at us, as though by our own power or godliness we had made this man walk?” (Acts 3:12).

Peter described Jesus in several different ways in this passage. First, he calls Jesus God’s “Servant” (Acts 3:13), a word that the prophet Isaiah had used of the coming Messiah (Isaiah 42, 52, 53). Peter calls Him “the Holy One” (Acts 3:14), a term used by David (Psalm 16:10), and “Just” (Acts 3:14) an attribute even recognized by Pilate (Matthew 27:24). Finally, Peter refers to Jesus as “the Prince of life” (Acts 3:15). Isaiah included “Prince of Peace” among the names by which Jesus would be known (Isaiah 9:6), and the Lord Himself said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6).

Peter used the good that was done for the lame man to present the good that could be done for all men. “To you first, God, having raised up His Servant Jesus, sent Him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from your iniquities” (Acts 3:26). Have you used the good situations of your life and the lives of your neighbors to point them to God and the good that is available in Jesus?

Monday through Friday with People of Faith: Day 237/260: Peter

Read Acts 2

What Shall We Do?

On the first Pentecost following Jesus’ ascension, His promise concerning the Holy Spirit is fulfilled. “And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance” (Acts 2:4). These “other tongues” were not some unintelligible languages, but foreign languages that these Galileans had never studied before. It was a miracle that they could speak in such a way!

Peter takes the lead in Acts 2:14 after the apostles have the attention of the crowd. He explains, “But this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel” (Acts 2:16), then proceeds to quote from Joel 2:28-32. The apostle then speaks of Jesus, the Man through whom God had worked miracles. Peter plainly says that the Jews had illegally detained and murdered Jesus, but that God had raised Him from the dead. He then refers to the inspired Psalms, claiming that David was writing of Jesus. Concluding this first gospel sermon, Peter said, “Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ” (Acts 2:36).

The positive response to this message is recorded by Luke. The people who were “cut to the heart” asked, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?” (Acts 2:37). Recognizing their error and their great need for forgiveness, they wanted to know how to make things right.

Peter answered plainly, “Repent, and let everyone one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins” (Acts 2:38). The phrase “for the remission of sins” indicates that without repentance and baptism, one’s sins cannot be forgiven.

The results of the gospel proclamation in the early days of the church are compelling. Luke tells us that on “that day about three thousand souls were added to them” (Acts 2:41). He then says that “the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved” (Acts 2:47). Have you done these things? Have you repented and been immersed for the remission of your sins? Have you been added to the Lord’s church?

Monday through Friday with People of Faith: Day 236/260: Peter

Read John 21:15-19

Do You Love Jesus?

Three times Peter had denied Jesus as the Lord stood trial. Three times the apostle denied following Him. Three times “the rock” claimed he did not know the Man. How must the apostle have felt when he heard the rooster crow and remembered what Jesus had said?

Jesus died. His body was taken from the cross and laid in the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea. Then three days later, it was gone. What went through Peter’s mind as these events unfolded? He remembered that Jesus had predicted the denials; did the apostle also remember the predictions about the Lord’s resurrection?

Jesus spent a little more than a month with the apostles after His death, burial, and resurrection, prior to His ascension. During this time, do you think Peter was distracted by guilt? Did he sit there and wonder, “Is Jesus going to talk to me about my denials?”

We do not have all the details of everything that was said during this time, but John gives us a glimpse of Peter’s restoration at the end of his gospel account. Following breakfast, Jesus asked, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me more than these?” (John 21:15). But He didn’t ask just once. Three times Jesus asked, “Do you love Me?” (John 21:15-17).

Each time, Peter affirmed, “Yes, Lord, You know that I love You” (John 21:15-17). After each admonition, the Lord charged him with the care of the flock. “Feed My lambs” (John 21:15). “Tend My sheep” (John 21:16). “Feed My sheep” (John 21:17).

Peter denied Jesus three times. Here, Jesus gives Peter the opportunity to take back each denial and gives the apostle the task of caring for others. How many times have you denied Jesus in your life? How many times have you declared your love for Him and expressed that love through your care for others?

Jesus says in John 21:19, “Follow Me,” just as He said when He initially called Peter in Matthew 4:19. Jesus wants all men to follow Him. Do you love Him? Are you following Him?

Lost Religious People

Lost Religious People

I. The Pharisees (Matthew 23)

    A. “Sons of hell” (Matthew 23:15)
    B. Hypocrisy (Matthew 23:2-3)
    C. Sought glory for selves, not God (Matthew 23:5-7)
    D. Spiritual blindness (Matthew 23:13)
    E. Ignored “weightier matters of the law” (Matthew 23:23)
    F. Appeared righteous outwardly, but inwardly full of hypocrisy and sin (Matthew 23:25-28)

II. The self-trusting Pharisee (Luke 18:9-14)

    A. Contrasted with the humble tax collection (Luke 18:9, 13)
    B. One cannot “earn” a place at the marriage supper of the Lamb (Romans 3:23; Matthew 26:28; Proverbs 3:5-6)

III. The converted Pharisee (Acts 9)

    A. His bragging rights, zeal, and conscience (Philippians 3:3-6; Galatians 1:14; Acts 8:3; 23:1)
    B. His conversion (Acts 9:1-6; 22:16)

IV. Even a person who has obeyed the gospel can fall away

    A. The church of Ephesus (Revelation 2:4-5)
    B. The church of Pergamos (Revelation 2:14-16)
    C. The church of Thyatira (Revelation 2:20, 24-26)
    D. The church of Sardis (Revelation 3:1, 3)
    E. The church of Laodicea (Revelation 3:15-16, 19-21)

Monday through Friday with People of Faith: Day 235/260: Mary Magdalene

Read Luke 24:1-12

They Remembered His Words

When the women arrived at the tomb and saw the stone rolled away, and they saw that the body of Jesus was not inside, the women who came with their spices “were greatly perplexed” (Luke 24:4). Then “two men stood by them in shining garments” (Luke 24:4), and the women “were afraid and bowed their faces to the earth” (Luke 24:5). Keep in mind that fear was the typical response to the appearance of an angel throughout the Bible; and while Mark and Luke call these being men, they are identified as angels in Matthew 28:5. They asked, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but He is risen!” (Luke 24:5-6).

People seek fulfillment and happiness in all sorts of places. Work, money, friendships, hobbies. If God is not a part of these things, however, they will fail to make a person truly happy. People want to enjoy life, but truly abundant life only comes from Jesus (John 10:10). Without Him, you will not find true happiness. We should not seek the living (Jesus) among the dead (worldly possessions and activities).

The angels encouraged the women, “Remember how He spoke to you when He was still in Galilee, saying, ‘The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again’” (Luke 24:6-7).

We need to pay attention to the words of Jesus, just as the women needed to bring those words back to their minds. They had been so overtaken by grief that they forgot His great promise. We must continue to study His Word and meditate on it to avoid the sometimes-overwhelming pressures of this world. We are often so distracted by day-to-day cares and needs that we forget His promises.

“And they remembered His words” (Luke 24:8). Upon remembering, they told others! If we focus on remembering His words, telling others the good news about Jesus, about what He did for us, and what He wants to do for us, perhaps we won’t be so distracted by the things of this world.

Monday through Friday with People of Faith: Day 234/260: Joseph of Arimathea

Read Mark 15:42-46

The Danger of Fear

God uses man to advance His great cause, and on several occasions, He has used men named Joseph. When famine threatened the people of God, He raised up Joseph in the land of Egypt to help relieve them. When Herod the Great threatened to murder the infant Jesus, He raised up Joseph to protect the Child. And now, when the body of our Lord was threatened by the dishonor of an unsuitable burial, He raised up Joseph of Arimathea to provide a proper tomb, thus fulfilling the prophecy of Isaiah 53:9.

This Joseph is described by Luke as “a good and just man” (Luke 23:50). And yet, there was a problem. He was “a disciple of Jesus, but secretly, for fear of the Jews” (John 19:38). He was a council member, though “he had not consented to their decision and deed” (Luke 23:51). What good is it, though, to be a disciple if you refuse to speak up?

Joseph finally got over his cowardice, or at least pushed it to the side because he knew how important his faith was. “Joseph of Arimathea, a prominent council member, who was himself waiting for the kingdom of God, coming and taking courage, went in to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus” (Mark 15:43).

So often our fear of others prevents us from doing the right thing. He was afraid of the Jews and of what they would think of him. Are we ever afraid of our friends, our family members, or our business associates? Do we fear that doing the right thing will put us in a bad light? Does our fear prevent us from fully serving the Lord and standing up for His truth?

Don’t let cowardice overtake your courage. God has warned His people throughout history of the danger of fear and has encouraged them to be brave in their faith. “The fear of man brings a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord shall be safe” (Proverbs 29:25).

The darkest warning comes in the final book of the Bible. Heading the list of those who “shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death” is “the cowardly” (Revelation 21:8). Don’t be a secret disciple. Don’t be afraid to be faithful.

Monday through Friday with People of Faith: Day 233/260: The Thief on the Cross

Read Luke 23:39-43

Obey Him

When Jesus was arrested, Peter cut off the ear of Malchus. The Lord then healed the high priest’s servant’s ear and He was led away. From that point up to His death, no one else acted on His behalf. Peter began to deny knowing Him. The council condemned Him. Pilate could not find any fault in Him, but still allowed Him to be murdered. Yes, many mourned for Him, but they were powerless to do anything against the Roman government and the Jewish authorities.

When Jesus was crucified, two criminals met the same fate. One of them mocked the Lord along with the crowd. Luke records the criminal’s blasphemous statement: “If You are the Christ, save Yourself and us” (Luke 23:39). The other man, though he had mocked Jesus earlier, had a change of heart. He rebuked the blasphemer, then said to Jesus, “Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom” (Luke 24:42). Jesus told the thief, “Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise” (Luke 24:43).

Even while hanging in agony, Jesus showed compassion and love for His creation. Even of those who were actively murdering Him, He said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do” (Luke 24:34).

Friends, do you know what you are doing? Are you truly engaged in Bible study and faithful obedience? There are some who deny the necessity of baptism because of the thief on the cross. This man came to an understanding of what he needed and he did what he could when he could. Do you understand your need for Jesus? If you do, do what you can while you can! You have the ability to be immersed and serve Jesus now, so do it!

By rejecting the Lord’s command when you know what He said, you are denying Him as your Savior and putting yourself in an unenviable position (John 12:48; Matthew 10:32-33). He requires baptism and faithful obedience for salvation (Mark 16:16; 1 Peter 3:21; Rev. 2:10). If you do not obey Him, He will not remember you in His kingdom (Heb. 5:9).

Monday through Friday with People of Faith: Day 232/260: Thomas

Read John 13:36-14:6

Jesus: The Way, The Truth, The Life

Put yourself in the apostles’ shoes. You have spent the majority of your time with Jesus, and He has taught you many things over the past three years. But there is one topic to which He keeps returning: His death. He says He will be raised again, but do you take that literally? He has said so many things that are figurative, but this one thing He never explains, or so you think.

And now, Jesus says He is going somewhere that you cannot follow. Peter says that he still wants to follow, and he is even willing to die for Him, but Jesus says that He is going somewhere “to prepare a place for you,” and then, “I will come again and receive you to Myself” (John 14:2-3). So you can’t go now, but Jesus will come back to get you. Finally, Jesus tells you, “And where I go you know, and the way you know” (John 14:4). Would you again question if He is speaking literally or figuratively?

Thomas was likely wondering this very thing and he decided to ask a question. Questions are a good thing when asked from an honest heart. Do not hesitate to ask questions but be prepared for the answer. Thomas asked, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, and how can we know the way?” (John 14:5).

Jesus’ answer is one of the profound “I am” statements recorded in the gospel according to John: “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6). Do you accept Jesus’ answer? Do you follow Him as the way, the truth, and the life?

Jesus is very clear: He is the only way to the Father. Neither Muhammed, nor Buddha, nor the Pope, nor your denominational pastor, can get you to heaven. They do not know the way, and they do not teach the truth. Only Jesus. If you are following someone that is not following the Bible, you’re going the wrong way (John 8:32).

Jesus also says He is the life. He provides abundant life here (John 10:10) and eternal life in heaven (John 3:14-16; 5:24; 1 John 5:12-13) to His followers. Are you following Him?

Monday through Friday with People of Faith: Day 231/260: Mary

Read Mark 14:3-9; John 12:1-8

Doing What You Can

The time for Jesus’ death was drawing near. Mary, the sister of Lazarus who had been raised from the dead (John 11), anointed the Lord with “costly oil of spikenard” (Mark 14:3). The disciples were upset; Judas in particular noted that the oil could have been “sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor” (John 12:5). Judas, of course, was not really concerned for the poor. John made this clear by identifying the betrayer as a thief. But the cost of the oil was significant. Three hundred denarii would have been about a year’s wages.

The Lord did not concede that Mary’s gift was a waste. In fact, He made it clear that her offering was not only acceptable, but it was “a good work” (Mark 14:6). Those things that are done for Jesus and His church, even if they are costly, they are good. Think about the following things which may take considerable financial resources.

• Supporting sound mission work in a foreign country is good.

• Evangelizing in the local community through the radio, using sound programming like The International Gospel Hour, or direct mailings, such as House to House/Heart to Heart, is good.

• Supporting a man financially so he can devote time to study and then bring the fruits of that study to the congregation and the community is good.

• Making sure the utility bills (water, electricity, heat) are paid so that worship can be conducted orderly and without distraction is good.

• Supplying Bible study materials for adults and children to enhance their knowledge of the Word of God is good.

There are many people who want to do good, but may be limited in how they can serve. And so they contribute to the financial needs of the work of the church. Just as Mary was commended by the Lord for her “good work” near the end of Jesus’ life, so will those who contribute to the work of the church be commended for their “good work.”

But when they believed Philip as he preached the things concerning the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, both men and women were baptized. (Acts 8:12)