With Good Friday and Easter Sunday of Holy Week this weekend, I invite you to listen to a message that God laid on my heart titled, "The Cross and the Empty Tomb". This is probably one of the most important messages that I've been honored to deliver in more than 20 years of ministry.
My prayer is that this message will minister encouragement to you as you listen, and that if you feel led , you will use it to encourage others in your family and sphere of influence.
You can listen on your PC, laptop, or mobile devices including phones and tablets.
We live in difficult and often discouraging times. Many today are holding on to hope in the midst of sickness, disease, hunger, unemployment, despair and depression just trying to make ends meet. Beloved, keep holding on to hope and be encouraged in Christ today. He is our Blessed Hope!
I suspended the teachings in the Gospel of Mark over the last few weeks and instead made available Bible Messages that will build hope and faith in the midst if these very trying times. I expect to continue with the study in Mark soon as our Lord permits and leads. In the meantime, please listen to the Bible messages that we have made available in the last few weeks:
I received the following email that I feel led to share:
Just wanted to let you know that I am enjoying the study of Mark. It is so convenient how you have set it up that the student can view the discussed scriptures right as you are teaching them. How you did that is beyond me! Also another plus to the study is that you can progress at the rate you want. Some of the studies have been so good that I have listened to them several times and each time I gain benefit!
Each study in Mark is only 9-13 minutes long. If you are not yet following along in Mark with us, please join us . Please take a moment to invite your friends to join us also. Each study can be listened to individually or in a group setting. You can even facilitate a LGF gathering right where you are at!
God is not partial and He does not show partiality to one group of people over another based on status or race. God loves all people and He has sent the Holy Spirit to baptize us all into one body.
Peter was preaching a simple but yet powerful Christ centric message as recorded in Acts 10:34-43. His audience was of a different nationality, but Peter had learned that God shows no partiality. God loves all people and desires that all people come to Him through Jesus Christ. As Peter told this house full of foreigners about Jesus, faith rose up within each hearer. And we know that God’s word declares that faith comes from hearing the Word (Romans 10:17) . It was saving faith springing up within them like a gushing fountain and they were receiving the forgiveness of sin that Peter told them would come through believing (Acts 10:43).
While Peter was still saying these things, the Holy Spirit fell on all who heard the word. And the believers from among the circumcised who had come with Peter were amazed, because the gift of the Holy Spirit was poured out even on the Gentiles. For they were hearing them speaking in tongues and extolling God. Then Peter declared, "Can anyone withhold water for baptizing these people, who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?" And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked him to remain for some days. (Act 10:44-48 ESV)
As Peter was speaking, there was a holy interruption. He did not conclude his message with a story and a prayer, nor did he precede his message with a joke to break the ice. He didn’t ask for a show of hands of those who would like to receive Jesus into their hearts. He did not ask people to come forward to receive Christ. He simply spoke God’s message and the Holy Spirit did the rest.
The six Jewish brothers (“the believers from among the circumcised”) that he brought with him were “amazed”. They could not believe that God was pouring out the gift of the Holy Spirit on these foreigners as He had poured out on the Jews on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1-4). And they would have never believed it if they had not come with Peter and witnessed what God was doing at this God gathering. They were witnessing God baptizing believers into one body by His Spirit. It is as the Apostle Paul would write in 1 Corinthians 12:13 “For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body--Jews or Greeks”.
When Peter realized that these people had just received the Holy Spirit as He had earlier, he immediately pointed them to water baptism which is an outside indicator and testimony of what God has done on the inside. All through the book of Acts and early church history, Christ followers did not wait to baptize a new Christ follower in water. When a person was baptized into the body by the Spirit, they immediately looked for a hole of water deep enough to follow their Lord Jesus Christ in water baptism.
Beloved, in this paragraph of Scripture, some of the heart of God is revealed to us:
He desires to use preachers to communicate the good news of Christ to all people.
He has ordained the preaching and hearing of the Word to produce and grow saving faith in people.
He does not need manmade gimmicks that produce “converts” or “church members”.
He is not partial.
He loves and desires for all people to be baptized by the Spirit into the body of Christ regardless of race, regardless of status, regardless of what they have done and regardless of what they have become.
God is no respecter of people. What He does for one, He will do for another. May He lift up preachers in our day who will deliver God messages and allow the Holy Spirit to do His work in baptizing all people, Jews and Gentiles, into the body of Christ. And may we be quick to follow our Lord Jesus Christ in water baptism as an outward testimony of a spiritual rebirth.
What style of Christian music do you like? Praise, Worship, Christian EZ, Christian Pop, Christian RB, Contemporary Christian, Country Christian, Faith Rap, Faith Rock, Great Hymns, Sacred Psalms, Sweet Sounds of Gospel or a mixture?
We make it all available online 24 hours a day, 365 days of the week at LGF Online.
There you can click on the channels button on the online radio dial and select the channel for the style you like.
Or you can click on the search button on the online radio dial and search for your favorite artist or genre. You can create custom channels based on your searches.
For example, I like the songs of Keith Green so I did a search for Keith Green. A custom channel was made for me of Keith Green music. If I just want to listen to Keith Green, I click on custom channels and select Keith Green from the list of my searches. It plays song after song.
How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, "How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!" But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, "Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?" So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.
(Rom 10:14-17 ESV)
Many churches and ministries charge for sermons and make CDs available for a price. We don't and we never will. All messages are FREE and we encourage people to burn their own CDs of the messages and distribute them for FREE to friends and family. We trust God that as people listen and their faith grows, they will make donations as they can to help us continue to make these messages available to people all around the world.
We produce one to two fresh Bible messages per week to be listen to online or downloaded. As of date, there are over 4 years of messages available online and they have been listened to by people all around the world. Many who listen do not have local churches available and are in countries where the preaching of the gospel is restricted if not forbidden.
Jesus prepares you for that which He is preparing for you to do. And rest assured that as Jesus is working in your life, He is also working in the lives of those that He will lead you to touch for Him. But we must let go of all traditions and practices that would hinder our obedience.
In Acts 10:1-8 Cornelius, a Gentile, receives specific direction from God as he is praying. The direction is to send men to go get Peter who was staying 30 miles south. God was doing a deep work in Cornelius’ life. He, along with his family, would be radically impacted through Peter’s obedience to Jesus. But first, Peter had to be prepared for that which Jesus was preparing Him.
The next day, as they were on their journey and approaching the city, Peter went up on the housetop about the sixth hour to pray. And he became hungry and wanted something to eat, but while they were preparing it, he fell into a trance and saw the heavens opened and something like a great sheet descending, being let down by its four corners upon the earth. In it were all kinds of animals and reptiles and birds of the air. And there came a voice to him: "Rise, Peter; kill and eat." But Peter said, "By no means, Lord; for I have never eaten anything that is common or unclean." And the voice came to him again a second time, "What God has made clean, do not call common." This happened three times, and the thing was taken up at once to heaven.
(Act 10:9-16 ESV)
Peter separates himself from distractions and goes to the rooftop where he would not be disturbed so that he could pray. It was in prayer that God’s specific instructions came to Cornelius the day prior. We see God doing a work at both end of the lines in both individuals and the conduit of that work in both instances is prayer.
As they pray, divine communication comes to both Cornelius and Peter preparing them both for a divine appointment. As Cornelius prays, an angel is the means of communication. As Peter prays, a vision is the means of communication. The means of the communication differ, but prayer is the common ground or the conduit of the communication. Beloved, the resources of heaven are open to us through prayer and it is in prayer that we will be prepared for what is ahead of us.
I wonder how many appointments we miss and how much preparation in us we forfeit in neglecting to separate ourselves for times of prayer. Prayer needs to be a part of our life and the Holy Spirit will lead us into those times of separation from distractions that we need in order to be prepared for what is ahead of us as we follow Christ and continue His point of need ministry. May God give us much sensitivity to the leading of the Holy Spirit and a desire to separate ourselves from the distractions of our day to spend time in prayer.
The vision that comes to Peter rattles the core of what he has been taught and what he has practiced all of his life. The orthodox Jew adhered to strict food laws as outlined in Leviticus 11:2-47 of the Old Testament. These food laws were given under the old covenant in order to separate the Jews and make them different from the world around them. But, Jesus said that He came to fulfill the old covenant. Now beloved, we have been given a better covenant through Jesus Christ. We see in reading the Old Testament how the old points to the new, but we no longer live in the old as we are active participants in the new.
No doubt Peter heard the teaching of Jesus firsthand when He declared all foods clean and told them that it was not what went into a persons mouth that defiled (Mark 7:14-23). But it’s hard to stop in an instance what one has been practicing for a lifetime, so Peter needed further preparation. To emphasize the instruction, Peter is given the vision, not once or twice, but three times.
Peter recognized the instruction coming from Jesus as we see in his response of “By no means, Lord”, but his reaction is a contradiction. How can you call Jesus “Lord”, but do not do what He says. This is the reaction that still keeps many people from following Jesus. Peter is having a hard time letting go of tradition and what he has practiced all of his life. As we will learn further in the tenth chapter of Acts, Peter will eventually see that Jesus was showing him that He does not favor one group of people over another. He created and loves ALL people and there is no room for discrimination in the Kingdom of God.
May we be quick to let go of traditions and those things that we have practiced all of our life responding in total obedience to Jesus as He prepares us to continue His point of need ministry in our day. He will give us direction, preparing us for ministry opportunities ahead of us, as we pray. But we must let go of all that hinders.
If we seek God, He will find us. As we place all of our trust in Him and allow our faith to control us, He will lead us into all that He has for us and it will be good.
In Acts chapter 10 we see God breaking down racial prejudices so that the Gospel can be shared with all people regardless of their race. There is no room for any discrimination within the church of Jesus Christ. Discrimination will always divide and never unite. In the body of Christ there is unity.
In the beginning of Acts chapter 10 we are introduced to Cornelius. We learn about him and his desire for God. We also learn that if we seek God, He will find us.
At Caesarea there was a man named Cornelius, a centurion of what was known as the Italian Cohort, a devout man who feared God with all his household, gave alms generously to the people, and prayed continually to God. About the ninth hour of the day he saw clearly in a vision an angel of God come in and say to him, "Cornelius." And he stared at him in terror and said, "What is it, Lord?" And he said to him, "Your prayers and your alms have ascended as a memorial before God. And now send men to Joppa and bring one Simon who is called Peter. He is lodging with one Simon, a tanner, whose house is by the sea." When the angel who spoke to him had departed, he called two of his servants and a devout soldier from among those who attended him, and having related everything to them, he sent them to Joppa.
(Act 10:1-8 ESV)
Caesarea was the capital of Judea and was about 30 miles north of Joppa, where Peter was staying with Simon the tanner on the coast (Acts 9:43). God was doing a deep work in Peter and breaking down all prejudices as we will see further evidence of in Acts Chapter 10.
Cornelius, stationed in Caesarea, was a centurion and part of the Italian Cohort. A cohort was a group of 6 centuries which were 100 men each, so a cohort was 600 men. Each century was under the command of one Centurion. Centurions were the backbone of the Roman army and would be equivalent to a modern day Captain. Each Centurion was paid well at five times the pay of an ordinary soldier.
Cornelius was socially prominent and wealthy. Cornelius is proof that it is possible for a person to be socially prominent and wealthy while being a person of faith. Cornelius did not allow his prominence and wealth to control him. He allowed his faith to control him as we know from this paragraph of Scripture.
The evidences of his faith are:
He was devout and feared God. “God-fearer” is a term used in New Testament times for a Gentile who had attached themselves to the Jewish religion. They did not accept circumcision and the Law; but they attended the synagogue and believed in one God.
He gave generously to meet the needs of people. His search for God had made him love people and desire to meet their needs.
He prayed to God continually.
He was quick to obey God’s message when it came.
Cornelius was a Gentile and not a Jew, but he attached himself to the Jewish religion instead of the pagan beliefs of his surroundings. He wanted all that God had for him and really trusted the Lord to guide him in all things. He was certain that what God had for him was good.
Allow your faith to control you. Put all of your trust in the Lord today. He will guide you in all things. All that He has in store for you is good. As you seek Him and do all that you know to do, He will lead you into all that He has for you. Be quick to obey Him. Seek God and let Him find you.
As Christ followers wait for specific direction to come to them from their Lord, they pray and do all that they know to do to continue the point of need ministry of the One they follow. When direction comes it will always be in Christ’s timing and the Christ follower’s obedience to the direction will always result in Christ being exalted.
Acts 9:32-35 gives us account of Peter continuing the point of need ministry of Jesus outside of Jerusalem in a city named Lydda. As He followed Christ there, Peter was used as an instrument in the healing of a man who had been paralyzed and had not walked in 8 years. Jesus healed this man through Peter’s willingness to be His hand extended. Revival broke out in the city as true revival always impacts the community and brings social change to it.
Where would Peter go next? When would he go? How would he know to go? What would he do until he received direction?
Now there was in Joppa a disciple named Tabitha, which, translated, means Dorcas. She was full of good works and acts of charity. In those days she became ill and died, and when they had washed her, they laid her in an upper room. Since Lydda was near Joppa, the disciples, hearing that Peter was there, sent two men to him, urging him, "Please come to us without delay." So Peter rose and went with them. And when he arrived, they took him to the upper room. All the widows stood beside him weeping and showing tunics and other garments that Dorcas made while she was with them. But Peter put them all outside, and knelt down and prayed; and turning to the body he said, "Tabitha, arise." And she opened her eyes, and when she saw Peter she sat up. And he gave her his hand and raised her up. Then calling the saints and widows, he presented her alive. And it became known throughout all Joppa, and many believed in the Lord. And he stayed in Joppa for many days with one Simon, a tanner.
(Act 9:36-43 ESV)
Peter followed Christ in point of need ministry in Lydda, until He received the next step. The next step came through unlikely sources that communicated a need. Peter did not delay. He did not put it off explaining that things were happening where he was at that required his attention. When Peter found out there was a need, he got up and went. The need was the call of God. The need was the instruction of Jesus. He received all of the direction he needed to step out in obedience when he was informed of a need.
As a Christ follower, Tabitha was continuing the point of need ministry of Jesus through making undergarments and outer garments and distributing them to the poor in her city. Her city was seeing the love of Christ and the Kingdom of God demonstrated through her actions as she provided for their felt needs, but her godly life and good works did not prevent her from sickness and death. She died and the community, along with the other Christ followers, was grieving at her loss.
When Peter arrived, he separated himself from all distractions and did what Jesus showed him to do; he prayed. He prayed until he knew what to do next. He received his direction through prayer. In a boldness that only comes as a result of prayer and through the unction of the Holy Spirit, he told Tabitha to get up and he presented her to the people alive.
Notice that Peter took no credit for this miracle. All the credit belonged to Jesus. A Christ follower receives direction and obeys. Jesus does the rest. And when Jesus does it, He will be exalted. As a result of this miracle, many in Joppa believed.
All the while, God was doing a deep work in Peter, eliminating all prejudices from his heart so that he could minister at the point of need regardless of race, gender or status. How do we know such a work was being done in Peter? As he stayed in Joppa for many days waiting for his next assignment, notice that Peter stayed with Simon, a tanner. The occupation of a tanner was considered unclean. Because of the stink of the dead animals, the job was carried on outside a town or city. God was doing a work in Peter and he was overcoming the prejudices of a Jew, for he recognized God’s grace in Simon regardless of his race or his occupation.
Direction comes to those who follow Christ and pray. They may receive direction through unlikely sources, but it will come and it will always point to a need that Jesus desires that they meet. As they step out in obedience, Christ is exalted, lives are touched and the Kingdom of God is realized on earth.
Christ followers bring encouragement and healing to people as they continue the point of need ministry of Jesus in the power of the Holy Spirit.
Saul deciding to deny self take up his cross and follow Jesus, as recorded in Acts chapter nine, brings peace to the church that had become scattered from Jerusalem due to the persecution spearheaded by Saul. It’s in this peace that we see Peter at the conclusion of Acts chapter nine leaving Jerusalem and visiting those who make up the church in the surrounding areas bringing encouragement and healing to them.
Now as Peter went here and there among them all, he came down also to the saints who lived at Lydda. There he found a man named Aeneas, bedridden for eight years, who was paralyzed. And Peter said to him, "Aeneas, Jesus Christ heals you; rise and make your bed." And immediately he rose. And all the residents of Lydda and Sharon saw him, and they turned to the Lord.
(Act 9:32-35 ESV)
Peter went to the people and did not expect them to come to him. Peter could have stayed in Jerusalem and been comfortable as a leader of the early church, but he didn’t. He couldn’t and be a Christ follower. Jesus did not stay in the synagogue on the Sabbath and expect needy people to come to Him. Jesus allowed the Holy Spirit to direct His steps as he went and ministered to people at their point of need every day of the week. And now we see Peter, full of the Holy Spirit, following Jesus and continuing His point of need ministry.
Peter knew that within himself, he could do nothing. He knew the source of healing was Jesus Christ. Through the knowledge given by the Holy Spirit, Peter was able to tell Aeneas that Jesus was healing him. Aeneas had been paralyzed and confined to a bed for eight years. Peter would not dare say these words unless the Holy Spirit prompted Him. He spoke the words and the healing was immediate.
This miracle was instrumental in the residents of Lydda and Sharon deciding to become Christ followers. They could not deny the healing power of Christ when they witnessed this man walking again after eight years of bed confinement.
We need Christ exalting miracles in our day and I believe that they will increase as more and more people decide to shake off the shackles of dead stale religion and deny self, take up the cross and follow Jesus. I believe that in the last days, there will be a supernatural reaping of the harvest of souls that is already ripe for harvest. Christ exalting miracles will draw people to Him. I’m not talking about superstars making a circus out of faith healing. I’m talking about common folk, full of the Holy Spirit, continuing the point of need ministry of Jesus on a daily basis wherever the Holy Spirit directs them.
Christ followers minister encouragement and healing at the point of need. They rely on the prompting of the Holy Spirit knowing that they can not heal, but Christ will heal. They are willing to go instead of wait; act instead of just attend. They know that Jesus will do the rest as they simply follow Him.
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