28 Days In Acts- Chapter 23

February 2013:

Today, I want to look at some of the verses that stood out to me and made me think.

Verse 1, Paul looked straight at the Sanhedrin and said, “My brothers, I have fulfilled my duty to God in all good conscience to this day.” What is your duty to God?  Have you fulfilled that duty in good conscience?  I pray we can be aware of the call and duty God has put before us and we can fulfill that duty in good conscience.

Verse 3, Then Paul said to him, “God will strike you, you whitewashed wall! You sit there to judge me according to the law, yet you yourself violate the law by commanding that I be struck!” I had to stop and evaluate myself in this verse.  Is there a time I am a whitewashed wall?  Whitewashed walls look nice on the outside, but the whitewash often is a cover for mistakes.  How often are we whitewashed walls, judging others according to our own laws and violate them ourselves?  I pray we take heed to the conviction in our lives and grow in holiness, as we have been called.

I found that verse 11 could be good news or bad.  It says,  “The following night the Lord stood near Paul and said, ‘Take courage! As you have testified about me in Jerusalem, so you must also testify in Rome.’”

So Paul was promised he was going to survive this scenario.  That was good news, because he would live.  Paul, however, is also promised he will be testifying in Rome.  Paul has already been shown prison and bondage in each city.  I pray when God brings news, we can be encouraged and know He will be with us, no matter the situation.

There was a plot to kill Paul and his nephew heard about the plot.  At Paul’s request, the nephew took the information to the commander, who had Paul safely transferred to Caesarea, along with a letter.  The letter explained what had taken place and Paul was kept in Herod’s palace.  God had a perfect plan in place.  I pray we can trust God with His perfect plan and look past our own.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

28 Days In Acts- Chapter 22

February 2013:

Chapter 22 opens with Paul addressing the crowd, and when they heard him speak in an Hebraic language, they became quiet.  Paul let them know he was a Jew from Tarsus, but was raised in Jerusalem.  He told them he was trained in the Jewish Law and was zealous for God, and he had even persecuted the Christians to death.  He told them of his journey to Damascus, for the purpose of persecuting more Christians.  He told of his conversion on the road, of the light and the Lord’s voice speaking to him, of his blinding experience and the scales falling off.  The crowd listened to him until Paul told them that the Lord was sending him to the Gentiles.  When they heard this, they wanted him killed.  The commander ordered Paul taken to the barracks.  He instructed he be flogged.  Just as they were about to whip him, Paul asked, “Is it legal for you to flog a Roman citizen who hasn’t even been found guilty?”   The centurion told the commander that Paul was a Roman citizen.  The commander made the comment, “I had to pay a big price for my citizenship.” “But I was born a citizen,” Paul replied.  The next day, Paul was released and the commander ordered the chief priests and Sanhedrin to assemble.  And he brought Paul to stand before them.

The verse that stood out to me most was the commander who said, “I had to pay a big price” and Paul says, “I was born a citizen.”  I thought about the high price Paul had paid for his citizenship into the Kingdom of God.  I bet it was a much higher price than the commander had paid for his citizenship to Rome.  Is there any place you would “pay a big price” to live?  How big of a price are you willing to pay for Christ?  I pray we are willing to pay whatever the price asked of me for the Kingdom of God.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

28 Days In Acts- Chapter 21

February 2013:

“As this chapter opens, Paul’s group was saying goodbye to the Ephesian elders and was heading for Jerusalem.  On the way, they stopped at Tyre and found disciples there, so they stayed for seven days.  These people urged Paul not to go to Jerusalem.  But they left to continue their journey.  As they were leaving, the families of the disciples knelt with them on the beach to pray, and Paul and his group were on their way.

They made another stop on their journey in Caesarea and stayed at the home of Philip, who was one of the Seven chosen in Chapter 6.  Philip had four daughters who prophesied.  The group had been there a number of days and Agabus came and told a prophesy to Paul.  Remember Agabus from Chapter 11?  He prophesied about the drought.  Agabus took Paul’s belt and tied his own hands and feet.  He then said, “The Holy Spirit says, ‘In this very way the Jews of Jerusalem will bind the owner of this belt and will hand him over to the Gentiles.”’ When the people heard this, they began begging Paul not to go to Jerusalem.  Now remember, Paul already knew of his coming bondage.  He had felt bondage in every city.  He told the people he was not only ready to be bound, but to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.  When the group couldn’t convince him, they gave up and prayed the Lord’s will be done.  Are you ready to be bound for Christ?  Are you ready to die for the name of Christ?  I would like to think I am, but I have not been faced with that situation.  We may see a time, in our own country, where this will happen.  What will your position be?  I pray I can be willing to face any situation, even death, for the name of Christ. Are you willing to allow those you love to be faced with bondage or death for the name of Christ and commit them to the will of the Lord?  I pray if any one of my children or loved ones feel the call to live a life on the edge, in a country they will face certain death proclaiming the name of the Lord, I will find glory in You for that life and will thank You and will pray Your will be done.

In Jerusalem, Paul and his company stayed at the home of Mnason, a disciple from the early church.  They visited with James, and all the elders were present. Paul reported to them the work God had done among the Gentiles.  Everyone present gave thanks for this work. The group did share with Paul that many thousands of Jews have believed, but they are still zealous for the law.  Word had spread that Paul  was teaching they Jews to turn from Moses and not to circumcise their children or live according to Jewish custom.  They asked Paul to go through the ceremonial purification rites so no one would question what Paul was teaching. Paul went with them and gave notice to the temple of the days of purification.  Before the seven days were over, some Jews from Asia saw Paul at the temple and started trouble, making assumptions that Paul had defiled the Temple.  The whole city became aroused and  people ran from everywhere, seizing Paul.  They dragged him out of the temple and were trying to kill him when word reached the commander of the Roman troops.  When the commander came, they stopped beating Paul.  The commander arrested him and ordered him to be bound and carried to the barracks, when the crowd became so loud and unruly, again.  The soldiers carried Paul to keep the crowd off of him.  I see this, even though it was harsh, as a protection sent from God, that the crowd did not succeed in killing Paul.  And even after this beating and bondage, what do you think Paul does?  Do you think he goes quietly?  Do you think he fights them back?  No, we see Paul asking the commander to speak.  The commander asks, “Do you speak Greek?  Aren’t you the Egyptian who started a revolt and led four thousand terrorists out into the desert some time ago?  Paul answered, “I am a Jew from Tarsus in Cilicia, a citizen of no ordinary city. Please let me speak to the people.” Paul obtained the commander’s permission, stood on the steps, quieted the crowd and spoke to them in their language.  Paul didn’t give up, he didn’t go quietly, but he also didn’t lash out in anger.  Paul simply asked to speak.  I can’t help but believe he was anticipating what the Holy Spirit might do next.  I pray we can live our lives in anticipation of what the Holy Spirit is going to do.”


Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

28 Days In Acts- Chapter 20

February 2013:

We left the last chapter with an uproar going on.  After things quieted down, Paul called for the disciples, encouraged them, and said goodbye.  He headed for Macedonia, Greece, and was heading for Syria, but found out about some Jews who were plotting against him, so he went back through Macedonia.  He was accompanied by Sopater, Aristarchus, Secundus, Gaius, Timothy, Tychicus, and Trophimus.  These men went on to Traos and waited for Paul there.  Paul joined the others there after the Festival of Unleavened Bread.

In Traos, he preached.  Now, we often complain about a sermon going more than the allotted time, but Paul had something to say, and the Holy Spirit had some work to do. Because he was leaving the next day, Paul kept preaching, and preached until midnight.  There was a young man named Eutycus, sitting in the window.  Eutycus fell into a deep sleep, fell from the third story, and was picked up dead.  Verse 10 says, “Paul went down, threw himself on a young man and put his arms around him.  “Don’t be alarmed,” he said.  “He’s alive!”  He went back upstairs, broke bread and ate and talked until daylight.  Paul left and “the people took the young man home alive and were greatly comforted.”  Do you long to see the power of the Holy Spirit work like this, today?  I pray we can have a desire to stay and listen to a Godly man until the Spirit tells him to stop preaching and talking.  I pray we can have enough faith to see the dead brought back to life.  One more thing I noticed is “they were greatly comforted.”  Do you ever notice how uncomfortable people become when you start talking about what God has done in your life, or in the life of loved ones??  I pray the work of God can be shared and hearts changed to feel the comfort and peace that passes all understanding.

Paul wanted to get to Jerusalem before Pentecost so he sailed past Ephesus, but sent for the Ephesian Elders to come and meet him.  Paul reminded them of how he had lived his life.  Verses 19-21 say,

“I served the Lord with great humility and with tears and in the midst of severe testing by the plots of my Jewish opponents. You know that I have not hesitated to preach anything that would be helpful to you but have taught you publicly and from house to house. I have declared to both Jews and Greeks that they must turn to God in repentance and have faith in our Lord Jesus.”

I pray we serve the Lord with great humility, even in the midst of tears and severe testing by our opponents.  I pray we never hesitate to share God’s Word in a helpful way, publicly and privately.  I pray everyone will recognize salvation does not come without repentance and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Paul tells them the Spirit is compelling him to go back to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to him.  Paul next says something that makes me stop and evaluate his reaction, and what mine would be.  He says that the Holy Spirit warns him of prison and the hardships facing him in every city. However, he considers his own life worth nothing.  His only aim is to finish the task the Lord Jesus has set before him, that of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.  We recognize Christians in America are more and more persecuted, but if you were shown, beyond doubt, you would be put in prison and face hardships everywhere you went, would you be so quick to share Christ with others?  Would you consider your own life as nothing?  Would you still be willing to finish the task the Lord has set before you to testify the good news of God’s grace?  Would you even be able to see it as “good news” at this point?  I pray we can become more and more like Paul, to consider our lives worth nothing in light of sharing God’s gift of grace.  I pray we can continue on with boldness and courage, and be able to accept whatever trials may come our way.

Paul shares they will never see him again.  He also lets them know he has proclaimed to them, without hesitation, the will of God, and he is not responsible for their unbelief.  He warned them to keep watch over themselves and the flock, of which they have been made overseers.  He warned them to be shepherds of the church of God, because savage wolves will come and destroy the flock.  He warned that even some of their own would arise and distort the truth to draw away disciples.  Paul had been warning these people, in tears, of this destruction.  I think Paul was brought to emotion about the destruction by wolves, because he knew, first-hand, the destruction, torture, and agony these wolves could bring, for he had been one of those wolves. I pray we can be on guard, and those in church leadership will be on guard.  I pray, again, for discernment to know when the wolves are among us.

Paul encouraged them the Word of God’s grace could build them up and give them an inheritance among the sanctified.  Paul reminded them through hard work, they must help the weak as Jesus said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”  He then knelt with the men and prayed over them.  They wept as they said goodbye for the last time.  I pray we will allow God’s grace to continue to build us up. I thank God for the inheritance of the sanctified.  I pray we will work and choose to help those who are weak and in need.  What a marvelous legacy Paul shared with these people, the legacy of Christ, a life beyond this.  Because of that, he held such a special place in the hearts of these people.  I pray I can share God’s gift of grace with others and they can see His work in me.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

28 Days In Acts- Chapter 19

Febraury 2013:

As Paul entered Ephesus, he met some disciples and asked if they had received the Holy Spirit when they believed.  They told him they had not and had not even heard there was a Holy Spirit.  They explained they had been baptized in the name of John.  Paul shared with them that John’s baptism was one of repentance, but told the people to believe in the One coming after him, who was Christ.  The disciples were then baptized in the name of Christ.  After their baptism, Paul placed his hands on them and the Holy Spirit came on them.  How many are following Christ but have never felt the fullness of the Holy Spirit?   I pray I can be open to better experiencing the Holy Spirit.

Paul spoke boldly, in the synagogue for three months.  When some became stubborn and refused to believe and then publicly criticize the Way, Paul left them. He took the disciples with him and held public discussions daily.  He did this for two years, and all of the Greeks and Jews in Asia heard the Word of the Lord.   Again, the Scripture shows us there is a time to move on and not keep pressing the Word when others are not going to hear.  Paul was much more effective in a different place.  If you remember from Chapter 16, the Holy Spirit would not allow Paul to preach in Asia, but now, the time was right.  God did such an extraordinary work through Paul “even handkerchiefs and aprons that had touched him were taken to the sick, and their illnesses were cured and the evil spirits left them.”   I pray we will know when it is time to move on and discern God’s time.

There were a group of Jews who were driving out evil spirits and were trying to use the name of the Lord Jesus over some who were demon-possessed.  There were seven sons of a Jewish chief priest who were involved in this practice.  One day, they encountered an evil spirit who answered them saying, “Jesus I know, and Paul I knew about, but who are you? “  The man with the evil spirit attacked the men and beat them.  I think we overlook the demonic world today.  When the news about the attack spread among the Jews and Greeks in Ephesus, they became afraid and held the Name of the Lord Jesus in high esteem.  Many who believed, now came and openly confessed the things they had done.  Some who practiced sorcery brought their books (scrolls) of magic and burned them publicly.  This act helped the Word of God spread.  We have to be very careful we are actually working in the name of Christ and not a false assumption.  If these men had the power of Christ, the evil spirit would have never been able to overcome them.  Why would the Holy Spirit move to have you confess your sins publicly?  There could be several reasons:  It is a humbling experience.  It is an example to others.  It can become a ministry opportunity.  It shows the power of the Holy Spirit in that you can overcome the secret sins of your life by putting them in the light.  It helps with accountability when those around us  give support and encouragement.  It can reach others by letting them know their sins can also be forgiven, through repentance.

After some time in Ephesus, the business for the local silversmith began falling off.  Why would that be?  Well, the people who worshiped false gods and idols would have those idols cast in silver, so it had a profound impact on his business, along with other craftsman who relied on the trade of making idols.  This silversmith decided to call the craftsmen together and got them all stirred up.  They pulled Paul’s traveling companions in front of a mob.  Many people came and were angry and didn’t even know why they were there.  Isn’t that how many situations work, today?  People get worked up and excited, even angry, because that is what the general population thinks or believes, and will follow along with the crowd, many times without even know why.  I pray we listen for God’s prompting and don’t get caught following the crowd.

The city clerk quieted the crowd and told them they needed to deal with charges legally, and he dismissed the crowd.  We will find out what happens after this in chapter 20!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

28 Days In Acts- Chapter 18

February 2013:

Paul left Athens after speaking to the Council at Areopagus, and went to Corinth.  In Corinth, he met a Jewish tentmaker, Aquila, and his wife, Priscilla.  Claudius had ordered all Jews to leave Rome.  Paul, being a tentmaker himself, visited and worked with Aquila.  Every Sabbath, Paul spoke in the synagogue trying to persuade Jews and Greeks about Christ.  When Silas and Timothy joined him, Paul “devoted himself exclusively to preaching, testifying to the Jews that Jesus was the Messiah.”  The Jews opposed Paul and became abusive.  Paul basically told them since they were too stubborn to hear, they were responsible for themselves, and he went to the Gentiles.  I pray we can recognize when our sharing of God’s Word is falling on deaf ears and we have the wisdom to move on.

One night, Paul had a vision and the Lord spoke, ”Do not be afraid; keep on speaking, do not be silent.  For I am with you, and no one is going to attack and harm you, because I have many people in this city.” I pray we can be encouraged in the word given to Paul, not to be fearful, we are to be diligent and not silent. I pray we recognize God is with us.

Some of the Jews in Corinth brought Paul before Gallio and charged he was persuading people to worship God in ways contrary to Jewish Law.  Gallio, not being a Jewish leader, refused to hear the matter and suggested they settle it themselves, as it was a religious matter.  Do you see God’s promise of protection in this incident?  I do.

Paul next traveled to Syria, along with Aquila and Priscilla.  Paul went into the synagogue and spoke and they asked him to stay.  He told them he would not, but if God willed, he would be back.  Paul left and went from place to place strengthening and encouraging the disciples.  I pray we can be an encouragement, where God may lead us.

Aquila and Priscilla stayed in Ephesus.  They met a Jew named Apollos.  Apollos had knowledge of the Scripture and spoke accurately.  He spoke with great fervor and taught the truth about Jesus, but he only knew about the baptism of John.  Aquila and Priscilla heard him speak and invited him into their home and explained the way of God more clearly. Apollos decided to travel on, spreading the Gospel of Christ. The brothers and sister encouraged him and wrote ahead to Achaia to welcome him upon arrival.  He was a great help to those who believed by grace.  He refuted his opponents and proved, from Scripture, that Jesus was the Messiah.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

28 Days In Acts- Chapter 17

February 2013:

In Acts 17, Paul and his companions passed through Thessalonica and visited the synagogue there on three Sabbath days.  Paul taught from the Scriptures, reasoning and proving the Messiah was Jesus and he had to suffer and rise from the dead.  Some of the Jews joined Paul and Silas, along with some Greeks and a few prominent women.  Other Jews became upset and formed a mob and started a riot.  They rushed Jason’s house, searching for Paul and Silas.  When they didn’t find them, they took Jason and some of the other believers before the city officials, because they had welcomed Paul and Silas.  They accused them of defying Caesar’s decrees.  Jason and the others were forced to post bond and were set free.

As soon as night fell, the believers sent Paul and Silas to Berea.  When they arrived in Berea, they went to the Jewish synagogue.  The Jews in Berea received the message eagerly and examined Scripture for themselves to see if Paul was teaching the Truth.  Verse 12 says, “As a result, many of them believed, as did also a number of prominent Greek women and many Greek men.” This is so important.  I have learned, over the years, to examine Scripture for myself.  Your pastor should encourage you to go to God’s Word and make sure he is preaching the Truth.  We are to hold those teaching and preaching, accountable to God’s Word.  If error is found, lovingly ask the one teaching to explain his thinking on this matter and share your concerns.

Isn’t it funny how trouble follows us?  The Jews of Thessalonica found out that Paul was preaching the Word of God in Berea, went there, and stirred up more trouble.  When this happened the believers sent Paul to the coast and from there, he went to Athens.  Timothy and Silas were given instructions to joined him, as soon as possible. I pray we can support men of God, even when society and the law go against them.  I pray we can be people of God and continue to minister, even though society and even new laws say we can’t.   We have to remember we are to follow the laws of the land, until they go against the teaching of God.

While waiting in Athens, Paul became distressed to see the city full of idols.  Do you become physically distressed when we see those around us worshiping idols?  What do you recognize as those idols?  We should feel uncomfortable and unsettled when other things are put in a position higher than God.  Paul began reasoning with the Jews and God-fearing Greeks in the synagogue.  He also went into the marketplace and spoke to those who where there.  How often do you go into the marketplace and share the Gospel?  I pray we can take every opportunity to share the Message of Christ, no matter where we may be.

Some philosophers began to debate Paul and took him to a meeting of the Areopagus (a council of philosophers and religious leaders).  Some asked him about the strange deities (NASV). They were confused because Paul was preaching about Jesus and the resurrection (Anastasis).  They thought he was preaching about two different gods.  They were hearing strange ideas and wanted to know what he meant.  Paul stood and pointed out to themthey were a very religious people, even worshiping an unknown god.  Paul went on to tell them about the God of Creation, who created the world and everything in it.  He told them God does not live in temples made with human hands and is not served by human hands.  God needs nothing, for it is God who gives life and breath and everything else.  He explained how God made all nations from one man and marked out their appointed times in history, and the reason God did this was that people would seek him, reach out for him, and find him, because He isn’t so far that He can’t be found.  Verse 28 says, “For in him we live and move and have our being.  As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’”

Verses 29-31 says for those who are God’s offspring, we should not think of God as any image made by humans.  God commands people to repent.  God has set a day when he will judge the world through Christ, who He has raised from the dead.  These words ring true for those of us who are believers.  We must have repentance.

When the Areopagus heard this, some sneered, but others were interested to know more.  Paul left the Council.  Some believed.  I pray we can speak God’s Word clearly enough for others to understand.  I pray we can accept when some sneer, but know  if even one soul comes to faith in Christ, it is worth the sneers.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment