Friday, October 29, 2010

Gone but not Forgotten

After Acts
I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the
faith.   2 Timothy 4:7


Charles Swindoll writes in Paul: A Man of Grace and Grit:
"Nero's nervous gavel came down hard and Paul was free."

(Free? Wait a minute. I thought it was the end of Paul's live here on earth.
Didn't you? Read on dear one.)

"Though we know nothing from the Biblical record of the details of his
defense before the Emperor, Paul once again knew freedom's ring and
immediately resumed his commitment to preaching. Some believe it was
during this period that he made his much dreamed-of trip to Spain. Maybe so,
but no one knows for sure.
He met certainly met up with Titus in Crete, Philemon and Onesimus;
Timothy at Ephesus, pouring out wisdom to a learning soul.
His freedom lasted but a few years. Sooner than most might have expected,
Paul was arrested at Troas and dragged back to Rome in chains, landing
again on the cold floor of a Roman dungeon."


When my husband and I decide to travel to a new place unvisited by us, we
do our research. We look up information about the place, check out what's
to do and see there, if it has any historical spots, any attractions, and of
course, how to get there. He plans the road trip while I plan my wardrobe.
Usually we don't pick up travel brochures until actually entering the place.
The internet and encyclopedia are our resources, along with friends'
suggestions. One site in Rome to visit, which would not appear on any travel
brochures, would be Paul's dungeon. However, it would be an important sight
for Christians to see where the pillar of our faith spent his last days. Probably
it would not be "the one" cell where Paul was kept, but it would give us an
idea of his suffering.

Hans Finzel describes it in his book Empowered Leaders:
On an obsure side street a few kilometers from the Vatican, there is a small
building thought to house the prison cell where Paul spent his final days.
Whether it is actually his prison cell or not is of course debatable. We climed
down into this cramped hole beneath the ground and spent about a half-hour
in the dark cell. It was cold, damp, and musty. A small gate in the ceiling
allowed a little daylight to shine through. Historians agree that Paul probably
lost his life around A.D. 67 when Nero ruled.

You may ask,"What's encouraging about this?" Paul kept the faith, as he told
Timothy in his second letter. He endured criticism, beatings, stonings,
shipwrecks, harsh treatment by his fellow Jews, etc. yet he kept the faith. He
is our example. I sure haven't endured all of that in order to teach or tell about
Jesus. Paul may be gone, but he definitely is not forgotten. Daily the Lord
uses his words, which were inspired by God, throughout the world and time.


Paul encourages Timothy, a preacher of the gospel, (and Christians) to:
1. live courageously (2Tim.1:7)
2. be a faithful servant, strong in grace and the truth; be a brave soldier;
    disciplined as an athlete; hard-working as a farmer; diligent as a workman;
    gentle as a servant.
3. beware of difficult times
4. proclaim the Word.

Time for his departure was at hand. Paul wanted to see Tim one more time.
For Paul to live was Christ, but to die was his gain. Am I ready to go? Am I
making preparations? Do I encourage my family, friends, and others to
remain faithful to Christ?

I found a list of when and where Paul wrote the 13 Epistle letters. Thought
you might be interested.
Galatians: 48-49 A.D.--* while at Antioch
1 & 2 Thessalonians: 51-52 A.D.*while at Corinth
Romans: 57 A.D. *while at Corinth
1 Corinthians: 57 A.D. *while at Ephesus
2 Corinthians: 58 A.D. *while at Macedonia
Ephesians, Colossians, Philemon, Philippians: 62-63 A.D. *while at Rome
1 Timothy, Titus: 64-65 A.D. *unknown
2 Timothy: 67 A.D. *while at Rome.

Here is the list of encouraging and challenging Scriptures that I said I would
give you. They are kept on index cards in a small spiral notebook. There's no
particular order. The list could go on. If you want to, print for reading later.

Ps. 37;  16:8-11;  25:4-5;  62:5-68; 1:10;  119:18;  138:8;   139:23-24
Isaiah 26:3-7;  30:15,18;   41:10-17;  54:17;   64:4-5;  66:1,
Jeremiah 15:19;  31:9;   21
Luke 1:37,45;  12:15;  18:27
John 15:5,13
Romans 6:6,11,13
Philippians 1:27;  4:8-13
Col. 1:9
Hebrews 10:38;  11:1, 6;  13:8-9


Fight the good fight (against evil and self).

Finish my course which God has planned for my life.

Keep the faith, trusting in Jesus, the author and finisher of my faith.

Pray daily for others doing the same thing.

Glorify God and my Lord Jesus.

Thursday, October 28, 2010


Summary of Acts
Not that I speak from want; for I have learned to be content in
whatever circumstances I am.  Philippians 4:11 NAS

In review of Acts, Dr. Luke writes to Theophilus, but emphasizes Jesus,
what He did and taught, at the beginning of this letter. As we read through,
did you highlight some golden nuggets? (Special Scriptures that have
significance or spoke to you.) I did, and will share them on the next lesson.

Let's recall some of the main events we read  from Dr. Luke:
Day of Pentecost; Peter and John witnessing; deacon Stephen, first Christian
martyr; deacon Phillip and the Ethiopian eunuch; the Jerusalem church, Saul's
conversion on Damascus road; Barnabas' mentoring Saul; Antioch church-
first Christians; 3 missionary journeys of Paul and team; new churches started
with new converts; trials of Paul; Paul going to Rome and at Rome.


When I thought about the title of this lesson, I knew I was lacking in this area.
I often grumble about my physical ailments, my limitations, my circumstances.
Sounds like I have a problem. My focus is on the wrong thing, things and not
on Christ. Yes, don't we all need reminding from time to time? How did Paul
do it?

Paul's purpose for his missionary journeys is found in Acts 9:15,"But the Lord
said unto him (Paul), 'Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear
my  name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel.' "
Did he accomplish his misson in life? It seems to me that he did, with Jesus
working in and through him. Am I accomplishing my mission? Do I know
what my mission in life is?

While in Rome, Paul wrote Philippians 4:11b, NAS states, "I have learned
to be content in whatever circumstances I am." (This guy has been
beaten, stoned, walked thousands of miles, shipwrecked, hungry, etc. yet he
found contentment. How?)

KJV uses the word state instead of circumstances.
Beck version uses the word condition instead of circumstances.
NLT says," I have learned how to be content with whatever I have."

The word content can be a verb which means to satisfy the mind; to make
quiet; so as to stop complaint or opposition; to appease; to make easy in any
situation. (from King James Dictionary)

Westley's Explanatory Notes says:
I have learned from God. He only can teach this.
In everything, therewith to be content: joyfully and thankfully patient.
I am: I know, I am insturcted, I can.

(If I'm quiet, then I'm not complaining. If I'm not complaining, am I content,

H. Blackaby and C. King say state in Experiencing God Study Bible:
Contentment is a state of mind, not of body.


(Are you like me and need some help in this area? Here's what I found.)

Charles Swindoll wrote in his book Paul: A Man of Grace and Grit :
Paul wrote about his secret to contentment in the letters he wrote to his
friends at Philippi and Colossae. In those letters I find at least four attitudes of
a learned contentment.
1. Paul recommends an attitude of unselfish humility.
    He held no grudges. He had no expectations. He was there by divine
    appointment. Start with your family or with one of your neighbors. Model it
    next in the workplace.
2. Paul exhorts believers to have an attitued of joyful acceptance.
    Phil.2:14-15 tells us,"Do all things without grumbling or disputing; that you
    may prove yourselves blameless and innocent, children of God above
    reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom
    you  appear as lights in the world."
    Don't complain, be joyful. That's the ticket. Joy attracts. Grumbling repels.
3. The third attitude is strong determination.
    Paul focused on the ultimate goal-pleasing Christ all the way to the goal,
    even in chains. Thomas Edison came up with the modern light bulb after a
    thousand failed attempts. He admitted it was strong determination that
    gave the light to the world, not his creative genius.
4. Paul's attitude of genuine thanksgiving is  found in Colossian 4:2-4.
    "Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of

Swindoll continues,"Are you making a difference in the lives of those closest
to you by the way you respond to your circumstances? Start by refusing to let
your situation determine your attitude. Rise above your circumstances.
When Christ is given full control of your life, His love and mercy will pierce
your wounded soul and allow you to release a torrent of bitterness, anger,
and resentment that has festered there for years.
Like it did for Paul, it will begin at the foot of the cross. When you come to
Him in faith, He sets you free from the things that have held you captive all
your life."


Oh my. What more can I say? I needed this and have some homework to do.
Will you join me in working on being content?

Let's be like the eagle, soar above my circumstances.

Be humble, accepting, determined, and thankful.

Have faith in the God, who is in control, full control.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Shake it Off

Acts 28
But Paul shook off the snake into the fire and was unharmed.
Acts 28:5 NLT


The survivors winter (3 months) on the island of Malta, which was 17 miles
long and 60 miles south of Sicily.

NLT reads in verses 3-6  : "As Paul gathered an armful of sticks and was
laying them on the fire, a poisonous snake, driven out by the heat, bit him on
the hand. The people of the island saw it hanging from his hand and said to
each other, 'A murderer, no doubt! Though he escaped the sea, justice will
not permit him to live.' But Paul shook off the snake into the fire and was
unharmed.  The people waited for him to swell up or suddenly drop dead.
But when they had waited a long time and saw that he wasn't harmed, they
changed their minds and decided he was a god.

Paul was just helping out by adding sticks to the fire in order for it to keep it
going for the group's wamth. I need to keep letting the Holy Spirit fuel my
spiritual fire, surrendering to Him and obeying God's Word, keeping
 "on fire for the Lord Jesus." Then when evil or temptation comes and bites
me, I can shake  it off, into the fire and it's gone. What are some things
I'm needing to sling off? Pride, prejudice, worldliness, selfishness,
self-centeredness, and the list goes on.

The people thought Paul was a murderer so he brought on such an event; he
deserved it. But that was far from the truth. They expected Paul to die as a
result of his sins. When he didn't die, they changed their minds. The Greek
word used here  means to change their "opinion." Do I change my opinion of
people? Or do I form a wrong opinion of them and keep it?

Paul ministered to the people on the island while he was there-healed the
father of the chief man and other sick ones. I'm sure they heard the gospel,
too. The islanders provided for the group to sail on towards Rome.


Finally, the group reached their destination, Rome. The prisoners were turned
in to the authorities and Paul was put under house arrest. He had a guard
while he rented his own house and lived there in that manner for two years.

Staring in verse 17, Paul is talking to the Jewish leaders. He tells them that he
is bound with the chain because he believed that "the hope of Israel-the
Messiah-had already come."  Paul preached the gospel and taught about
Jesus right there in his home. Some people believed and others didn't.

During this time, Paul wroted letters to the churches at Ephesus, Colossea,
Philippi; he wrote letters to Philemon, Timothy, and Titus. These became
books in our New Testament, words from God to us centuries later.

Hundreds of thousands came to know Christ as Savior through Paul and his
missionary teams. He was a small in stature, but a giant spiritually. Luke
doesn't tell about Paul's trial before Caesar, release of 2-3 years, final
imprisonment, and death in A.D.68. It appears that the narrative ends due to
it being caught up with history.

The Acts of the Apostles continues, as the living Lord of His church
continues to build His church against which the gates of hell shall not prevail.

We don't know what influence an email, letter, or text may have on a person.
(references used:  Nelson's Illustrated Bible Handbook and Liberty Bible


Recognize the evil and temptations that bind me, then give them to Jesus.

Let Him change my opinions.

Surrender to the Holy Spirit daily.

Be a witness of my Savior wherever I am.

Keep walking by faith, not by sight.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Not a Mediterranean Cruise

Acts 27
Wherefore, sirs, be of good cheer: for I believe God, that it shall be
even as it was told me.   Acts 27:25

Here we read of the most exciting journey for Paul yet, the one to Rome.
Those who accompanied Paul were Dr. Luke, Aristarchus, Julius the
centurion, and 272 other passengers, some of which were prisoners. Only
Paul had the promise of safety to Rome.
On the first leg of the journey, the ship sailed closely to shore. (Geography
buffs can check your map for all the cities named where they stopped.)
Myra is where the group changed to a cargo ship destined for Rome. It was
more like our modern barges, not a cruise ship at all.

Paul tried to warn the men of the dangerous voyage ahead of them, but none
listened. (verse 10) Winter storms in the Mediterranean were fierce and
ancient ships couldn't withstand the winds. Yes, they were sailing in winter.
Verse 14 tells of a hurricane, a northeaster, Euroclydon, in the open sea.
Cargo was thrown overboard to lighten the load. Paul was reassurred directly
from one of God's angels one night. (verse 24) He shares trust in his God with
everyone: Except these abide in the ship, ye cannot be saved. Four anchors
are  cast out of the ship on the 14th night in order to keep it from drifting to


What lessons can we learn from this story, hidden beneath the bow? You may
want to copy these for further reference.
In his book Paul: A Man of Grace and Grit, Charles Swindoll tells us of four
anchors we need to help stabilize us when in the middle of our life's storm:
1. The anchor of stability that will hold you firm, no matter how intense the
    gale-force winds, is God's written Word. Read Isaiah 43:1-2. Remember
    God is faithful; He has a plan, trust Him. With God on board, my ship
    won't sink.
2. The second anchor of unity overlooks fears and imaginations. Our tendency
     in dire straits is to cut and run, leave a marriage, turn to a bottle, drugs, etc.
     Don't leap and try to make it on your own. We need God's people
     surrounding us when the bottom has dropped out of our life.
3. Third, we need the anchor of renewal. Verses 33-36 say Paul encouraged
     the men to eat "for their preservation, for not a hair from the head of any of
     you shall perish." Before eating, Paul prayed and so did everyone else,
     probably. (Nothing like food to cheer up a man, huh?) verse 36
4. The fourth anchor is reality. The only way they were going to get out of this
     storm alive was that all of them got into the water and made their way to
     shore. The ship began to break apart; reality compelled them to take action.
     It may mean hard work, humility, reconciliation, counseling for us. Trust
     God to bring you to shore. All 276 men survived on shore.


The secret of survival is what you do ahead of time in calmer waters. Spend
time in God's Word. Study the inspired charts He has given you for the
journey of life. Deepen your walk with Him through prayer and personal
worship. Then, when the inevitable winds of adversity begin to blow, and they
most certainly will blow, you'll be ready to respond in faith, rather than fear.
Don't wait. Check those anchors while it's smooth sailing.  Pick specific
God-given promises you'll be able to cling to and tell the Lord you're
anchoring yourself to it. You'll be glad you did. (same reference)


Wrestle with the reason for the storm.
Seek God's direction.
Don't give up.
Ride out the storm.
Do as Paul: take courage; he believed God. It will be just as He said. (verse 25 NLT)
Prepare: either we came out of a storm, are in a storm, or are going into a storm-that's life.

Monday, October 25, 2010


Acts 26
Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Almost thou persuadest me to be a
Christian.   Acts 26:28


Charles Swindoll, in his book Paul: A Man of Grace and Grit states:

Webster defines a hero as "a person admired for achievements and noble
qualities; one who shows great courage." Swindoll says, "A hero is someone
who stands tall when others shrink back. It's someone who speaks up for
what's right as others look away, sitting silently on the sidelines."

In his book, Brother Chuck gives examples of some heroes-David, Esther,
Daniel, Patrick Henry, Martin Luther King, Jr.; Sept.11, 2001 heroes-
firefighters, emergency medical personnel, and police officers.
(May I  add to that list the passengers on those planes that crashed.)

"Acts 26 illustrates his (Paul's) ability to stand alone and determined even
under the most extreme pressures," said Swindoll.

So after reading  that list, I asked myself, "Who's my hero?" Of course there
are Biblical ones, but a modern-day hero? I would have to say is none other
than Brother Chuck Swindoll. "Why?" you may ask. He stands tall as Paul
stood, teaching and preaching the truth from the Bible, loving folks, and
showing us how to apply the Word to our everyday life. He and his wife
Cynthia have been through many struggles and trials throughout their years,
yet have remained faithful to our Lord. His words of encouragement have
seen me through many trials.

Another hero is a couple found in my hometown, David and Lorreta Millsap.
David served as an elementary principal, a high school counselor, my Sunday
School teacher, deacon at my church, while his wife was my sixth grade
teacher, WMU director, a mother of 5, etc. Their faith in our Savior has
shone through their lives, especially when they lost 2 grandchildren,
experienced a stroke, endured surgeries. What an influence thaey both have
had on our community. Such love and endurance can only come Jesus.
Thank you is never enough, David and Lorreta.

Well now, have you thought of anyone that's your hero? Please share with us.
Why not let your heroes know it? Send a letter or call them.
As the song says, "Thank you for giving to the Lord. I am a life that was (is)
changed." We never know who is watching us.


In chapter 26, Paul gave his defense before Governor Festus, King Agrippa,
and other dignitaries. This is the third time Paul gives a description of his
conversion found in Scripture.
Paul made a direct appeal to Agrippa. He challenged the King to make a
personal committment of faith. In verse 27, Paul asked him,"Believest thou
the prophets? I know that thou believest."

The Preacher's Outline and Sermon Bible says:
Agrippa was familiar with Scripture and apparently was gripped by Paul's
message. (No pun intended.) His interest was aroused by the possibility that
Jesus really was the Jewish Messiah. Paul longed for all who were under the
sound of his voice to be saved.

 All this seemed like utter madness to Festus. I wonder if his comment in
verse 24, accusing Paul of being beside himself, had an influence on the king
and others.

Do my words and life persuade others to become a Christian? Only the Lord
knows, but I want them to. What a challenge.

The chapter ends with the king and Bernice and the governor discussing the
matter. If Paul had not appealed to Caesar, he could have been set free
because Paul had done nothing that deserved death or imprisonment, as the
two officials agreed.


Jesus is my ultimate hero and I hope yours, too.

Let others know that I appreciate them and consider them my heroes.

Consider my life and words to be influencial, good or bad.

Persuade others to become a believer in Jesus as Savior.

Friday, October 22, 2010

What Shall I Write?

Acts 25
But what shall I write the emperor? For there is no clear charge
against him.So I brought him before all of you, and especially you,
King Agrippa, so that after we examine him, I might have something
to  write.  Acts 25:26  NLT


After two years in prison, Paul appeared before the new governor, Festus,
who replace Felix. The Jews wanted Paul tried in Jerusalem, but Festus
insisted that Paul stay in Caesarea. If Paul had been transfered to Jerusalem,
he would have been ambushed and killed on the way, which was the plan.
(from verse 3 NLT)

As a Roman citizen, Paul appeals to Caesar, who is the notorious Nero.

By the act of appeal, Paul takes himself out of the jurisdiction both of the
Jewish court (the Sanhedrin) and the jurisdiction of Festus as well.
(Nelson's Illustrated Bible Handbook)

The Preacher's Outline and Sermon Bible states:
The picture is that of men trying to silence and do away with God's true
messenger. And note: they were religionists within the body of religion. How
often men fear and fight against the truth of Christ and His messengers and
fear the loss of their own influence, position, and esteem.

Paul's influence continues on how many centuries? He was determined to go
to Rome and be a witness for Christ there, according to God's will. He had
to watch out for wolves in sheep's clothing, so to speak.


Did you ever write a letter in which you were not sure what to say or how to
say it? You knew the purpose, but wanted to say it in an easy way. It is a
difficut task. Festus had the task ahead of him, but wanted Agrippa to help
him. Here's what happened.

Festus had visitors, King Agrippa and his sister Bernice. They came to
congratulate Festus on his new position. Festus filled in Agrippa on Paul's
Jewish elders pressed charges against him and asked Festus to condemn
Paul. He pointed out that the Roman law did not convict people without a
trial. (from NLT-verses 15-16)
The accusations were something about their religion and a dead man named
Jesus, who Paul insisted was alive. (NLT verse 19)
Paul refused to stand trial in Jerusalem, and appealed the emperor.
Then Festus says the key verse 26: What shall I write the emperor? It makes
no sense to send a prisoner to the emperor without specifying the charges
against him.
My words need to be chosen carefully.


Always be on the alert for wolves. Don't be one myself.

Seek the Lord's will in a difficult situation.

Pray before writing a difficutl letter. Do all for the glory of God.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Acts 24
Because of this, I always try to maintain a clear conscience before
God and all people.  Acts 24:16 NLT


One thing that has always been hard for me is to accept criticism. Whether it
be for the purpose of my good or to just  hurt me, it has always been hard for
me to listen to criticism about myself.  How about you? I recall all those
evaluations principals had to do on my teaching skills. I took it personally
whenever I heard the results. Later I would cry because I tried so hard, but
thought I failed. Finally, I have been able to use criticism constructively,
evaluating it so I can improve what area needs changing. I guess that comes
with age. (It's not that I thought I was perfect, don't get me wrong, but I was
too sensitive.) There's some good, bad, and ugly critics out there in our world.
Watch out!
Paul definitely had it all together. He listened to his critics and offered
his defense. Hang onto your hat. Let the trial begin.

Felix was the governor of Judea at this time. Paul arrived with the letter from
the commander Lysias, who rescued Paul from the Jews because Paul was a
Roman citizen. Paul was put in prison. This chapter begins five days later.
The high priest Ananias and the lawyer Tertullus presented their case against
Paul to the governor.
Now listen to these charges:
1. a troublemaker constantly stirring up riots among the Jews all over the
2. a ringleader of the cult known as the Nazarenes-followers of Jesus
3. a profamer of the temple, trying to desecrate it. (verses 5-7)

Aren't they rediculous?  Paul was able to defend himself:
1. He had only arrived in Jerusalem 12 days earlier (6 days spent in prison)
    and he was not arguing with anyone in the Temple, nor stirring up a riot in
    any synagogue or on the streets of the city. (verses 11-12 NLT)
2. He admitted to following the Way, which they called a cult. Paul
    worshiped  the God of their ancestors, firmly believed in the Jewish law,
    and everything written in the prophets. He had the same hope in God that
    those men had, that God would raise both the righteous and unrighteous.
    Because of it, Paul always tried to maintain a clear conscience before God
    and all people. (verses 14-16 NLT) He was afraid of breaking the law of
    love with God or his neighbor.
3. The Jews in Jerusalem couldn't make an indictment stick. He said he was
     on trial because he believed in the resurrection of the dead. (verse 21)

Felix adjourned the hearing until Lysias, the commander, arrived, then he
would decide the case. Felix was familiar with the Way. Felix ordered Paul to
be kept in custody with an officer, but allowed to have visitors and his needs
taken care of. Later, Felix and his wife, a Jew, listened to Paul as he told
them about faith in Christ Jesus. (verse 24) However, Felix became afraid and
sent Paul back to his imprisonment, saying he'd call for Paul again, but never

In his book Paul- A Man of Grace and Grit, Charles Swindoll tells us what
to do whenever faced with criticism:
  • refuse to get caught up in the emotion of the charges
  • stay with the facts
  • tell the truth with a clear conscience
  • don't surrender or quit
  • don't become impatient and bitter
  • stand firm on the promises of God. 
It sounds like sound advise. I need to consider the source of the criticism,
who is giving it-the good, bad, or ugly person. :0)


Felix had hoped to be  given money as a bribe to free Paul, but it never
happened. Verse 27 says after two years passed, Felix was succeeded by
Festus. Because Felix wanted to gain favor with the Jewish people, he left
Paul in prison.

Just as Paul had people determined to "prove" things about him that he knew
were absolutely false, so may we.

In the same book, Swindoll advises we learn from Paul:
"Remain calm. Rest your case with your Lord. Take your battles to Him in
prayer. With a clear conscience and committed to the truth, lay your case out
before Him. Start there. And the Judge of all truth will guide you to your next
step. Don't quit. Don't stop. Don't tell yourself that you really are the kind of
person others say you are. If what is being said against you is not true, don't
believe it. Count on the Lord to give you the strength and the courage to
stand on the truth. His grace has brought you safe this far, and it will be His
grace that  leads you home."

Wow! Are you up to the challenge? May the Lord strengthen and mend
broken hearts.


Listen to the criticism; evaluate it; change what is needful.

Keep a clear conscious toward God and others.

If the criticism  is true, change for the good; if it is false, consider the source
and go on.

Forgive the ugly critics and let it go. Tell Jesus on them. He can handle them
better than I.

Then, have a great day!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

How Much More Can I Take?

Acts 23
And the night following the Lord stood by him, and said, Be of good
cheer, Paul: for as thou hast testified of me in Jerusalem, so must
thou bear witness also at Rome.   Acts 23:11


Have you had a week that seemed everywhere you turned  there is
discouragement, criticism, and things go wrong? Yes, indeed.
It seemed to be happening to Paul in this chapter.

The Roman military commander of Jerusalem ordered the Sanhedrin to
gather and brought Paul to the assembly. He was determined to find out the
cause of the rioting.

The Sanhedrin ruled the people on behalf of the Roman empire. The chief
priest himself was usually a Sadducee who presided over the Sanhedrin
(Jewish court). The Pharisees' doctrine held to the beliefs in the Resurrection,
angels, and the nature of supernatural intervention. The Sadducees denied
such things. Both groups were religious men of politics. Representatives from
the two major parties of Jewish belief were present, and Paul knew they
were bitterly opposed to each other. His plan was to set them against each
other, and it worked.

The commander was afraid Paul would be torn to pieces by the two groups,
so he again rescued Paul and returned him to the military barracks.
That night the Lord assured Paul of his continued safety. What a promise!
(verse 11) Paul fulfilled his mission to the Jews and was headed to Rome.
(That meant he was going to live a little while longer.)
Who had everything under control? Jesus, of course. Paul was right where he
was supposed to be. About the time Paul thought it was curtains in Jerusalem,
he's promised a guaranteed ticket to Rome.

What can we learn from all of this? The Lord will stand by our side,
encouraging and seeing us through all-if we are bearing true witness for Him.
In spite of how my week is going, the Lord is in control. Repeat after me,
the Lord is in control.
Here are some scriptures of reassurance: Ps. 23:4; 27:1; 28:7;  Isaiah 41:10,
43:2; Hebrews 13:5-6.


Paul's nephew, hearing of a conspiracy by over 40 men to murder Paul,
warned the apostle. When the plot was reported to the military commander,
he acted immediately and sent Paul with a guard of 472 men to the Roman
governor Felix, along with a letter of explanation, to the city of Caesarea.
He also ordered Paul's accusers to go there, if they had a case to present
against the apostle. The next chapter tells about Paul's trial before Felix.

I don't think Paul asked, "How much more can I take?" He had surrendered
in his heart to do things the Lord's way. He knew he had a ticket  to Rome,
because Jesus told him according to verse 11. Keep in mind, Paul's
imprisonment later on resulted in letters he wrote to the churches, which is a
major part of the New Testament.
Only the Lord knows how much more you and I can take. As humans, we
still ask the question or think it, don't we? However, "Your will be done" is all
we can say.

(Today's lesson is taken from the following resources:
Nelson's Illustrated Bible Handbook, The Preacher's Outline and Sermon
Bible, Paul: A Man With Grace and Grit)


Rest in  the Lord being in full control. Trust His plan and time for all things.

Trust His Word and submit.

Watch the Lord move and give Him the glory.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


Acts 22
For thou shalt be his (Jesus) witness unto all men of what thou hast
seen and heard. Acts 22:15


In chapter 22, Paul gives his testimony of his meeting Jesus as Savior, and
his obedience in serving Jesus.

In his book, Paul: A Man of Grace and Grit, Charles Swindoll said,
"One word best characterizes the essence of obedience: Change. It threatens
our comfort, interrupts our routines, challenges our priorities, and introduces
anxiety. Living a life of obedience is an impossibility if you and I are unwilling
to change. Paul, as that remarkable man of grace and grit handled many
crucibles of change."

Webster's Dictionary defines change as "to make different".
It is hard for me to have things change in my life. How about you? I don't think
I can count on both hands the number of times I have moved since getting
married. That was always difficult for me, since I previously lived in the same
house for 18 years  and attended the same school all 12 years.
I tend to like some things to remain the same, not made different (except for
household things and clothes).

In the same book mentioned previously, Swindoll tells us that when God
stepped in, everything changed. Paul was converted to Jesus. The group of
people he lived with and served dramatically changed.
When God put the missionary team on the road, everything changed for them-
surroundings, lifestyle, pace. They accepted the change. As a result, hundreds
of thousands of Jews accepted Christ as Savior and numerous churches were
started, plus Paul wrote most of the New Testament.

Am I willing to change when the Lord says to change?  Will I go and do as
He directs? If not, what blessings would I miss out on? How would others
be affected?


It was when Paul reported of a vision in which God commanded him to go
with the gospel to the hated Gentiles, that the riot exploded again. Paul
informed the Roman commander that he was a Roman citizen, so he had a
right to be examined.
The next day, Paul appeared before the Pharasees and Sadducees, the
Sanhedrin, which is the Jewish council. They would determine whether
there was any adequate grounds for a legal proceeding against Paul.
Chapter 23 tells what happened.

This tells me that God had already taken care of Paul before he was born so
he received no further beatings and that he would be sent to Felix, Festus, and
then king Agrippa in Rome.

Just as God took care of Paul, He has already taken care of my needs as I
serve Him. Do I trust Him? (Some things are easier to write than do, but I'm
working on it.) Will you join me?


Change when the Lord says for me to change-attitudes, ways, job, location, etc.

Seek God's will and trust Him to make the right decisions for my life, then
obey Him.

Monday, October 18, 2010

The Party is Over

Acts 21
And when he would not be persuaded, we ceased, saying, The will of
the Lord be done.    Acts 21:14


Have you ever hosted a great party where your guests enjoyed themselves?
What a good feeling to have afterwards. Then came the clean up. Did your
attitude remain the same during the task? I see that smile. I admit my attitude
was not always what it should have been during clean-up. If you can call
Paul's experiences on his missionary journeys a party, with hardships and
beatings, it was coming to an end. Let's see what happened.

Toward the end of his third missionary journey, Paul stopped at a few cities
where small believing churches were located. Paul spent seven days at Tyre,
where he was warned about the trials he was to face. There he was
discouraged from going to Jerusalem.
Paul had purposed in his spirit, felt compelled to go, and was told by the
Lord that he would be Christ's witness before the Gentiles, kings, and Jews,
suffering for His name's sake. (Acts 9:15; 19:21; 20:22)
In verse 13, Paul said he was not only ready to be bound, but also to die at
Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus. What spunk!
Then the believers realized Paul would not be persuaded. They stopped
trying and said,"The will of the Lord be done."

Should this be the response of every family and friend who may oppose the
person who senses the call of God? The will of the Lord be done. Sad to say,
often times it is not. How many people are discouraged from doing His
will? I know personally how difficult it is to follow God's will whenever your
family opposes. That's when your faith is tested. Our Lord requires us to put
Him first. Then everything falls into place. Attitudes can change.

That was 30 years ago. What about now? Am I willing to forsake all and
follow my Lord's leading? Can I say,"The will of the Lord be done", even
when it is difficult or there is opposition? Am I willing to say the same thing
for family or friends?


Charles Swindoll states in his book Paul: A Man of Grace and Grit :

Paul is back in Jerusalem. The visit began in a spirit of delightful joy. Paul
greeted the brethren as they welcomed him back, and they glorified God
together for "things which God had done among the Gentiles through his
ministry." (verse 19)
(Then after seven days, verse 27 happens.)

The party was over. Paul's enemies from Asia had followed him all the way
back to Jerusalem. After seeing him in the temple, they decided they had
endured enough of his menacing presence. They devised a murderous plot to
rid themselves of Paul once and for all.

The crowd is addressed by this group in verses 28-29, hoping for a stoning
of Paul. The crowd gets out of control. Paul is taken out of the temple. A
Centurion, an officer in the Roman guard who had 100 armed men under him,
heard what was going on and came on the scene. Paul's beating stopped. By
doing his job, the Roman official saved Paul's life. When Paul was on his way
to  barracks for safety, something happens.

Did you catch the conversation in verse 37-39 between Paul and the officer?
Paul was mistaken for an Egyptian who stirred up 4,000 supporters to
overthrow the Roman rule. As he spoke to the officer in Greek, Paul
identified himself. He wanted more than anything to have the opportunity to
proclaim Christ to the hissing mob. Permission is granted and chapter 22
gives us his speech. Join me tomorrow.

What a difference a week can make in a person's life. Paul experienced joy
and then was beaten. He certainly was a man of grace and grit, as Swindoll
entitled his book about Paul.
Can we (will I)  have this same gumption to endure God's will, no matter
what? The Lord knows what and how much we can handle. I must trust Him.


Be willing, myself, to do the will of the Lord, no matter what the cost.

Encourage others to do the will of the Lord.

Let the joy of the Lord be my strength.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Doing Windows

Acts 20
But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto
myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry,
which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the
grace of God.     Acts 20:24


My dad told a story that actually happened to him during his childhood. This
is what occurred:
Dad and his brother Gene were in their yard playing when down the dirt road
came the notorious outlaw known as "Pretty Boy Floyd" and his gang riding
horses. (This was back in the 1930's.) They stopped and asked directions to
what would be their hide-out cabin across the creek. Dad gave the
dangerous men the information they wanted, unaware of who they were.
Floyd tossed dad a coin in payment for the help.
That night in his sleep, dad dreamed that he was running away from these
bank robbers as they chased him. He actually jumped out of bed and through
a two story window, not seriously injured. The next day the sheriff and his
posse rode horses around their house, persueing the gang.
(What a family story we have.)

Chapter 20 tells of another young man who fell out of a window, only this one
was on the third story and Paul was preaching.

Nelson's Illustrated Bible Handbook states:
Paul revisits the churches he has established in Macedonia and Greece. His
sense of urgency to impart all he can to these young believers is illustrated by
an incident at Troas. A young man who sits up with others till midnight to listen
to Paul's teaching falls asleep. He tumbles from a third story window. Paul
restores him to life and then goes on with his teaching until daylight. Others
might sleep. Paul is driven to accomplish all he possibly can.

While on his third missionary journey, Paul is saying farewell to the people in
the churches he started. He is heading for Rome and Spain (4th journey).

I don't want to close my eyes to God's Word, nor fall asleep because I'm not
listening to It. I should beware that I, too, can tumble into sin, without realizing
it is so close. Let's be alert to the devil prowling as a lion seeking whom he
may devour.


In verse 24, Paul says he wants to finish his life with joy and to testify of the
grace of God.
"Joy means the perfect fulfillment of that for which I was created and
regenerated, not the successful doing of a thing. To know that you have
done what He (Jesus) sent you to do, that's satisfaction." Oswald Chambers
says in his daily devotional book My Utmost for His Highest.

"In 2 Corinthians 4:8-9, Paul described his life of ministry:
We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed,
but not in despair; Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not

He used words like afflicted, perplexed, persecuted, and struck down. That
was Paul's life as an ambassador for Christ. More often than not, he was like
a sheep for slaughter. Any takers?" Charles Swindoll says in his book
Paul: A Man of  Grace and Grit.

What sufferings I have endured for Christ seem only a smiggen in comparison
to what Paul suffered. He tells about it in  2 Corinthians 11:22-28.
Let us not grow weary in well doing.


Beware and alert to God's Word, obeying it instead of spiritually sleeping.

Watch out for the devil's tactics in tempting me into sin.

Expect persecutions to come as I live for my Savior.

Stay faithful to Christ, to the end of my life.

Thursday, October 14, 2010


Acts 19
So mightily grew the word of God and prevailed.    Acts 19:20

Paul ended his second missionary journey by going to Jerusalem. Looking on
a map helps put his long trips of walking or sailing (no busses or trains)
between towns into perspective. He went back through the countries of
Galatia and Phyrgia, strengthening all the disciples (believers and churches)
according to Acts 18:23. Before Paul reached Ephesus again, Apollas left to
preach in Corinth. Paul is now on his third missionary journey with his team.
By choosing capital cities and trade centers for their preaching, the team
makes it sure that converts will carry the Word through their own provinces.
Within two years of the concentrated effort in Ephesus, the gospel has been
spread throughtout the providence of Asia (Acts 19:10)
(from Nelson's Illustrated Bible Handbook)


The Blackabys in their devotional book Experiencing God Day-By-Day

"Paul had a powerful walk with God. God used him so mightily that
extraordinary miracles occurred through his life. Cloths that touched Paul
were taken to the sick, and the sick were healed (verses 10-12). Evil spirits
were cast out. Paul's ministry was so impressive, in fact, that others tried to
duplicate it. Seven sons of the chief priest, Sceva, attempted to cast out
demons the way Paul did.
 (Without success, I might add. The demons attacked and humiliated
these men because they weren't walking with Jesus.)
You can duplicate the words and deeds of a spiritually mature Christian, but
you cannot inherit his or her walk with God. There is no secondhand
spirituality. No one else can develop Christian maturity on your behalf. If you
ignore the place of prayer and if you neglect your relationship with Christ, you
will not grow in your faith."

Each of us must develop our own walk with Christ through Bible study,
prayer, and obedience. We want the Word of God to grow and prevail in us,


Paul's world worshiped idols. The great statue of the goddess Diana was
housed in a magnificent temple in Ephesus and was recognized as one of the
wonders of  the world.  An idol-making industry, providing a livelihood for
many people, developed there. As Paul shared the truths of God and good
news of Jesus Christ, people were set free, and idol worship began to decline.
The local economy was effected in Ephesus.(verse 26) A riotous crowd met
at the amphitheater, but believers urged Paul not to go there. The mayor
settled it down.

An idol is anything that diverts our devotion from God. Our society is as
idolatrous as Paul's was. Rather than worshiping statues, we choose
possession, pleasures, or careers as our gods and pour our time, finances,
and energy into these things. People don't like to have their idols dethroned.
We may face opposition and hostility from those who are angered at the
contrast between our God and theirs. Yet as we uphold Christ, others will
see a difference and be drawn to Him and the life that He offers.
(from Experiencing God Day-By-Day)

I have been there and done that, as the saying goes. I need to keep
evaluating what I spend my time with or doing. Is it pleasing to God? Is the tv,
computer, a book, my job, a hobby, or other things  taking up too much of
my  time?
Does something get more of my thoughts than God does? Ouch! Something to
think about, huh?
Change is hard; old habits are hard to break, especially for us older folks, but
if  God requires it, I must do it. Retraining takes time, so I need to be patient.


Ask God to show me if I have idols in my life and eliminate them.

Be careful to not criticize others when we see idols in their life. Pray for them.
Let God handle it.

Keep prayer and Bible study daily. Apply what I learn and hear.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Don't be Afraid

Acts 18
One night the Lord spoke to Paul in a vision and told him,"Don't be
afraid! Speak out! Don't be silent! For I am with you, and no one will
attack and harm you, for many  people in this city belong to me."
Acts 18:9-10  NLT

Corinth was a wealthy city in Greece. It was a pleasure-mad city. People
conducted their business by day and frequented the night clubs by night. It
had temples for the goddess of fertility, Aphrodite. It was a sports minded
city with games second only to the Olympics. The people were proud
intellectuals, busy, and immoral. Paul was discouraged and alone.
(from The Preacher's Outline & Sermon Bible)


A few times I have been afraid-confronted with a snake, water over my head,
a cow with horns, a big bull. Even while I was in South America and Asia on
mission trips, I didn't feel my life threatened. I can't say that I have ever
experienced being afraid for my life, as Paul had. He must have felt that way
in chapter 18. This is the man who endured threats, beatings, and stoning.
Paul was human like us and had his down times. Why else did the Lord speak
reassuringly to him? (verses 9-10)

Paul met two believers, Aquila and his wife Priscilla, who were tent makers,
also. He stayed with the couple and either led them to the Lord, or in a
deeper walk of faith in Jesus. Silas and Timothy arrived in Corinth with
financial support from the Philippian church. So the preaching, teaching, and
witnessing continued.

Paul lived by faith, continuing to share Jesus, while the Jews tried to stop him.
A man named Sosthenes took Paul to court before Gallio. He released Paul,
since he didn't get involved in religious disputes. Sosthenes beat Paul right
there in the judgement hall. Sosthenes later became a convert to Christ and a
minister of the gospel with Paul. This sounds like a reversal of destiny.
(Beth Moore) What a turn around the Lord made in Sosthenes. It sounds like
what happened when Paul was involved in the stoning death of Stephen and
later was converted and became a minister of the gospel. (If Paul had given
up and left earlier, this would not have happened.)

Does the Lord need to tell us to not be afraid, speak out, trust Him? He told
Joshua that many times. David found encouragement and wrote may Psalms
for us.


Then Paul's journey took him 1,500 miles to his home church. Before
reaching Antioch, he sailed to Ephesus with Aquilla and Priscilla coming, too.
Ephesus was a great trade center of Asia. Silversmiths made money as they
sold idols and relics of the goddess of fertility, Diana or Artemis as she's call in

They meet Apollos there. He is preaching repentance and the promises of the
Savior, as John the Baptist did. Aquilla and Priscilla brought Apollos to faith
in Jesus and taught him the Chrisitan ways of faith. Then Apollos preached
Jesus. The church at Ephesus only had 12 believers. Paul stayed there for
three years.

If we disciple only one person during our life, and that person  has a special
calling of the Lord, doing great things for the kingdom. Then our life is not
Who knows, a "Billy Graham" or a "Beth Moore"  may be waiting? Only Jesus
 knows what others  will do for Him.


Don't be afraid to share Jesus with others. Trust Him for wisdom and strength.

Share His love, encouragement, and Word wherever I am this week.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

An Upside Down World

Acts 17
And when they found them not, they drew Jason and certain brethren
unto the rulers of the city, crying, These that have turned the world
upside down are come hither also.  Acts 17:6

Paul's next stop on his second missionary journey to establish churches, was
the city of Thessalonica, the capital and largest city of Macedonia. Romans
made  it a free city with its own government and local laws because of its
loyalty to Rome.


I have baked a cake in which you put the topping in the pan first- butter,
brown sugar, pineapples, and cherries. Then the cake mix is added. It is
called a pineapple upside down cake. After it is baked, the cake is turn
upside down on the server and a beautiful, delicious cake appears.
Something beautiful was happening in Europe, as the four missionaries
told people about Jesus.

Jerry Falwell says in  Liberty Bible Commentary:
These missionaries had turned the world upside down (verse 6) referring to
the impact of their ministry in the previous places. They were literally shaking
the communities with the gospel!

As multitudes were believing in Jesus as The Christ and Savior, churches were
being established. I believe the Lord wants and can do it again, in our
generation. Will we be a part of it?


Envious Jews stirred up a mob of wicked men in Thessalonica.  Paul and Silas
went to the city of Berea by night to escape them. (50-60 miles) These noble
people of Berea received the word with readiness of mind, and searched the
scriptures daily. Those Jews from Thessalonica sent agitators to Berea to stir
up more trouble for the group of missionaries. Believers there sent Paul toward
Athens because of this.

Athens was the philosophical center filled with idols. There was even an altar
to the "unknown God.", which Paul preached about. He calls the people to
repent of their sins.
While there, Paul encounters two groups of philosphers, the Epicureans and
the Stoics.
The Epicureans were pleasure-seekers. The lived for the here and now;
believed there is nothing after death; whatever pleased him, he was free to do.
The Stoics, who were rationalists, believed in Pantheism (god exists in
everything and in everyone) and Fatalism (whatever happened ocurred
because  it was supposed to happen; and brotherhood of all men).
Paul explained that God is not like an  idol made of gold, silver, or stone,
made by man. (verse 29) He also taught that Jesus resurrected from the dead.

Do you remember studying Greek mythology in school? Paul came face to
face with it. Some mocked and others believed in Jesus. A church does
appear in Athens later, but not now in scriptures.

Can I defend my faith? Do I know how to share scriptures with unbelievers
so they see who Jesus is?
Certainly our world is just as crazy as it was back in Biblical days. Our God
is a Spirit to be worshiped not as an idol of wood or concrete. He gives us the
Bible so we can learn about His love and ways for our life.


Am I willing to turn my world upside down for Jesus?

Can I stand against cults and false religions with the Truth?

Monday, October 11, 2010


Acts 16
And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God:
and the prisoners heard them.   Acts 16:25

Chapters 16-19 contain as many as eight years of ministry summarized in
these few chapters, which tell of Paul's work in many of the European cities
of the empire. Luke joins Paul, Silas, and Timothy on the missionary team.
(from Nelson's Illustrated Bible Handbook)

In Charles Swindoll's book Paul: A Man of Grace and Grit"  he says:
A man from Macedonia had said,"Come over and help us." God had in
mind a seller of purple, an exploited slave girl, and a rugged, brutal Roman
jailer. When you travel as God would have you travel, like Paul, you're
sensitive  to doors that open and at peace with doors that close.

These three were the first members of the church at Philippi, which met at
Lydia's home. This church was founded on Paul's second missionary journey.
The Holy Spirit sent Paul to Philippi where it became the entrance of the
gospel into Europe.
Philippi was a place where businessmen and salesmen travelled
to and from all over the world.


Over the last thirty years, my family has had many revival preachers stay
in our home. Sure it was extra work-extensive cleaning, more laundry, and
special meals, but the blessings and benefits outweighed the work.
A woman in the Bible opened her home, also.

The Preacher's outline & Sermon Bible  states:
Lydia was a professional woman. She was a seller of purple fabric. Purple
fabrics were in great demand in the Roman world. Purple was used on the
toga or outer garments by the royalty of Rome. Therefore, as in every society,
even the lower classes desired what the upper class had.
Lydia was apparently very wealthy. Her home and financial means were large
enough to accommodate not only the mission party and a household, but the
church itself. (verse 15, 40) Note also that her hometown was Thyatira. She
apparently had business establishments and homes in both places. Perhaps
Thyatira, a flourishing city known for its purple dyes and cloth, was her
manufacturing and shipping headquarters, and Philippi was her distribution

The mission team stayed at Lydia's house. She was very hospitable, don't
you think? Four house guests would make quite a difference for us, but to her.

A booklet by Agape Ministries, called Let's Practice Hospitality, says:
The dictionary defines it a "behaving in a kind and generous manner toward
guests-expressing welcome, generosity."
In the same booklet, Jackie Cave said,"Hospitality begins in the home by daily
practice with the family. Our family is a gift from God to us. The one most
deserving of our kindest hospitality is our own dear husband. No effort is too
much trouble to make sure he understand just how grateful we are that God
gave us him."
Also, Mrs. Aloha Broome says she has a plaque in her home that states "Let
all guests be received as Christ."

Some scriptures on this subject include: 1Peter 4:9, Romans 12:13,
1 Timothy 6:17-19, Titus 1:8.


Why were Paul and Silas in a dark, smelly dungeon? The had cast out a
demon from a slave girl. She had been used to make money for her owners by
telling the future. Now that she was delivered and was a Christian, her owners
could not make money from her services. (Of course, it was God's way of
putting them in contact with the Roman jailer who needed to be saved.)

What were these two doing at midnight? They were praying and praising
God. Did I say they were in a dungeon, a prison? They sang while down there
in the inner part, and their feet were in stocks? Yes, and God delivered them
with an earthquake opening the cells and freeing their feet. Isn't the Lord full
of surprises?


Open my home more to those who share the gospel.

Be more hospitable.

Keep praying and praising, no matter what the circumstances.
(At least I'm not in jail.)

Friday, October 8, 2010


Acts 15
But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we
shall be saved, even as they.  Acts 15:11


Just out of the blue, one day my husband bought me a dozen red roses. What
a surprise! It was a beautiful and unexpected gift. It was the only time in 37
years. I must say that I felt like I got something I didn't deserve, since it wasn't
a special ocassion.

"Grace is getting what you don't deserve," my pastor husband says.

Two questions about salvation arose for the Jerusalem church council to solve:
1. Is a ritual or ceremony necessary to be saved?
2. Does a man have to accept the whold law before he can be saved?
(from The Preacher's Outline & Sermon)

The answer to both questions is "no." What happened at the beginning of this
chapter was this: Pharisees who were converted to Christianity were teaching
salvation by circumcision and keeping of the law at the Antioch church. These
are considered "works." This group met in a formal conference with the
apostles and elders at Jerusalem.

Jerry Falwell in Liberty  Bible Commentary states:
Peter reminded the group that God had accepted the Gentiles by faith alone
and not on Jewish terms. He emphasized that salvation was through grace of
the Lord.

Peter talks to the group in verses 7-11. It had been about ten years since he
witnessed to Cornelius and his house (Gentiles). They were saved by God.
Both Gentiles and Jews are saved by the grace and faith in the Lord Jesus
Christ. Aren't you glad, since we can never perfectly keep the Ten
Commandments and the rest of the law?
Grace, grace, wonderful grace.

Romans 3:23-24 says, "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of
God; being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ

Ephesians 2:8-9 syas,"For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of
yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast."

Do I show grace to others while asking the Lord for grace, or do I ask for
grace but neglect to show it to others?


James is the pastor of the Jerusalem church. He is the author of the book of
James and the half brother of Jesus.  He suggests four guidelines to pass
on to the Gentile churches. They should abstain from all association with idol
worship, refect sexual immorality, give up unbutchered meat, and abstain from
blood, which may have referred to military service in the Roman army.
(verse 20)

A letter is sent out by the apostles and elders to the Gentile churches. Paul
and Barnabas spread the news on seperate journeys and with the help of
Mark, Silas, and Timothy. Paul and Barnabas did not serve together again
due to their disagreement over taking Mark with them again. Mark had
deserted them during their first misson journey.

Do I impose my own standards on other believers as a price of acceptance?
Am I using the Word of God as my guidelines to live by or am I using rituals
and traditions?


Show grace even to those who don't deserve it.

Realize that I don't deserve grace from the Lord either.

Share a rose with the unlovely.

Evaluate my reasons for doing things using the Bible as my standard.

Live by grace and be thankful for it.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

It's All About You, Jesus

Acts 14
And when they were come, and had gathered the church together, they
rehearsed all that God had done with them, and how he had opened
the door of faith unto the Gentiles.  Acts 14:27


Back in April, I felt the Lord calling me to have a Bible study reading through
the New Testament on this blog. I was hoping to interest family and friends
to join me, but the Lord has enlarged my territory, as Jabez prayed. Since we
started in May, there have been 6 people from foreign countries who have
visited and countless others nationally. I give all the glory to God. He inspires
the words. Besides, the Scriptures are His Words. Truly, it's all about You,
Jesus. (If you haven't read the explanations of "Let it Glow, Grow, Go,"
it's found on May 31.)
Thank you for walking with me, gals, on my country road of faith. If you
have time, leave a comment.

Now to the Word.
Paul and Barnabas shared with Christians back in Antioch, about
all the things God had done with them and how He opened a door of faith to
the Gentiles. There were no Christian radio interviews nor press conferences.
Can you hear  amens? Certainly it is encouraging to hear of the wonderful
things our God is doing.
Jesus is still saving folks! Our church is baptizing 4 new converts this Sunday
and revival services have not been held yet. (start Sun. am) Thought I'd share
some good news like Paul & Barnabas did. We praise You, Jesus, for Your
mercy that You continue to show us. Thank You for answering our prayers.


Paul and Barnabas continued on to major Asian cities, preaching the gospel
and establishing new churches. These missionaries fled to Lystra and Derbe,
cities of Lycaonia. After preaching Jesus and the crippled man was healed,
the people claimed Paul and Barnabas were Greek gods, which came down
in the likeness of men. (verse 11) Paul and Barnabas tried to convince them
otherwise, since they were only men like them.
The Jews persuaded the people to stone Paul and leave him for dead outside
the city. (verse 19) Was it a coincidence that God allowed Paul to be stoned
in the same manner as Stephen? The two missionaries returned to this city,
then the next day, they began their return trip home, (Antioch) encouraging the
new disciples in each city.

Charles Swindoll's book, Paul: a Man of Grace & Grit states:
There are 4 observations about what made Paul's ministry authentic:
1. Paul's ministry was saturated with the Word of God. Fifteen times in
    chapters 13 and 14 the phrases "God's Word," the "word of truth," the
    "teaching of  the Lord," the "Law and the Prophets," and the "good news"
    are mentioned.
2. Paul's message emphasized the gospel to the lost and grace to the saved.
3. Though the responses were mixed, Paul's responses were mature.
4. In all that Paul did, the glory went to God.

What an example Paul is for us.


In all I do, let others know that life is about Jesus, not about me.

Share the gospel with the lost and grace with the saved.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Words of Encouragement

Acts 13
After the usual readings from the books of Moses and the prophets,
those in charge of the swrvice sent them this message:"Brothers, if
you have any word of encouragement for the people, come and give it."
Acts 13:15  NLT


There is a sweet lady at our church who always gives me either words of
encouragement or a bear hug. She is around the age of what my own mother
would have been if she were alive, so she is such a special lady to me. Every
Sunday either she looks for me or I look for her. Sometimes we don't exchange
words, just a hug is enough to keep me going all week. Do you have someone
like her? I hope so. Everyone needs an encourager.

With the invitation to speak for Jesus, Paul gives a long message of historical
background of  the Jewish faith and Jesus' coming as the Messiah.
In verses 38-39, Paul said,"Be it known unto you therefore, men and brethren,
that through this man (meaning Jesus) is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins:
And by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not
be justified by the law of Moses."

What was the response? Verse 48 says,"And when the Gentiles heard this,
they were glad, and glorified the word of the Lord; and as many as were
ordained to eternal life believed."

Yes, the Word of God does not return void, but it achieves what Its purpose is.
May Your Words, Lord be a blessing to others today.


In chapters 12-19 of Acts, we are in the period of the Gentile evangelism and
the establishment of the Gentile churches. The rest of the Book of Acts tell the
story of one group of missionaries, which enabled the early church to reach their
world for Christ.        (from Nelson's Illustrated Bible Handbook)

Jerry Falwell's Liberty Bible Commentary informs us:
Paul, Barnabas, and Mark were sent out by the church of Antioch as
missionaries into Asia. Scriptures tell us the cities where they shared the
Island of Cyprus-cities of Seleucia, Salames, Paphos
Region of Pisidia-cities of Pamphylia.

Mark returned back to Jerusalem , but Paul and Barnabas continued on to
Perga and Antioch in Pisidia, where Paul preached the message discussed
above. Even though Gentiles became believers in Jesus, the Jews stirred up
people and persecuted the two missionaries. Verse 51 says Paul and
Barnabas were expelled from the city. From there the two went joyfully
and filled with the Holy Ghost to the city of Iconium.

As I think about all of this, I realize the goodness of God to share Jesus with
us Gentiles. Also, the sacrifice and willingness of Paul and Barnabas as they
traveled and endured hardships so people would hear about Jesus. That
means to us that the Gospel was handed down through generations to us in our
present time. So we are obligated to pass the Word and love of Jesus onto our
world. We can be missionaries in our own neighborhood and city or around
the world.


Be an encouragement to other believers.

Share Jesus' love and Word of salvation as a missionary in my world far and

Tuesday, October 5, 2010


Acts 12
He (Peter) knocked at the door in the gate, and a servant girl named
Rhoda came to open it. When she recognized Peter's voice, she was so
overjoyed that, instead of opening the door, she ran back inside and
told everyone, "Peter is standing at the door!" "You're out of your
mind!" they said. When she insisted, they decided,"It must be his
angel." Meanwhile, Peter continued knocking. When they finally
opened the door and saw him, they were amazed.   
Acts 12:13-16  NLT


In verse 1, we read about Herod, grandson of Herod the Great, and nephew
of Herod who beheaded John the Baptist. He killed James, the brother of John.
James was the first of the apostles to be martyred. Why did this happen to
James? He was part of Jesus' inner circle, one of His three choosen, special
Yet God answered no to prayers for James. Sometimes His answer is yes, no,
or wait. Can I accept God's will when He answers no? Do I trust in the
sovereignty of God? Do I believe that He knows best and I don't?

Henry Blackaby says,"The purpose of prayer is not to conform God to our
will but to adjust our will to God. We must learn to trust God so that if He
says no, we accept that His will is best."

Killing James pleased the Jews, who wanted to stop the spread of Christianity.
So Herod imprisoned Peter, but it was the Jewish Passover time, which
meant Peter would be tried after Easter. Peter was in chains, between two
soldiers, and a guard was at the prison door. An angel came and delivered
Peter from the prison, setting him free.
Jesus wants to set us free from the chains of sin that keep us bound. Do we
pray for it?


I live in an old house, which is probably 70 years old. It is the one in which I
grew up as a child. There is a door between the kitchen and laundry room.
This door will not stay closed, during the summer, without a doorstop in front
of it. However, during the winter, it will stay closed on its own, without the
doorstop. Maybe it's the humidity which causes this, I don't know. This
procedure could upset me if I let it. I have to put down a basket of laundry in
order to close the door and prop the doorstop in front of it, every time. So I
repeat the task because I don't want to air condition the laundry room.

Have you ever thought about doors? There are several kinds of doors-barn
doors, gate doors, house doors, closet doors, church doors. They are all made
differently and have a different function. They can keep something in or
something out. Doors can be locked or kept open. They can be an enterance
or an exit.

Doors-Webster's Dictionary describes a door as  any means of access,
entrance, or exit.

What happened in the above scripture is amazing to me. Peter is freed by an
angel from prison and goes to Mary's house, who is John Mark's mother. The
church is having a prayer meeting for Peter.
When I read this story, I tell Rhoda, "Just open the door and let Peter inside."
But she never does. It's not like a stranger is knocking in the middle of the
night. No, she recognized Peter's voice. Rhoda, a servant girl, got excited, so
excited that Peter was at the door, that she runs inside and tells everyone the
good news. Perhaps she had been in the prayer meeting, too. At any rate, she
knew God had answered their prayers.

How did the brethren respond? Did they run and open the door for Peter,
greeting him with excitement? No, they thought Rhoda was out of her mind.
Where's their faith? Why are they doubting that God performed a miracle while
answering their prayers? Lest I be too judgemental, I'm guilty of the same thing.
Is my faith so weak that I'm surprised when God answers my prayers?

Meanwhile, Peter kept knocking. Thank goodness he didn't leave, but persisted.
(I wonder what he was thinking, standing there knocking.) The people were
amazed when they finally opened the door and saw Peter. Am I amazed
whenever God opens doors for me as a result of answered prayers?

In John 10:9, Jesus says,"I am the door; by me if any man enter in, he shall be
saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture."

Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and shew thee great and might things,
which thou knowest not.    Jeremiah 33:3

Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open
the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.
Revelation 3:20


Open the door of my heart and let Jesus come inside to be Lord of it.

Keep praying and having faith.

Accept God's answers, even if they are "no or wait."

Thank Him for the "yes"  answers.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Who am I?

Acts 11
And since God gave these Gentiles the same gift he gave us when we
believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I to stand in God's way?
Acts 11:17 NLT


When our children were young, we used to play a game with them while we
traveled six hours in the car to their grandma's house. The game was called
"Who am I?" I would read descriptive card clues of a person in the Bible
and my family would guess the name of the person it described.
Peter asked the question in our key verse written above. Let's see what led
up to it.

Due to the strong criticism of Peter's visit to Cornelius, a Gentile, Peter reports
what happened back in chapter 10. God spoke to Peter, sending him to
witness to Cornelius and his household. These Gentiles were saved,
through repentance, as a result of Peter's obedience. (verse 14)

The reference book, The Preacher's Outline & Sermon Bible says:
          Peter was convinced of another truth: he could not withstand
          (stand against) God. The Greek is emphasized, "I, who wasthat I
          could withstand God?" Peter had absolutely nothing to do with giving
          the Holy Spirit to the Gentiles. No man is going to stop God from doing
          what He purposes to do. It was God's will that the door of salvation be
          swung open to the Gentiles and God was doing it.

Peter asked, "Who am I?"  I think he was meaning that not even Peter was
going to stop God from saving Gentiles when it was His will.

In John 11:25-26, Jesus said unto her, "I am the resurrection, and the life; he
that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live; And whosoever
liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?"

Back in Matthew 16, Jesus asked His disciples,"Whom say ye that I am?"
Peter answered,"Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God."

Praise God that He included us Gentiles in His plan of salvation through
faith in Jesus Christ.


In verse 18, the reality of Gentile salvation, the Greeks at Antioch, is accepted
in the Jerusalem church.
Then, verse 19 tells us that because of the stoning and death of deacon
Stephen, believing Jews of Jerusalem scattered. This was God's way of
spreading the gospel into the world. However, it was only preached to the

Nelson's Illustrated Bible Handbook says:

          Gentiles in Antioch turned to Christ in great numbers.(Population was
           500,000.) So the Jerusalem church sent Barnabas as a missionary to
           Antioch. Then, he brings Saul to Antioch to help and both stay and
           minister to the first Gentile congregation.
           It is here the name "Christian" which means "little Christs," is
           coined for the followers of Jesus.

A famine occurs in Judea and the church at Antioch sent money to help with
relief and to show brotherly Christian love.

We should not only care about the souls of people, but their physical needs
of the body, also.


I do not want to stand in God's way of achieving His purposes.

I want to be a missionary that shows  Christian love to people in need
around me and elsewhere.

Friday, October 1, 2010


Acts 10
But the voice spoke again:"Do not call something unclean if God has
made it clean."   Acts 10:15 NLT


In the town of Caesarea there lived a Roman army officer named Cornelius,
who was a captain of the Italian Regiment. He was a devout, God-fearing
man.He was praying one afternoon, when an angel of God came to
Cornelius and told him to send some messengers to Joppa to bring Simon
Peter back to him. (Peter would tell Cornelius and his household how to be
saved, according to Acts 11:14.)  "Cornelius' prayers and gifts to the poor
had been received by God as an offering," the angel told him in verse 4.

How encouraging it is to know God, our heavenly Father, answers prayers.
Sometimes we need reasurring, don't we, at least I do.


Often times when I get the sheets out of the clothes dryer, they are rolled up
with towels and washcloths inside. Sometimes I have to run the dryer longer
in order to finish drying everything. Afterwards comes the task of folding up a
king sized sheet by ones self. Did you know that a sheet is mentioned in the
Bible? I'm always learning new things from reading the Word. This sheet must
have been larger than king-sized, because it held animals.

In the meantime, Peter was praying on a roof top and fell into a trance. He
saw the sky open and a large sheet let down by its four corners. In the sheet
were all sorts of animals, reptiles, and birds that were unclean for a Jew to eat.
Three times the Lord told Peter to kill and eat these unclean animals, but Peter
refused because of his Jewish laws.

The Lord says to not call something unclean if God has made it clean.
(verse 15)
This was an illustration for not only animals, but also for people-Gentiles to be
specific. Through faith in Jesus Christ, we Gentiles are acceptable to God.
I am so very glad!

So Peter preaches to Cornelius' household that "God is no respector of
persons"(verse 34) and "he is Lord of all." This is the first time Peter preaches
to Gentiles about the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. What
happened? The next chapter tells us.

The Preacher's Outline & Sermon Bible  says:
People can be prejudice when people differ in nationality, color, beliefs,
religion, speech, looks, behavior, ability, energy, position, status, social
standing, possessions, wealth, birth, and heritage. Prejudice arises when
people feel they and their differences make them better than others.


Keep praying, remembering that God hears and answers.

Bring my prejudices to the Lord for a changing of my heart so He can use me
for His purpose.

He is Lord of all and loves them, so should I.