Category Archives: Friday–God’s Story (1)

My Delight is the Lord, December 23

Take a Stand?

December 23, Friday: God’s Story (1)

Scripture Reading: Acts 22:30-23:35

The wisdom of Paul was on full display in his initial trial before the Sanhedrin. Following his arrest by the Romans, Claudius Lysias wanted to know what charges the Jews had against Paul. The apostle, though, realized the impossibility of a fair hearing and therefore used the diverse makeup of the Council (comprised of both Pharisees and Sadducees) to his advantage. Positioning his case as a question of the resurrection the assembly quickly descended into chaos. Paul did not win anything this day. He didn’t even attempt, in this setting, to take a stand. Maybe he saw this as a “pearls before pigs” situation (Matt. 7:6). What he did do was survive to preach and teach and defend himself another day. Not every battle is worth fighting. Not every challenge is worthy of an answer. God, please give us the wisdom to know when to take a stand.

Questions to Ponder:

  • Who called the Jewish council into meeting? (22:30)
  • Does our conscience have limitations? (23:1)
  • What were some key elements of the Sadducees theology? (23:8)
  • Who informed Paul of the plot to kill him? (23:16)

My Delight is the Lord, December 16

Corrective Scripture

December 16, Friday: God’s Story (1)

Scripture Reading: Acts 18:24-20:38

Do you ever feel the corrective power of Scripture? If not, the Bible is not doing in your life what God intends. It should teach, reprove, correct, and train (2 Tim. 3:16). Each of those is fixing what is either lacking, in error, off track, or otherwise deficient in us. If we cannot see that happening in our lives, then we’re misusing Scripture. Case in point; the account of Paul’s teaching in Ephesus summarizes his preaching in the synagogue as three months devoted to speaking “boldly, reasoning, and persuading them about the kingdom of God” (19: 8). Has the kingdom played as prominent a role as it should in my thinking, teaching, and preaching? I stand reproved.

Questions to Ponder:

  • What positive things are said about Apollos? (18:24-28)
  • Is it always best to stand up and fight? (19:9)
  • What motivated the silversmiths to oppose Paul? (19:23-27)
  • What was the town clerk’s argument? (19:40)

My Delight is the Lord, December 9

Wisdom and Prudence

December 9, Friday: God’s Story (1)

Scripture Reading: Acts 15:36-17:15

It’s a bit of a curiosity that Paul made sure Timothy was circumcised (16:3), but another young preacher, Titus, was purposefully left uncircumcised (Gal. 2:3). Paul was not just inconsistent or capricious. On the one hand Paul didn’t want an unnecessary barrier to reaching the Jews, so Timothy was circumcised. On the other hand, Paul also dealt with Jewish Christians that said Gentiles had to submit to Moses’ Law (including circumcision) in order to become Christians. Paul vehemently opposed this idea. So circumcision was something that could happen–and Paul deemed it wise in Timothy’s case to happen– but did not have to happen, though some tried to say it did. Our actions aren’t always dictated by right v. wrong, but by wisdom and prudence.

Questions to Ponder:

  • What happened to Paul and Barnabas? (15:36-41)
  • What did Paul and Silas deliver? (16:4)
  • What did the fortune-telling girl say about Paul and Silas? (16:17)
  • What was the jailer told he must do to be saved? (16:31)

My Delight is the Lord, December 2

A Son of Satan

December 2, Friday: God’s Story (1)

Scripture Reading: Acts 13-14

Paul vilified Bar-Jesus. He called him Satan’s offspring, the enemy of all righteousness, and filled with deceit and villainy (10). Wow! What awful thing had he done? He sought to turn Sergius Paulus (the proconsul who wanted to hear the word of God from Paul and Barnabas) away from the faith. Bringing people to the faith is what was made possible by Jesus’ own death. To share that message with all people is precisely what Jesus commissioned His followers to do. God’s own Spirit specifically identified Paul and Barnabas for this task (see 13:2). So, the efforts of this magician were in absolute and direct opposition to the will and purpose of God. Such action qualified him as the recipient of Paul’s scathing language. Of supreme concern, then, is my own influence, for good or ill, in regard to the faith of others.

Questions to Ponder:

  • What astonished Sergius Paulus? (13:12)
  • What was the failing of rulers in Jerusalem? (13:27)
  • How did God fulfill His promise to the fathers? (13:32-33)
  • From what does Jesus free man? (13:39)

My Delight is the Lord, November 25

Wrong Tendencies

November 25, Friday: God’s Story (1)

Scripture Reading: Acts 11:19-30

Our tendency is to do what we’ve always done. Call it habit, or a rut, or tradition, or whatever; by itself it is a powerful and problematic motivation. The persecuted Christians who left Jerusalem (see Acts 8:1) took the gospel offshore to Cyprus, to the coastal region north of Galilee (Phoenicia), and to one of the three most populace cities of the entire empire (Antioch; v. 19). These are not Jewish dominated locales as was the place they had fled. Still, “they were speaking the word to no one but Jews” (v. 19). It’s not difficult to understand why. But, the fact that this is all they had ever done was not only insufficient reason to continue in the same way, in this case it was contrary to God’s plan. Our tendencies, if we’re not careful, can put us at odds with God.

Questions to Ponder:

  • From where were the men who preached to Hellenists? (v. 20)
  • Who are Hellenists? (v. 20)
  • What did Barnabas see in Antioch? (v. 23)
  • Whom did Barnabas go find and bring to Antioch? (vv. 25-26)

My Delight is the Lord, November 18

 What An Outcome

November 18, Friday: God’s Story (1)

Scripture Reading: Acts 9:1-31

Saul of Tarsus breathed “threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord” (v. 1). He gained quite a reputation as he ravaged the church, entered house after house and dragged off men and women to prison (see 8:3). He was “evil” for the saints (v. 13). Do you suppose any prayers were offered by these Christians about the violence they faced and the fear they felt? As Luke wraps up this section of Acts, he says that the church had peace, was being built up, and multiplied (v. 31). Who could have dreamed of such an outcome? Who would have thought that God’s solution to their troubles was the conversion of their prime antagonist? The fact is, we can’t see the answer to our problems and God has shown Himself quite capable of utterly fantastic solutions. So, trusting Him is a better response than our ignorant fretting. Right?

Questions to Ponder:

  • Whom did Jesus use to tell Saul what to do? (v. 10)
  • What did Saul do for three days waiting for Ananias? (v. 11)
  • What was the focus of Saul’s preaching? (vv. 20, 22)
  • How long was it from Paul’s leaving Jerusalem till his return? (v. 26)

My Delight is the Lord, November 11

Insufficient Evidence

November 11, Friday: God’s Story (1)

Scripture Reading: Acts 6:8-8:3

Stephen’s story is inspiring. It is also enlightening and sad. It demonstrates how well-meaning, religious people, in their fervor to serve God can end up opposing Him and His servants. These “Freedmen” (6:9) believed certain things about Moses, the law, and the temple and they saw what Stephen said about Jesus and His teaching as being in opposition to that. But what Stephen said was truth. Had these men been challenged to give their reasons for believing as they did, do you not think they could have provided what they deemed sufficient evidence? And on the basis of that, they killed Stephen. Having “evidence” to back what we believe is not itself sufficient. To so love the truth that honest examination and re-examination follow is what suffices. That’s what distinguishes the Bereans (Acts 17:11) from these Freedmen.

Questions to Ponder:

  • What about Stephen could not be withstood? (6:10)
  • What was Stephen’s appearance like before the council? (6:15)
  • Of what did Stephen accuse these leaders? (7:51)
  • What were Stephen’s final words? (7:60)

My Delight is the Lord, November 4

Hostile Environment

November 4, Friday: God’s Story (1)

Scripture Reading: Acts 5:17-42

The American culture has historically been supportive, or at least tolerant, of the work of the church. In light of a changing climate regarding faith in this nation, it is helpful to see God’s people at work in an openly hostile environment. Such was the case of the early church in Jerusalem. Notable in their experience is the lack of fear, the absence of pursuing “legal” protection, boldness to keep preaching, all accompanied by prayer and praise. In the midst of it all, the church didn’t just survive, it flourished. Interesting isn’t it? It flourished in a negative environment and is now floundering in a positive (or at least tolerant) one. It makes one wonder what kind of environment God thinks His church needs today and moving forward.

Questions to Ponder:

  • What motivated the arrest of the apostles? (vv. 17-18)
  • How is the apostles’ message characterized? (v. 20)
  • Why didn’t the officers take the apostles by force? (v. 26)
  • What was Peter’s response to the accusation of disobedience? (v. 29)

My Delight is the Lord, October 28

By What Power?

October 28, Friday: God’s Story (1)

Scripture Reading: Acts 4

Peter makes a critical connection for us. Having been asked by the religious authorities following the healing of a man 40-years-old and lame since birth, “By what power or by what name did you do this?”, he said it was by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth (vv. 7, 10). He then proceeded to say, for there is salvation in no one else, “for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (v. 12). The power/name that heals the lame is the same power/name that saves the lost. The power that can do the former can certainly do the latter. And so, indeed, this is this name upon which we call to be saved (Acts 2:21). And this miracle (among others) proves it.

Questions to Ponder:

  • What annoyed the Sadducees? (v. 2)
  • What did the rulers perceive about Peter and John? (v. 13)
  • What did the rulers confess about what had happened? (v. 16)
  • For what did the apostles pray in response to being threatened? (v. 29)

My Delight is the Lord, October 21

Call on God’s Name

October 21, Friday: God’s Story (1)

Scripture Reading: Acts 2

Peter’s famous sermon on Pentecost contained much familiar language. He quoted freely from Joel and various Psalms. One phrase in particular is quite noteworthy. At the end of the Joel quotation, he cited, “And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” (v. 21). That’s one of those staple statements of Scripture repeated numerous times in both Testaments; we must call on the name of the Lord (see Gen. 5:26; 12:8; 26:25; 1 Kings 18:24; Joel 2:32; Rom. 10:13; 1 Cor. 1:2). We dare not miss its meaning. Just as Peter clarified the multitude’s misunderstanding about what was happening that day (some thought the apostles drunk, v. 13) by explaining it was what Joel had prophesied, so too we get clarification about calling on the name of the Lord. When the crowd later asked what they should do (v. 37), Peter told them what calling on the name of the Lord looked like under this newly initiated covenant; “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins” (v. 38).

Questions to Ponder:

  • To what was the miraculous phenomenon audibly and visibly likened? (vv. 2-3)
  • Was the miracle that the people could hear in their language? (v. 4)
  • What nations were represented that day in Jerusalem? (vv. 9-11)
  • Are David’s writings to be understood exclusively as songs/poetry (Psalms)? (v. 30)