Saturday, October 27: Acts 25 - Following the lead of God.

Anyone who has walked with the Lord for any length of time has experienced times when you are confused about life’s circumstances and the hand of God in all that is going on.

I may be projecting from my own life, but I suspect that Paul must have wondered what the Lord was up to as his life unraveled.

He has already spent more than 2 years in prison and now the new proconsul, Festus, wants to send him back to Jerusalem to face charges. I mean, what is going on??!!! Paul exercises his Roman citizen right and appeals to Caesar!

I can hear (maybe because I would be saying it) Paul crying to God, “Where are You, God? What’s going on? Will justice never prevail? What’s up?? I’ve been faithful…”

I have been in situations where I wondered, ‘What are you doing, Lord?’ Life situations and jobs that don’t turn out as hoped, expected or anticipated. Health situations that come out of the blue… you name it.

Reading about Paul brought all this up in my thoughts. Paul remains faithful and steadfast in his trust of the Lord while maintaining his integrity.

I can sink my teeth into this and learn from Paul.

God is in control. Although the circumstances don’t seem to be play out as I want/hope/expect, that does not mean that God has been thwarted. It could just be that God’s ways are different (see Is 55:9) than my ways and that God has a different end in mind that I have.

In those moments, faith-filled submission to God, is the called-for response of my life…

Oh Lord, help me to be faithful, no matter where You lead or what You ask of me… no matter what gives me the strength to be faithful to You! Amen.


Friday, October 26: Acts 24 - Patience & Integrity.

Watching Paul and listening to his life and words through Luke’s retelling two personal characteristics pulsed through the account.

Patience: two years Paul has been locked up in Caesarea (27). Two years with no movement in his case. Two years for a trumped up crime. Two years, not counting the time in prison in Jerusalem. Two years!

Two years Paul waited and wondered about his fate. Two years Paul spoke on his own behalf. Two years kept off the preaching circuit. Two years!

And for those two years and counting Paul remains faithful, doing what he can do in his defense and for God’s cause, spreading the name of Jesus.

I am not a good wait-er. Patience is not my middle name. I hear the wings of God’s messengers as I meditate on this thought… “Sometimes God’s will is for us to wait… stay patient. Stay focused on the Father’s will. Trust God.”

Number 2, Luke slides into verse 26 that Felix was waiting for a bribe, which Paul would not give. I heard the word, integrity. Paul chose to uphold personal honor and integrity rather than resort to bribery. Luke chose to mention this.

If we want to represent God and His truth, we should live according to God’s Word and Truth… My second nugget for the day.

Lord, You have spoken to me through Your Word. Will I listen? Lord, help me to listen and learn. Amen.


Thursday, October 25 Acts 23 - What are you willing to sacrifice?.

After I read this chapter, I sat back asking God, “What nugget do You have for me today?”

The chapter didn’t have any immediately discernable spiritual truth for me on first reading.

I scanned the pages again hoping a particular verse would pop out.  I looked at the section headings and reviewed the content. I gave some thought to Jesus’ Words of verse 11, which are in red on my page…

I wondered my nugget question again in my head.

Then my title question began to form, “What, Bill, are you willing to sacrifice for Me?”

Paul sat in prison falsely accused and God says that he would go to Rome in chains. I sit in my kitchen with plenty of life’s necessities.

Would I be willing to sacrifice all my comforts and pleasures for the sake of the Gospel and my Savior Jesus? Would I?

Taken seriously, this is no easy question…

What would I sacrifice for Jesus?... What would you be willing to sacrifice for Jesus?

Think about that for a while…

Oh God, help me not run from this question. Amen.


Wednesday, October 24: Acts 22 - The Power of a testimony.

The power of a testimony… in less than 400 words, maybe 3 minutes in conversation time… Paul gave the story of his conversion.

Bill Hybels of Willow Creek Community Church, a pastor with gifts of teaching and evangelism, encourages his church members to be able to tell their testimony in 100 words or less (check out, Just Walk Across the Room). Hybels, too, understood the power of a testimony.

Not everyone will buy into your testimony but they will hear it. A clearly stated testimony is one of the most powerful tools in sharing the Gospel.

Can you state your testimony concisely and at a moment’s notice, if the opportunity presents itself?

I encourage you to work on the telling of your testimony in 100-400 words, 1-3 minutes… Think about it.

Lord, I pray for an opportunity to share my testimony with people this week. I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.



Tuesday, October 23: Acts 21 - Connections in Christ.

I found myself musing and marveling about Paul’s trip to Rome. In particular, how at every stop of the journey –and there were many by modern standards- Paul was met by and housed by believers. Was it Paul’s affable personality that gave him friends all across the Mediterranean? Was it that he was a famous Christian leader and his reputation preceded him? Was it the nature of people back in the first century to care for travelers? Was it the nature of the church back in the day to care for brother/sister travelers?

I don’t know the answer. Probably a bit of each and possibly other factors I didn’t think about.

Still it paints a picture of the first century Christian world that is quite different than ours. It also bring to mind the numerous admonitions to care for one another and the line in Hebrews 13:2 about caring for strangers because we might be entertaining angels.  Also, there were Paul’s comments in his letters about associates traveling and how the church should help them on their way.

As all this tumbles about in my thoughts, I am not sure what to make of it. And yet the picture of life that our reading paints is one of interconnection and help, which is quite different from the independent lives we live today.

How important relationships and connections were… are!!! Ah, another thought to ponder.

Lord, thank You, for the body and the church. Too often I think building or worship when I think of the world church. The lives of early believers and Your Word (1Corinthians 12, Romans 12) paint a much more vital interconnection being the church than I tend to experience. Lord, what should I do about this?

Lord, how can it better value Your church… my brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ? Amen.



Monday, October 22: Acts 20 - The whole truth.

Speaking his farewell to Ephesian elders, Paul says, I have not hesitated to proclaim to you the whole will of God. Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock …. I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock. … So be on your guard! … "Now I commit you to God and to the word of his grace, which can build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified (27-32).

Savage wolves, false teachers, distortions, wrong teachings, all these will infiltrate the church, warned Paul. They did in Paul’s day and they continue to do so today. The best defense in Paul’s day continues to be our best defense… knowing the whole will of God.

Reading the whole of Scripture, studying, learning and building one’s life on the whole of Scripture is our best defense. Old Testament and New, Gospels and Letters; letting each part and the sum of all parts lead and guide, teach and instruct. This has always been the best defense for God’s people.

Thank you for reading the Bible daily with me. Not because my thoughts are important, but because together we are reading God’s Word, the whole of God’s Word- Old Testament and New, Gospels and Letters -listening to what God has said and listening as God continues to speak to each of us today. I pray this will be your lifetime endeavor to read, re-read and re-re-read God’s entire Word until Jesus comes again or He calls to take you home.

Lord, fill us with Your Word, that we might grow to know You more and more each and every day of our life. I pray this for me, for my family and for all my brothers and sisters in Your church. In Jesus’ name. Amen.



Saturday, October 20: Acts 19 - Normalized faith.

After two-thousand years of the Christian faith, the church and the world with the church have normalized. The church has hammered out through Scripture study and the voice of the Holy Spirit the basic truths of the faith. Though differences remain, the core teachings of Christianity are set and normalized. The world, too, has adjusted to the presence of the Christian faith. In fact Christianity is now one of the dominant religions of the world, if not the dominant world religion. As such, Christianity is known throughout the world and believers are present in most regions.

How different life was in the early first century AD. Through apostles and evangelists, the Word of Jesus was only beginning to spread through what would now be called the Middle East and Europe. And the basics of the faith were far from catechized.

As we can observe with the account of Ephesus, people with half-knowledge were sharing this new faith as they traveled about. On the one hand, this was good because the faith was growing but on the other caricatures of the faith, which needed correcting, were also popping up.

All this was disrupting the stability of the world religiously. Jesus’ Faith was growing and displacing other forms of worship.

While the normalcy of central truths is a wonderful gift we, in the 21st century enjoyed, thanks to the labors of Christ-followers who have gone before us, I fear as I read this chapter and others in Acts, that we have lost some of the vibrancy, life transformation and expectancy that the Holy Spirit would show up in dramatic and tangible ways of these first believers in Jesus.

Oh, that we would regain the vibrancy, life transformation and expectancy without sacrificing the core beliefs hammered out over the centuries…

Lord Jesus, Holy Spirit, Father Above, I dare to pray for vibrancy in my faith and in the Church’s faith. Lord, I dare to pray life transformation in me and in all my brothers and sisters of the faith no matter the ‘brand.’ Oh, God,

 I pray for expectancy, that believing inside each and every follower of Jesus that You, God, will show up and show Your power in ways that draws women and men to You! May it be so, Oh God, may this be so!

And, Lord, I pray for the courage to bear persecution and trouble and heartache in our lives if that is necessary to see the prayer above realized. Through Jesus, I pray. Amen. 



Friday, October 19: Acts 18 - Fertile Fields.

It seems that Paul understood that he had limited time and limited resources so he concentrated on the places and relationships that yielded the most fruit for God’s kingdom. While in Corinth, a city he spent many months in, Paul focused on the people who were receptive to God’s message. In this city he left the synagogue and went to a town official’s house to preach.

 Check out verses 5-7 When Silas and Timothy came from Macedonia, Paul devoted himself exclusively to preaching, testifying to the Jews that Jesus was the Christ. But when the Jews opposed Paul and became abusive, he shook out his clothes in protest and said to them, "Your blood be on your own heads! I am clear of my responsibility. From now on I will go to the Gentiles." Then Paul left the synagogue and went next door to the house of Titius Justus, a worshiper of God.

I am wondering what this might say to me:

·         Spend time where the soil is fertile… Maybe.

·         When God provides a harvest keep working that field… Maybe.

·         Don’t waste time on hostile folk... Possibly.

For the time being I am going to keep chewing on this and praying for fertile fields in which to sow the Word of God.

Lord, I pray for harvest, for people coming to faith through my witness… In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.


Thursday, October 18: Acts 17 - The art of connection.

Watching Paul, the master of connecting with people, finding practical ways to make the message of God sensible to varied people with whom he spoke. I saw this playing out as Luke describes Paul’s time in Athens. Given an opportunity to state his case for the Lord, Paul connects with the Athenians by mentioning pieces of their own life and culture.

For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: TO AN UNKNOWN GOD. Now what you worship as something unknown I am going to proclaim to you (23). Brilliant, using an altar in their own city as a connection to speak to them about a God they do not know.

'For in him we live and move and have our being.' As some of your own poets have said, 'We are his offspring.' "Therefore since we are God's offspring, we should not think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone--an image made by man's design and skill (28-29). Then a few minutes later he connects again using a well known saying from the city to point to the Lord.

To do this, I thought, Paul has to pay attention to the city and culture he is in. He has to listen and immerse himself in the life of the people he is attempting to reach with the gospel of Jesus. What Paul apparently did so naturally, I (we) must learn to do if I (we), too, want opportunities to  share the Lord with the people we meet.

I found myself thinking, how can I become a better connector with people? What events, cultural trends, poetry can I use to build bridges between where people live and God?

Such is the stirrings of the Holy Spirit in me this morning…

Spirit, help me to be interested enough in people that I look for connections I can use to speak about You and eternal things. May the words of my mouth and the thoughts of my mind be pleasing to you, Oh Lord, my Rock and Redeemer. Amen.


Wednesday, October 17: Acts 16 - Fully devoted follower of Jesus Christ.

The descriptive phrase, ‘fully devoted follower of Jesus Christ’ was brought into the churches lexicon by Willow Creek Community Church, a successful mega-church outside of Chicago. It is a great phrase, describing someone who will follow Jesus with heart and soul and mind and strength.

As I read this chapter, my modern 21st century sense of being ‘fully devoted’ was sorely challenged. Now Paul was fully devoted. I grant you that he had a particular call to be an apostle, a missionary, and a church planter.  Few of us will have a similar call. What grabbed me, however, was not the particulars of his call, but the fervor and all-in nature of the way he executed his call.

I returned to the chapter and reviewed the headings. Paul was always on the go, giving his call his all… Derbe, Lystra, Phrygia, Galatia… his travels were extensive. He was training Silas and Timothy, always preparing the next generation of missionaries and church leaders. Then I re-read about his time in Philippi. Paul endured hardships I cannot imagine and kept going with a resolve and God-honoring attitude that I find hard to fathom. Jailed inappropriately and without due process, beaten mercilessly, Paul is found in his jail cell praying and singing hymns (25). When a God-opportunity arises, bloodied and beaten Paul talks to his jailer about salvation in Jesus! And upon his release the next morning, still bloodied and bruised, Paul chooses to stop at Lydia’s and encourage the church before he leaves town (40).

Like I said, Paul gave his call his all. Here is a ‘fully devoted follower of Jesus Christ!’

And the Spirit asked me a simple question, “Bill, will you give your call your all?”

How about you?

Lord, the words ‘fully devoted follower of Jesus Christ’ take on a new vividness for me. I am a wee bit scared to pray this, Lord, because I see in Paul what it can mean. Yet I pray, nonetheless, and only with the aide of the Holy Spirit, “Help me, Lord, to be a fully devoted follower of You.” Through Jesus, My Savior, I pray. Amen.


Tuesday, October 16: Acts 15 - Trouble in the house.

The phrase I used for today’s title kept tumbling in my thoughts from the moment I opened and saw the chapter, until I finished reading the chapter.

Trouble in the house…

It is tempting to idolize the early church, to think of it as some perfect band of committed ‘Jesus Followers’ who performed miracles everywhere they went, who once they turned on to Jesus got it all right, and who were totally committed and never stumbled, erred or sinned.

One blessing of this chapter is that it should dispel these myths. The first believers were every bit as human and broken as we are. They had to rely on the Holy Spirit as much as we do and sometimes they got things wrong, just like we do.

Theology was anything but monolithic. People had differing thoughts and understandings and as a result, they said wrong and hurtful things to one another. But what they did do well was talk it though, wrestle with Scripture and then follow what Scripture and the Spirit told them.

Re-read the opening section… through much discussion (7) and agreement with the testimony of scripture (15) they came to their understanding and then put to rest that which was outside the bounds of scriptural teaching. 

Even noted individuals –pillars of the faith like Paul and Barnabas- had issues (36-41). Though the chapter leaves us with the two of them parting ways (with two missionary efforts as a result), it is important to understand that all parties, Paul, Barnabas and Mark, patch up their differences and work together sometime before the NT closes.

We are human, I thought, personal and theological problems will come.  How we handle them is the sign of the Spirit working with in us, I also thought.

The problem part comes naturally… the healing part only with the Spirit’s help…

Lord, help me to repair any problems my humanity has caused. Help me, Jesus, Help me, Spirit. Help me, Father… for Your glory,  I pray, Amen.


Monday, October 15: Acts 14 - That's dedication.

I was taken aback when I read verse 21: Then they returned to Lystra, Iconium and Antioch, strengthening the disciples and encouraging them to remain true to the faith. "We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God," they said (21-22). Paul and his team returned to Lystra! I was shocked. Paul had recently been stoned in that city and left for dead (19) and here he is going back to the city in order to strengthen the disciples! That’s dedication!

I found myself severely questioning my dedication.  Would I do what Paul just did?

Honestly, I don’t think I can answer ‘yes’. I don’t think I would go back to a city to encourage others having just been stoned and left for dead. I don’t think I would go back to that city for any reason!

Reading what Paul went through makes his comment in verse 22 all the more powerful and confronting, "We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God."

This will take some more chewing…

What do you think about this? Email me and let me know your thoughts. (

Lord, help me to chew and digest this portion of Your Word… Amen.


Saturday, October 13: Acts 13 - The centrality of Jesus.


This chapter records a first for the church, the first time the church sent its people out to new places to spread the message and way of Jesus.

Obedient to the direction of the Holy Spirit, Barnabas and Paul set out from city to city preaching the story and teachings of Jesus. Luke, who is recounting the adventures of Barnabas and Paul, provides rich detail about their method and preaching content when he captures the duo’s time in Pisidian Antioch. Paul, the main speaker of the pair, is given an opportunity to teach on the Sabbath in the synagogue. Paul gives a brief history of the Jews, all the while leading to Jesus and His atoning death. Paul’s conclusion spoke volumes to me: Therefore, my brothers, I want you to know that through Jesus the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you. Through him everyone who believes is justified from everything you could not be justified from by the law of Moses (38-39).

The heart of the Gospel is Jesus and what He did for us when He died on the cross… forgiveness and justification for all who believe in Him!

A deep sense of thankfulness and appreciation for Jesus and all He has done and continues to do for me swept over me. I sat in the stillness thanking God for Jesus.

The centrality of Jesus and His atoning death was the key place all Paul’s preaching led to. I found myself saddened, even angry, by many in the modern church who seek to minimize Jesus’ atoning death and resurrection. No! I want to shout to them, Jesus’ death is the key gift that gains us forgiveness and justification… Jesus’ death is the gift that reconnects us with God the Father!

Have you put your faith and trust in Jesus?...

Oh God, may I never stray from Jesus… His gospel message and the forgiveness found in His death and resurrection! Amen.



Friday, October 12: Acts 12 - Do you believe in miracles?.

What a fun story and I believe every word of it. I don’t presume to understand why God leads Peter to safety and allows James to die by the sword. God apparently has His reasons and the saving of one person does not require God to save another in a similar situation. God, after all, is God and one thing I know is that I am not.

Back to Peter’s miraculous escape… I love all the details. The ‘get up and put your clothes on’ kind of details. For me it is not only a great miracle, it is full of those little details that only Peter could fill in.

Some people I am sure wonder about this story. Is it real? Does God really do these kinds of things? Ultimately the way one answers this question is a faith answer. You either believe in miracles or you do not. I do…

I sat one day listening to a Nigerian tell me about his miraculous escape from prison. The story has all the flavor of Peter’s account. This man, a highly educated fellow, was imprisoned because he converted to Christianity from Islam. Execution was his next day-appointment, until a young girl showed up in the middle of the night and lead him out through locked doors and past guards and out into the woods. When the path divided she pointed in one direction and said, ‘Run’. As he began running, he looked back and she was gone!

I know this story is no easier to believe than Peter’s.  If you doubt one, you likely doubt the other. That’s fair. I get it.

I know the Nigerian fellow and I trust the Scriptures… I believe.

And if you don’t today, I hope you will some day.

Lord, thank You for entering our world in these ‘God-only-could-do-this-sort-of-thing’ ways. Praise You, Lord. Amen.


Friday, November 9: Naham 1- Mercy and Truth.

One of the constant balances that I have to maintain as I read my Bible and study God’s Word and Ways is mercy (love or grace) and truth (justice or judgment). God is both. And He is both at the same time. This is difficult for me to comprehend and I have to continuously work at it.

This balancing act emerged yet again in Naham 1:3: The LORD is slow to anger and great in power; the LORD will not leave the guilty unpunished. His way is in the whirlwind and the storm, and clouds are the dust of his feet.

God is both slow to anger (mercy) yet He will not leave the guilty unpunished. How can that be?

As I ponder these attributes of God, I take them both to heart. Over and over I have been the recipient of God’s love, grace and mercy. My sins God regularly forgives. God blesses when my walk in Him is unsteady and God is always approachable no matter where I have been or what I have done recently. Love, grace, mercy in abundance.

On the other hand, it is easy for me to presume upon God’s love, grace and mercy and to become lackadaisical and lazy in my pressing ahead for good and God. It is at those times that I find pondering God’s truth, justice and judgment an able antidote for my laziness! I need these reminders as much as I need God’s grace, mercy and love.

I still do not understand how mercy and truth live together perfectly in God.  However, I am full of praise and wonder that they do…

Praise to the One who loves unconditionally. Praise to the One who’s justice is right. Praise to the Lord, the Almighty, the King of Creation! Amen.


Thursday, October 11: Acts 11 - Change is never easy.

True change is hard. There are so many forces working to keep us the same. Yesterday I was amazed at the lengths God went through to help Peter change and understand that the Gospel was for Gentiles as well as Jews. As I recalled yesterday’s reading, this morning, I find myself marveling again at God’s actions.

Stepping into today’s reading, I realized yesterday was not the end of the story. Yes, Peter encountered dramatic life-altering change. But Peter, like all of us, are part of relational systems –families, friendships, communities, organizations, companies. And if our change is real, then it will impact each of those relational systems, some more than others, depending upon our place in those systems.

Today’s reading begins with church leaders and brothers catching wind of what happened with Peter and not liking it. Remember they were living by the same ‘Jewish life-rules’ Peter had before his time with Cornelius. Luke records it this way. The apostles and the brothers throughout Judea heard that the Gentiles also had received the word of God. So when Peter went up to Jerusalem, the circumcised believers criticized him and said, "You went into the house of uncircumcised men and ate with them" (1-3).

For personal change to last, the relational systems we live in needs to change to accommodate our change. If this doesn’t happen we will either be drawn back into our ‘before-change’ behaviors or we need to find a new relational system that supports our change.

Wow, this is a lot to chew on and digest…

Oh Lord, when I sit here in my quiet moments with You and ask You to change me or help change me, I almost never give any thought to how my relational systems will have to change in order to accommodate my personal change. Lord, I don’t think about the strength I will need –strength like Peter displayed- to speak about the change You have wrought in me.

Wow, Lord, the revelations keep coming.  No wonder some (much?) of the change I think happens, or starts to happen, in me doesn’t last… because I don’t face the important relational systems in my life that need to change as well.

Oh God, help me… help me… help me. Through Jesus, I pray. Amen.



Wednesday, October 10: Acts 10 - Being stretched.

God has a way of stretching us, pulling us and dragging us to new faith places. I thought about Peter, a simple Jewish fisherman. The changes in his life, that this chapter represents, is staggering!

Self-respecting Jews never associate with Gentiles. Fisherman from small villages probably didn’t travel much and certainly not in the company of Roman soldiers. And yet God was expecting both of Peter. And the Jewish-Gentile divide was huge. Think black-white in the deep south of the 1800’s. Think Hatfields and McCoys. This was such a huge divide that God had to give Peter a dream about eating unclean food in order to set him up to even travel with the soldier and servants. This was a serious life change for Peter. I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism but accepts men from every nation who fear him and do what is right (34-35).

It was a serious moment for the church, too.

I began to wonder about life changes God may want to see in me. I thought about human prejudices that life and upbringing and culture have formed into me. These were not pleasant thoughts and I am quite sure that I can only skim the surface of my life. I am sure there are others –many others- buried under layers of life that I do not at this time yet see…

Oh God, stretch me… push me, prod me, drag me, if necessary, to face the prejudices I carry. Lord, I pray this for my sake and for the sake of the church of which I am a part. Teach me the truth Peter learned: that You do not show favoritism but accept men from every nation who fear Him and do what is right. Amen.



Tuesday, October 9: Acts 9 - Trumpeting Jesus.


What a chapter, miracles galore! It opens with Paul’s miraculous conversion. Paul sees and hears Jesus and is converted. Now add to the conversion the blindness and healing from blindness. Wow! After Paul’s baptism and a bit more about Paul diving right into preaching, the scene switches to Peter and two miracles.

First a paralytic for 8 years Aeneas is healed and then in a nearby city of Lydda, Dorcas (also called Tabitha) is raised from the dead! Double wows!

What caught my attention is that each miracle virtually, immediately led to advancing the Gospel. Word spread about the miracles, testimonies were given and people were saved, check out verses 31, 35, 42.

I found myself thinking how miracles lead to proclamation, which leads to salvation, which equals Kingdom advancement!

Surely the healings were a delight to the recipient, but through Luke’s pen we are to understand that the healings/miracles play even a bigger role in the life of the church… they push the church forward. They give the church a bullhorn to trumpet Jesus!

Lord, to this day You continue to preform miracles through Your servants. May every miracle be a trumpet, declaring and broadcasting Your name so that many come to faith in You. Alleluia Amen.



Monday, October 8: Acts 8 - Trying days.

As I read this morning, my thoughts connected with the ‘all’ and the ‘men and women’ rather than with the apostles or the central characters in this narrative. It opened my eyes to faithfulness.

 And Saul was there, giving approval to his death. On that day a great persecution broke out against the church at Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria. Godly men buried Stephen and mourned deeply for him. But Saul began to destroy the church. Going from house to house, he dragged off men and women and put them in prison. Those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went (1-4).

God expands the reach and witness of the church by thrusting everyday believers into preaching and witnessing. These verses mark a dramatic shift. Now, not only are the apostles publicizing Jesus’ message, most everyone is now advancing the gospel reach.

The apostles remained in Jerusalem. It was the ‘Pentecost-day believers’ who spoke the languages of the world who were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria. And as they ran, they told Jesus’ Message… they preached the word wherever they went.

It must have been exciting days*…

But it was also terrifying days. Going from house to house, he dragged off men and women and put them in prison. As frightening as it might have been to see their leaders dragged into prison, now the ‘rank-and-file Jesus-followers’ were being snatched, too. Plus with Stephen’s execution, the penalty for following Jesus increased significantly.

Despite the chaos (or probably as a result of the chaos) the Word spread because everybody was now an agent for advancing the Gospel.

Oh God, help us to recapture the sense that everybody who follows Jesus is a witness to Jesus. And may Your message, Jesus, spread like fire in our locales. Amen


*And from Philip’s story we learn that when major outbreaks of the Gospel emerged, the apostles stepped in to make sure the teaching was solid and on track.



Saturday, October 6: Acts 7 - Stephen.

Two thoughts tumbled about as I read and pondered this chapter.

One, Stephen knew what he believed. He was able to recite the history of his people leading to his point that the leaders had killed the Messiah, Jesus. How well do I (you) know God’s story? Stephen had to have studied it and worked at it to know it as well as he did. Do I (you) work at knowing my (your) faith as much as Stephen apparently did?

Two, Stephen paid the cost of faith, which for him was death. Am I (you) willing to pay the cost of faith? I love miracles and God showing up at the final moment to rescue.  However, sometimes God determines not to show up miraculously and save us. Instead God asks us to pay the price. Why miracles come sometimes and not others, I cannot say or predict. God’s ways are higher than my ways.

A question for me (you) is “Am I willing to accept any outcome God chooses?” And Stephen’s testimony asks if I am willing to give my life for the Lord?

Two difficult meditation points…

Oh God, give me the strength to follow you completely and without reservation wherever You choose to lead me and through whatever situations You choose to send my way. For Your honor and glory, I pray. Amen.




Friday, October 5: Acts 6 - Problems in the ranks.

One of the aspects of the Bible that I appreciate is the honest appraisal of humanity and especially of people seeking after God. They are not perfect. As exciting as the early days of the church seem, they did have their problems. Persecutions from the outside and disputes within the ranks.

Here we see racial/ethnic issues careening to the surface. Greek-speaking verse, Hebrew-speaking factions, and not treating each other with love and respect.

Honestly, this situation had the potential of splitting the church, but it didn’t because the leaders –the apostles– nipped it and dealt with it quickly, decisively and lovingly. The Gospel works!

The apostles’ took the problem on. They knew divisions of this sort were not in line with Jesus’ teachings. Let’s face it, the Twelve were anything BUT a homogeneous group. Tax collectors and zealots, for example, were polar opposites on the political spectrum of Israel! Certainly they had to work through some personal and cultural differences as they traveled with Jesus.

They knew Jesus didn’t play favorites and they weren’t about to start… so they dealt with the issue in a decisive, sensitive (the names of the 7 are Greek, which must have spoken volumes to the Greek speaking widows who were being overlooked) and kingdom advancing manner!

As I allow this account to circle and ruminate in my thoughts, it occurs to me that we need to saturate our lives with the love and teaching of Jesus and then take on issues as they arise from that position. Grace and truth… the love and teachings of Jesus…

Lord, as I face problems and issues in family, work and church circles, may I show the wisdom of the Apostles. Wisdom that recognizes when some thing is out of sorts with your will and way and wisdom, that it knows how to apply your love and teachings, truth and grace, to bring about a solution that You desire and delight in. Through Jesus, I pray. Amen.


Thursday, October 4: Acts 5 - Safety second, gospel preaching first.

I am reminded that the apostles will say in the next chapter they couldn’t stop preaching and praying in order to wait on tables. That statement was no cop out to a cushy life. Preaching for them meant putting their life on the line.

In today’s chapter the apostles are arrested for preaching Jesus. I lift a few verses starting with verse 17. Then the high priest and all his associates, who were members of the party of the Sadducees, were filled with jealousy. They arrested the apostles and put them in the public jail. But during the night an angel of the Lord opened the doors of the jail and brought them out. "Go, stand in the temple courts," he said, "and tell the people the full message of this new life" (17-20).

What caught my attention was that they were freed from jail by the angel in order to resume preaching, in order to resume doing what got them placed in jail in the first place.

In this instance they were not freed in order to escape with their lives. They were freed so that the preaching of the Gospel would not stop! "Go, stand in the temple courts and tell the people the full message of this new life." The apostles were the preachers and they were all in jail, which means preaching would stop. God said, “No way!” And God dispatched an angel to free them to keep on preaching.

The apostles gladly accepted God’s directive and the next morning were back in the temple preaching the full message of the gospel fearlessly.

They were arrested again and the Jewish leaders were going to kill them, but cooler heads prevailed so they had them flogged. Then they ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go (40). (By the way, flogging was a horrendous beating.)

These men willingly accepted this outcome as part of their calling. The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name (41).

I find myself deeply challenged by the apostles’ dedication. Telling people about Jesus, preaching, proclaiming and demonstrating the gospel through miracle and literally putting their life on the line came first no matter the cost. Wow… the cost of belief!

Much to chew on, Oh Lord, so much to ponder and meditate upon… Thank You for this Word, as hard and challenging as it may be. Amen.



Wednesday, October 3: Acts 4 - A different way to live.

Enjoying this slow read through Acts. It really is all about Jesus and caring for one another. Little else seems to matter for this growing band of Jesus followers in Jerusalem.

Have an opportunity to tell people about Jesus, they do it. Threatened by religious authorities for talking too much about Jesus, pray to God for greater boldness to talk more about Jesus. See people in the Jesus family with a need, sell some land or possession to help the folks in need.

It is a different way to live and one that is causing me to think… deeply.

Oh Lord, fill my thoughts…. Amen.



Tuesday, October 2: Acts 3 - Turn it to Jesus.

I have always loved music in church when the leader –organist, pianist, guitar…- transitions from one song to another. The chord transitions have always fascinated me and tickled, so to speak, my ear.

I was fascinated in this story how Peter transitioned from the miracle to Jesus. When Peter saw this, he said to them: "Men of Israel, why does this surprise you? Why do you stare at us as if by our own power or godliness we had made this man walk? The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of our fathers, has glorified his servant Jesus. You handed him over to be killed, and you disowned him before Pilate, though he had decided to let him go. You disowned the Holy and Righteous One and asked that a murderer be released to you. You killed the author of life, but God raised him from the dead. We are witnesses of this. By faith in the name of Jesus, this man whom you see and know was made strong. It is Jesus' name and the faith that comes through him that has given this complete healing to him, as you can all see (12-16).

Like the musical transitions in worship, the beginning and ending chords are set. Peter seizes the opportunity of the miracle to tell people about Jesus. This takes him only a moment… 43 words to mention Jesus and another 54 words to get to his destination that Jesus is the source of the miracle. By faith in the name of Jesus, this man whom you see and know was made strong. It is Jesus' name and the faith that comes through him that has given this complete healing to him, as you can all see

I thought back to those musical transitions. Most of the transitions are improvisations, small part planning and a large part practice and ear The musician just knows how to move between chords… all it takes is a starting point and a destination.

For Peter the conversational destination is sharing Jesus and the starting point is his present conversation or life situation. Peter did it on Pentecost morning and he did it again here.

Oh God, I am not a good conversationalist. Please help me gain the chops to transition my life situations and conversations to Jesus in natural and real and flowing ways. This I pray through Jesus. Amen.


Monday, October 1: Acts 2 � Repent and be baptized…


It comes down to Jesus and whether we are willing to repent and be baptized … in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins (38).

For the apostles, this is the eternal decision all people must come to grips with.

'Repent' and 'baptize' are religious words, so I decided to spend a few moments looking into their meanings and roots rather than simply going with my church-i-ainity definitions.

REPENT: According to a scholarly source the verb repent means "to change one's 'noús,'" i.e., opinion, feelings, or purpose. If it is perceived that the former noús was wrong, it then takes on the sense "to regret," "to me," in various constructions, and often with an ethical nuance.*

'To change one's opinion, feelings regarding Jesus… hmmm, that means to change the place Jesus holds and plays in one's life, changes. Listening to the whole of Peter's words, Jesus becomes the center, the object of devotion, reverence and worship. Jesus becomes both Lord and Christ (36) of one's life.

BE BAPTIZED: Again the same source writes: báptō, "to dip in or under," "to dye," "to immerse," "to sink," "to drown," "to bathe," "wash." The NT uses báptō only in the literal sense, e.g., "to dip" (Luke 16:24), "to dye" (Rev. 19:13), and baptize [word in our text] only in a cultic sense, mostly "to baptize."

To dip in or under," "to dye," "to immerse," "to sink," "to drown," "to bathe," "wash… in a [religious] sense.* To be baptized in the name of Jesus was a public demonstration that one believes in, follows and worships Jesus as Lord and Christ. To be baptized was an outward action declaring one's inward repentance and turning to Jesus by faith/belief.

This was and still is God's call to a new way of life, a new way of living. Think of this as the doorway into a new world, new life, new reality that will take a lifetime to grasp and incorporate in to our living.

Are you willing to repent and be baptized … in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins? Are you?

Lord, I pray for myself and everyone who has made the choice to repent and be baptized, that each of us will follow through giving the new reality of following Jesus, our all. Through Jesus, I pray. Amen


*Theological Dictionary of the New Testament: Abridged in One Volume.