Tag Archives: Acts

Through the Bible, May 31

Reading: Luke 4:16-30; Acts 8:26-40; Hebrews 8:1-13

Summary: Today’s readings are three prominent examples of how Jesus and the New Testament writers viewed and applied prophecies of the coming Messiah and the new covenant He would initiate.  Note, in the example from Luke in particular, how preconceived ideas prevented people from grasping the truth of the prophet’s message and its fulfillment.

Devotional Thought:

It’s Easy to Reject Jesus

How hard is it to accept (receive, believe…insert your word of choice here) Jesus?  Had it ought not to be easy?  His coming into the world was by the work and will of God.  There’s nothing too difficult for Him.  His intention is for all men to be saved (and thus the need for Jesus being accepted).  The capacity to do acts and deeds far beyond human capacity (miracles) was at His disposal.   His arrival on earth, among men, was not a surprise as it had been foretold in such a way that people were in expectation of his appearance.

Everything appears to be in place for people to fully embrace Jesus as the Son of God.

But, they did not.

Perhaps the most startling rejection came in His own hometown, Nazareth.  What began as a warm welcome quickly digressed to attempted murder averted only by a divine act—at least that’s how I understand “passing through their midst, he went away” (Luke 4:30).

The fact is, Jesus did not fit their preconceived notions of what the Messiah should be, He didn’t do for them the miracles they’d heard about, He dared speak the truth of God’s word that contradicted their cherished traditions.  To them, He failed utterly.

We may hold dear to many ideas, notions, and beliefs that actually contradict reality, truth, God’s word, and His Son.

It’s easy to do.

It’s easy to reject Jesus.

My Delight is the Lord, December 31

Listen More

December 31, Saturday: God’s Story (2)

Scripture Reading: Acts 27:1-28:31

The centurion cannot be accused of not hearing different viewpoints when he had to decide if the ship would winter in Fair Havens. He heard the thinking of Paul, the pilot, the ship’s owner, and apparently others on board. He “paid more attention” to those who thought they should go ahead and set sail, than to what Paul said (27:10-11). Several voices were heard; that of experience (the pilot of the ship), that of vested interest (the ship’s owner), the majority, and an imprisoned preacher (Paul). On the surface it seems some of these opinions should carry more weight than others. But only one was correct and that was Paul’s. This is such a critical lesson, we must be very careful about whom we listen to more than others.

Questions to Ponder:

  • Was Paul’s advice inspired? (27:9-10)
  • What made them think they had made the right decision? (27:13)
  • Who spoke to Paul in the night? (27:23)
  • Did all the shipwreck’s victims make it safely in the same way? (27:43-44)

My Delight is the Lord, December 30

Principled Lives

December 30, Friday: God’s Story (1)

Scripture Reading: Acts 25:13-26:32

The Romans were a principled people when it came to their judiciary. As Festus explained, “it was not the custom of the Romans to give up anyone before the accused met the accusers face to face and had opportunity to make his defense concerning the charge laid against him” (Acts 25:16). Had such noble principles of justice governed Paul’s trial, it would have turned out quite differently. The problem is that those principles must be exercised by people and sometimes people are less than noble; Festus and Felix for instance. So it is also with God’s word, it is true and right. The trouble comes when people fail to embrace what is true or practice what is right. As serious as we should be about identifying timeless principles and eternal truths, we must be no less so about living them.

Questions to Ponder:

  • How did Festus summarize Paul’s charges to Agrippa? (25:19)
  • Why do you think Paul resisted a change of venue back to Jerusalem? (25:20-21)
  • Of whom was Paul’s audience comprised? (25:23)
  • Why did Paul believe Agrippa was aware of what he said? (v. 26)

My Delight is the Lord, December 28

Transitions

December 28, Wednesday: Knowing God’s Son

Scripture Reading: Acts 1:1-11

What started at Bethlehem ended on Mount Olivet. Jesus entered the world in the presence of Mary and Joseph and left it in the viewing of 11 apostles. The Son of God taking on flesh and living among men marked a planned-for and necessary transition in God’s eternal plan. Jesus’ ascension was no less a transition. From this time on His followers’ existence would be lived in light of what He had accomplished and so should be dominated by two realities; one, communicating His message “to the end of the earth” (v. 8), and the other, to anticipate the next great transition–His return (v. 11)! As critical as it is to know and understand the Savior and His message, so also is it to be busy fulfilling the Master’s will in the time in which we live.

Questions to Ponder:

  • What did Jesus talk about between His resurrection and ascension? (v. 3)
  • What was the “promise of the Father”? (vv. 4-5)
  • About what were the disciples concerned? (v. 6)
  • What is associated with the Holy Spirit’s coming? (v. 8)

My Delight is the Lord, December 24

The Way

December 24, Saturday: God’s Story (2)

Scripture Reading: Acts 24:1-25:12

Paul’s accusers referred to followers of Jesus as “the sect of the Nazarenes” (24:5). On the other hand, Paul called that which he believed (along with those who believed the same) as “the Way” (24:14). It’s no wonder that enemies of the faith used terms like “sect,” which implies divisiveness, and “Nazarene,” a town of less than honorable reputation (see Jn. 1:46), to describe Paul and his ilk. Of more interest is Paul’s terminology. While “Christianity” dominates modern vocabulary, Paul uses the very expressive, “the Way.” It’s not a segmented portion of the larger body of Jews identified by their adherence to Jesus (such as “sect” suggests). Rather, this is everything that God has worked toward and for through the long history of his involvement with Abraham’s heirs. It’s that to which the Law and prophets all pointed. It truly is the Way.

Questions to Ponder:

  • What accusations were made against Paul? (24:5-6)
  • Of what was Paul always very careful? (24:16)
  • What interesting insight do we get about Felix in 24:22?
  • What was the real reason Felix kept Paul in custody? (24:26)

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 17

Acting on Advice

December 17, Saturday: God’s Story (2)

Scripture Reading: Acts 21:1-22:29

Paul’s return to Jerusalem was filled with the advice from friends, loved ones, and respected leaders. Concerned brethren strongly recommended he not even go there (21:12). The Jerusalem elders counseled that he take a course of action intended to appease unhappy Jewish Christians (21:20–24). What the first group feared (Paul’s apprehension) actually ended up saving his life and what the elders feared happened despite their strategic plan. At times we have to act based on our best judgment–which may not be right. The fact is, where God has spoken, we really don’t have a choice, but He does not address every possible eventuality. We sometimes have judgment to exercise and a decision to make. Nothing says, and God sure doesn’t promise, that this will always work out as we prefer. But, no matter what does happen, we should still have our trust in Him.

Questions to Ponder:

  • Whom did Paul seek out when his ship landed at Tyre? (21:4)
  • For what was Paul prepared in Jerusalem? (21:13)
  • Of what was Paul accused? (21:21)
  • Up to what point did the mob listen to Paul? (22:21-22)

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 10

Where to Begin?

December 10, Saturday: God’s Story (2)

Scripture Reading: Acts 17:16-18:23

The Bible certainly affirms what Greek poets said, that all of humanity is the family, or “offspring,” of God (17:28-29). What is to be drawn from or understood by that point is where a great difference of thought emerges. Paul does not entertain the notion that this is a concluding point in man’s relationship with God. That is, being in the family of man does not mean that a person is in good standing with God. The apostle says that this reality ought to compel men to “seek God” and “feel their way toward him and find him”  because “In him we live and move and have our being” (17:27-28). Paul does not start with Scripture in talking to the Athenians, instead it’s the created order and arrangement made by God. This is another example of working with people starting where they are.

Questions to Ponder:

  • What provoked Paul’s spirit? (17:16)
  • How did some perceive the subject of Paul’s preaching? (17:18)
  • What prompted some people to mock? (17:32)
  • What message did Paul testify to the Jews? (18:5)

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)