Friday, September 25, 2020
“For two whole years Paul stayed there (Rome) in his own rented house and welcomed all who came to see him. He proclaimed the kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ - with all boldness and without hindrance” (Acts 28:30-31, NIV, 2011).
What a way to end a book! No closure on the end of Paul’s life. No word about his proposed trip to Spain. Just a man under house arrest, boldly preaching from his living room without any interference. It’s what scholars...
at Friday, September 25, 2020
Thursday, September 24, 2020
“‘Do you understand what you are reading?’ Philip asked. ‘How can I?,’ the Ethiopian eunuch said, ‘unless someone explains it to me?’” (Acts 8:30-31).
African Christianity is old, very old, and this text provides a clue as to why that is. After he preached to the Samaritans, an angel of the Lord sent Philip south, toward Gaza, where he met an Ethiopian official on his way home from a trip to worship in Jerusalem. This man was a eunuch, rich...
at Thursday, September 24, 2020
Wednesday, September 23, 2020
“You will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8).
“Those who had been scattered (from Jerusalem) preached the word wherever they went” (Acts 8:4).
If the first seven chapters of Acts tell us how the church preached Jesus in Jerusalem and Judea (its relative “comfort zone,” and I do mean “relative”), only in chapter 8 do we begin to see its evangelists go into Samaria and...
at Wednesday, September 23, 2020
Tuesday, September 22, 2020
“They covered their ears and, yelling at the top of their voices, all rushed at him (Stephen), dragged him out of the city and began to stone him” (Acts 7:57-58, NIV, 2011).
In over twenty years of teaching the Book of Acts to university sophomores, no one caught the imagination or attention of my students quite like Stephen, the church’s first martyr. According to one second-century Jewish tradition, people who were stoned were placed in a six-foot pit, backside facing...
at Tuesday, September 22, 2020
Sunday, September 20, 2020
“When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished” (Acts 4:13, NIV).
“Unschooled” and “ordinary,” Peter and John. Maybe so. But here they stood in front of the ruling Jewish council, pressed hard to explain just how they had been involved in the healing of a man who was disabled from birth. The language in this chapter suggests Peter and John were actually on trial, or at least...
at Sunday, September 20, 2020
Friday, September 18, 2020
“But now that there is no more place for me to work in these regions, and since I have been longing for many years to visit you, I plan to do so when I go to Spain. I hope to see you while passing through and to have you assist me on my journey there, after I have enjoyed your company for a while” (Rom 15:23-24, NIV, 2011).
For Paul, Spain was the westernmost part of the known world. No one could ever fault the man for thinking small. And while he had never been to Rome, he...
at Friday, September 18, 2020
Thursday, September 17, 2020
by Kathy Rogers
“Then Paul answered, ‘Why are you weeping and breaking my heart? I am ready not only to be bound, but also to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus’” (Acts 21:13, NIV, 2011).
When the apostle Paul heard through a prophet he would be arrested if he went to Jerusalem, his friends pleaded with him not to go. Surprisingly, Paul seemed baffled by their reaction. "What do you mean by weeping and breaking my heart? For I am ready....to...
at Thursday, September 17, 2020
Tuesday, September 15, 2020
“Ananias said, ‘Lord, I have heard many reports about this man (Saul) and all the harm he has done to your people’ … But the Lord said to Ananias, ‘Go! This man is my chosen instrument to proclaim my name to the Gentiles and their kings and to the people of Israel’” (Acts 9:13-16, NIV, 2011).
Initially, God’s call on Saul (later known as the Apostle Paul) to preach to Gentiles was hard on him because persecuting Christians was what he...
at Tuesday, September 15, 2020
Monday, September 14, 2020
by Kathy Rogers
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16, NIV, 2011).
They say John 3:16 is the most well-known verse in the Bible. But like all things overly familiar, it can lose its impact. A worship song by Darlene Zschech expresses the startling truth of this verse differently: “Jesus the Son of God, the darling of heaven crucified.” That word...
at Monday, September 14, 2020
Friday, September 11, 2020
“Brothers, if there is someone among you who has a word of encouragement for the people, speak up” (Acts 13:15).
Imagine what it might be like to preach to a crowd of strangers without being asked ahead of time. You just show up for church in a distant city, the Bible is read, and as a visitor you are asked to come up front and comment on the text! Then, when you finish, people begin to discuss amongst themselves what you had to say, and it’s all a part of their weekly...
at Friday, September 11, 2020
Thursday, September 10, 2020
“Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain” (1 Cor 15:58).
Be honest. Have there not been days of deep discouragement in recent months? Skeptics are saying people won’t come back. Cynics conclude maybe we never needed the church in the first place. But the Apostle Paul says, “Stand firm. Let nothing move you.” And...
at Thursday, September 10, 2020
Wednesday, September 9, 2020
“And so we came to Rome!” (Acts 27:14b)
The story of Acts is epic. Its author, Luke, takes us all the way from Jerusalem, capital of Judaism, to Rome, capital of the empire, with Paul as the leading evangelist. Back in those days, this would have been a massive undertaking, even for a visionary like Paul, but then again, he was no ordinary person. Raised in what is now Southeastern Turkey, he had dual citizenship, knew several languages, received extensive religious training...
at Wednesday, September 9, 2020
Tuesday, September 8, 2020
“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow …” (Psalm 23:4).
The “summer that never came” (as I have begun to think of it) will soon be coming to an end. Crowds, concerts, parks, games, vacations - all have been kept at a safe distance as we navigate this pandemic. So odd. So empty. Some days it feels as though we’re walking with David through “the valley of the shadow of death” itself. But take courage, church. David’s...
at Tuesday, September 8, 2020
Monday, September 7, 2020
“In Joppa there was a disciple named Tabitha … who was always doing good and helping the poor” (Acts 9:36, NIV, 2011).
The Book of Acts is intimidating. With all these stories about great sermons and mass conversions, miracles and last-minute escapes, riots and trials, shipwreck and imprisonment, why, you would think you’d have to be some sort of superhero to become a Christian! But Luke, the author of Acts, knows better than this, which is why he also tells us...
at Monday, September 7, 2020
Friday, September 4, 2020
“So Peter was kept in prison, but the church was earnestly praying to God for him” (Acts 12:5, NIV, 2011).
Acts 12 begins with King Herod beheading James the apostle, proceeds with the arrest of Peter, and follows with Herod posting many guards to watch him; it looks like Peter is going down too. But then the text says the church “prayed to God for him,” and, as a result, Peter was miraculously freed from his chains. The guards, in turn, were interrogated and...
at Friday, September 4, 2020
Thursday, September 3, 2020
“Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome … Cretans and Arabs - we hear them proclaiming the wonders of God in our own tongues!” (Acts 2:9-11, NIV, 2011).
Needing to find a new sound to shore up his body of work, singer/songwriter Paul Simon went to South Africa back in the 80s. As he walked the streets and learned the culture, and...
at Thursday, September 3, 2020
Wednesday, September 2, 2020
“God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all that there were no needy persons among them” (Acts 4:33-34, NIV, 2011).
The Jerusalem church took care of its own. No one fell through the cracks, at least not in its earliest days. Think for a moment about the economic impact of all those people who had become Christians. Surely, some had lost their jobs, as have many today. Others, in small family businesses, were no doubt cut off by some of their customers. Again, this...
at Wednesday, September 2, 2020
Tuesday, September 1, 2020
“How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity” (Psalm 133:1, NIV, 2011).
Thus begins one of the ancient Psalms of Ascent, a little collection of songs Israel sang as she climbed up Mt. Zion during the feast days. Imagine Jewish pilgrims from all over the Mediterranean basin ascending that holy hill in the weeks following Jesus’ crucifixion, some of them having traveled from as far away as Rome, North Africa, and even Arabia, all gathered now...
at Tuesday, September 1, 2020