Tag Archives: Paul

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 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 20

Not Limited

December 20, Tuesday: Following God’s Way

Scripture Reading: 2 Timothy 2:1-13

Several of the New Testament books penned by Paul were written as he was incarcerated. His movements were restricted, he was physically confined, his opportunities to preach were seriously curtailed. Though this was all true, he exclaimed, “But the word of God is not bound!” (v. 9). The message of God’s salvation is not restricted by human limitations. Though Paul played a key and leading role in the gospel’s spread, he was hardly the only one who preached. Though his talents and personal traits contributed greatly to the word’s relentless spread, it’s power was not in this–or any other–man. God’s purpose is for man to participate directly in the gospel’s dissemination (Matt. 28:19-20). But neither it, nor He, is limited by us.

Questions to Ponder:

  • What was Timothy to do with what he heard? (v. 2)
  • What three metaphors does Paul use here for Christian service? (vv. 4-6)
  • How is Jesus identified in v. 8?
  • What is Paul’s warning in v. 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 13

Effective Prayer

December 13, Tuesday: Following God’s Way

Scripture Reading: 1 Timothy 2:1-15

What are the ingredients for an effective prayer life? The answer to that question is not simple, and this is not an effort at a comprehensive answer. But Paul’s encouragement for men in every place to pray (v. 8) is more than just his way of saying “do it!” He also identifies some of the necessary ingredients for good praying. For one, he says that holy hands are to be lifted in prayer. The emphasis here is not on posture, but on sanctification. He’s talking primarily about prayer as an outgrowth of holy living. Another is the absence of anger and quarreling. It’s entirely possible that my own attitude about other people is the biggest obstacle to better prayers and praying. So, if I’m genuinely concerned to improve my praying, I should give attention to, among other things, a holy life and loosing the anger and quarreling.

Questions to Ponder:

  • For what should we pray in regards to ruling authorities? (v. 2)
  • How our living “a quiet life…” in v. 2 relate to God’s desire in v. 4?
  • How is Jesus qualified to be “mediator”? (vv. 5-6)
  • What is the basis of the male/female arrangement in the church? (vv. 11-14)

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 6

Spiritual DNA

December 6, Tuesday: Following God’s Way

Scripture Reading: 2 Timothy 1:3-14

Everything you are as a human being is derived from your biological parents’ DNA; the color of your hair, your height, body type, shape of your nose, etc. It’s true that every individual is unique, but at the same time, there’s nothing original (biologically speaking) about you. It also happens that God would have our spiritual DNA to follow the same path. Timothy’s faith didn’t originate with him, it started with his mother and grandmother. Ideally, God would have faith to pass from generation to generation (Eph. 6:4). While the transfer of biological DNA happens without our conscious thought, spiritual DNA does not and can not. Though it doesn’t always happen this way, God wants parents to influence faith in their children just as surely as they do eye color. 

Questions to Ponder:

  • What did Timothy need to do with the gift of God in him? (v. 6)
  • What is the nature of the spirit given us by God? (v. 7)
  • Because of what did God save us? (v. 9)
  • What is meant by “sound” words? (v. 13)