Category Archives: Acts

Is this worth arguing about?

“’Unless you are circumcised, according to the custom taught by Moses, you cannot be saved.’ This brought Paul and Barnabas into sharp dispute and debate with them.”  Act 15:1-2.

Some Jews wanted to put up an additional hurdle up for recently converted Gentiles.

They seemed to be saying, “You can be saved but if you actually want to be one of us you’ll have to do this.”

Circumcision was something they could do, but when it was turned into a requirement it went too far.  Paul/Barnabas quickly saw the attempt to add works to acceptability and it riled them up.

I see verses like today’s and I wonder if I argue enough or too little.  I don’t hesitate at home to stand up for things but away from home?  Why so quiet?

An obvious solution would be for me to pipe down at home and open up elsewhere.

How do I choose where to get involved and where not to?  It all runs back to being filled with the Holy Spirit.  That filling brings with it timing.  That is the missing ingredient for me.

There are certainly times to take a stand.  Can I “stand” in God’s love?  Will His Love show forth in the words I use to dispute/debate something?  They must.

At home, I need to keep my opinions under wraps.  That doesn’t mean that I agree all the time, but it does mean that I hear/consider before opinionating.

Conclusion: I must be filled with the Holy Spirit if I am going to dispute/debate in a Godly way.

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Pray to Him as if you need Him involved

“So Peter was kept in prison, but the church was earnestly praying to God for him.”  Acts 12:5.

There is “praying” and then there is “praying earnestly.”

I often pray but do I pray earnestly?

The folks in today’s story had plenty to be concerned about.  One of their members had been killed.  Another had been arrested and would likely be killed.  Who among them would be next?

And so they hid and prayed.  I doubt that they sat in a circle and someone said, “Pray around the circle and I’ll close.”  It was much more intense than that.  These folks were pounding on heaven’s door!

I know that when I realized recently that I had lost my glasses, I prayed earnestly.

Am I committed to pressing toward a result when I pray or are my prayers so casual and general that almost any result will do?

These folks had great fears and were Godly enough to know to turn directly to God.  There was nothing else they could do.

Maybe when I get into casually praying, I’m subtly thinking that if God doesn’t answer, as I ask, there is still a safe landing in play.

When I don’t know what to do in a situation, I have put myself in a perfect place to rely entirely on God.  I lose my self-confidence.  God has the answer I need and I trust Him to serve up His answer for me.

Conclusion: If I am not praying to Him earnestly, do I have in mind other options other than Him?

 

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Qualified to serve Him

“Brothers and sisters, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom.” Acts 6:3.

What qualities do I need to serve Him right?

Today’s verse spells out two things; Spirit-filled and wise.  The Message uses “common sense” in place of wisdom.

I am at the “management” level in my household.  If I want to manage in a way that pleases Him, I must have the given qualities.

The two qualities can’t be separated.  One without the other will mess things up.  I can be Spirit-filled and of no earthly good.  I can wise but missing God as my ultimate driver.

They have to go together.  I am an earthen vessel.  I leak!  I can’t be filled with the Holy Spirit one time and coast after that.  Being filled is an ongoing process.  I need to wake up into it and I need to be mindful of that filling during the day.

Too often I let the “filling” become less, without taking corrective action.  I need Him every second.

If I am tight to God, I will pause my way into action.  I will prayerfully consider what I do.  I will take instruction.  I will learn from correction.

I want to rightly represent Him in my midst.

Conclusion: I must be filled with the Holy Spirit and wisdom to represent Him rightly in all situations.

 

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What does “filled with the Holy Spirit” sound like?

“Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them: …..”  Acts 4:8-11.

For those of us keen on being filled with the Holy Spirit, today’s section of verses is insightful.

Peter is identified as being filled with the Holy Spirit.  He’s a believer and he’s overwhelmed by the Holy Spirit.

Peter is given an opportunity to explain what is going on in his life.  Talk about opening a door!

In applying Scripture to myself, I must respond to open doors, not ones I’ve broken down.  Peter was ready to verbally represent God and God provided the opening.

Peter explained to those who invited him to speak; what Jesus had done (through them) and who Jesus was.

Paul sets up a similar pattern for witnessing but starts with who Jesus is and then goes on to what Jesus did.  If it worked for them, why not me?

The part of these verses that struck me first was that Peter quoted Scripture to those listening.  There was no script used.  Peter knew Scripture and was able to fit it appropriately into his presentation.

I need to be using God’s Words more.  To do this, I must spend more time memorizing Scripture.  I believe that I am better acquainted with stories from the Bible than I ever was, but actual, appropriate verses aren’t rolling off my lips.  Peter was filled with the Holy Spirit and Psalm 118:22 rolled right into his spontaneous presentation.

Conclusion: Filled with the Holy Spirit, Peter told who Jesus is, what Jesus did, and quoted Scripture.  I must do likewise.

 

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When do I get the power?

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”  Acts 1:8.

“When the Holy Spirit comes on you.”  That’s when!

I want to do what God wants me to do.  So I set out determined to do His Will.  Never works for long.  Why?  I miss the “when” part.

I must have the Holy Spirit overwhelming me if I want to consistently do His Will.  It doesn’t work another way.  Plain and simple.

I also notice what happens when I am overwhelmed by the Holy Spirit: I’ll rightly represent Him everywhere.

There isn’t anything tricky in all this.  Well spelled out and the only way to do it.

Why, then, am I often powerless?

Why, then, do I so often misrepresent Him?

Answer: I’m not following the two steps given in today’s verse.

I long to rightly represent Him with power.  To do this I must insist on overwhelming myself with Him.  There is no other way and there never will be.

Conclusion: I must be constantly mindful of the Holy Spirit.

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Laryngitis

“He proclaimed the kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ – with all boldness and without hindrance!” Acts 28:31.

Verse chosen from today’s Bible reading; Numbers 8-9 and Acts 28.

I have had laryngitis for several days.

Trying to teach teenagers to drive without a voice has been a large challenge.

Besides being a challenge, it has added my voice to my collection of things that God gives me.

How do I use my voice?  Now that it is limited, I have had some time to think about this.

I am not assured that I will always be able to speak.  Are there words that I want others to hear?  For sure there are.  But I am slow to speak, assuming that I will have time later.  That is Satan lying again!  I am terminal.  My voice is terminal.

I must make the Godly most of what I have been given.  My hearing works.  Am I listening to others?  My feet work.  Am I going where He wants me to go?

Today’s verse has Paul telling others about who Jesus is and what Jesus did and he’s under house arrest!  I am not confined anywhere.  How am I using that blessing to please Him?

So many questions have come into my head during this bout of laryngitis.  Can’t help but think that God was involved.

“Lord, I have been blessed by You.  Empower me to use what I have been given to rightly represent You in every detail of my life.  Prick my conscience when I’m messing up so that I can make the needed changes.  I love You, Father.”

How effectively do we use the many things that God has given us?

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The road ahead

“I will rescue you from your own people and from the Gentiles.  I am sending you to them to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.” Acts 26:17-18.

Verses chosen from today’s Bible reading; Numbers 5-6, Psalm 22, and Acts 26.

Paul learns what is ahead for him.

Paul’s mission will lead to the transformation of lives.  People won’t be the same again.

It is very clear in these verses that Satan is real.  Not something in red tights with a pitchfork!

Satan is the one keeping people unaware of God and their need to unite with Him.  He’s a force to be reckoned with.

I can never minimize Satan.  I continue to maintain that if I am not doing God’s bidding then I am doing Satan’s bidding.  There is no middle ground on this.

My life must be so overflowing with the Holy Spirit that I have a natural inclination to share Him with others.  Nothing contrived.  Nothing I’m shamed into.  “Just” an overflow.

“Lord, I want to please You in everything I do.  I want You running every part of me.  I surrender to You.  Peruse my life.  Reveal the areas to me where You are less considered than You should be.  I want to reveal light, not add to darkness.  You are my God.  Take me over now. I love You, God.”

I must be going where God wants me to go.  The road ahead must be His path.

 

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How’s this going to end?

“Then Paul made his defense: ‘I have done nothing wrong against the Jewish law or against the temple or against Caesar.” Acts 25:8.

Verse chosen from today’s Bible reading; Numbers 3-4 and Acts 25.

A lot is made of Paul’s missionary journeys and there were several of them and they were important.

Today, however, we find Paul still being held in custody.  He hasn’t done anything wrong but those holding him won’t let him go.

Frustrating?  For sure and Paul’s future is uncertain. BUT Paul has been promised, by God, that he will get to Rome.

Rome is a long way from where Paul is, but he knows that he will get there.  Why? Because he trusts God.

I do not know my future on earth. Jesus may return, or I may die before He does return.  I do know that there is a Judgment Day in my future and when that happens I will stand before a holy and righteous God completely in the clear.  Hallelujah!

The uncertainties of my life will not prevent my eternity with God in heaven.  It’s going to happen.

How do I know this?  God sent Jesus to earth to wipe clean my sin record.  How did Jesus do that?  He died in my place for my sins.  I didn’t request it.  I didn’t deserve it, but He loved me enough to do it anyhow.  When God raised Jesus from the dead, death was conquered.  There will be an after-life.

I believe that I am a sinner.  I believe that Jesus died to erase my sin record.  I believe that I will stand completely in the clear on Judgment Day.  Life’s uncertainties can take none of that away.

“Lord, thank You for the stories in the Bible.  Thank You for Paul’s trust in You despite the obstacles that came his way.  Enable me to see beyond uncertainties and rest in the assurance that You will be there at the end of life ready to welcome me into an eternity with You.  What a Savior!”

There is a happy ending for those with an erased sin record.  Is your’s erased?

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Paul gets confirmation

“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.” Acts 23:11.

Verse chosen from today’s Bible reading; Leviticus 26-27, and Acts 23.

Paul wasn’t assured of a happy ending.  He’s in jail and there are folks plotting to kill him.

Because the Lord comes and encourages Paul, I will assume that Paul was discouraged.

The Lord’s encouragement assured Paul that his plan to go to Rome would be carried out.  The days ahead would suggest otherwise but Paul knew where he would end up.

We live in a world of turmoil.  Just turn on the news!

For the believer, the evil in our midst is overwhelming.  We get discouraged.  Why?  Because we forget that we win in the end.

There will be a happy ending for those of us who have trusted that Jesus has removed sin’s consequence (eternal separation from God) from our record.  Before a holy and righteous God, we stand completely in the clear!

When I am overwhelmed by evil it is because I have lost sight of what He has ahead for me.  This does not mean that I pretend evil is non-existent.  I have to resist it by clinging to God for direction in every step of my life.

“Lord, I thank You that You love me.  I thank You that You and I will be together forever after Judgment Day because of what You did for me on the cross.  Help me to live in a way that always pleases You. Direct my path, I beg.  You are my God.”

Believers win in the end no matter what things look like today.

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Godly zeal

“I was just as zealous for God as any of you are today.”  Acts 22:3.

Verse chosen from today’s Bible reading; Leviticus 25, Psalm 25-26, and Acts 22.

Paul’s audience did not like him.  They wanted to shut him up and maybe worse.  He had hit a nerve!

This is the even-keeled Paul that we don’t read too much about.  He is often portrayed as a strident know-it-all.  Not on this occasion.

The passion and zeal that Paul is facing reminds him of his own past.  In this instance, Paul goes back to his own background to connect himself to the hostile crowd in front of him.

Paul knows all about passion and zeal for God.  He lived it and was good at it.  Now, still armed with that same passion and zeal, he has corrected his path and taken those qualities in a different direction.

If I am an active witness, I will come across, or read about, those who violently disagree with me.  How to respond?  I must be knowledgeable and passionate about what I believe.  The casual, semi-trained believer can do more harm than good.  I must recognize the passion and knowledge of the one I disagree with and commend it.

A soft answer turns away wrath.  Those in disagreement may not change their view but at least one participant in the conversation is avoiding anger.  That needs to be the Godly one.

“Lord, Your Ways are not always my ways.  I want them to be that, however.  I need You running every part of me.  Forgive me for being a passive believer.  How can I so underrate what You have done for me!  You have taken a miserable sinner and made him acceptable to You.  That is the most amazing of amazing graces.  I love You, Lord.”

Do you have Godly zeal?

 

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