Thursday, December 16, 2010

Blog on Hold

I am placing this blog on hold while I take a brief vacation. It will return January 1 as I will tie in this blog with a fast. I am asking all of those who pay attention to this blog to participate in a fast of time for the first 40 days of the year. Beginning January 1, I am asking that every person begin fasting 1 hour per day to spend time with the Lord, away from TV, cell phones, computers and everything else. The second week, we will increase that time to 1 Hour and 15 minutes. Third week 1 hour and 30 minutes until we finish the 5th and 6th weeks with 2 hours a day with the Lord in study, prayer and worship.

During the fast I will be walking us all through Luke and Acts for the purpose of understanding Jesus' heart and the power of the early church.

Until then have a great Christmas and a Blessed New Year.

Tim Burgan

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

You don’t mess with the Holy Spirit.

Acts 13: 1 – 11

In the Blues Brothers movie, the two main characters feel as if they are sent on a mission from God. This chapter shows us what it is when someone is really sent on a mission from God! There was a group of faithful men of God who were diligent in their prayers and fasting. The purpose of this time was to seek the Lord for his clear direction. God was faithful to show up and give that direction. We don’t need to go through life without any direction, guessing what we should do next; God will always speak when we wait on Him.

Paul (Saul) and Barnabas were sent by the Holy Spirit, to the governor of Cyprus in the city of Paphos. Now this next part seems a little rough but you have to understand what’s going on. God wanted the Governor to hear the Gospel message; Elymas purposefully intended to stop the message from the Governor. He was a sorcerer so the governor was used to seeing the power of witchcraft around him. This was a moment like Moses before Pharaoh and his magicians. Paul and Barnabas heard from the Lord to do what Moses had done, show that the power of God was greater than any other power.

I believe the Lord was also concerned about Elymas. His blindness was only temporary so hopefully it was enough to humble him to come to the Lord. God’s desire is for all to repent and come to know Him. He loves all people.

Paul and Barnabas were able to make their point! We will find out more about that tomorrow. The real point is no matter how powerful a person is whether it is demonic or earthly God is more powerful and can prove it. No matter how difficult the struggle, problem or person you are facing; God is big enough to handle it.

We need to, like the men who heard about the mission from God, learn to hear God’s voice better. We need His guidance everyday and He offers it everyday as well.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Prayer opens doors

Acts 12: 1 – 24

I have seen the Lord do amazing things through prayer. I have seen him open blind eyes and temporarily blind open eyes so I could get past guards with bibles that would be considered illegal. This story is a story of amazing answered prayer.

Peter had been through in jail. Herod was on a prideful rampage to please the Jews so he was doing whatever he could to persecute Christians. By this time Peter was a major leader in the church due to James’ murder many were concerned for Peter’s life. The church began to do what it does best, pray.

Peter literally was given a angelic escape, four squads of soldiers, two chained to him, and a guard at each door. That type of security says volumes about who Peter was and how they feared him. Remember all he was, was a simple uneducated fisherman. Remember with God we always become so much more than what we are!

Hint: when you pray don’t be surprised that God answers! Peter went to the prayer meeting of his friend’s mother, John Mark, Peter’s friend wrote Peter’s Gospel, the book of Mark. When he came to the door they were surprised and didn’t believe their own prayers had been answered.

Sometimes God answers prayers in ways we don’t expect. I am not sure they were expecting Peter to live; they were in more anticipation that his spirit would appear at the door rather than a living Peter. God always hears our prayers. We need to keep our hearts right to expect an answer that may be different from our expectations.

God delights in relationship with His people. He likes our communicating with Him our spending time with Him and answering our prayers. What have you been praying about? Has God already answered and you have not heard or been given an answer you did not expect? Look for the answers. God has great plans for you and He will hear and answer sometimes in the most unexpected ways. Look to see what doors He has opened for you!

Friday, December 10, 2010

From Bleak to Amazing

Acts 9:27 -43

Have you ever done anything that you thought, “Boy, I really blew it this time, nothing can fix this!” Can you imagine how Peter felt when he had denied the Lord? He had loved Him, followed Him completely for 3 – 31/2 years. He had seen the miracles and even performed miracles but when the virtual rubber met the road, he failed! At one time or another all of us feel as if we have really blown it. When that happens we have a decision to make; do we believe in God’s grace enough to forgive and that His plan is still intact for us or do fail again and believe that there really is no hope?

After a period of time, Peter believed. When we allow God’s grace to work in us, we can learn to live in it and give it to others. That is Peter’s story. Life was pretty bleak the days after the crucifixion for Peter. Peter had to be convened by the Lord, in the famous “do you love me?” speech (John 21). Peter got it, believed it and made it work.

In this passage, we see Peter healing the sick and raising the dead and people expected it from him. He had gone from depression to joy, from bleak to amazing! It is a choice we all must make do we wallow in our sin and lack of self-forgiveness or do we believe in God’s grace and allow that grace to work in us.

All of us are going to fail at some point. The choice is what do we believe! God orders our steps; He knows our struggles and our failures! He knows what we are going through always and He knows how to get us out of it and through it, if we will allow Him. There are so many great things He wants to accomplish on this earth and He has chosen to use us. Often we stop Him from making it happen through us.

What are you battling today? What area in your life are you allowing to remain defeated? God has amazing things for you to do. Daniel wrote, “the people who know their God will be strong and do great things!” That is you and I! We will do amazing things and maybe even do them today if we will but trust the Lord’s grace for our lives.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

It is easy to get of course even with the best of intentions

Acts 9:1 -26

(I apologize that this did not get posted yesterday, a glitch on my part)

Saul (soon to be Paul) was a murderer, persecutor, and terrorist to Christians everywhere. He did his job with a vengeance. Gamaliel the best teacher in all of Israel had trained him in the law. He had a passion for what was right or at least what he thought was right. He sent many to their deaths and many more to prison all for the purpose of wiping out heresy. Saul had lots of passion but very little understanding.

His teacher Gamaliel had almost defended Christianity when the disciples were brought before the Sanhedrin. Gamaliel was the one who challenged the rulers that if this is of God you may find yourselves fighting God. Saul made a very common mistake; he got caught up in his strength, his own righteousness and did not keep his heart soft for the Lord.

God saw Saul’s hearts desire to do what was right even. I thank the Lord that He is still that way with me. I am grateful that He looks at our heart motivations more than the outcome of our actions. A heart desiring to follow after Him completely will be rewarded with finding Him. Saul was ferociously zealous for the things of God he simply needed to be to be “knocked off of his high horse” a bit to remember why he was doing what he was doing! Saul wanted to protect the faith. To make sure righteousness remained. The problem you can’t accomplish godly things through fleshly actions or motives. God got his attention and turned him around to the place Saul really wanted to be.

I believe Saul really loved God and wanted to serve Him completely. The problem was that he didn’t spend the time listening to God. Part of our challenge to growing in the faith is maintaining our strengths but relying on the Lord. If we trust and depend on our strengths without maintaining our time with the Lord we end up frustrated, cynical, angry, and wounded, wondering why God is blessing what we are doing. It is so easy to become a “Saul” especially when you have a “Paul” heart. Saul loved God, he simply lost relationship with him because he got caught in his own agenda rather than maintaining his relationship with the Lord.

Acts 2:42 tells us how to stay focused basically it says this pray, stay in the Word, and stay as an active member of a body of believers. These things keep us on course and give us all that we need

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Always pack light.

Acts 8:23 – 40

Traveling around the world has taught me so many things. I have learned to adjust to different cultures and mind sets. I have learned that the American Christian way of think is just that and not always correct. I have learned that God will do amazing things when we allow him. I have learned what I really need to take with me verses what I think I need. I have learned some things can be used for a multitude of uses. For example, when space is of a premium hand soap can be used to wash your body, hair, and to shave and occasionally for lubricant on pieces of equipment. I have learned to pack light.

Philip was a “light packer” I am sure that he carried very little but everywhere he went he brought the “light”. In Samaria he reached the lost tribes of Israel who were regular people and then the Lord took him to share the Gospel with the royal court of Ethiopia were his impact is still felt today. We are encouraged to be ready in season and out and the “light” we carry needs to be shared with everyone from the lowest in society to the highest.

The Jews hated the Samaritans. They were considered not as pure as a regular Jew. They had their own set of customs and traditions that were different but God still sent Philip to bring the light. The Ethiopians were not only a totally different race but their culture was African not Middle Eastern. Philip could have said, No I can’t baptize you here, we must do it in the Jordan where Jesus’ disciples and John baptized. Philip was packing “light”. He wasn’t limiting the Gospel by his culture or traditions. According to Leviticus a eunuch is not even allowed into parts of the temple, limiting his worship of the Lord. Philip was packing “light” and didn’t allow a man to come to Christ because of the law either. He understood God’s grace. He knew this man loved the Lord and his condition should not stop him from coming to Christ.

How do we pack light? We carefully judge in ourselves the difference between what is truth and what is tradition or ritual. What is Jesus verses what is the law. We can not carry a heavy burden of religion with us but a daily walk of the true understanding of a love relationship with our heavenly Father. Ask the Lord to show you how you are “packed”. Are there things we must lay down are they stopping you from being all that the Lord needs you to be? Are you light enough to be “whisked away” by the Holy Spirit? Let the “joy” of packing light be yours as you trust the Lord more today.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Relationship with Jesus doesn’t mean you are perfect!

Acts 8: 1 – 22

Many people think that coming into relationship with Jesus means that you must be perfect. The confusion comes because He is perfect. As our love and relationship grow we certainly growing stronger, more like Jesus and sin less but we are far from perfect. So it was with Simon the sorcerer.

Couple important points to note here; the Saul in this passage is the same man who later would become Paul the apostle. Second, Philip was chosen as one of the original deacons in the church. We often think of deacons as the guys and gals that set up the chairs. Here we see Philip preaching the Gospel, healing the sick, and casting out demons, pretty serious stuff for just a guy who should be setting up chairs. The position of deacon in the church is a much more powerful position then what we may have thought in the past. The third point we need to look at in this chapter is that the Samaritans had come to Christ and been baptized. Then Peter and John were sent so they might receive the Holy Spirit. The in-filling or Baptism in the Holy Spirit was something that is an additional move of God in our lives beyond salvation to empower us to reach the world for Christ.

Back to the story!

Simon had been a deceiver for many years then he heard the truth. Instantly he came to Christ was baptized, even worked with Philip while he was in Samaria. However once he saw the power of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit his old nature came out, he thought he could purchase the power of God.

When we come to relationship with Christ we are constantly at odds with our old nature. Our natural response to things is to war with God. No one ever needs to teach a baby to be bad we must train children to be good. Simon, like us had to be disciplined to correct thinking. Even as Christians people want to try to manipulate and control. If you have young children, think about how much they control you. Selfishness is a very natural response. We don’t know what the motivation was for Simon but we do know you can not purchase the gifts of God, they are free to whomever has their heart right before the Lord. All of God’s gift are that way, we can’t earn them, purchase them, or work for them they are “gifts” from the Lord to us. The purity of their working in us depends upon the purity of our hearts. The closer we draw in relationship to Jesus the purer our hearts become and the more effective our lives become and the more effective the gifts are through us. Out of a polluted well come polluted water out of a clean well comes clean water. Until this confrontation with Peter, Simon still had some pollution to deal with in his heart.

We grow in maturity and perfection; salvation doesn’t make us perfect it does however open the doors of heaven and real relationship with Jesus. Where are you today? Do you feel you need to be perfect? Are you playing games with the Lord and calling it relationship? Do you have a loving growing relationship with Jesus? I hope you are the latter but if not, make the change today. A real relationship with Jesus fills your life with joy, love, and peace as you may have never known.

Friday, December 3, 2010

A story to change the world

Acts 6:11 – 7:17

Stephen was a disciple, we don’t know when he became one but it must have been a while because he had been chosen to be one of the first deacons chosen in the church. In light of our limited view of eternity his story seems tragic but is it really?

In Romans 12:18 Paul instructs us to, “be at peace with all men as much as it pertains to us.” While we may walk with the shoes of peace it does not mean that everyone will respond appropriately. There are some, like Stephen found out, that no matter how peaceful and loving you are they have another agenda. Stephen’s story seems tragic but is it really?

We know that despite his sharing Christ from Abraham to Stephen’s present time, the greatest story ever told, the Sanhedrin was determined to stone him. How do we know this? His story is recorded here. Hundreds of million have read this story and have had the strength to stand because of it. The apostle Paul was impacted as he witnessed this execution and look what we have through his life. Our lives are eternal from conception and we must always view things in light of eternity. We can easily get caught up in the day to day however we must keep in mind that as Christians, everything has eternal impact. Stephen’s life and death changed the lives of millions.

Don’t become frustrated when people don’t respond to you the way you want them to. Keep your eyes on eternity. Your story, your life is going to impact people. Make it an impact for the Lord. Make it an impact that will affect people for more that just today. Your story can change the world. There are those in this world whom you will not be able to be at peace but it is not as much as it pertains to them, but as much as it pertains to you!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

The defense of the Gospel

Acts 5:31 – 6:8

There are many people who are far deeper theologically than me who know how to argue the case for Christ in a very strong intellectual way. Some of the greatest defenders of the faith I know were not even Christians at the time. I was going to be persecuted in one way or another for my faith and they stood up to champion my cause for me in a way I never could. That is the story of Gamaliel

The disciples had been in prison, released by an angel of the Lord, and then went to share the Gospel in the temple. I guess if an angel gets you out of prison you no longer fear being thrown into prison. Brought before the Sanhedrin again, the leaders don’t know what to do with them. Gamaliel (the apostle Paul’s teacher) speaks to the crowd and in a backdoor way defends them. After being beaten the apostles are released.

When we are doing what the Lord has called us to do many will not like it or will be confused by it, but the Lord will always defend us. Part of the peace we need to have as Christians is that God sees everything. One of the names of God in the Hebrew is “the God who sees”

When we go through hard times, we need to know that God sees and he will be our defense. In fact the Bible tells us that He is our shield, our defender, our High tower, and a very present help in time of need. The defense may not come from the places we would expect but it will come. God will always protect and defend us. He never fails. If he needs to use a donkey as he did with Balaam in the book of numbers or a Gamaliel as he does here in Acts, it doesn’t matter, He will come to our defense.

You may be hurting or struggling today, whatever you are going through God will come to your defense. He may also challenge you today to share your faith with someone, don’t worry, do it with the right heart and He will come to your defense. Our God really loves us and like a good Father, protects and defends His children.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Deception and Trust

Acts 5: 1 – 30

Spend any time listening to the news and you don’t know what to believe. Who is right in any given skirmish around the world? What is safe to eat or drink and what is sure to give you cancer? That information can change almost daily. It is hard to know what is the truth and what isn’t. As Christians we need to be on our guard always, staying in the Word, prayer, and fellowship with other believers receiving sound teaching. It is easy to become deceived without those key elements in our lives. Trust comes by doing these things regularly.

The beginning of this passage seems a little rough. Two Christians who have stood to the public persecution in Jerusalem at this time bowed to deception. Ananias and Sapphira’s sin was not holding back some of the funds for their own use, the enemy had distorted their thinking to make them believe they needed to “look good” without paying the price and that they would attempt to pridefully deceive everyone. They were doing something more for their own glory rather than God’s glory. As Christians we always need to be aware of our own weakness. We can overcome our weaknesses through the basics of the word, prayer ,and being in a strong fellowship of accountability with other believers. I am not saying the Lord is going to strike anyone dead like Ananias and Sapphira but spiritually you could become weaker and fail to accomplish all that God has for you and end up living less than the abundant life God has planned for you.

Many want to become like the apostles of the New Testament, the challenge is that there were no compromise in them. They walked in the presence of the Lord all of the time, desiring to be like Him all of the time. Regardless of what happened to them, they kept their focus on the Lord. Their lives and livelihood had been threatened by the leaders of their day, they were thrown into prison and trusted. Bad things will happen just because the world is a fallen place and especially because we desire to follow the Lord. The challenge is how will we respond to the bad things? The apostles trusted, prayed, and believed. The result: the angel of the Lord released them from prison even in front of the guards. They then returned to preaching the Word without compromise. How do you normally respond when trouble comes to you? The miracles come because we have learned to completely trust the Lord. Our lives are more content, despite the circumstances. We are able to overcome worry and anxiety because of our relationship. Our future and today are both in God’s hands allowing us to live in peace, sometimes despite the circumstances.

It is easy to be deceived. There are so many things inputting into our lives all of the junk of the world. It is easy to believe what the world says rather than what God says, that is why being in the word, praying, and regularly being around people who will encourage, instruct and challenge you in your faith. Trust can change your life. I have a saying posted on my office wall that says this, “Don’t complain if you haven’t prayed. If you have prayed then trust!” It is something the Lord taught me a long time ago that I am still learning everyday☺