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Showing posts from May, 2019

“Commitment”

BIBLE READING: Acts 21
When Paul finally arrives in Jerusalem, he refreshes himself with some friends and updates James on the work that he had done on his missionary journey.While with James, he encourages him to take a vow to show the rest of the Jews that he is living under the observance of the Law.After going through with this vow and the Jewish rites of purification, Paul makes his way to the Temple to worship. While there, a rumor begins to surface that Paul had took the Gentile Trophimus, into the Temple which would have defiled the Temple.The only basis for this rumor was they had previously seen him in the city with Paul and just assumed Paul had brought him with him into the Temple.This rumor escalated rather quickly, and they seize Paul and arrest him.This really didn’t come as a surprise to Paul, in fact, he had been warned several times by others about what would happen to him if he went to Jerusalem.It wasn’t that he thought he would have to suffer at the hands of the so…

“Pick Me Up if I Fall”

BIBLE READING: Acts 20
It has happened to all of us at some point in our lives, some more than others, but we all have an embarrassing story about falling asleep in church.This undesired tradition dates back to the days of the inner circle of Jesus as they waited for Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane.They were told to “watch and pray”, yet they fell prey to “snore and slobber”.God knows how difficult it is for us to stay awake when we are sleepy because He, not only created our bodies, He lived in one for a period.None of our “Snore Situations” are as embarrassing as the Ultimate Pew Snoozer, Eutychus.Here is a man who attends a service to hear Paul speak on the message of Jesus, yet for some reason is very tired.Maybe he had a long day, maybe he was up all night with a toddler, maybe he worked a double shift at the Macedonian Market?It really doesn’t matter what the reason was for his slumber, it just matters that he was extremely sleepy.As Paul continued to preach and answer question…

“Who Was Aristarchus?”

BIBLE READING: Acts 19 Aristarchus was “a Greek Macedonian of Thessalonica" (Acts 27:2).He was one of the early Christians mentioned in a few passages of the New Testament that accompanied Paul on his journey to Rome. In Acts 19, we read that Aristarchus, along with a fellow Macedonian Gaius, were caught up in a riot while with Paul in Ephesus.The Bible says that they were “dragged” into the theater and were persecuted due to their message not being very complementary to their goddess Artemis.In Colossians 4.10, Paul refers to him as a “fellow prisoner”; literally that meant a “prisoner of war”.In fact, all the followers of Jesus were at war.They were at war with the world, the Devil and the religious culture of the day.When I think of the phrase “prisoner of war”, my mind immediately goes back to those old “Missing in Action” movies starring Chuck Norris.Those movies depicted the harsh treatment that the captured American soldiers endured during and after the Vietnam War.In each …

“An Example of Correction”

BIBLE READING: Acts 18 Building off yesterday’s Home Devo from Acts 17.11. Once we develop a routine of studying the Scriptures daily to ensure that what we are hearing in our churches is in fact, from the Word of God, it is possible that we might have a situation where someone is teaching something in error; if that is the case, how are we to approach it?Again, the Bible is such a wonderful tool from God, that it gives us an example of such a situation in the very next chapter.Apollos was a Jew from Alexandria, who the Bible calls “an eloquent man”, who was “competent in the Scriptures”.As he taught, he was passionate about his message concerning Jesus and was accurate as he “boldly” preached in the synagogue.Although he had been teaching the truth about Jesus, he had only been acquainted with the baptism of John.Of those that were listening to his preaching were Pricilla and Aquila.Pricilla and Aquila were tent makers from Italy who joined Paul in his missionary journeys.When they hea…

“Searching the Scriptures”

BIBLE READING: Acts 17 How many times have you left your worship services or Bible class so intrigued by what you heard, that you went home and opened your Bible to search and see if what you heard was true?Sadly, I think the answer lies somewhere between “Not Very Often” to “Never”.We have almost trained ourselves to accept whatever is taught in our classes or in our pulpits as fact, because usually we think that the teacher is much more qualified than the person in the pew. That simply is not true!One of the most beautiful things about the Bible is that “almost anyone is capable” of understanding the Word. However, I want to stress the phrase “almost anyone is capable”.To be “capable of understanding the Scripture”, requires a few pre-requisites.First, you must have a desire to want to know and understand God.David once said “Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him! (Psalms 34:8)”. An interesting tidbit of the phrase “takes refuge in”, indi…

“People Can Change”

BIBLE READING: Acts 13-16
Have you ever watched a movie twice?I don’t mean something like “Frozen” or a “Barney” movie that you turned on to keep you children occupied.I mean, have you actually, willingly, watched a film twice? I guess we all have our favorites that we catch often like “Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back”.As a young teenager, I can fondly remember going to the local Budget Video and picking up the fourth installment of the Rocky series cleverly entitled “Rocky IV”. I had never seen any of the Rocky movies because we did not have cable and had just recently purchased a Beta VCR (which cost over $800, if I remember correctly).Rocky IV was not only the first film that made me weep for joy, it also gave me a huge adrenaline rush making me believe I could run a four-minute mile.Other than giving me those unique emotions, it was the first movie that when I finished watching it, I immediately rewound the movie and watched it again.The film had many memorable moments, but Rock…

“Faithpreneurs”

BIBLE READING: Acts 16
As someone who often speaks in public, I have been guilty of combining two words to create a new one. One time I could not decide between the words “dramatically” and “drastically”, so it came out “dramastically”.That was over 20 years ago, and my wife still remembers the time I created my own word.In doing some research on this passage, I came across another example of someone trying to take two words to create a new one.The word is “Faithpreneur”, and it was used to refer to someone who was a “faith-based entrepreneur who runs their business models with their belief in God as their primary priority.The example of someone who was a “faithpreneur” was Lydia in Acts 16.The Bible said that she supported herself by selling purple (which was really clothing dyed purple).Lydia was also a woman who was very much involved in her faith.She is said to be a woman who prayed (Acts 16.13). She was a woman who consistently went to worship (Acts 16.14).She had an open heart to…

“The Circumcision Controversy”

BIBLE READING: Acts 15
The church is facing its first real controversy in Acts 15.Now that salvation has been made available to the Gentiles, the question has been brought to the Apostles, “should the new Gentile Christians be circumcised?”.Circumcision has been a part of God’s covenant relationship with man ever since Genesis 17 and the Promise of Abraham.However, since the vision that Peter had before he went to visit Cornelius, God has now made the Gentiles clean (clean in the sense of the Law of Moses and not clean in the sense of being saved), and made salvation available to them by the blood of Jesus.To settle this dispute between the Apostles and the Jewish Christians who were of the Pharisee sect, Paul and Barnabas head to Jerusalem.The decision was made by the Apostles (who were inspired with the Holy Spirt) that since God did not reveal anything to Peter about requiring Cornelius and his family to be circumcised, neither would they require it, since God had now made them clea…

“I Get Knocked Down, But I Get Up Again”

BIBLE READING: Acts 14
Several years ago, the band Chumbawamba (Yes…that is the band’s actual name), released a song that had some very catchy lyrics.The song was entitled, “Tubthumping” (Yes…that is the song’s actual title).Now, I cannot endorse the language of the song, nor can I endorse what the song is encouraging, however, there is one phase that just keeps getting repeated over and over and over, “I get knocked down, but I get up again. You are never gonna keep me down.I get knocked down, but I get up again. You are never gonna keep me down.” Although that song has absolutely nothing to do with Paul, I can’t help but think of it when I read Acts 14.A mob of people had followed Paul and Barnabas from Antioch and Iconium to Lystra.These men and women had not liked what Paul had to say, so they wanted to do something about it.They dragged Paul outside the city and stoned him.The Bible said that they left him there “supposing him to be dead” (Acts 14.19).In my opinion, I believe Paul…

“Shaking the Dust Off Your Feet”

BIBLE READING: Acts 13
It takes courage for us share the message of Jesus with others.In the Disciples case, they faced persecution, imprisonment and even death.Even though we may not have to endure the same possible outcomes that they were faced with, we still share the worst possible outcome…rejection. It is so hard for us to understand why someone would choose to reject the greatest news that the world has ever known, yet it happens all the time.Rejection is a very difficult thing for anyone to overcome.Even though we know that it is Jesus that they are rejecting, we still feel that we are the one being rejected.Along with that personal rejection comes thoughts of failure and inadequacy.When we experience those types of emotions, it is easy to see how people are less likely to share their faith with the world.How can we overcome these dangerous emotions we might be feeling due to someone’s rejection of the Truth?We follow the example of Paul and Barnabas in our passage today.They ha…

“Prayer Works!”

BIBLE READING: Acts 12
Although it may not seem like it on the surface, a careful examination of this passage reveals to us a very interesting crossroads for the early Christians.Up until this point, the church has just exploded in size and popularity with the only casualty being Stephen.However, now it seems like the tables have turned on the disciples.Herod had begun to exercise some of his power and might in being violent towards the early Christians and had killed James with the sword.This was a huge hit to the Apostles.James was part of the inner circle with Peter and John and had been a part of the Jesus movement from the beginning.Not only was the death of James disturbing news, but that the news of his death had pleased the Jews.If that isn’t enough bad news for the early church, Peter has also been arrested and Herod had planned to have him executed after Passover.The future of the Disciples and the early church now seems to be in question.Considering these recent events, the …

“Barnabas, The Great Over-looker”

BIBLE READING: Acts 7-11
Imagine their disbelief…after all you can’t blame them.A known persecutor of believers has now been baptized for the remission of his sins and now wants to join the Apostles?Acts 10.26 tells us that when Saul attempted to join the disciples, they were afraid of him.Although God had a plan for him to join them, they had not been informed by Him just yet.Therefore, there needed to be someone who could bridge the gap between the Apostles and Saul and that is where Barnabas comes into the picture.The Disciples had been well acquainted with Barnabas ever since he was willing to sell some land and give the money to the church.They must have been very impressed with him and saw that he was sent to them by God due to his name meaning “son of Encouragement”.Who better of a choice to bridge the gap between the two groups, but how did Baranabas get so supportive of Saul?The answer to that question we may never know, but what we might be able to assume is that Barnabas had…

“Branding”

BIBLE READING: Acts 11
Coca-Cola, Google and McDonalds, it doesn’t matter who you are or where you live, you know exactly what these companies are and what they do.The reason they are so recognizable is that their very name is an exact representation of their product.The process is called “branding” and it is the marketing practice of creating a name, symbol or design that identifies and differentiates a product from other products. An effective branding strategy gives you a major edge in increasingly competitive markets. As it relates to religion, branding is still important because of all the various faiths and beliefs that are prevalent in our world.Up until this point of time in the book of Acts, the followers of Jesus were simply referred to as “the Way”.Although that is exactly what members of the body of Christ are, part of the only “way” to salvation, that just wasn’t an ideal representation of who they were.In fact, Isaiah 62.2 prophesies that one day God’s people will be call…

“The Gem of a Tanner”

BIBLE READING: Acts 10
One of the unique aspects we have of Scripture, is that we can see things in hindsight.That means that since the Bible is the complete will of God for us, in having that we can look back in hindsight and see little gems that add depth to His story.One of those little gems is found in today’s passage of Acts.In Acts 10 we are introduced to Cornelius, who by the end of the chapter will become the first non-Jew to obey the Gospel.The reason why this is such a huge deal is that according to Jewish Law Cornelius would have been considered unclean because he was an uncircumcised Gentile.However, in hindsight we can see that this story is just as much a part of Peter as it is about Cornelius.As we get into the text, we see that God sends a dream to Peter to set the stage for his introduction of Cornelius.In this dream Peter sees a huge white sheet that contains all types of unclean animal.Then a voice from heaven says, “Arise, Peter; kill and eat…what God has called cle…

“AHA Moments Part 2”

BIBLE READING: Acts 9
As we continue the idea of having an “AHA Moment”, these moments also serve a purpose of conviction.I wonder how proud Saul was of himself.Afterall, he had done everything he could to stop a movement that he felt was detrimental to his culture, religion and way of life.He had been driven by his studies in the Scriptures and his training to make sure he did all that was in his power to further their view of God.In his estimation, Jesus was a threat!His message, His death and His “supposed resurrection” were all viewed as damaging to all he had ever known.His passion and zeal were so strong that he was willing to do whatever was necessary to prevent this message of Jesus being furthered.His resume included things like approving Stephen’s execution, killing those who rebelled against the Law and arresting anyone who supported the cause of Jesus; until Acts 9.Saul was continuing his ravaging of the church and had showed no signs of stopping.In fact, as the chapter beg…

“AHA Moments”

BIBLE READING: Acts 8
We all have those “Aha Moments” in our lives.You know…that moment when you uncover a small tidbit of information that leads you to be enlightened to a concept that you had been previously unaware.Once that moment happens, your brain begins to move at light speed making connections, firing synapses, allowing you to understand things on a different level.I believe it to be possible that we can have hundreds of the moments as we look back on our lives. Every time I read Acts 8, I am reminded of a specific “Aha Moment” that happened in my life.It happened when I was a student at International Bible College, listening to Jerry Davidson teach in a Personal Evangelism class.I had always been drawn by the conversion of the Ethiopian Eunuch.The faith that he displayed in such a short amount of time of having his own “Aha Moment” from reading the book of Isaiah and how that correlated to Jesus.Yet I had never even considered Phillip’s role in the story.Phillip had been prea…

“It’s About to get REAL”

BIBLE READING: Acts 7
I’m not exactly sure what occupation Stephen had before being selected by the Apostles to help with the ministry, but he sure knew how to preach.Even after being falsely accused by people who were trying to get him to stop preaching, he is said to have the face that was like the face of an angel.As he is about to begin his wonderful presentation concerning Jesus Christ, it looks as though Stephen had the attention of the high priest in Acts 7.1.After the high priest’s question, Stephen saw an open door and began to preach the lesson that he was born to preach.Knowing that there are those that are in opposition with him, he seeks to find some common ground with his fellow Jews as he goes all the way back to Father Abraham.Abraham was held in the highest regard by all Jews, seeing as how he is the father of the Jewish faith.He spoke of the Promise that God had made Abraham and how God made a special covenant with him through the act of circumcision.He reviewed how …

“EMPOWERMENT”

BIBLE READING: Acts 2-6
As I go back and read these passages of Scriptures again, one word keeps coming to mind, empowered.These same disciples who left Jesus while He was in the garden, denied that they knew Him, or doubted His resurrection, are now empowered to do things they never thought they would do.They are boldly proclaiming Christ’s message and they are willing to risk everything to do it.Why the sudden change? Why is there a shift in their attitudes?What has given them this courage to do these things?I believe they now feel EMPOWERED to do so.Before, they always had Jesus with them, but now they have Jesus in them!Once we understand what John said in I John 4.4 “…for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.”, we will experience the same type of empowerment.Having Jesus living in us, will give us the power to step out of our comfort zone and grow!

“THERE IS SOMETHING FOR EVERYONE TO DO”

BIBLE READING: Acts 6
Have you ever neglected to do something?It isn’t that you forgot it, you knew it needed to be done, yet you failed in doing it.Why would we knowingly not do something that we knew needed to be done?There are a host of reasons, maybe we just ran out of time and couldn’t do it.It is also possible that we neglected it because it wasn’t very high on our priority list and our priority list was very long.It could also be that you just had something else that was much more important and pressing that needed to be done.In ministry, this happens a lot. Let me explain; I know that I need to change the church marque.However, day after day I neglect to do it because I have other matters that are more important.If I must choose between visiting a church member before surgery or changing the sign, the sign must wait.If I must choose between taking care of a sick child or changing the sign, the sign will have to wait.If I must choose between preaching my lesson on Sunday morning…

“Wise Counsel”

BIBLE READING: Acts 5
In Jewish Tradition, Gamaliel was considered a Pharisee doctor of the Jewish Law.He was highly esteemed, by not just the Council of the Sanhedrin, but by all Jews in general.Many young Jewish men studied the Law at the feet of Gamaliel, namely the Apostle Paul.The Scriptures do not say much about Gamaliel, but what we do find in Acts 5 is worthy of our mentioning.A few of the Apostles had again been arrested because they had continued preaching in the name of Jesus.This is the second time they had been arrested for said crime but were released under the condition that they would cease teaching in the name of Jesus.Well of course we see how that turned out, when the disciple said that “we cannot speak of what we have seen or heard” (Acts 4.20).Today’s reading describes how this time an angel of the Lord breaks them out of prison and commands them to continue with their teaching and preaching.When the Council found out that they are right back doing the very thing t…

“EVIL COMPANIONS CORRUPT GOOD MORALS”

BIBLE READING: Acts 4
As a child, I Corinthians 15.33 was drilled into my brain by my parents and Sunday School teachers.Being adults, they were fully aware of the power and influence they had in the life of a teen.They had known and experienced the reality of this passage on countless occasions.As I grew up and went into ministry, this passage served as a foundation principle of my youth ministry.Not only did I believe that this verse was true, I thought that there was much more to this passage than first perceived.If bad people could corrupt my good morals, wouldn’t it also be true that good people could enhance and support my morals.Maybe that is what has happened in Acts 4; Peter and John had been arrested for teaching concerning the resurrection of Jesus Christ.As they stood before their accusers, in the midst of the Council, we noticed that the Council pointed out a small tidbit that proves my original premise.“Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that …