Paul Sails to Rome, The Storm at Sea, The Shipwreck—Acts 27:1-44

GOSPEL MEDITATION # 67

Acts 27:1-44

Paul Sails to Rome, The Storm at Sea, The Shipwreck

  1. Find a quiet place, alone and apart from distractions.
  2. Be comfortably alert, still and at peace.
  3. Say the Lord’s Prayer. Sing or cant the Jesus Prayer
  4. Pray for family, friends, neighbors, and yourself.
  5. Slowly and carefully read the passage of Scripture.
  6. In custody of the Roman authorities, commanded by a centurion named Julius, Paul begins the long trek to Rome. He had appealed to Caesar and to Rome he would go thus fulfilling the promise of Jesus that he would testify to the Gospel in Rome.
  7. The eastern portion of the Mediterranean Sea, in the area of the Adriatic sea, could be tempestuous. It was an especially dangerous time of year to make the voyage.
  8. There arose a terrific storm called a ‘northeastern’ and there was great fear for the 276 persons on board, many of whom were prisoners. It is probable that there were also 100 Roman soldiers on board as well as much cargo, especially grain.
  9. Jesus, having appeared to Paul early on, told Paul that he would reach Rome safely and no person on board the large ocean going cargo ship would perish.
  10. Despite all efforts on the part of the ship’s captain and crew, there is a ship wreck. History tells us the place was the island of Malta. Attempting to head for a bay of the island, the ship becomes stuck on a reef.
  11. Desperate measures are taken, and some soldiers wanted to kill all the prisoners on board lest in the melee some might escape. But Julius intervenes and all are spared, including Paul.
  12. Luke concludes this section by saying: “And so it was that all were brought safely to land.”
  13. This would be a testimony that against all odds, Jesus would keep His word.

 

Paul Tells of His Conversion – Acts 26:12-32

GOSPEL MEDITATION # 66

Paul Tells of His Conversion

Acts 26:12-32

  1. Find a quiet place, alone and apart from distractions.
  2. Be comfortably alert, still and at peace.
  3. Say the Lord’s Prayer. Sing or cant the Jesus Prayer
  4. Pray for family, friends, neighbors, and yourself.
  5. Slowly and carefully read the passage of Scripture.
  6. Reread it. From memory, determine the central points.
  7. Paul is at Caesarea, in protective custody, and is called by Festus to address King Agrippa, his sister Bernice, and other prominent officials from the surrounding area.
  8. For the third time in Acts Paul gives an account of his conversion while on the road to Damascus. It is interesting to note the slight variations, likely due to different audiences, that Luke provides.
  9. In this account is an interesting phrase, “kick against the goads.” This would be a reference to sharp spikes that prevented an animal, donkey, etc., from kicking a person riding a drawn cart. The injury from kicking the goad ought to be enough to prevent more kicking.
  10. Here again we find that Paul’s persecution of followers of the Way is tantamount to persecuting Jesus Himself. And most obviously, Jesus is alive then, having been certainly resurrected from the dead. There would be no other way for Paul to so interpret the event.
  11. Again Jesus commissions Paul, appoints him, an apostle, whose work it would be to be a witness to the Gospel. This is the role of an apostle both then and now.
  12. There are five aspects to the witness Paul is to bring: 1- open their eyes; so then, 2 – turn from darkness to light; 3 – from the power of Satan to God; 4 – receive forgiveness of sins; 5 – receive a place among the sanctified.
  13. Paul states he was faithful to the call and appointment by Jesus, which stirs up Agrippa who is obviously under Holy Spirit conviction.

Paul Appeals to Caesar, Paul Before Agrippa and Bernice, Paul;s Defense Before Agrippa-part 1, Acts 25:1-26:11

GOSPEL MEDITATION # 65

Acts 25:1-26:11

Paul Appeals to Caesar, Paul Before Agrippa and Bernice, Paul’s Defense Before Agrippa-part 1

  1. Find a quiet place, alone and apart from distractions.
  2. Be comfortably alert, still and at peace.
  3. Say the Lord’s Prayer. Sing or cant the Jesus Prayer
  4. Pray for family, friends, neighbors, and yourself.
  5. Slowly and carefully read the passage of Scripture.
  6. Reread it. From memory, determine the central points.
  7. Paul, for the rest of his life, is in Roman custody, and sees God’s purpose fulfilled despite it all.
  8. Due to the need to protect himself from being sent to Jerusalem and the assassins waiting for him there, Paul is forced to claim the right of a Roman citizen by asking for a hearing before the Emperor, Caesar, in Rome.
  9. The Roman governor Felix, in A.D. 58, is replaced by Festus. Agrippa, a king in the line of Herod the Great, with his wife Bernice, visit Festus in Caesarea to pay a political/courtesy call.
  10. Festus explains the circumstances regarding Paul to Agrippa and Bernice, whereupon Agrippa requests a chance to hear Paul for himself.
  11. From the nature of the narrative it is plain that Luke is either standing with Paul, perhaps as his doctor, or is privy to the events, and words spoken, from someone present.
  12. The issue, as presented by Paul, has to do with the resurrection of Jesus.
  13. Paul defends his faith before Agrippa and company, and as he often does, he sees a preaching opportunity.
  14. Paul’s main thrust is expressed in a question: “Why is it thought incredible that God raises the dead?” He then proceeds to describe his great antagonism towards those in “the Way.”

 

A Plot to Kill Paul, Paul Sent to Felix the Governor, & Paul Before Felix at Caesarea

GOSPEL MEDITATION # 64

Acts 23:12-24:27

A Plot to Kill Paul, Paul Sent to Felix the Governor, &

Paul Before Felix at Caesarea

  1. Be comfortably alert, still and at peace.
  2. Say the Lord’s Prayer. Sing or cant the Jesus Prayer
  3. Pray for family, friends, neighbors, and yourself.
  4. Slowly and carefully read the passage of Scripture.
  5. Reread it. From memory, determine the central points.
  6. Paul, in custody in the Fortress of Antonia, learns from his nephew that there is a plot to kill him. Paul sends the boy to the tribune who makes arrangements to send Paul to the procurator (governor), Felix, in Caesarea.
  7. The tribune, Claudius Lysias, writes a note to Felix and explains the situation, leaving out the part about almost subjecting a Romans citizen to a flogging.
  8. A large contingent of Roman soldiers bring Paul to Antipatris, 23 miles short of Caesarea, and only 70 horsemen bring Paul further on to Caesarea.
  9. Felix, having been a judge in Samaria for years, decides to hear the case when Paul’s accusers arrive in Caesarea.
  10. Ananias, the high priest makes the journey with one Tertullus, probably a Hellenized Jew trained in Roman court procedure.
  11. Tertullus begins with accusing Paul of being one who causes trouble and is a “ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes.” Those with Tertullus agreed as well.
  12. Paul somewhat flatters Felix (Felix as not well thought of) and then proceeds to deny the charges made against him.
  13. Paul however acknowledges that he indeed is part of the “way” and that he worships the “God of our fathers” so that he is faithful to the religion of the Jews and believes in all the prophets foretold.
  14. Paul’s focus is on the resurrection of the just and the unjust.
  15. Paul now is left in custody (it would be 2 years) and Felix listens to Paul frequently.

Soaking Prayer—How to Attract Demons

Soaking Prayer

Beyond contemplative prayer is “soaking prayer.” What is called soaking prayer has been around since the beginning of the twenty-first century, yet it is neither widely known nor understood. One’s first assumption might be that it involves long periods of time spent in prayer to God. However, what it really involves is something quite different.

Soaking prayer is in reality a mystical activity. Since it is often described as “resting in God’s presence,” it appears to be innocuous and biblical. This is how many are drawn into it, especially when charismatic church leaders embrace it.

Proponents of soaking prayer are convinced it is nothing more than “positioning yourself to express your love to God.” To get to that stage, however, some quiet instrumental or worship music must pervade the environment, while the participants often lie on the floor. The mind eventually settles down and focuses on God, or so it is thought. The attitude of the participant is to be, “God, do what you want to in me.” After some period, perhaps hours, there might be laughter, crying, or shaking – all supposedly coming from the Holy Spirit. The goal of soaking prayer or a possible end point of it is that the Holy Spirit would give the person a vision or bring a memory to mind that needs healing.

Another emphasis of soaking prayer is that it brings a person into a state of deep rest. Soaking prayer almost always is accompanied by the playing of gentle worship songs, with the participants sitting or lying down. It may involve the repeated praying of short prayers for an extended period of time. It is reminiscent of a devotee of Hinduism chanting a mantra.

Persons practicing soaking prayer attempt to keep their minds free of thoughts and concerns. They continue this until they feel a sensation in the body, perhaps a tingling of the skin, a perception of heat or cold, or a breeze gently blowing upon the body. When this happens, the desired stage has been reached, and one experiences being in the presence of God. The soaking praying may begin innocently enough, but after a while, the participants are in a meditative state of mind. It is here that any connection to biblical prayer has been abandoned.

The following explanation of soaking prayer was found online under the heading “Embark on an intimate journey”: “The Secret Place is not just a listening experience. It is a journey of soaking worship. It is a place of intimacy with the Father, a place where the heart longs for His touch.” In that same website, where music for soaking prayer may be obtained, a soaking prayer facilitator’s comment addressed to a composer of music used for soaking prayer reads:

I prepare the sanctuary to become a resting place for the Lord as people come to soak in His presence. The lights are turned down, there are candles, and the atmosphere is that of intimacy. For three hours we seek His face together and listen to your music, which invites His presence to come. I lead it at our Soaking Prayer Centre at the church and many of our soakers really like it. It is anointed and I have had some awesome visions of angels and God’s glory while worshipping with it in the background.[1]

It is disappointing how similar this sounds to Wiccan techniques used to enter a trance state. And there appears to be an addictive quality to soaking prayer; people crave it and think other forms of worship are boring and devoid of God’s Spirit.

[1]        Found at http://www.secretplaceministries.org

 

Sozo Ministry or Prayer—Dangerous Spiritual Practice

Sozo Ministry or Prayer

The next step out on our continuum is “sozo prayer,” or “sozo ministry.” Sozo comes from the Greek word for save or deliver. The goal of sozo is laudable, and that is to get to the root of those things that prevent a Christian from entering into a deeper personal relationship with God.

Sozo is very mystical in its approach and departs dramatically from any biblical precedent. Those engaged in sozo prayer are encouraged by a mediator/guide to enter into a mild trance state. The mediator/guide then leads a person “into a series of mental/emotional rooms or stages, where, by connecting to their own deep feelings and thoughts, they believe themselves to have a new experience with God.”[1]

Where soaking prayer is found, sozo will be close by as well. The motive is to “experience God,” and it is difficult to make a case against that desire. However, we have no scriptural mandate to experience God through our emotions or feelings; it is instead a matter of faith. The Bible does not actually teach that we are to experience God; we are to trust in and believe in God. I have found no place in the New Testament where anyone, including Jesus, Peter, John, or Paul, instructs believers to “experience God.” While we may sense that God is present with us, that is a different focus of our attention. Under discussion here is the seeking after sensations or feelings. Christians must be clear; our faith is not feeling-centered. We must not equate human feelings with the Spirit.

[1]        From the website, Got Questions, specifically www.gotquestions.org/sozo-prayer.html.

 

The Danger of the new apostolic movement

This is my reply to a person who did not like my critique of Francis Chan’s sermon in which he decried speaking against leaders of the New Apostolic Reformation.

Dear Brother,

On loving one another, this does not mean overlooking serious issues. And this one is. Lou Rambo, back in 1978, when he told me COD was cultic he meant it for my good, though it was a staggering blow to me at the time.

I think we are not seeing the same thing. My concern with Chan is his idea that leaders ought not be challenged. After all, they are hearing words from God, at least that is and has been a major theme of apostolic oriented churches and ministries. When someone says to me they have a word for me, well, this is a red flag being waved in my face. This is the new intimidator, the apostle or prophet directly hearing words from above. 

It is characteristic of groups to demonize those who might question them. This is true of Islam today, and so with Mormonism in its early decades. Scientology, perhaps the supreme example of quashing anything having to do with their leadership. 

Chan says God will destroy those who voice what he thinks are attacks against leaders of churches and ministries. Mark, that is a red flag, more than a red flag. You may have already bought in to the apostolic concepts and if so it would be virtually impossible at this point for you to raise questions yourself. How much you might lose is a scary thought.

Chan is not the only one either. Rick Joyner,Mike Bickle, and especially Kris Vallotton and Bill Johnson in Redding, wow, how they denigrate those who challenge them. Johnson refuses even to consider anything that does not support their ministry; he only wants, in his spiritual and emotional weak state, words of affirmation.

More and more voices are being raised against the NAR. Mark, have you read my book on it, False Prophets Among Us: A Critical Analysis of the New Apostolic Reformation? From the documents presented by the leading players you will read quotes from them. And these are horrific. And they must be challenged. It is not loving to ignore this. As a pastor I am obliged to watch for the wolf. And I do so and will do so, no matter what others may say. Yet, I know for those who identified with it, especially as we are older now, it is not a simple thing to call out the error.

I have a few videos out on the NAR and I receive, and daily sometimes more than I can handle, feedback from those who view them. How many people are leaving it, including whole churches! How many are damaged and scarred as a result of their being lead around by words from God. How many are listening to angels, being carried away in trances to heaven, and suffering what can only be described as psychotic, and/or demonic episodes. This is no small deal.

Please consider these things.

Kent

Paul and the Roman Tribune & Paul Before the Council Acts 22:22-23:11

GOSPEL MEDITATION # 63

Paul and the Roman Tribune & Paul Before the Council

Acts 22:22-23:11

  1. Be comfortably alert, still and at peace.
  2. Say the Lord’s Prayer. Sing or cant the Jesus Prayer
  3. Pray for family, friends, neighbors, and yourself.
  4. Slowly and carefully read the passage of Scripture.
  5. Reread it. From memory, determine the central points.
  6. The crowd in the temple heard Paul’s speech until he announced he would now go to the Gentiles. An awful uproar ensued prompting the tribune to move Paul into the fortress where he prepares to scourge or flog him.
  7. Paul now reveals he is a Roman citizen, just in the nick of time. The flogging could have killed Paul and at minimum maim him.
  8. The tribune, for unknown reasons, calls for a meeting of the Council of Israel and brings Paul before it.
  9. Paul no sooner begins before Ananias, the high priest, orders Paul to be struck on the mouth.
  10. Paul is instantly angered and lashes out with a intemperate statement about the one who ordered the blow. Paul did not know it was the very high priest and apologizes for his outburst citing Leviticus 19:17-18.
  11. Paul knew the makeup of the Council, part Sadducee and part Pharisee. The Sadducee held only the Torah as inspired, while the Pharisee the entire Hebrew Bible thus believing in the resurrection and God speaking directly to the people. Paul states that he is there because of his belief in resurrection. Here he means Jesus’ resurrection.
  12. The two sides end up in a rather wild display making it impossible for the Council to proceed further.
  13. Again the tribune protects Paul and returns him to the safety of the barrack’s prison.
  14. Jesus comes to Paul in the night to encourage him.

 

Francis Chan’s Effort to squash critical comment on the NAR

Dear Friends, 

Examine once again the video by Francis Chan below. He quotes Paul in 1 Corinthians 3:16-17. “Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple.”

When someone like myself critiques the NAR—is that destroying God’s temple? Of course not! We must have the courage and ability to critique error in the church. 

Please pause right now and read what Paul wrote to the Galatian churches in Galatians 1:6-9. After Paul’s departure, a false gospel was brought in, and we know what that was pretty much by reading the rest of the letter. Error had entered in and Paul stands to correct it. We must not be so blind just to let whatever in.

Also Paul is speaking of that church known only to God, the invisible church or those born from above, genuinely converted people. Pastors know that everyone who is a member of the church they pastor is not necessarily born again. And what pastor has not had folks with strange and unbiblical doctrines walk in the front door who then seek to draw people away? Goes on all the time. Should we close our minds to this in the fear of being “destroyed” by God. Talk about a fear tactic, and is this not the hallmark of that which is cultic?

Paul did not relish having to deal with error that crept into the congregations he established, but he had to since he acted as pastor, the one who must defend the sheep from the wolves.

Lastly, please examine Matthew 24:24 and Acts 20:17-35. Both the Lord Jesus Himself and Paul warn that fierce wolves will come into the church to attack it. And these wolves do not act like wolves for they intend to be. They, almost always, have new and interesting revelations to bring. 

Both passages, the Matthew and Acts passages, show that it is from within the church itself that attacks will come. Don’t take my word for it, read it for yourself.

Yes, it is not pleasant to present what I have here. But those who know me know I do not follow along meekly or blindly doctrines and practices that are not in line with the New Testament. To do so is to abrogate our work as shepherds of the sheep. We cannot simply go along to get along. Have we lost our ability to think and critique?

Kent Philpott

https://churchwatchcentral.com/2018/04/10/francis-chan-god-might-kill-you-if-you-criticize-church-leaders/

Francis Chan: “God might kill you if you criticize church leaders”.

churchwatchcentral.com

Steve Kozar from the “Messed Up Church’ blog over at Pirate Christian Radio alerts readers to a recent sermon from Francis Chan, former pastor of Cornerstone church in Ventura County, California an…

Paul Speaks to the People, Acts 21:37-22:21

GOSPEL MEDITATION # 62

Paul Speaks to the People

Acts 21:37-22:21

  1. Find a quiet place, alone and apart from distractions.
  2. Be comfortably alert, still and at peace.
  3. Say the Lord’s Prayer. Sing or cant the Jesus Prayer
  4. Pray for family, friends, neighbors, and yourself.
  5. Slowly and carefully read the passage of Scripture.
  6. Reread it. From memory, determine the central points.
  7. Paul shows poise and courage as he asks permission from the tribune to speak to the rioters as he is being carried by the soldiers into the Fortress of Antonio.
  8. Standing now, Paul addresses the people in their native language, Aramaic, which immediately quiets them.
  9. Affectionately he addresses them as “brothers and fathers.” He is going to make an “apologia.”
  10. Paul is a Jewish man and even educated as a rabbi under the famous Gamaliel and thus is a dedicated religious Jew.
  11. He confesses he persecuted those of the “Way to the death.” And this he did under the authority of the Council.
  12. He then goes on to tell of the event that happened on the road to Damascus as he intended in that city to expand his attacks against those who believed Jesus to be the Messiah.
  13. Then suddenly he was stunned by a “great light” and heard a voice saying, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” He found this voice belonged to Jesus.
  14. Paul (Saul) asked for direction and Jesus tells him to go into Damascus where he will be told what to do.
  15. Ananias, a Jewish believer, comes to Paul and begins to explain to him the meaning of the event. He tells Paul that he will be a witness for Jesus. Paul is then to arise and be baptized.
  16. Paul ends his defense to those opposing him, by saying that Jesus is sending him away to the Gentiles.