Our Companionship With Our Lord JESUS CHRIST

Acts 26:9-18 (NLT)  says, 9 “I used to believe that I ought to do everything I could to oppose the very name of Jesus the Nazarene. 10 Indeed, I did just that in Jerusalem. Authorized by the leading priests, I caused many believers there to be sent to prison. And I cast my vote against them when they were condemned to death. 11 Many times I had them punished in the synagogues to get them to curse Jesus. I was so violently opposed to them that I even chased them down in foreign cities.
12 “One day I was on such a mission to Damascus, armed with the authority and commission of the leading priests. 13 About noon, Your Majesty, as I was on the road, a light from heaven brighter than the sun shone down on me and my companions. 14 We all fell down, and I heard a voice saying to me in Aramaic, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me? It is useless for you to fight against my will.’
15 “‘Who are you, lord?’ I asked.
“And the Lord replied, ‘I am Jesus, the one you are persecuting. 16 Now get to your feet! For I have appeared to you to appoint you as my servant and witness. You are to tell the world what you have seen and what I will show you in the future. 17 And I will rescue you from both your own people and the Gentiles. Yes, I am sending you to the Gentiles 18 to open their eyes, so they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God. Then they will receive forgiveness for their sins and be given a place among God’s people, who are set apart by faith in me.’

While he was addressing the king singularly concerning their ancestral “hope” in Acts 6:7, Paul addressed his question to the whole audience, which was mostly Gentile. He asked them why it was so incredible (literally, “unbelievable”) to any of them that God can raise the dead.
Since so much of the Jewish hope was tied to a belief that God raises people to continued life beyond this one, why were the Jews arguing with Paul about resurrection? The reason, of course, was one well-documented case of a certain resurrection that had been confirmed by hundreds of eyewitnesses. This had become the lifework of those who had been closest to the scene of this resurrection. In addition, many had already given their very lives for the cause – a cause whose whole credibility rested on the veracity of the resurrection of this one whom Paul was about to name.

Paul named himself as one who theoretically believed in the resurrection of the dead as a solidly educated Pharisee but who vigorously opposed the movement that believed in the resurrection of Jesus. He not only refused to believe that Jesus of Nazareth had been resurrected, he also thought he should do everything he could to oppose the movement.

With the authorization of the leading priests, Paul had captured believers in Jerusalem and sent them to prison. He even went so far as to cast his vote against Christians when they were condemned to death. Much of Paul’s work was done through the synagogues, where Paul found most of the Christians in the early days of the movement. This would remind Agrippa that the Christian movement had Jewish roots. In the synagogues Paul would have believers whipped in order to try to force them to curse Christ. Paul was so passionate, so violently opposed to those who knew Christ, that he hounded them in distant cities of foreign lands. He took his campaign of terror on the road, headed to Damascus.

About noon, Paul saw a light from heaven brighter than the sun, blazing around him and his traveling companions. The presence of this bright light from heaven is mentioned in all three accounts – in chapter 9 (the actual event), in chapter 22, and here. The voice from heaven is also central to all three accounts. The revealed word of the risen Christ to the apostle Paul is the centerpiece of the story. In Aramaic, Paul had been addressed and asked, “Why are you persecuting me?” Notice, as has been the case in every account, Jesus made it clear that Paul had not been persecuting heretics but, rather, Christ Himself .
One important addition to Christ’s words here is not included in either chapter 9 or 22. Paul added that Christ had said, “It is hard for you to fight against my will.” Paul’s passion and his conviction were commendable, but he was not headed in the direction that God wanted him to go.

Upon Paul’s inquiry as to the identity of the speaker, the voice answered: “I am Jesus, the one you are persecuting.” The information to follow is also unique to this particular recounting of the Damascus road experience. From his prostrate position, Paul was commissioned by Christ Himself. He was to be Christ’s servant (1 Corinthians 4:1) and Christ’s witness (the ongoing theme of Acts predicted in Christ’s words in 1:8). Paul would tell the world about not only this experience at Damascus but also about the other times that Christ would appear to him. Paul was to be the recipient of a great deal of God’s “light” to both Jews and Gentiles.

When Jesus said, “I will protect you,” inherent in this statement was the promise of danger from which Paul would need protection. The two sources of the danger would be his own people (the Jews) and the Gentiles, in whose court he stood. Christ’s words of commission to Paul sound like the work predicted of the Messiah in places like Isaiah 35:5; 42:7, 16; 61:1. Paul was to turn many people from darkness to light, which he did (see 2 Corinthians 4:4; Ephesians 4:18; 5:8; Colossians 1:12-13). Paul was to be God’s instrument of turning Gentiles from the power of Satan to God, inviting them to receive forgiveness for their sins, which he did (13:38; Ephesians 1:7; Colossians 1:14). Paul was also to offer Gentiles a place among God’s people (Romans 8:17; Colossians 1:12). Paul took every opportunity to remind his audience that the Gentiles had an equal share in God’s inheritance. This inheritance is the promise and blessing of the covenant that God made with Abraham (Ephesians 2:19; 1 Peter 1:3-4).

A monument should have risen in the desert. Saul of Tarsus, while on the road to Damascus, met the Christ he did not believe in. Not only was he changed, but the world itself also reeled under this desert encounter. Not only did Paul find peace for his life, but the world also benefited from the fervor and dedication of a man in love with God. Paul met Jesus on the Damascus road, and the world was never the same again – because Paul was forever changed. Paul had been a devout Jew, and there can be no question about his devotion to his religious tradition. But the question is: “How did the nature of his personal worship change after he met Jesus?” Before his conversion, Paul was undoubtedly committed to God, as well as to Judaism with all its attributes and traditions. He must have entered the temple with a deep love for God and fervor for all Jewish truths. So fervor was him, in fact, that he gave himself to the purpose of destroying Christianity. He believed God wanted Judaism to be unrivaled by any new “ism.” He must have surveyed the temple with pride, adored the Pentateuch, and kept the feasts and observances in utter sincerity. Then Paul met Jesus! Suddenly his adoration took on a very personal tone. From the beginning of his new life in Christ, he must have realized that he had finally discovered a way of worship that focused on truth, for truth resides in the person of Christ, the fountain of all truth. Now Paul began to worship in truth, and the result of that worship was a sweet peace that centered on Jesus. There can be no doubt that Christianity is a religion of relationships. Like Paul, we worship truth insofar as that truth adheres to the person of Christ and to his teaching. We were born again because we became related to Christ. We sing “What a Friend We Have in Jesus,” not “What a Friend We Have in Doctrine.” We do not go to church to exalt the six rules of peace, the eight principles of grace, or even the Ten Commandments or meeting our friends and others. We are concerned with dogma only because Jesus has called us to God’s truth, to righteous living and to clear thinking. But our worship is reserved for God and God alone. When that attitude of worship is in place, we live and walk in an atmosphere of peace.

Luke 24:13-16, 30-35 (NLT) says, 13 That same day two of Jesus’ followers were walking to the village of Emmaus, seven miles from Jerusalem. 14 As they walked along they were talking about everything that had happened. 15 As they talked and discussed these things, Jesus Himself suddenly came and began walking with them. 16 But God kept them from recognizing Him.

This event occurred on Sunday, the same day as the Resurrection. Two followers of Jesus were leaving Jerusalem and walking the seven miles to the village of Emmaus. Little is known of these disciples; one was named Cleopas (Luke 24:18), and the other was not one of the eleven disciples, as noted by Luke 4:33. During their walk, they were talking about everything that had happened.

The two men were deep in discussion as they walked along. Apparently a man walking in the same direction drew up beside them (they knew he had been in Jerusalem, Luke 24:18). This man was Jesus Himself, but they were kept from recognizing Him. In other appearances after the Resurrection, Jesus was also not recognized at first (John 20:14; 21:4). Here, God prevented these men from seeing Jesus until Jesus was ready to reveal himself to them (Luke 24:30-31). God’s divine sovereignty kept them from understanding until the full reality of the bodily resurrection of Jesus could be understood.

In verses 30-35 says, “As they sat down to eat, He took the bread and blessed it. Then He broke it and gave it to them. 31 Suddenly, their eyes were opened, and they recognized Him. And at that moment He disappeared! 32 They said to each other, “Didn’t our hearts burn within us as He talked with us on the road and explained the Scriptures to us?” 33 And within the hour they were on their way back to Jerusalem. There they found the eleven disciples and the others who had gathered with them, 34 who said, “The Lord has really risen! He appeared to Peter.” [Jesus Appears to the Disciples.] 35 Then the two from Emmaus told their story of how Jesus had appeared to them as they were walking along the road, and how they had recognized Him as he was breaking the bread.”

Charles Spurgeon once said of the all-sufficiency of Christ, “Look to the Living One for life. Look to Jesus for all you need between the gate of hell and the gate of heaven,” In Jesus is the ultimate rule of peace.

In 1954, Oberlin College gave Theodore Steinway an honorary degree. At that time, Steinway Pianos had made and sold 342,000 pianos. If we multiply 342,000 (pianos) by 243 (strings in each instrument), and then multiply that number by 40,000 (the pounds of pressure exerted by the strings within each piano), we come to realize that the Steinway Piano Company was filling the world with tension. Yet Theodore Steinway was not given an honorary degree for creating tension in the world. He was given a degree of promoting harmony and beautiful music around the world. Theodore Steinway and his predecessors had created harmony and music out of tension.

            Our Lord Jesus Christ walked along the road to Emmaus with two people who were staggering beneath an immense load of grief. Their hearts were heavy. There was enough tension within each of them to make even a Steinway Piano feel unstressed. Yet their testimony, upon reflection, was, “Were not heart burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?” (Luke 24:32).

            When we discuss this passage, not much is made of the fact that our Lord Jesus Christ opened the Scriptures, yet how fundamental this is to our inner peace. If the resurrected Christ can bring Scripture into the life of the tormented, God’s Word might also serve as a part of our recipe of peace.

No Other Gospel – Paul Called by God

Galatians 1:10-12 (NIV) says, 10 “Obviously, I’m not trying to win the approval of people, but of God. If pleasing people were my goal, I would not be Christ’s servant.
Paul’s Message Comes from Christ
11 Dear brothers and sisters, I want you to understand that the Gospel message I preach is not based on mere human reasoning. 12 I received my message from no human source, and no one taught me. Instead, I received it by direct revelation from Jesus Christ.”

Undoubtedly the Judaizers had accused Paul of compromise, saying that he taught freedom from the Jewish law to the Gentiles in order to be a people pleaser and thus win as many converts as possible. But Paul explained that his purpose was always to please God.

Paul’s use of the word still offers a glimpse into his inner self and his past life as a Pharisee. Paul understood that by living a strict, law-abiding, judgmental, and appearance—focused life of a Pharisee, his goal had really been to please people. Religious and pious people may receive mountains of praise for their supposed character and good works. Christians are rarely accorded such praise. Thus if Paul were trying to please people, he would not be Christ’s servant. As there is no compromise with the truth, there is no compromise for the Christian with “this evil world” (Galatians 1:4). The life of serving Christ does not put people in the limelight, offer great material rewards, or promise worldly security. Thus, if Paul wanted to please people, he could have chosen many other routes or stayed a Jewish Pharisee.

Much of church growth philosophy centers on a “market” approach, discovering what people want and need. For a culture that treats God and the Bible as irrelevant, this approach may be the only way to break through barriers. But we must have our motives clearly understood. If our desire is to please people, our packaging of the gospel may take priority over the content. If our purpose is evangelism, then reaching people through felt needs can be legitimate. We must not forget that our allegiance to Christ comes first. We must never water down his authority in the life of a believer in order to bring him or her into a church.

In verse 1, Paul had introduced himself as appointed by God. As Paul launched into a repudiation of those who would refuse to recognize his authority as an apostle, he began at the beginning. Paul wanted the Galatian believers to be assured that he was an apostle – called separately from the Twelve and received as an equal by the Twelve.

The Good News that Paul preached was the true gospel, not any false gospel, as he had discussed in verses 6-9. The gospel Paul taught was not based on mere human reasoning or logic—that is, it was not a belief or doctrine handed down to him through Jewish tradition.

The Judaizers, refusing to acknowledge Paul as an apostle, most likely claimed that Paul owed his salvation and gospel knowledge to Peter and James in Jerusalem and that he had to turn to them for approval and support of his teaching. But, as Paul would point out, he had become a believer before he ever met these leaders in the Christian church. Nor was Paul taught the Gospel. As a young man, Paul had sat at the feet of Gamaliel, learning by rote and repetition the Hebrew Law and Scriptures. But that was not the Gospel, nor could it give salvation.

Instead, the message Paul preached came by direct revelation from our Lord Jesus Christ Himself. We do not know the extent or manner of this revelation. Paul could be referring to his vision of Christ on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:3-6), to the time after Ananias returned Paul’s sight (Acts 9:17-19), to the three years spent in Arabia (Galatians 1:17-18), or to his ongoing contact with Christ in his ministry (Acts 9:19-22; 22:17-18). Paul was probably referring to something more than his Damascus road experience. Paul didn’t say it, but he implied at this point: “How can anyone doubt my authority? How can anyone doubt the divinely revealed truth about Jesus Christ?”

Paul believed that the peace he had received in Christ was not obtainable from any earthly sources. It had been revealed to him. Peace is the subject of many popular self-help books and the theme of many hot-line telephone numbers. But peace is not to be spoon-fed into our lives like cereal, nor is it instantly derived from our disciplines. Peace is revealed. If God does not show us both its meaning and its source, we will not possess it. Consider the verses in today’s reading and ask yourself, “What did Paul’s acceptance of a higher will really mean in relationship to his service to others?” It meant this: Paul could really minister to others once the turmoil from his own heart and life had been removed. Notice his testimony in the verses that immediately follow.

“For you have heard of my previous way of life in Judaism, how intensely I persecuted the church of God and tried to destroy it … But when God, who set me apart from birth and called me by His grace, was pleased to reveal His Son in me so that I might preach Him among the Gentiles, I did not consult any man, nor did I go up to Jerusalem to see those who were apostles before I was, but I went immediately into Arabia and later returned to Damascus” (Galatians 1:13, 15-17). We need to remember that the voice that spoke to Paul on the Damascus road said to him, “It is hard for you to kick against the goads” (Acts 26:14). The implication here seems to be that Paul’s conscience was far from settled with regard to his persecution of Christians. Into his troubled thoughts, God spoke and Paul finally found peace.

            Great ideas gain acceptance very slowly in stubborn hearts. Peace comes equally slowly. In fact, peace usually gets a little blood on its tranquility before trowelled hearts come to acceptance. The human hearts is subject to turmoil, but our Lord Jesus Christ enters our hearts to save us, and a calm falls over all our agitation like oil falls on water. Jesus and turmoil cannot coexist for long within any human heart. Where Jesus is, there is peace (Colossians 3:15). Peace is ours when we have accepted a higher will. When Paul accepted the call of God, he began to minister in ways he might never have imagined. He was freed to bring peace to others out of his own peace. When we focus on the will of God in our lives, we find peace, and we find that we can spread that peace to others.

An Invitation to Meet our Lord Jesus Christ

We hope that our “Home Fellowship Churches” has not only helped all of you understand and experience more about the Bible, and first and foremost, knowing the Way, the Truth, and the Life at this moment of adversities especially this COVID-19., forced us to – Stay At Home.

Perhaps it has also caused you to think seriously about your own relationship with God. If your life were to end today or tomorrow, God forbid -, and it certainly will someday – what valid reason would you give the living God that you should spend eternity in heaven?

If you have always assumed that “being a good person” or “not killing anybody” was the requirement for heaven, that is not a correct assumption. The Bible says we have all sinned and that our sins separate us from a holy and loving God. No human being can be good enough to qualify for heaven. That is why our Lord Jesus Christ came, that is why our Lord Jesus allowed Himself to be put to death on a Cross, and that is why He conquered death by His resurrection. The only way to be assured of eternal life is to depend completely on the grace and mercy of God expressed through Jesus Christ.

If you would like to be certain of your eternal destiny and begin a new relationship [not new religion] with God today – you can do both in the next few moments – here is how:

  1. First, you need to recognize and acknowledge that you need God’s forgiveness offered only in Jesus Christ.

All have sinned; all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet now God in His gracious kindness declares us not guilty. He has done this through Christ Jesus, who has freed us by taking away our sins. [Romans 3:23-24]

  • You must repent of your sin – that is, turn away from anything in your life that you know to be wrong before God – and resolve to walk in a path that is obedient to our Lord Jesus Christ. Each of you must turn from your sins and turn to God. [Acts 2:38]
  • You must walk ask Jesus Christ, through the power of the Holy Spirit, to give you spiritual rebirth and to come and live in you. Our Lord Jesus Christ replied, “I assure you, unless you are born again, you can never see the Kingdom of God.” [John 3:3] “Look! Here I stand at the door and knock. If you hear Me calling and open the door, I will come in.” [Revelation 3:20]
  • You must commit yourself completely to knowing, loving, and serving Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior for the rest of your life.

The apostle Paul said, “I am focusing all my energies on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead. I strain to reach the end of the race and receive the prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us to heaven.” [Philippians 3:13-14]

I invite and encourage you to begin your new life with our Lord Jesus Christ today. You can take the steps outlined above by talking to God just as you would to a friend and/or just as you are. You can pray something like this:

Dear God,

I acknowledge that I have sinned – intentionally or unintentionally – and that I fall short of your standard of perfect goodness and holiness. I know that I cannot save myself by good works. I believe that Jesus Christ, Your Son, died on the Cross to pay for my sins, that He rose from the dead to give me the hope of eternal life, and that one day He will return to take me to be with Him in heaven forever. Lord Jesus Christ, I ask you to forgive my sins. Please send your Holy Spirit into my life and begin to teach me and shape me as you wish. I commit myself to knowing, loving, and serving you as my personal Savior and Lord for the rest of my life. Please help me to do that, in the name of Jesus, Amen!

You do not need to pray exactly those words. Just talk to God honestly from your heart. He will hear you and understand. You may or may not feel anything special as you talk to Him, but if you genuinely want to belong to Christ, rest assured that He will welcome you into His family of Born-Again Christian believers. Think of it – the God of the universe, who created you, will forgive all your sins and make you a new person with a new start! [2 Corinthianso 5:17]

He will live in you by His Spirit and be your loving Savior and Lord. He will guide you throughout this life and welcome you into heaven when you die. The Bible says that if you have turned from your sins and asked God to save you and make you His, the Angels in heaven are rejoicing over you. [Luke 15:10]

                If you are a new Born-Again Christian, we encourage you to do two things:

                First, begin to read your Bible and talk to God every day. Prayer is simply talking honestly with God. As you do that, you will begin to sense God reminding you of the Bible’s truths and giving you strength to obey Him through the Holy Spirit. As you probably already noticed, the pages and posts in our new, “Home Fellowship Churches” includes Bible Studies. If you do not already have a hard copy of the Bible, let us know, and will ship the Bible to you for free. You might consider purchasing one of the new translations that include helpful study notes. You might try the Life Application Bible published by Tyndale House Publishers, and/or download the Bible App, “YouVersion” from www. bible.com.

                Second, all Christians are encouraged find a local church where they can share in the experience of worshiping with other believers, learn, from the teaching, and enjoy getting to know other Christians. It may take some time to find just the right church for you. Make it a top priority to do so. A good church will be a great encouragement and help as you grow in your new Christian life and spiritual maturity.

                For the meantime, while this pandemic, COVID-19i s still around, and simultaneously looking around to find the right church for you, you are welcome to join us at www.trinityblessings.org, and/or www.homefellowshipchurches.org

May God bless you richly as you begin your journey of faith with our Lord Jesus Christ! Amen!

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