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Forgiven…Loved…..Transformed!

Archive for the tag “disciple”

Can you tell me about Jesus?

John 10:10 – The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.

So today, after the snowstorm of the century in Maryland (actually, it was only the 7th worst storm in the last 30 years), I decided to go to the grocery store. Safeway was not busy at all, so I got a space pretty close to the front. Since there weren’t a lot of cars, I was able to pull through the parking space and into the next space.

When I came out of the store, I rolled the cart to my car and started to put the groceries in the trunk. The space behind me was still open, and there were several other spaces throughout the parking lot that were actually closer to the store than the one behind me.

I just put the last bag in the car as it dropped and the groceries went all over the back of the trunk. I started to clean them up when a car started to pull into the spot. The woman blew her horn and proceeded to yell at me through her windows. I couldn’t understand what she said because all her windows were up, but she clearly was not happy at me.

I held up my index finger to say, “give me a minute” and continued to clean up the groceries in the trunk.

She blew her horn again and, as I looked at her, she threw up her arms in frustration and stared at me until I was finished.

I rolled the cart to the cart return area as she parked right behind me. As I walked back to my car I noticed a couple of Christian decals on her car.

When she got out of the car, I decided to ask her if she could tell me about the gospel message.

She gave me a nasty look and turned and walked away from me and into the store.

My mentor shared a sermon once as the church handed out bumper stickers to everyone that he didn’t want people to put the stickers on their cars if they were going to not act like a Christian as they drove places. This woman was clearly the subject matter of his sermon.

Now when I asked this woman to share the gospel message with me I clearly had a ulterior motive (I needed a topic this week for my blog!)

But the point, to me, is clear as crystal.

The world is watching us.

What would have happened if it wasn’t me, but someone who really needed to hear the gospel?

What if someone was contemplating the sermon they just heard and whether they need Jesus in their life and then they have this experience.

Now let me say that I don’t know what this woman was going through. She may have had a serious problem happen in her life that I don’t know about that she is struggling with that set her off.

But the world doesn’t know that, unfortunately.

The world just sees a supposed Christian woman acting very un-Christian like.

When that happens, we lose our testimony.

I know a lot of people who would say that this woman is not a Christian because of the way she acted. And she may not be.

But what if she really is?

As I said, she might just be having a very bad day that set her off.

But Satan isn’t trying to “unsave” the Christians.

Satan is trying to destroy our testimonies.

Satan knows that he can’t take us out of God’s hands. So he wants to bring doubt, confusion, anger, bitterness, sarcasm, and other demons into our lives to make sure that Christians can’t share their testimony.

That might have been the case today. This woman might have been having such a bad day and she was trying to handle everything on her own instead of relying on God. What that does is causes us to handle our issues incorrectly.

We lash out.

We say those four-letter words.

We hurt those we love.

We get our testimonies destroyed by the one who comes to kill and destroy.

So what is the answer? How do we ensure that Satan doesn’t kill our testimonies?

Well, even though Jesus, in the beatitudes, commands us to “be perfect,” you are not perfect. You won’t get it right all the time.

But God…

God has enough grace and mercy to love you and give you your testimony back.

The way to do that is to follow what is written in the Bible,

James 4:7 – Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

While I only chose James 4:7, the entire beginning of James 4 is pertinent to this post. James asks us what causes quarrels among us? It is our passion. It is our desire to put ourselves on the altar and not God.

But you might say to me, “Fred, I asked God for help and he never answered me.”

What does James say about this?

James 4:1-12 – What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, “He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us”?  But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”  Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.  Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom.  Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you. Do not speak evil against one another, brothers. The one who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks evil against the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge. There is only one lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you to judge your neighbor?

James pretty much pegged what that woman this morning was going through. Even though I don’t know the specifics, the fruit of her actions is evident. She didn’t submit to God. Even if she asked God for help, she ask wrongly.

And that is our problem as Christians.

We tend to think that God will do so much more for us that He already did.

Jesus already died on the cross. He did that so you could have an eternity with Him. But sometimes I believe we expect Him to fix every problem that comes our way. To replace the rainy seasons with rainbows, to take away our bad attitudes and idolatry and replace it with smiles and peace.

God is not a genie in a bottle.

We have accountability in this life. If we choose to humble ourselves, God will exalt us. If we choose to exalt ourselves, God will humble us.

Here is my challenge to you, Christian.

Over the next week, take everything you do and place God before it completely. Are you about get in your car and go to work? Pray and ask God to guide you. Are you about to go eat lunch? Pray and thank God for the provision. Are you about to come into a rainy season? Pray and ask God to give you clarity about how to get through it.

It may seem awkward at first. But eventually you will feel more and more comfortable with talking to God and you will learn how to talk to Him and how to listen to Him.

Which Disciple are you Most Like, part 8: Simon and Thomas

This week I want to talk about Simon and Thomas. The more I study the disciples, the more I realize the mysteries that surround them and the more questions I can’t wait to have answered when I get to meet Christ face to face.

Simon:

The fact that I listed him here means you now know as much about Simon as I do. There is very little in the Bible about Simon. He did have 2 nicknames, Zelotes and Canaanite. All we can gather from those two names is that Simon was part of the Zealot party and was a Canaanite. He is mentioned only a few times in the Bible and only as part of a list, never with any back story.

But I would like to speak a little about Zelotes, or Zealot. The Zealots were a fanatical party that significantly opposed Rome. They were not fond of Jewish Roman sympathizers, which makes Simon working together with Matthew, a Jewish Roman sympathizer, so interesting. This shows that Jesus chooses people from all walks of life, wherever they are.

One other strange thing about the Zealots is that they typically sided with the Pharisees, whom Jesus typically was at odds with. Zealots had a history of passion. They were passionate about upholding the commandments in the Torah, especially those which dealt with idolatry.

One of the most famous groups of Zealots were the Sicarii. They were a violent group of Zealots that tried to expel the Roman government and any sympathizers. There is no indication that Simon was a member of the Sicarii, but if he indeed was a Zealot, he would have had a very passionate and legalistic view of the commandments

Other than that, we know nothing. There is also very little tradition about him. The only tradition holds that he preached in Egypt and was martyred there.

Thomas:

Thomas is the last of the original twelve that I will discuss. Everyone knows Thomas as “Doubting Thomas” because of doubting whether it was really Christ in front of him. He is really known as Thomas Didymus.

Thomas was pessimistic yet loyal. In John 11:16 we see Thomas say,

John 11:16 – Then Thomas (also known as Didymus) said to the rest of the disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.”

There are only 3 real references to Thomas in the gospels. The first comes when Jesus was traveling out of town and Thomas joined Him. Next we see Thomas in the upper room where he asked Jesus how to get to the place where Jesus is going to prepare for us. This is where Jesus says the very popular phrase,

John 14:6 – Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

Of course, we know that by God’s grace we have access to the eternal, Almighty God.

Thomas’ final appearance is seen after Jesus’ crucifixion. Jesus joined the disciples (minus Thomas) in the upper room. Later they told Thomas what they saw and Thomas didn’t believe them. A week later, as the believers were hiding in the upper room again, that Jesus appeared and proved Himself to Thomas.

Tradition offers that Thomas went to Persia and died a martyr.

What Thomas teaches us is that as we struggle with seeing God in our daily walk in life, God will show up in our lives to show us He is there.

So which disciple are you most like? I find that I associate best with Philip. Philip was able to reason, as he was the one who figured out how much it would cost to feed the 5,000. I also associate with Philip in that he would go into groups of people that would most likely be written off and share Jesus with them. In his day, it was the Gentile crowd. I enjoy seeing Christ shared in groups of people who would never hear about Him.

So how about you?

Leave a comment and tell me what you chose.

Which Disciple are you Most Like, part 7: Matthew & Philip

After last week’s study on the two Judases, I am hoping this week is much easier study, but in doing my initial research, I am not thinking so. This week we will look at both Matthew and Philip.

Matthew:

Matthew, like all the rest of the apostles, has an interesting story to tell us. There is nothing written about Matthew prior to his decision to join Jesus other than he was a publican (some versions say he was a tax collector) and he was the son of Alpheus.

When Jesus sees Matthew, he was sitting in a tax collector’s booth along the main highway. Doing this job meant that he was collecting the duties on the imported goods brought by farmers and caravans. In the Roman system, Matthew would have paid all these taxes ahead of time and then collected the money from the people to reimburse himself. This is definitely a system filled with corruption. For example, using today’s money as a tool, if he would have paid $500 to the Roman government before collecting, he would have had to have made that $500 back plus whatever his financial needs for his family are. That means that the farmers and merchants were being overtaxed by the local collectors. Most tax collectors extorted extra money in order to profit off their time in the booth.

Another interesting point about these Jewish publicans is that they were Jewish collaborators. The Jews did not like tax collectors. They were one of the most hated people in all of the empire. Jews felt that all their money should go to support the community and God and not be used to line the pockets of the Roman empire. This meant that not only was Matthew hated because he was a tax collector, but he was a JEWISH TAX COLLECTOR! This meant that one of their own was extorting money from other Jews for profit. He was a Jewish agent of Rome.

Matthew was hated among his own people!

There are accounts of Jews not allowing Jewish publicans to marry Jewish women or even worship in synagogue.

But God…

Jesus walked by and simply said, “Follow me” and that changed everything for Matthew.

Matthew 9:9 – As Jesus went on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collector’s booth. “Follow me,” he told him, and Matthew got up and followed him.

On that same day that he chose to follow Christ, Matthew held a huge party at his home and invited several other tax collectors so that they could meet Jesus as well. In one day, Matthew went from a hated tax collector to a loved soul collector.

While it might seem damaging to Jesus’ credibility to bring Matthew on board, Jesus was very intelligent in His decision. Publicans were known for the record keeping. They had to be. At any time the Roman government could come along and ask for the records of the day. They needed to capture all the details.

This is what made the gospel of Matthew so important. Matthew was able to answer questions about the Messiah in a way that only he could do, by presenting the little details about the stories.

Matthew left a very comfortable life for a life of uncertainty. He abandoned all the pleasures that he had amassed so that he could follow the true Messiah.

After Jesus’ ascension there is little written about Matthew. We know that he wrote the book of Matthew about 25-30 years after the crucifixion, but tradition holds that he went out, as the other apostles did, and spread the Good News of the gospel. At some point he went into Ethiopia and was martyred there.

The big thing we learn from Matthew is that God can use anyone. It doesn’t matter how sinful we are. It doesn’t matter how hated we are. It doesn’t matter how hard our heart is. God can call and use anyone.

Philip:

There are at least 3, and most likely 4, men named Philip in the Bible. The first two were Herod the Great’s two sons that he had through different wives. The other two were instrumental in Christ’s mission. Sometimes people say the other two are the same person, and for that I am not quite sold yet. I can understand both sides of the argument for or against, so I will write this as if they were two separate people. They go by different terms: Philip the Apostle and Philip the Evangelist.

Philip the Evangelist is assumed to have been one of the 72 that Jesus had sent out on missionary journey, although that is not mentioned in the Bible.

Luke 10:1 – After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them two by two ahead of him to every town and place where he was about to go.

We know that Philip the Evangelist was one of the 7 deacons serving in Jerusalem

Acts 6:5 – 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.

When the great persecution came, Philip the Evangelist left Jerusalem and became an evangelist to Samaria.

Acts 8:5-12 – Philip went down to a city in Samaria and proclaimed the Messiah there. When the crowds heard Philip and saw the signs he performed, they all paid close attention to what he said. For with shrieks, impure spirits came out of many, and many who were paralyzed or lame were healed. So there was great joy in that city. Now for some time a man named Simon had practiced sorcery in the city and amazed all the people of Samaria. He boasted that he was someone great, and all the people, both high and low, gave him their attention and exclaimed, “This man is rightly called the Great Power of God.” They followed him because he had amazed them for a long time with his sorcery. But when they believed Philip as he proclaimed the good news of the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women.

After the church in Samaria was started, the Holy Spirit led Philip the Evangelist to the Ethiopian eunuch ad brought him to know Christ. Directly after baptizing the Ethiopian, God used Philip the Evangelist to preach in towns from Azotus to Caesarea.

Acts 8:40 – Philip, however, appeared at Azotus and traveled about, preaching the gospel in all the towns until he reached Caesarea.

Twenty years later, Philip the Evangelist is mentioned again in Acts 21:8-9.

Acts 21:8-9 – Leaving the next day, we reached Caesarea and stayed at the house of Philip the evangelist, one of the Seven. He had four unmarried daughters who prophesied.

He is still in Caesarea where Paul and Luke stayed with him. Philip the Evangelist had 4 unmarried daughters who all had the gift of prophecy.

That is the final time we hear about Philip the Evangelist.

Philip the Apostle, on the other hand, has a little different trajectory. He was a Galilean and a disciple of John the Baptist’s. Philip is the one who told Nathanael about Jesus. There is little description about Philip the Apostle in the Bible, but there are a lot of interactions between Jesus and Philip.

Philip, after bringing Nathanael to Jesus next turned his sights on some Gentiles.

John 12:20-22 – Now there were some Greeks among those who went up to worship at the festival. They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, with a request. “Sir,” they said, “we would like to see Jesus.” Philip went to tell Andrew; Andrew and Philip in turn told Jesus.

Philip was also the one who determined how much money it would take to feed the 5,000. Then Philip asks Jesus to show them the Father. This is when Jesus replies,

John 14:9 – Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?

We finally see Philip in Jerusalem to pray after Jesus’ ascension. Tradition goes on to state that Philip went to Turkey to become a missionary and was martyred in Hierapolis.

Which Disciple are you Most Like, part 3: James

I know it has been quite a while since I last posted anything on here. I’ve had some transition in my life and have wanted to focus my time and attention on God, my family, and the transitions. There are more transitions to come, which I will eventually share as things get finalized.

But I wanted to pick back up where I left off with the disciples of Christ, who they were, and eventually getting to the point of determining which disciple I see myself most like. If you recall, a couple months ago, I asked a simple question:

Which disciple are you most like?

Of course we all aspire to live like Jesus lived, and so did the disciples. But they were not always Jesus-like. They had their own personalities, their own strengths, and their own baggage.

This week, I want to look at James.

James is a common name in the Bible. There are quite a few running around in there, so it is easy to get confused when people mention the name of James. There is even more confusion inside the disciples because there are actually 2 disciples named James. I will look at them both here.

Luke 6:15 – Matthew, Thomas, James son of Alphaeus, Simon who was called the Zealot,

Let’s start with the easier of the two to write about, James the son of Alphaeus. He is also known as James the Lesser (or the James the Younger). When it comes to James the Lesser, there is more speculation than Biblical fact when it comes to his background and his life after the ascension of Jesus.

James the Lesser was the son of Alphaeus (or Cleophas) and Mary and he lived in Galilee.

Mark 15:40 – Some women were watching from a distance. Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James the younger and of Joseph, and Salome.

James’ father shared the same name as Matthew’s father’s name, Alphaeus, so there is speculation that both James the Lesser and Matthew are related.

The only other information I can find about James the Lesser is that tradition says that he died a martyr and his body was sawed into pieces. This is simply taken from oral tradition, and there is very little written detail about it.

With that, James the Lesser is complete. Since there is little written about him we have very little to go on as far as personality or accomplishments. I have to assume that Jesus chose him as one of the 12 for a reason, we just don’t know what that reason is.

The next James, son of Zebedee, we have a lot more information about. First, he is known to the Catholic church as James the Elder.

James the Elder is the son of Zebedee and Salome. He was a fisherman and was actually called by Jesus when he was on his boat with his dad and brother, another disciple, John.

Matthew 4:21-22 – Going on from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John. They were in a boat with their father Zebedee, preparing their nets. Jesus called them,and immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him.

James is almost always associated with his brother John. Jesus gave both James and his brother the nickname “Boanerges” which means “sons of thunder.”

Mark 3:17 – James son of Zebedee and his brother John (to them he gave the name Boanerges, which means “sons of thunder”),

This gives us some insight into their personalities. They were known for their zeal, passion, and ambition. The other disciples were also not too fond of them for their forwardness as Mark 10:41 tells us.

Then in Luke 9, James and John wanted to call down fire from heaven to destroy a Samaritan village that refused to welcome Jesus. Jesus immediately rebuked them for wanting to destroy lives instead of saving them.

There aren’t a lot of specifics about James the Elder after Jesus’ resurrection. We know he went fishing and saw another miraculous catch and that he had breakfast with the resurrected Christ on the shore. We also know he was present on the day of Pentecost as shared in Acts 2.

By the time we get to Acts 12, we see the prediction of Jesus come true when James is the first disciple martyred.

The cool thing I like about James the Elder’s story s that it shows that God immediately knows our hearts. He identified him as a “son of thunder” right away. His story also shows God’s patience in our sanctification. It shows that we don’t become immediately sanctified but that it is a process that requires spending time with Christ.

The next post I will focus on James’ brother John.

Which Disciple are you Most Like – Part 2, Peter

Last week I started a series on the disciples. Most people can name quite a few of them, but only a couple of the disciples resonate with us because they are the most popular.

This week I would like to look at Peter, probably the most well-known of the disciples.

Peter was a fisherman that lived in the town of Bethsaida. He was part of Jesus’ inner circle of disciples and did evangelistic work among the Jews as far as Babylon.

Mark 1:16 – As Jesus walked beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen.

Peter had many different names. During the time of Christ, the common language was Greek, so Peter’s Greek name was Simon. The language Peter grew up with was Hebrew, and his Hebrew name was Cephas. Translated into English, Simon and Cephas both mean “rock.”

Galatians 2:9 – James, Cephas and John, those esteemed as pillars, gave me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship when they recognized the grace given to me. They agreed that we should go to the Gentiles, and they to the circumcised.

Peter was a working man. A fisherman by trade, he was married. He was born right around the turn from BCE to AD and he lived somewhere around 65-70 years. The typical Galilean fisherman was salt of the earth. Jospehus, the Roman historian, describes the Galileans as “…quick to temper and given to quarrelling and they were very chivalrous men.” The Talmud explains Galileans as “more anxious for honor than gain, quick-tempered, impulsive, emotional, easily aroused by an appeal to adventure, loyal to the end.”

Honestly, the Talmud makes Peter sound like Bilbo Baggins from the Lord of the Rings.

Fishermen in Peter’s day were rough around the edges. They often swore and dressed shabbily. Many have described them as a “man’s man.”

Then his life changed.

He was still the shabby, quick-tempered fisherman, but Jesus called his name.

Luke 5:10-11 – Then Jesus said to Simon, “Don’t be afraid; from now on you will fish for people.”  So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him.

At that moment, Peter stepped up as the leader of the group (next to Jesus, of course).

He turned into the most well-known disciple, and the one that is typically listed first. He was also part of Jesus’ inner circle.

But that didn’t mean he was without his problems. I believe Jesus called Peter to show all of humanity how the individual mess-ups that we make don’t mean God doesn’t love us any less.

Peter made a lot of mistakes!

One minute he is walking on water by faith and the next he is sinking in his doubts.

He wanted to know how much he needed to forgive someone who sinned against him.

He wanted to know the reward for following Christ.

He was also the one who denied Christ several times.

Every time he fell, he would come back stronger, understanding Christ a little more each time. He was the first to call Jesus the Messiah.

Mark 8:29 – “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” Peter answered, “You are the Messiah.”

After Jesus left this earth, Peter turned from disciple to apostle. As a disciple is a “follower of” Christ, an apostle is “sent” by Christ. Peter was the first to preach on the day of Pentecost and was the first to proclaim the Good News to a Gentile. He suffered a lot for the glory of Christ. He was persecuted, beaten, and jailed. But he rejoiced at his suffering.

Acts 5:41 – The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name.

One more interesting note about Peter is that many believe the Gospel of Mark was actually written by Peter. John Mark was a companion of Peter’s later in life and dictated much of what he said. I don’t know for sure if this is true or not, but as I reread the Gospel of Mark, you can get a true sense that it was an eyewitness account. This makes you believe that the gospel is the life of Christ shared through the lens of Peter written by Mark. Some of the personal stories, like the transfiguration, are told in the first-person, which Mark never would have been at.

In the end, Peter died for the message of the cross and the gospel of Christ. Leading up to Peter’s crucifixion, almost all the apostles were martyred.

Church historian, Tertullian, as well as Origen and Eusebius say that Peter was stretched out by his hands, dressed as a prisoner, and taken where no one wanted to go, thus possibly fulfilling a prophecy by Jesus.

John 21: 18-19 – Very truly I tell you, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.” 19 Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him, “Follow me!”

The historical evidence shows that Peter was crucified upside down during the reign of Nero. When condemned to death, Peter requested to be crucified upside down because he didn’t feel worthy to die the same way Jesus died.

Arrogant fisherman to humble fisher of men.

 

Which Disciple Are You Most Like – Part 1, Introduction

A few days ago I was scrolling through LinkedIn and came across someone asking the question, “Which disciple are you most like?”

I didn’t know how to answer.

You come to know the temperament and attitude of a couple of them based on stories that directly revolve around Christ, but there were 12 disciples and I really only “knew” about 4-5 of them.

I decided to research the disciples. I started with the New Testament and went out from there. There is a lot of information from archaeologists and Bible historians. There is also a lot of written and oral tradition that come to bear in this study as well.

Since this is not a scholarly paper I will not be citing my references (in modified Turabian format as Bible scholars seem to like). I am using many of my books from seminary as well the Bible the support my information. Don’t worry, neither Google nor Wikipedia were used as sources.

Over the next 12 posts, I will give you a little information about each of the disciples and then I will tell you who I feel I am most like. It would be really cool if you commented on here with who you are most like and why you think that.

There were 12 original disciples. They are the foundation of the church. In Revelation 21:14, the Bible says the twelve walls of the foundations of New Jerusalem will have the names of the 12 disciples. These 12 men were his closest disciples. After Jesus’ resurrection, He commissioned these same men to carry the gospel message to the world.

These men were not perfect. They had attitudes and tempers. They doubted. They betrayed. They were not the religious elite. Not one was a scholar or rabbi.

They were ordinary.

God chose these ordinary men.

Today there are over a billion professing Christians in the world and they can all trace their roots back to this original group of 12 men.

I like how J.D. Greear says it in a sermon I once heard from him:

“What was it about them? And as I begin to study about these people, what I found out about them was if you were picking teams, you would not have picked them! If you were sitting in a room and going ok, “we’re going to start a movement that is going to turn the world upside down. Who do you want to start with, this group? ABSOLUTELY NOT.” They were cheating tax collectors, they were salty fishermen. They had no creativity. They had no strategy! They had no education, no formal training. None of them had seminary degrees. None of them had preached sermons. They weren’t professional ministers. They had no influence. They had no relevance. Oh God help us.

They had no money. They had no power. They had no facilities. They didn’t even have a start up kit.”

Never has a larger assignment been given to a less qualified group of people!

But here is what they did have:

  • They trusted God and did what He said.

When you think about the context of that statement alone, it is a pretty radical concept. Today, in modern day America if we say we are trusting God and doing what He says then we are probably choosing Chick Fil-A over McDonald’s or we are going to work for Hobby Lobby instead of Whole Foods Market.

In their day, it was dangerous!

What is the first thing Jesus told them to do?

He told them to go back to Jerusalem and wait. What happened in Jerusalem? Well, 40 days earlier the people of Jerusalem made it painfully clear what they thought of Jesus and his followers as the crowds screamed “CRUCIFY!” at the top of their lungs.

Basically, Jesus just told them to go back to the place where their leader had been murdered.

  • They had a passion that unified them.

Today’s church has passion. There are even entire conferences called Passion. But many times our passions are divided, not unifying. These disciples unified around one thing, spreading the gospel across the world.

  • They were in prayer because of their desperation.

Think about it. Up until this point they had Jesus right there with them to talk to, bounce ideas off of, and learn from. Now, they had to go to prayer. This must have left a desperate hole in their hearts and that led to significant prayer.

  • They had the power of the Holy Spirit.

God’s presence was still with them, even in His physical absence. This gave them the power they needed to turn the world upside down.

So over the next 12 weeks I will break down each of the disciples and then tell you which one I believe I am most like. Yep, I am keeping the surprise until the end.

So enjoy as we dig through the Bible and outside sources to learn a little more about each of the disciples together. Next week, Peter.

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