Pastor Bart Spencer

God Doesn’t Respond the Same Way Every Time

Acts12:6, 10-11,13-14, 16

As you read and meditate on these passages you become awed at the power and intimate concern God has for His children. When there is a need that truly is a need God moves heaven to help earth. Peter was doing the will of God and suffered imprisonment for it. James had been killed shortly before and now Peter was the next in line. Herod saw it pleased the Jews to get rid of these people that were turning the world upside down. The night before he would be executed, most likely by the sword, God dispatched one of His angels who caused a deep sleep (evidently) to fall upon the soldiers stationed on either side of Peter. He then unlocked the shackles and caused another deep sleep (evidently) to fall upon the keepers of the gate.  Peter needed to be set free quickly for his life was at stake. When in this moment of great need God performed the miraculous and opened the gates of a well guarded prison.

Fast forward a few minutes and we find Peter at the gate of John Mark’s home. The door was locked.  Here was an escaped prisoner standing in the street unable to find shelter in a friend’s home. A friend came to the door but left him standing outside and she ran to tell the others (who had been praying for his release…evidently). In verse 16 you find that Peter (continuing to knock) is stranded outside. If God could open the gates of a militarily reinforced prison with guards at each ward certainly He could open the simple gate at a person’s home. So, why didn’t He? The lesson to be taken away from this observation is that God is not locked into how He responds to similar situations in your life. However, never forget this…although God does not do things the same way every time, yet He ‘doeth all things well!’ When you cannot track God you can always trust Him.

One of the Paths to a New Vision of Christ

Acts 7:55 But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God, (56) And said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God.

Across our nation Christians are calling out for a revival. We think if our nation would just see Christ in us it would bring them to their senses. I believe the extensive evidence of the reprobate mind we see today to be unprecedented in the 244 year history of our nation. There is a palpable dearth of normal, decent, common-sense. While common-sense may be at an unparalleled premium in present day America it is not without precedent in the Bible times. After having witnessed great miracles by the hands of the Apostles the spiritual leaders of that day wanted only to silence the vehicles of the miracles rather than submit to the source of the miracles. This is where Stephen enters the picture. He was a man full of faith, wisdom, and the Holy Ghost. He experienced what we believers need to experience at this time in our nation’s history: a fresh vision of our Lord. This vision gave him the strength to stand amid mortal persecution. Never was he knocked from his feet, turned from his message, or stopped in his purpose. At the last he simply kneeled down and gave up the ghost. What preceded this new strength-giving vision of Christ? Take a look in Acts 7:52-53. After having given the second longest recorded sermon in the Scriptures, surpassed only by our Lord’s Sermon the Mount, Stephen boldly confronts his audience with their guilt. After the manner of our Lord, Stephen spoke pointedly about their sin. He called out their rebellion toward the Holy Spirit, their persecution and murder of the prophets, their betrayal and murder of the Christ and finally their rejection of the Word of God. It was after this that he was afforded the honor of seeing the Resurrected Lord standing on the Father’s right hand. What does Stephen’s conduct in the last moments of his life teach us? Do you need a fresh vision of the Lord? Do you need a fresh anointing from God? Do you need revival? Take the gospel message to the lost world and refuse to compromise its condemning power. Confront the lost with their condition and prepare to get a new vision of our Lord! Look on the fields, they are white all ready to harvest.

Misusing Your Influence

Joh 19:11  Jesus answered, Thou couldest have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above: therefore he that delivered me unto thee hath the greater sin. 

Jesus reveals to us two sources of influence. One was from heaven and was given to Pilate. Psalm 75 tells us that God puts down one and sets up another. Pilate had been elevated to his political position by the will of God. However, Pilate misused the influence that had been given him from Heaven. Misusing God-given power is a sin. Judas on the other hand was empowered by hell. Satan himself had entered Judas at the Last Supper and moved him to raise his hand against Christ. Judas never lost his free will but he surrendered it to the force of hell. He yielded his mind and body to satan’s purpose. Therefore his obedience to satan will draw for him a harsher punishment than those who misuse power given them from heaven. We all have influence over others and therefore are held accountable for how we wield that influence. It is a sin to misuse the power God has given you. Peer, parent, preacher, or president, it matters not, we all have a responsibility to properly use the influence given to us by God. To misuse our influence places us in the same category of those who live in obedience to satan – that category being the recipient of God’s punishment.

Each Missed Chance Hardens Your Heart

John 18:4  Jesus …said unto them, Whom seek ye? 18:5  They answered him, Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus saith unto them, I am he…. 18:6 …they went backward, and fell to the ground. 18:7  Then asked he them again, Whom seek ye? And they said, Jesus of Nazareth. 18:8  Jesus answered, I have told you that I am he:

In this passage the Pretoria Guard, as many as 600 some have said, have been led by Judas to come and arrest Jesus while he was praying in the Garden of Gethsemane. They were not ‘read in’ as to the purpose behind the arrest but only that it was their job to detain him and bring him to the governmental officials. Notice the response of the guards the first time they are made aware of the identify of the Christ. A power had overtaken them and they found they were unable to stand but fell backward. After scrambling to their feet and looking at each other in amazement Christ revisits the exact same situation. A second time He asks them whom they were seeking. It is well to note that in v4 we are told that Jesus already knew what was going to happen to him. Still, Christ gave them another chance to acknowledge his identity. By this time they have heard his voice and felt his power. What would they do now? They repeated (albeit most assuredly with a voice of uncertainty and trepidation) their purpose of seeking Jesus. However, this time when Christ reveals himself to them again in exactly the same manner the presence of Christ no longer impressed them. Is it not good to take note of precious privileges Christ gives you to know him better? Today you will be given a chance to hear Christ’s voice and submit to His calling. Do not pass it by for the next time you will not be as sensitive to His voice.

Who Has Helped You Along Your Way?

1 Cor 16:6 And it may be that I will abide, yea, and winter with you, that ye may bring me on my journey whithersoever I go.

Recently I heard a preacher touch on this passage and it spoke to my heart. Here is Paul, well on in his ministry, he has suffered many things at the hands of many people. He has been persecuted by way of beatings, whippings, stonings, etc. He was a night and day in the deep, he had suffered shipwreck, and starving. At each turn in his life God brought someone along to succor him. Someone to help him along to the next chapter in his unique biography. It might have been Barnabas, Peter, John Mark, Priscilla and Aquilla, Timothy, or others. Regardless of WHO was there when needed the important thing was THAT they were there when needed. Here is a question for you to ponder as you read this blog. Who has God brought into your life just when you needed them? How many of the chapters of your life were extended because someone ‘just happened’ into your life at just the right time? Who spoke that word of encouragement, extended a helping hand, provided a financial boost to keep you afloat? Take time today and consider WHO HAS HELPED YOU ALONG YOUR WAY.

These Times Cry Out for People of Integrity

Pro 20:7  The just man walketh in his integrity: his children are blessed after him.

In times like these we are given a great opportunity to display the character of Christ. I could actually say this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. We cannot let it pass without putting the Lord’s stamp on it. Solomon is commonly held to be the wisest man aside from the Lord Jesus Christ. In training his son he wrote to him of the essential quality of integrity. Integrity means that one is honest, trustworthy, and a promise keeper. How you conduct yourself today will blaze a trail for those following behind you. What do you want those you influence to think about you and your relationship with God? Is God untrustworthy? Does God keep His word? Is God honest? Again, the word integrity carries the idea one can be trusted to speak honestly and carry out the promises he makes. We are confronted each day during this pandemic with ‘truths’ that suddenly become ‘untruths’ with the wave of a hand or the turn of phrase. Politicians and virologists lose our confidence because they do not tell us the truth or give us the information behind their guidance. They always leave themselves wiggle room so that they cannot be held accountable for their teaching and guidance. Today ensure you walk in integrity.  Those around you need to be able to have confidence that you will not lie to them and that you will keep your promises made to them. Those around you are watching and learning from your actions so beware. Your good name can be destroyed in an instant.

How Far Will You Travel to Be Changed?

Mat 15:1  Then came to Jesus scribes and Pharisees, which were of Jerusalem, saying,

Something grabbed my attention about today’s verse. It tells us the Pharisees were from Jerusalem. That, in and of itself, is not surprising for you would expect the Pharisees to be located in the religious capital of their faith. However, a few verses previous I read…

Mat 14:34  And when they were gone over, they came into the land of Gennesaret.

The Pharisees traveled nearly 80 miles on foot or horseback to confront Jesus. Once arriving there they attacked Him verbally and tried to discredit Him religiously. Jesus did not temper His message because of their presence. Nor did He dull His message because of their social and religious influence. In fact the disciples were so concerned at Christ’s direct approach that they came to Jesus and told Him this… 

Mat 15:12  Then came his disciples, and said unto him, Knowest thou that the Pharisees were offendedafter they heard this saying?

I see here a great sadness. The Pharisees had traveled and great distance and came face to face with who they truly were, now how would they respond? These religious zealots traveled nearly 160 miles round trip only to choose to be offended instead of convicted. Today the same choice is yours. When God’s Word exposes the real you how will you respond? The Pharisees could have been convicted and changed but rather they chose to be offended. They had left home nearly one week earlier only to return in the same spiritual condition they were in when they left home. How far will you travel in life to be changed? How will you respond when God’s Word exposes you? Today, let God’s Word both convict and change you.


Mal 3:6  For I am the LORD, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed.

Consider the authority of God. God reminds Israel of His unchanging nature. They are reminded of His unchanging provision for their needs. Whether it were bread from heaven, water from a rock, or deliverance from bondage. Whatever they had need of would be provided because God made a covenant with Abraham 2,000 years ago and based the covenant, not on Israel’s conduct, but on God’s own faithfulness. He had made Abraham fall asleep, then God Himself walked through the parted sacrifice so that He ALONE was the foundation of the covenant. As a result of this ongoing faithfulness of God Israel became callous and lukewarm in their respect and obedience to God’s Sovereign place in their daily life. God then shockingly reminds them of His holiness and power. He, in essence, tells them, “I change not, take heart in that truth ye Sons of Jacob. However, if I did change, if I ever would change, you would be the first subject of My vengeance!” How soul-shaking is that truth. God does not take our casual and carnal living lightly. He sent His Son to die for us then empowered us with His Holy Spirit. He made a covenant with us as he did with Israel. It is an unconditional covenant wherein He promised to never leave us nor forsake us. But, because of our carnal and casual life, if He ever decided to change we might very well be the first object of His wrath. God is a good God, a loving God, a provisional, forgiving, and longsuffering God. Serve Him today in the manner His nature demands!

Self-reliance: A Sure Recipe for Trouble

Zec 10:11  And he shall pass through the sea with affliction, and shall smite the waves in the sea, and all the deeps of the river shall dry up: and the pride of Assyria shall be brought down, and the sceptre of Egypt shall depart away.

Adam and Eve’s great mistake was independence. God created mankind and mankind is to be dependent upon God for our sustenance. You see, God is not only our Saviour but He is our Sustainer. Man has tried, under the leadership of satan, the establish a faith that gives the appearance of salvation but removing the need to rely upon God for forgiveness. We are bent on self-reliance. God knows that man only learns something when he has to. Therefore God brings affliction into our lives. But this affliction is not intended to be purely punitive but has that ultimate purpose of being restorative. God wants to bring us back to a position of relying on Him for our daily bread and our eternal bond. Notice in our text that God says “pass through the sea of affliction” – our fallen nature causes us to pursue self-reliance. God therefore brings affliction upon us to expose our limitations and vulnerability. But then He brings us through the afflication so that we turn back to him in realization that we would never survive relying on ourselves! Today, let the Lord remind you of your inabilities, vulnerabilities, and limitations; then take a moment and thank Him for His love and long-suffering with creatures such as us.

Little Things

Zec 4:10  For who hath despised the day of small things? for they shall rejoice, and shall see the plummet in the hand of Zerubbabel with those seven; they are the eyes of the LORD, which run to and fro through the whole earth.

We see the essential maintenance of daily life that will allow us to see the great things that are coming ahead for us. Had there been a “taking for granted” of the small things (all the preparation for the Temple that Zerubbabel would erect) there would never have been the great things after a time. Every great structure began with a simple thought. Then there was the simple beginnings of gathering the tools, creating the plans, preparing the land, creating relationships with others that would be needed to bring the dream to completion. God has a plan for you. You do not see the end goal but He does. The little things He brings into your life today is purposed to prepare you for the greater things down the road. Let us be alert to, and thankful for, the little things in our daily life that God is using to build us into the vessel He has designed us to become. Do not let the little things today go by without you noticing.