Through the Bible, September 7

Reading: No scheduled reading

Thoughts and Reflections: Today is the regularly scheduled “Catch Up” day for the first week of September.  If needed use it to go back and cover some readings where you may have fallen behind—it happens.  Otherwise, below are some thoughts for your consideration for today from this week’s readings.

  1. We have already noted how the beginnings of the Gospel of Luke and the book of Acts correspond. It is also noteworthy how the end of Luke and the beginning of Acts dovetail.  Luke is the only one of the Gospels to reference Jesus’ ascension.

Incidentally, though Paul wrote the most books of the New Testament—either 13 or 14 depending on your view of the authorship of Hebrews—Luke wrote the most words as Luke and Acts are longer than all of Paul’s letters combined.

  1. It is a point of great curiosity that Stephen was a man of such great ability and effectiveness in preaching the gospel and reasoning against those who opposed the church and its message, yet God allowed this great man to die at the hands of his opponents. The human viewpoint of this turn of events yields no reasonable understanding; nor does it have to.
  2. A point of emphasis in these early chapters of Acts is God’s intention that men play a critical role in the spread of the gospel for the salvation of man. Though God’s hand was obviously at work on Pentecost it was to the message preached by men to which the 3,000 responded.  God saw to it that a man, Philip, was brought into contact with the sincere and searching Ethiopian to whom he preached Jesus.  Likewise, though an angel appeared to Cornelius, his instructions were for him to send for a man, Peter, who would deliver to him the message he so needed to hear.

Devotional Thought:

God Has Plans for You; Are You Ready?

Bible readers love Jeremiah 29:11. “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”  One survey found it to be the second most popular of all Scriptures, following only John 3:16.

We like the idea of God having plans for us, don’t we?  Failure seems virtually impossible.  With God on our side, what could possibly go wrong?

Think about the early church of which we read in Acts.  Jesus had a plan for them.  It would start in Jerusalem and spread “in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8).  We might anticipate that all to play out without a hitch, and we’d be wrong.

It’s beginning is very dramatic and impressive on Pentecost (Acts 2).  It’s not very long at all before opposition rises.  Arrests and threats become a part of their lives.  Not only that but from within their swelling—or should we say exploding—numbers troubles stir.  Accusations of unfair treatment surface, pride, and selfish ambition incur God’s lethal wrath.  A great champion of the cause is silenced under the blows of stones cast in rage. And that taste of blood inflamed the opponents to forceful and violent widespread persecution.

As the brave saints fled their homes they went everywhere preaching the word.  They went throughout Judea and into Samaria.  The gospel crossed formidable ethnic boundaries spreading to the Gentile world.  Then the former-persecutor-turned-disciple begins to venture out with the message of salvation into the Mediterranean world

Jesus’ plan was working, just like He said.  We would expect nothing different.

What about His plans for me?  They will work too.  Maybe not like I had thought.  Maybe not like I would choose, but they will work.  Obstacles, pitfalls, weaknesses, and severe opposition may all be a part of the scenario, but still, God’s plan will work.

Are you ready for God’s plans for you?

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