Category Archives: 05 – Acts

The Unlikely Messenger


Daily Bible Reading – Job 3, 4; Acts 8, 9

Today’s Key Passage – Acts 9:1-22

 

In today’s key passage, we find the conversion of a man named Saul.  Saul, later called Paul, was a notorious persecutor of Christians who witnessed and approved the stoning of Stephen for preaching the Gospel (7:54-60).  One day, as Saul was walking to Damascus in search of Christians to imprison, the Risen Christ met him on the road.  This meeting with Jesus, as well as the events that followed with a disciple named Ananias, led to Saul’s miraculous conversion to Christianity.  He was immediately baptized and began preaching the Gospel to others, spreading the good news about Jesus.

Paul’s encounter with the living Christ led to a dramatic transformation in his life.  He went from hunting Christians to leading them, and would go on to shape the history of Christianity more than perhaps any other apostle.  While Paul undoubtedly had lived a sinful and evil life before he came to Christ, his transformation made him an amazing witness to others of what Jesus can do in a person’s life.  Jesus did not let Paul’s past get in the way of the mission He had in mind for Paul, and even though Paul was certainly not looking for a personal relationship with the living God, Jesus still searched him out and found him in His own time.

The story of Paul gives all of us hope.  It proves that no one is too far away from God.  It shows us that no matter what we have done in the past, and no matter where we might be in the present, God is searching for us and has a plan for our future.  Due to his past, Paul was an unlikely messenger of the Gospel who was transformed into one of the greatest messengers of all.  God continues to encounter people every day and transform their lives to advance His kingdom.  Do you know someone who might be far away from God due to his or her past or present?  Share with them the story of Paul today, and let them know that there is hope for the future in Jesus Christ.

 During your Bible reading today, what “key passages” stood out to you?  Leave a comment below to share what God is showing you about His Word today.

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May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you today.

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Facing Persecution


Daily Bible Reading – Malachi 3, 4; Psalm 148; Acts 5

Today’s Key Passage – Acts 5:17-42

 

In the early days of Christianity, the ruling authorities warned Peter and John many times not to preach about Jesus Christ.  Each time they received a warning, they went right back to doing what they knew was right, and they continued to share their faith and tell others the good news about Jesus.  They did this because they knew they “must obey God rather than men“. (5:29)  Because of this decision to continue preaching the Gospel, they faced brutal persecution.  Today’s key passage marks the first of many times that the Apostles were beaten.  When the beating was finished, Peter and John “left the Sanhedrin, REJOICING because they had been counted worthy [by God] of suffering disgrace for the Name [of Jesus Christ].” (5:41)  It requires a tremendous amount of faith to rejoice in persecution, and the Apostles had this faith, for they knew that they were doing the right thing.

Christians today are still facing persecution to some degree.  Most of us, however, face persecution in the form of mocking, ridicule, and exclusion as opposed to being beaten and jailed (though unfortunately that does still happen in some parts of the world).  Sometimes it is difficult to see this persecution as a blessing, but we must always remember that if we are persecuted for our faith, it is only because God has counted us worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name.  Jesus never said that living our lives for Him would be easy while on this earth.  Fortunately, no matter what persecutions we face here, we know we can count on blessings in Heaven.  On that day, when we stand face to face with the resurrected Christ, we can know we will never shed another tear.

During your Bible reading today, what “key passages” stood out to you?  Leave a comment below to share what God is showing you about His Word today.

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May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you today.

Answering Prayers


Daily Bible Reading – Nehemiah 11, 12; Psalm 1; Acts 3

Today’s Key Passage – Acts 3:1-10

 

The crippled beggar positioned himself in the same place every day – right at the entrance to the temple.  He did this because he felt it was the best place for him to be to get what he thought he really needed.  In the beggar’s mind, he believed money would be the answer to his prayers, so he sat in the same place daily hoping for someone to come along and give him something.  When Peter saw him, he had a different idea.  Peter told the man “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I have I give you” (3:6) and then he promptly healed the man by the power of Jesus Christ.  Peter was unable to answer the prayer the beggar was asking for, but that he had something much better to give him.  The power of the Holy Spirit healed the man and allowed him to walk.  Undoubtedly, this was a much better gift than a couple of coins.

I think God answers many of our prayers in the same way.  Often we are like the crippled beggar, begging God to give us what we think we really need.  When we fail to receive what we were begging for, it is easy to think that our prayer went unanswered.  In reality, though, that is not the case.  Perhaps God, in his infinite wisdom, knows that what we were begging for is not really what we needed.  God is amazingly faithful.  He hears and answers all of our prayers in one way or another.  The love that He has for each of us is unending.  He wants the very best for us in everything we do on a daily basis.  His plan for all of us is perfect and He always knows what He is doing.  When we surrender everything to Him and let Him take over everything in our lives, we allow God to do more than just answer our prayers.  When we trust in Him completely, sometimes instead of giving us what we have asked for, He can give us something much better.

During your Bible reading today, what “key passages” stood out to you?  Leave a comment below to share what God is showing you about His Word today.

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May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you today.

Living in Community


Daily Bible Reading – Nehemiah 9, 10; Acts 2

Today’s Key Passage – Acts 2:42-47

 

Just as the Gospels provide us with a description of Jesus’ life and ministry, the book of Acts provides us with a description of the early days of the church and the first Christians.  The first Christians (even before they were called Christians) lived together in community, sharing everything they had with one another.  These early followers of Christ focused on four things – the apostles’ teaching, fellowship with one another, the breaking of bread together, and prayer. (2:42)  They lived a life modeled after the life of Jesus, and because they did, people were drawn to them and they “added to their number daily those who were being saved” (2:47).

How are you at living together in community?  Are you modeling the life of Jesus and the early Christians by focusing on the same four key things?  Sometimes it is hard to look past all of the temporal obligations we have on a daily basis such as work commitments, bills, and school assignments to focus on the eternal things that truly matter.  God did not design people to live on their own – He designed us to live in community with each other and to “do life together”.  One of the best things my wife and I ever did together was find a church where we could live life with other believers – not just one day a week but every day.  By living in community with other believers, we can stay focused on what really matters in life – the life-saving message of Jesus Christ and working for the kingdom of God.  Instead of living a life of solitude, when we live together in community with other believers, others will be drawn to us.  More importantly, when we live together in community with other believers, others will be drawn to a personal relationship with Christ.

During your Bible reading today, what “key passages” stood out to you?  Leave a comment below to share what God is showing you about His Word today.

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May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you today.

Being Witnesses


Daily Bible Reading – Nehemiah 7, 8; Acts 1

Today’s Key Passage – Acts 1:1-11

 

Following Jesus’ death and resurrection, his disciples were hoping for swift action.  Like the other Jews of this time-period, they hated being under Roman rule, and they wanted Jesus to free Israel and be their king.  Jesus, however, had other plans.  He told them to be patient, informing them that God would work on his own timetable and would do things based on His design.  (1:7)  He also told them that instead of worrying about when that timetable would be, they should focus on being His witnesses. (1:8)

What does it mean to be a witness for Jesus?  For some people, being a witness means standing on a street corner and telling people about Christ.  For others, being a witness means telling the person sitting next to you on an airplane the good news of the Gospel.  For still others, being a witness means talking to family members and sharing your faith.  None of these are bad examples of being a witness, but by themselves, they are not a complete picture of what a witness should be.

Everyone has heard the saying that actions speak louder than words.  While it is important to share our faith with others and to try to bring as many people to Christ as possible, it is even more important to live like a Christ-follower every day.  Living a life modeled after the life of Jesus pays far greater dividends when trying to reach people for Christ than any words we can say.  Living a “Christ-like life” creates a joy and energy about us that can be seen and felt by every single person we encounter.  This irresistible lifestyle will draw people to us and make them think, “What can I do to have that kind of joy and energy in MY life?”  When we allow the Holy Spirit to live through us, we become the best possible witnesses for Christ without ever having to say a word.

During your Bible reading today, what “key passages” stood out to you?  Leave a comment below to share what God is showing you about His Word today.

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May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you today.

Taking Risks


Daily Bible Reading – Numbers 7; Psalm 23; Acts 27

Today’s Key Passage – Acts 27:9-25

 

The only way captains could navigate a ship in ancient times was by looking at the stars.  When the sky was overcast, sailing became very dangerous if not impossible.  The stormy season began in September, so by November, sailing was almost unheard of in those days.  The event in our key passage today occurred in October after the Day of Atonement, so they were right in the middle of the “questionable” time to be sailing.  Paul warned the men that sailing was going to be dangerous, and told them that, “[the] voyage is going to be disastrous and bring great loss to ship and cargo, and to our own lives also.”  The pilot and the owner of the ship, however, wanted to sail and the centurion chose to listen to that advice instead of listening to Paul.  They decided to take a risk and set sail despite Paul’s warnings and despite the fact that they knew this time of year would make sailing dangerous.  This decision proved to be disastrous as a violent storm hit and put the entire crew in grave danger.  Paul then told the crew that they had a choice to make – they could continue down their destructive path of doing things their own way or they could listen to Paul’s advice and start putting their faith in God.  If not for the grace and mercy of God, the entire ship and its crew would have surely been destroyed.

When we choose to sin against God, we also take a risk.  We know about the warnings – we can read them every day in His Holy Scriptures.  We know what God tells us to do and how He tells us to live our lives because repeatedly in the Bible we can see God’s message to us as clearly as Paul’s message was to the ship’s pilot.  Sometimes, though, even given all of God’s warnings, we still choose to depart from his leading and go our own way.  In those moments when we choose to ignore God’s directions, we are taking a huge risk.  We risk our health – sometimes our physical health, and other times our emotional, spiritual, or relational health.  When we choose to disobey God, we put ourselves and others in harm’s way.  It should not surprise us, then, when storms come up and rage against us in those times when we have chosen to disregard all the signs and set sail down our own path of destruction.  Like the men on the boat, we have a choice to make.  We can continue to go our own way and disregard God, assuring our destruction, or we can start listening to His warnings and put our faith and trust in Him.  We can come to realize that God’s instructions for our lives are there for a reason, and that He only has our own best interests at heart.  When we decide to start listening to God, His great mercy and grace will save us from destruction.

During your Bible reading today, what “key passages” stood out to you?  Leave a comment below to share what God is showing you about His Word today.

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May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you today.

Dealing With Problems


Daily Bible Reading – Numbers 3,4; Acts 25

Today’s Key Passage – Acts 25:1-22

 

Festus took over for Felix as the Roman governor of Judea, and he had a problem.  Just three days into his position, he found out that he had a man named Paul in his prison who had been there for two years.  He also found out that the Jewish leaders wanted this man dead.  Festus was the new guy in town.  He was new to his position and the last thing he wanted to do was ruffle any feathers in the very beginning of his term in office, but the problem was not going to go away.  Something had to be done about Paul and about the Jews who wanted him dead.  He called them all together to hear the charges, and by his own later admission to Agrippa, he was baffled.  He told Agrippa that when he convened the court and allowed Paul’s accusers to speak, “they did not charge him with any of the crimes I had expected. Instead, they had some points of dispute with him about their own religion and about a dead man named Jesus who Paul claimed was alive. I was at a loss how to investigate such matters”.  Since Festus did not know what to do, he first wanted to send Paul back to Jerusalem, but Paul refused to go because he was a Roman citizen.  Therefore, Festus agreed to send Paul on to Caesar to have his case heard.  Ultimately, Festus simply did not know how to deal with the problem of Paul and therefore wanted to let someone else take care of it.

How often in our lives does the temptation come for us to do the same thing?  As problems arise for us, we often do not know exactly how to handle them and we can easily be tempted not deal with them at all.  When we see a non-believer who does not know the Way, we can be tempted to “bury our heads in the sand” and not talk to them about Christ because it might be uncomfortable.  When we see a fellow believer sinning, we can be tempted to “bury our heads in the sand” and not confront them on their sins because we want to maintain the peace.  Just like Festus, we can be tempted to try to send others on their way to allow someone else to deal with the problem, but none of this is biblical.  Being a follower of Christ does not afford us the opportunity to “bury our heads in the sand”.  Jesus was very specific when He told us how to deal with problems, and regardless of the situation we are called to deal with problems head on.  Having an argument with your spouse?  Deal with the problem head on and have a discussion with her.  Feeling slighted by a friend?  Deal with the problem head on and explain to him how you feel.  See a brother or sister in Christ sinning?  Deal with the problem head on and go to him or her to point out the sin in a loving way.

So why is all of this important?  Why are we not to “bury our heads in the sand” and not deal with the problems that come up in life?  Often the answer to that lies in the aftermath.  If you see a non-believer and fail to talk to them about salvation, you are essentially condemning them to eternal separation from God.  If you see a fellow Christian sinning and do not say anything, you are not showing them the love of Christ and in effect are actually “hating” them.  If you are having an argument with your spouse and you do not try to work it out, seeds of anger and hostility are sown in your heart toward her.  If you feel slighted by your friend and you do not explain how you feel, seeds of animosity are sown in your heart toward him.  Eventually, these seeds will grow, fester, and become a much bigger problem in your relationships.  While it might be uncomfortable for us in the short term, the long-term benefits to our relationships of dealing with problems head on are huge.  Do not be like Festus.  Do not look for ways to avoid dealing with issues when they arise.  Deal with them constructively and with love and watch your relationships with others and with God grow beyond your wildest dreams.

During your Bible reading today, what “key passages” stood out to you?  Leave a comment below to share what God is showing you about His Word today.

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May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you today.

Keeping a Clear Conscience


Daily Bible Reading – Numbers 1,2; Acts 24

Today’s Key Passage – Acts 24:1-16

 

The high priest Ananias and some of the elders went to Caesarea to bring their charges against Paul to Governor Felix.  Specifically, they were claiming three charges against Paul – that he was a troublemaker who incited riots, that he was one of the leaders of an unauthorized religious sect, and that he tried to desecrate the temple.  When Paul was given a chance to defend himself before Felix, he did so and plainly stated that the charges against him were false.  Paul stated that he strives, “always to keep my conscience clear before God and man.”

What does it mean to keep a clear conscience before God and man and why is it important?  We can start with taking a look at keeping a clear conscience before God.  We do this by following His ways and living the way He wants us to live.  We keep our conscience clear before God by staying away from sin and unrighteousness.  Obviously we are not perfect, so when we do sin we immediately confess that sin to Him and ask for forgiveness.  In addition, we repent (or turn away from) that sin and turn to God.  Ultimately, we keep our conscience clear through our faith in Jesus Christ.  Through His actions and through His mercy and grace we can live in right relationship to God and keep our conscience clear before him.

What about keeping our conscience clear before man?  We do this by treating others the way we should treat them.  We do this by not lying, deceiving, or cheating others and by showing them the love of Christ.  We keep our conscience clear before man not by our own efforts, but by the actions of Christ who lives within us and gives us the power to treat others better than ourselves.  Without His help, we would constantly fail in this area and we would never be able to keep our consciences clear before man, but He gives us the power to do just that.

So why is all of this important?  Why should we strive to keep our conscience clear before God and man?  Because guilt is a tool that the enemy uses against us.  When we do not keep our conscience clear we feel guilty, and often that guilt stops us in our tracks and keeps us from fulfilling our mission for God.  How many times do relationships fail (either relationships with God or with others) because of guilt?  When people feel guilty, they tend to want to run away from the relationship causing it to crumble.  Guilt can be a powerful thing, and we must fight it at every turn, and the most complete way to avoid guilt is to keep our conscience clear before God and man.  Fortunately for us, Jesus provided us a perfect model to do this in Matthew 22:37-40 – “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” When we keep these two commandments, we will keep our consciences clear and never have to worry about guilt getting in our way.

During your Bible reading today, what “key passages” stood out to you?  Leave a comment below to share what God is showing you about His Word today.

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May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you today.

The Right Place at the Right Time


Daily Bible Reading – Leviticus 26,27; Acts 23

Today’s Key Passage – Acts 23:12-24

 

Some of the men from the Sanhedrin wanted to kill Paul.  They viewed Paul as a threat, and they vowed not to eat or drink until Paul was dead.  They came up with a plot against him, and planned to attack him while traveling to stand before the commander of the Roman army.  But God had different plans in mind.  God was watching over Paul and protecting him.  Paul’s nephew heard about the plot to kill him because God put him in the right place at the right time.  Paul’s nephew went to Paul to tell him about the plot to kill him, and Paul instructed his nephew to tell the commander what he had heard.  When Paul’s nephew went to the commander, the commander could have dismissed the boy’s story, but instead God moved him to listen and to act.  The commander came up with a plan to protect Paul and get him to Governor Felix and away from the threat.

Time and time again in the Bible we see that God has perfect timing.  He knows when and where to act to produce the best results.  We also see time and time again that God does a lot of things in the background that we do not even know about to protect us.  Paul did not know about this plot against him and did not even know to be praying to God to thwart it, but God already knew.  He knew to put Paul’s nephew in the right place at the right time to hear about the plot.  God moved Paul’s nephew not to just sit on the information he had but to actually take it to Paul.  God moved the commander to listen to Paul’s nephew and to move Paul out of harm’s way.  God did all of this in the background without Paul even knowing what the outcome would be.  In Jeremiah 29:11, we read, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” God’s plans for us will not be thwarted.  He will use His perfect timing and whatever means necessary to ensure we are fulfilling his ultimate plans for us, even when we are completely unaware that this is going on in the background.  How many times has God moved in the background of your life and saved you from pain without you even knowing it?  How many times has he placed people in exactly the right place at the right time for your benefit without you even having to ask?  Never underestimate God’s love for you and all that He does to protect you, and always remember the words from Romans 8:31, “If God is for us, who can be against us?”

During your Bible reading today, what “key passages” stood out to you?  Leave a comment below to share what God is showing you about His Word today.

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May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you today.

Sharing Our Testimony


Daily Bible Reading – Leviticus 25; Psalm 25-26; Acts 22

Today’s Key Passage – Acts 22:1-22

 

Paul had been worshiping in the temple when he was wrongly accused of bringing a Gentile named Trophimus into the temple with him.  A riot ensued which was eventually broken up by a Roman guard who arrested Paul.  While under arrest, Paul asked the commander for the right to speak to the Jews, and the commander gave him permission.  Today’s key passage is what Paul chose to say to these Jews who wanted to kill him.  As in many other similar circumstances, Paul could have spent his time stating his own defense or he could have pleaded for his release, but instead Paul took this opportunity to share his personal testimony.

The truth is, we will never know when the opportunity might present itself for us to present our own personal testimony.  It could happen at any time.  We might be having a simple conversation on a plane or in a restaurant when the opportunity comes for us to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ, so we must be prepared.  When we read today’s passage, we can gain a lot of insight into the best way to share our faith.  We notice that Paul started with his background.  Since he was speaking to a Jewish crowd, he spoke in Aramaic, which got their attention.  He told them about his history as a devout Jew prior to his conversion.  Had he not done this, many of the people likely would not have even given him a chance to speak, but because Paul established a common ground with his listeners they heard what he had to say.  Finding common ground with the person we are talking to is one of the best ways to begin the process of sharing our faith.

Once Paul had established his background for the listeners, he presented his own personal testimony about his encounter with Jesus and explained to them how he came to his faith in Christ.  Our personal testimony of exactly what God has done for us is often our most powerful message to others.  We can quote the Bible to people (which helps in certain situations) or we can tell what God has done for others (which can also help in certain situations), but when a person is making the decision of whether or not to follow Christ often the most powerful thing he can hear is how God changed your life.  Even if our personal story is not as dramatic as Paul’s, we can still talk about our personal encounter with Jesus.

One final note about today’s passage – regardless of what our testimony is or how well we present it, whether or not others accept it is not under our control.  Some people will hear you, while others will not.  You will notice that even after telling the Jews about his personal encounter with a resurrected Jesus, they still wanted to kill him as soon as Paul mentioned the Gentiles.  Our responsibility is to present to others the true Gospel.  Our responsibility is to share with others what God has done for us.  Our responsibility is to faithfully present the Word of God.  Everything else, including whether or not the people who hear us will accept Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior, is up to God.  When we do our part, and let God do His, we will never go wrong.

During your Bible reading today, what “key passages” stood out to you?  Leave a comment below to share what God is showing you about His Word today.

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May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you today.

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