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June 8, 2018

Hiding Treasures

by Mark Fulmer

But a man named Ananias, with his wife Sapphira, sold a piece of property, and with his wife's knowledge he kept back for himself some of the proceeds and brought only a part of it and laid it at the apostles' feet. But Peter said, "Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back for yourself part of the proceeds of the land? While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not at your disposal? Why is it that you have contrived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to men but to God." When Ananias heard these words, he fell down and breathed his last. And great fear came upon all who heard of it. The young men rose and wrapped him up and carried him out and buried him.

After an interval of about three hours his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. And Peter said to her, "Tell me whether you sold the land for so much." And she said, "Yes, for so much." But Peter said to her, "How is it that you have agreed together to test the Spirit of the Lord? Behold, the feet of those who have buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out." Immediately she fell down at his feet and breathed her last. When the young men came in they found her dead, and they carried her out and buried her beside her husband. And great fear came upon the whole church and upon all who heard of these things.

Acts 5:1-11 (https://pcpc.us1.list-manage.com/track/click?u=eba67192d3a27da52e93fefb8&id=d60548382d&e=82a9a8f891)

new every thought captive logonew every thought captive logo

The comma is the culprit. We place it there to give us a break, a moment to gather our rationalizations. We've grown so accustomed to the work of the little mark that we cringe in its absence. You see, the Scripture teaches that, "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom" (Proverbs 9:10). But very often, it seems, what we actually believe is, "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, but fear doesn't really mean fear." We tell ourselves that it means awe, or reverence, or high regard, or any number of things, but certainly not clear-eyed, unvarnished fear. "After all," we think, "how are we going to evangelize if the Bible says we're wise to fear God Almighty?"

When the evangelist physician Luke writes the account of Annanias and Sapphira, he mentions twice in short order that "great fear came upon all who heard." Not just fear, but great fear. And Luke was an articulate man. He knew all those other watered-down words. He could have let Theophilus off the hook. But make no mistake—fear gripped the early church. The disciples certainly remembered their storm-tossed fright. That fright melted into frightened wonder as the power of the Lord's word took the teeth from the wind and waves.

We are indeed wise to fear the Lord; but not because He is a capricious despot who may at any moment burst into rage or fling us away. We are wise to fear the Lord because in understanding more of God's fearsomeness, we recognize more fully His marvelous grace. As we contemplate the majesty and holiness and power of the sovereign Lord, we bow at His mercy and rejoice in His care. The God at whose name the demons tremble has invited us into His presence and enjoined us to call Him "Father."

So how do we think about John's words that, "There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear" (1 John 4:18)? Perfect love does indeed cast out fear. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. And the fear of anything else is the beginning of folly. When we fear the rebuke of men or the loss of status or the unmasking of our true selves, we make much of everything unholy and denigrate the holiness of God Almighty. Jesus was very clear about this.

I tell you, my friends, do not fear those who kill the body, and after that have nothing more that they can do. But I will warn you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has authority to cast into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him! Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten before God. Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows. (Luke 12: 4-7)

So as we grow up in the fullness of Christ, may we leave the calm repose of the misplaced comma and learn again the holy fear of The Lord.

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About the Author

Mark Fulmer
Elder
Park Cities Presbyterian Church

Mark Fulmer is an elder at Park Cities Presbyterian Church, and along with Steve Vanderhill, teaches the New Creations Sunday School class.

 

June 2, 2018

The Side Show

by Josh Keller

'Therefore let it be known to you that this salvation of God has been sent to the Gentiles; they will listen.’ He lived there two whole years at his own expense, and welcomed all who came to him, proclaiming the Kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ with all boldness and without hindrance.

Acts 28:28-31 (https://pcpc.us1.list-manage.com/track/click?u=eba67192d3a27da52e93fefb8&id=02c8691459&e=82a9a8f891)

This weekend our kids wound down a long sugar fueled Memorial Day at a friend’s house by watching some television. When a commercial played, my kids, who rarely watch any television with commercials, came unglued. “What happened to the show? Bring it back?!” They were frustrated because Netflix and PBS are never interrupted by commercials. The commercial was a sideshow interrupting things, distracting them, and confusing them. They just wanted to get back to main story.

In many ways, that is how the Jews in Rome felt as Paul expounded the gospel to them. The Jesus deal felt like a sideshow, a confusing little sect, an interruption in the main story of God’s dealing with His people. Let’s go back to the regularly scheduled broadcast of a people rescued from slavery in Egypt, saved by the blood of a lamb, baptized in the water of the Red Sea, watching that snake Pharaoh impotent and destroyed in those same waters, getting to feast with God at a mountain, receiving His word at the same mountain, getting miraculous provision on the journey to and finally reaching a promised land. You know, that story! Let’s get back to that one. Forget this commercial interruption.

But of course, this Jesus sideshow is the main show. The story isn’t being interrupted. In fact the plot hasn’t really changed. The fascinating thing about these last two chapters of Acts is how clearly they remind of the Exodus story. Paul begins in captivity. He is then freed from that captivity to journey to God’s promised destination. He leaves after the Day of Atonement to cross a great sea. On the journey, things go bad, but Paul gets a word from God. Paul breaks bread at dawn with them. Everyone is saved through the water and a serpent is found to be impotent and destroyed. And finally they arrive in Rome, the promised city.

Do you see? This is no sideshow. God is writing the same show. It is the story of God redeeming His people from captivity to sin and death. Freeing them to worship Him in Spirit and in Truth. Bringing them to a promised land to dwell in peace and joy forever. If you are in Christ, that is your story. It is the story. So go tell the story. Be bold. You are not hindered. You will pass through the waves. You have been freed. The serpent is impotent. You will come to the land that is promised. Jesus is bringing you through. There are those who will listen. There are some desperate to hear this story. Tell it without fear.

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About the Author

Josh Keller
Assistant Pastor
All Saints Presbyterian Church

Joshua Keller, a native Kansan and graduate of Kansas State University, lives in Austin, Texas, where he serves as Youth Pastor to All Saints Presbyterian Church. He graduated from Dallas Theological Seminary during which he spent some time working at PCPC in the Youth Ministry.

He and his wife Erin have three children, Elliotte, Oliver, and Adelaide, and one faithful dog, Ike.

 

May 27, 2018

Every Thought Captive, a weekly devotional from Park Cities Presbyterian Church (PCA)

EXTENDING THE KINGDOM: A DANGEROUS VOYAGE

by Erin Golangco

"...Since we were violently storm-tossed, they began the next day to jettison the cargo. And on the third day they threw the ship's tackle overboard with their own hands. When neither sun nor stars appeared for many days, and no small tempest lay on us, all hope of our being saved was at last abandoned.

Since they had been without food for a long time, Paul stood up among them and said, "Men, you should have listened to me and not have set sail from Crete and incurred this injury and loss.

Yet now I urge you to take heart, for there will be no loss of life among you, but only of the ship. For this very night there stood before me an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I worship, and he said, 'Do not be afraid, Paul; you must stand before Caesar. And behold, God has granted you all those who sail with you.' So take heart, men, for I have faith in God that it will be exactly as I have been told. But we must run aground on some island."

Acts 27:18-26 (https://pcpc.us1.list-manage.com/track/click?u=eba67192d3a27da52e93fefb8&id=da5bd4e0b4&e=82a9a8f891)

My eighteen-month-old daughter Olivia and I read a book each night that is a paraphrase of Psalm 23 called Found. One of our favorite pages says, “even when I walk through the dark, scary, lonely places, I won’t be afraid. My shepherd knows where I am. He is here with me.” Olivia will point to the lamb, and then kiss the shepherd. It’s a lovely picture of childlike trust.

We put our trust in a great number of things. Acts 27 captures one of the most vivid descriptive narratives in the book of Acts, and truly, in much of the New Testament. Luke writes to convey the gravity and peril Paul and the shipmates faced, the astonishing power of God’s sovereign care and deliverance, and nestled in the middle in verses 22-25, a portrait of trust under duress.

It is said that the night is darkest before dawn begins to break. As God’s children, we often can’t see His presence or purposes in the storms of life. This was the case in Acts 27. Days went on without light. The hurricane-grade wind howled mercilessly and the berating waves sapped their strength (27:14-20). But then, God spoke (27:23-24). He spoke into the darkness and despair to give hope: Don’t be afraid. Take courage. I am the one who rules over this storm.

We often feel helpless, vulnerable and impotent to deal with the storms of life. And truly we are on our own. But by God’s grace we are not orphans, left to fend for life and livelihood by the scrappiness of our hands. We are beloved children who are always, always, in the strong grip of our good Father and sovereign God, who is our protector, defender, and caretaker in every single trial and trouble we experience.

Paul emulates in this passage what it means to depend on God as a beloved child in crisis. His ultimate trust was not in a certain outcome, but in God’s unfailing love for His children (Psalm 143:8). Thus, he did not assert himself aggressively when the centurion ignored him (27:11-12). He trusted the Lord’s voice when it meant destruction of their physical security, the ship (27:26). By inference, we know that Paul was praying fervently for God’s care and deliverance for himself and those in the ship as well (27:24c). He reminded his shipmates of God’s word (27:34). He praised God with thanksgiving in front of all (27:35).

This passage reminds me of Psalm 20:7: “Some boast in chariots and some in horses, but we will boast in the name of the LORD, our God.” In the Old Testament, chariots and horses represent means of escape and protection. Today we put our hope in many things that we think will insulate us from discomfort, financial hardship, pain, and trouble. But to boast in the name of the LORD means to have confidence in and trust in the character of God, our God, who promises that He will never leave us nor forsake us (Deuteronomy 31:6, Hebrews 13:5).

Fellow believers, let us take courage that whatever storm we may encounter, we are not alone. His character is trustworthy. He is always with us, even in the dark, scary, lonely places. He knows where we are. He is here with us, now and forever.

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About the Author

Erin Golangco
Director of Small Groups
Park Cities Presbyterian Church

Erin Golangco works at PCPC as the Director of Small Groups. She is a graduate of the University of Oklahoma, and she will soon graduate from Covenant Theological Seminary. She is married to Paul, and they have one daughter, Olivia Maeve.

 

 

God's Holy Fire from Heartlight

God's Holy Fire is a daily devotional about the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives.
  • Nothing Else Matters!

    [Jesus said,] "The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you — they are full of the Spirit and life."

    John 6:63 NIV

    Key Thought

    The apostle Paul said essentially the same thing as in today's verse when he wrote, "I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him..." (Philippians 3:8-9). Paul was saying that everything is nothing without Jesus. So much of what we pursue — what I have pursued — really counts for nothing. Economic meltdowns, which invariably happen, are reminders that the only investments that last, that are sure, are investments in Jesus and his kingdom. So we are called to turn our hearts to Jesus, to be shaped by his words, guided by his Spirit and conformed to his character. Jesus' words are lasting, eternal, and life-giving. Better yet, there is someone lasting and eternal and life-giving in his words — the Holy Spirit. That is why one of the ongoing works of the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, is to bring to our minds the words of Jesus (John 14:26). So read the Gospels — Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. But more than reading the words, ask the Holy Spirit to be alive as you read and are shaped and given life through the words of the Savior!

    Today's Prayer

    Holy God, I praise you! I thank you, Father, for sending the Son to die for our sins and for showing us the way home to you. I thank you, Jesus, as Son of God, for sending the Holy Spirit as my Advocate and Comforter, to be your presence within me and to bring me life through your words. I thank you, Holy Spirit, for living within me, and I ask that you conform me to Jesus and produce your holy fruit in me. Amen.


    Ⓒ 1996-2018 Heartlight, Inc. This material may not be reproduced in part or whole for commercial use without written consent. The Thoughts and Prayer for God's Holy Fire are written by Phil Ware.

    Scripture quotations marked (NIV) are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.

    Scripture quotations marked MESSAGE are taken from THE MESSAGE, copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson. Used by permission of NavPress. All rights reserved. Represented by Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.

  • Must!

    [Jesus said,] "But the time is coming — indeed it's here now — when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. The Father is looking for those who will worship him that way. For God is Spirit, so those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth."

    John 4:23-24 NLT

    Key Thought

    "Must..."! That is a hard word when spoken by Jesus! So we should pay careful attention when the Lord uses it. Our actions must conform to his words. "Must..."! Yet this "must" is not one we can do on our own. The requirement to worship God acceptably cannot take place because of our effort — not because we do it right, say the right words, do it in the right place, or follow the right procedures. God is Spirit. We cannot worship God without the Holy Spirit! In other places, we are told that true worship is worship in the Spirit (Philippians 3:3; Ephesians 5:17-21 — notice "pray/praying in the Spirit" in Ephesians 6:18 and Jude 20). More than engaging our minds and our bodies, we need the presence of the Holy Spirit to help us worship acceptably. We need the Spirit for at least two reasons. The first is that the Holy Spirit facilitates our communication with God by giving us access to the Father (Ephesians 2:18), interceding for us (Romans 8:26-27), and enabling us to cry Abba Father to God, spirit with Spirit to God (Romans 8:14-17; Galatians 4:6). The second reason is that the Spirit is at work conforming us to be like Jesus (2 Corinthians 3:18), empowering us to put to death the misdeeds of the body (Romans 8:9-13) and to display the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). This influence of the Spirit is why being born of water and the Spirit is so important (John 3:3-7; Titus 3:3-7). Without the Spirit, true worship will not happen. We MUST have the Spirit to worship in spirit and truth!

    Today's Prayer

    Father, thank you for sending Jesus to reveal your truth and for sending the Spirit to make that truth come alive in me. May my life be a living and holy praise to you! In Jesus' name, I pray. Amen.


    Ⓒ 1996-2018 Heartlight, Inc. This material may not be reproduced in part or whole for commercial use without written consent. The Thoughts and Prayer for God's Holy Fire are written by Phil Ware.

    Scripture quotations marked (NIV) are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.

    Scripture quotations marked MESSAGE are taken from THE MESSAGE, copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson. Used by permission of NavPress. All rights reserved. Represented by Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.

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