Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Acts 22:1-30

Chapter 22: 1-21
     Paul stands before the crowd in his defense. He started to speak in his Jewish dialect and this quickly got their attention. The had distance themselves so much from him believing he was from a different region when in fact he was one of them. He began to tell his story of how he had persecuted those who followed the Way and had even stood there in agreement as Stephen was being stoned. But God is grace and had bestowed it on Paul. He was then able to tell the part of his story where God had revealed Himself to him through a donkey.  Paul was a perfect example of how a hard heart can be melted and molded by the Father.
Chapter 22:22-30
     When the people heard what he had to say they we outraged and wanted him taken away.  Paul was being stretched out in preparation to be scourged. It was then that he told the Centurion next to him who he really was. It was not lawful for a Roman to be sentenced without being properly condemned. Paul had purchased his citizenship when he joined the other four men in the temple rituals in the previous chapter. The truth was that he was born a citizen long before. When the soldiers heard this they immediately released him in fear that they would be sought out for even putting him in chains. They would instead present him before the chief priests and the Council for their verdict.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Acts 21:1-40

Chapter 21:1-6
     Paul and his men travel along making several little stops on their way to Tyre. Once they arrived there they unloaded their boat and settled there for seven days. Paul uses this time wisely and seeks out the disciples of the area.  I imagine that he encouraged them as they did him. When it was time to leave the men along with their whole families traveled with them to the edge of the city.They came together one more time on the beach to pray with each other.
Chapter 21:7-14
     After another few stops Paul ends up in Caesarea at the home of Philip. While there a prophet named Agabus came and told some important news to Paul. He removed Paul's belt and bound his feet with it. He wanted Paul and the people to have a visual of what would happen to him if he traveled to Jerusalem. But Paul already knew what was to be his outcome. He was prepared to be thrown in prison or even be killed for the Truth. The people at first were upset by this news but then their hearts were changed and they acknowledged God's will.
Chapter 21:15-26
      Once they had arrived in Jerusalem they gathered with James and all the elders and began to speak on what had taken place in Paul's ministry. God had done wonderful things and they couldn't help but rejoice. But there were some who once they found out that he was there would be out to get him for what he had taught. The elders told Paul of their plan for him. He would accompany four men who had taken the vow of purification, part of the Jewish custom. Paul would pay their temple fees and enter the temple with them. This would prove to the others that he had Jewish background and hopefully deflect some strife. Look at Numbers 6:14-15 to see exactly what the fees would be for each man to enter the temple.
Chapter 21:27-40
      After about seven days Paul was being noticed more and more by the people. They took hold of them and dragged him out of the temple to the streets where they began to beat him. Word reached a Roman commander who immediately went to the mob with a few of his soldiers. He then took control of the situation and had them bind Paul in chains. The problem was that the crowd was shouting two different things and the commander couldn't get the truth. He ordered that Paul be taken to the barracks but Paul pleaded with him to let him speak to the people before he was taken. After reading this does any other images come to your mind? All I could think about was how Jesus knew what was going to happen to Him and He still walked with the cross. Paul was told what would happen to him and he still willingly walked toward the prison. No struggle, just calmness.   

Even the young can be used for His Glory

      Lately I have been noticing some of God's truths more and more in my everyday life routine. But one of them has stuck out alot to me. My little boy in every way is a "mommas boy."  I catch him all the time just staring at me even when I am not giving him my attention at that moment. When I leave the house and he stays with his daddy he cries and cries as if he knows I am not there. As soon as I walk into the door and he sees me he immediately stops crying and a smile grows on his face. When I hold him he grabs my arm so tight and won't let go. At times I have found this hard because like most moms I need just a few minutes to myself where I am not needed and can just get away for a minute for some coffee.  
      Then one day while I was taking the kids on a walk the Lord showed me what he was trying to teach me through my son.  That relationship that my son wants with me is the same that we should have with the Lord. We should look to Him always in everything we do. We should not be content with any other but Him. We should smile and rejoice when God reveals His truths to us.We should cling to Him and His Words.
      But here is the cool thing...that is also how God views us. He watches us all the time even when we are distracted by other things. When we turn away He is still there waiting, calling out to us. When we return to Him He rejoices. He wraps us in the shadow of His wings and holds on to us. The nice thing is is that our Heavenly Father is constant and aways there for us. Even when we fail He never will.

Acts 20:1-38

Chapter 20:1-6
     Paul sets out for Macedonia after the riots had died down and stayed there for a few months. After leaving there he went to settle in Greece. It is thought that while he was there he wrote the book of Romans. He had planned a trip but soon learned that there was a plot to kill him once at sea so he instead headed back to Macedonia. Paul had gathered different me to join him on his journey and they went on ahead to Troas. Paul and Luke waited until after the days of Unleavened Bread (Passover) before they set out to join the others.
Chapter 20:7-12
     Paul was about to set out the next day but wanted to talk with the people a little longer so they sat around and listened to him late into the night. A young man named Eutychus was sitting on the window ledge and after falling into a deep sleep he falls out the window to his death from the third floor. Paul went down to look at the boy and brought him back to life. After returning back to where they were meeting they broke bread together and stayed up till sunrise.
Chapter 20:13-17
     Paul has his men go on the boat ahead of him and he walked until he met up with them at Assos. They made small stops along the way but were trying to make it to Jerusalem before the day of Pentecost. Paul had plan to stop in Ephesus but because of the time crunch he sent a message to them asking if the leaders would meet him in Miletus. There he would give them their farewell.
Chapter 20:18-38
     Paul wanted to prepare these people for what he knew that the Lord had told him. He starts of by saying that at no point had he slacked in giving them the gospel and that they were constantly with in his thoughts. Then came the warnings. He knew that there would be bondage for him in the future and that this was probably the last time they would see him. He also was told by the Lord that they too would see destruction and bondage for what they believed. The worse part was that men among them would rise up and speak perverse things and lead some disciples away. After hearing all this the people were sadden and began to embrace and weep over Paul knowing they would never see him again.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Acts 19:1-41

Chapter 19:1-7
     Paul returns to Ephesus keeping his promise to the people that he had made a few months earlier. After  arriving he meets a group of men. He asks them if they had received the Holy Spirit and they said they had not. They didn't know the whole story. They had been baptised in the name of John the Baptist and not Jesus. Paul is quick to tell them the truth and baptise them in their Savior's name.
Chapter 19:8-20
     Paul once again tries to preach in the synagogues and did so for three months but because their hearts were still harden to the truth he withdrew from them. He began to teach in a school like setting run by Tyrannus. Even though the Jews were not listening, the Gentiles were receiving the Truth.God was not only using Paul to reach the people but He was also using items of clothing to help heal the sick and possessed. This is like the time when the woman touched the hem of Christ robe and was healed instantly. God can use anything to bring His people to Him. This next part of the passage is very key to understand. Many of the people were saying prayers in order to heal like they using magic. The were expecting their empty prayers to heal the possessed without God's help. When we pray we need to let the Lord take control and understand that He might not answer it in the way we had thought. He knows what is best for us. The so called exorcists had tried to cast out demons from a man  using the Lord's name. The demon responded back to them that he knew Jesus and he knew Paul but he didn't know him. Even the demons know who is fighting against them. The people once seeing the truth collected all their magic books and burned them.
Chapter 19:21-22
     These verses are written in a way by Luke to almost summarize a lot of events that happened back to back.  Being guided by the Spirit, Paul sets out to Jerusalem but not before he stop off at a few other places. In other letters from Paul we find out more details about these stops.
Chapter 19:23-41
     There were many men who made a living off of making little idols or shrines for their false gods. Since Paul and other believers had been spreading the good news all over the need for these silversmiths had dwindled. One man that was outraged the most was a man named Demetrius. He gathered together other silversmiths and random people and formed a mob. It is important to notice that there were some people who had joined the mob and had no clue as to why. They were only doing so because everyone else was. During their rage they grabbed Gaius and Aristarchus who were traveling companions of Paul and put them in the middle of the mob. The people wanted a man named Alexander to speak against Paul but when the crowd realized that he was Jewish they dismissed him. It took a town clerk to quiet the crowd. He showed them how their actions would bring nothing but trouble for their free city. If they insisted on bringing charges against these men then they should do so in a lawful way. Either way the mob needed to disperse and get under control. The important thing to notice here is that even in that large crowd it only took one voice to quiet them. If something is wrong stand firm on what you believe and speak out when it is appropriate.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Acts 18:1-28

Chapter 18:1-3
     Paul arrives in Corinth where he meets a husband and wife named Aquila and Priscilla. Because the scriptures don't say anything about them being converted they probably were already believers. It was with this couple that Paul stayed with while he was in Corinth.
Chapter 18:4-11
     Paul was so passionate when it came to preaching that that is all he did. But when the people were shutting their hearts this was more than he could handle. I am sure he was growing tired of arguing with them over and over that he had to just walk away. The shaking of his garment was a ancient tradition basically saying he was finished. He left the synagogue and went to the house next door where many came and even the well known leader named Crispus came to know the truth. After hearing from the Lord Paul had peace to stay there for a 1 1/2.
Chapter 18:12-17
    The Jews wanted to get Paul and his new faith in trouble so they brought him in front of the judge. Gallio probably could see what was going on and put an end to the situation. The Jews didn't like this decision and started beating a man named Sosthenes, leader of the synagogue.
Chapter 18:18-23
     Paul needing to be refreshed and a time to relax headed back to Syria. It mentions that he cut his hair that he had grown out based on the Nazarite vow. During Paul's time the duration of this vow was changed. As long as the person didn't cut or trim their hair for atleast 30 days they were within the guidelines. Paul didn't stay there long before he was heading to Caesarea. It was not clear as to why he rushed there or to what he was going for.
Chapter 18:24-28
      We are introduced to a man named Apollos who was as scripture says mighty in the scriptures. His knowledge however was limited to as far as the baptism of John the Baptist. But what he knew he knew well. After hearing him speak Priscilla and Aquila talked with him and taught him about the way of God more accurately. How could he have been so far behind in knowledge about the Lord if he was speaking to people often? You would think that someone would have mentioned something new to him before this.  He took this new knowledge and began to share.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Acts 17:1-34

Chapter 17:1-4
     Once again Paul was traveling to neighboring and finding themselves in Thessalonica. Because of his Jewish customs he sought out the synagogues to spend the Sabbath. He would spend the next three weeks trying to preach to Jews and to show them that it was necessary for Jesus to suffer and die for them. Like other times many did change to follow the Way.
Chapter 17:5-9
     The Orthodox Jews became jealous of what was going in their synagogue. They couldn't understand how this Christian faith was a fulfillment to their ancient faith. They just thought it was a rival religion. How many times do we act like this? Don't we get jealous deep down when other Christians are doing great new things and we are still stuck in our old ways. We should be rejoicing at their new faith and not looking to ourselves.
With the Jews jealousy also came anger and they formed a mob and went to the house where Paul and his men were staying. When they found that Paul wasn't there they dragged the owner of the home, Jason and his family to the officials. They wanted Jason beaten for housing a man who was destroying their "world." Jason told them that Paul meant no harm and would be good. With that the officials released him and his family.
Chapter 17:10-13
     Paul and his men are once again secretly taken out of another city. Can you imagine someone preaching so much and so strongly that they had to leave a city in darkness so to escape safely. We are so lazy now!
They found themselves in a new town called Berea where the people where so set apart in their faith. They would study the Scriptures so thoroughly that they had a stronger foundation in the Faith than Thessalonica. Many came to know the truth. But once again the Jews from Thessaloniac found out what Paul was preaching and quickly headed to Berea to stir up trouble.
Chapter 17:14-16
      Paul's Berean friends helped him escape from the mob by sending him out to sea and throwing off the crowd. Once Paul arrived in Athens he began to walk around the city and saw all the idols that adorned the streets. Since the city was so old and full of history the people wanted to remember their great leaders by making statues of them. The problem was that they considered these people like god's. This was too much to handle for Paul and he began to grieve for them.
Chapter 17: 17-21
      Paul began to teach in the streets and it wasn't long before he was noticed by the people of leadership. They wanted to know more about what he was talking about so they invited him into their courts. This alone was a big honor for Paul to even be invited. The scholars probably had no intention of changing their religion but instead having a discussion about the latest theologies.
Chapter 17: 22-31
       This sermon from Paul must have been hard to preach. He was standing in front of people who were so set in their ways that they made statue after statue to remind them of what they believed. He tells them that the ONE true God is right here with them. He doesn't just dwell in one place or in a piece of marble. He is living and in power now. How awesome is that that we have a God is continuous forever and ever. Paul also pointed out to them that they are more concerned with sitting around having debates amongst themselves instead of reaching out to others. They need to get up and repent.
Chapter 17:32-34
     Many people after hearing Paul preach just turned away while others wanted to hear more. Among the crowd there were a few people who became followers, one being Dionysius. Hopefully he had a great influence to those around him.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Acts 16:1-40

*There is alot here but it is very beneficial to use to understand what Paul went through.
Chapter 16:1-5
    Paul returns to Lystra the city where he had been stoned at on his previous trip. I don't know about you but if I had almost been killed somewhere it would be very hard for me to return to that place so soon or ever. It was here that Paul meets a young new disciple named Timothy who was well spoken of by those around him. Paul wanted him to join him on his new journey but had heard that Timothy wasn't circumcised. Fearing this would be a problem down the road in the ministry he insisted that Timothy have the procedure done. After that was done they began on their journey and a new strong friendship was formed.
Chapter 16: 6-10
     In verse 6 and 7 we see Paul wanting to go to various cities but once they had approached them the Spirit of the Lord would tell them not to enter but to keep going. When I read this it really stuck out to me that Paul was truly following the Lord in everywhere he went because when the Spirit said no they listened ans continued somewhere else. It was in a vision while in Troas that Paul had a vision from a Macedonian man pleading that they come and help them. Paul awoke from his dream and immediately prepared for the journey that God was calling them on. In verse 10 we see the word "us" appear which would mean that the writer, Luke, was right there along side of Paul the whole time and not just viewing from afar.
Chapter 16:11-15
     The men soon set out first to other cities and then ending up in Philippi. When the Sabbath came around naturally Paul wanted to worship with believers but there wasn't a synagogue around. Outside the the gates there was a group of  women who had joined together and welcomed the disciples to join with them. After hearing what they had to say they received the Word of the Lord and were baptized. Among them was a woman named Lydia who sold fine linens in the city. She wanted the men to have a meeting place while they were in the city so she opened up her home to them. May I be like Lydia and have my home open to His disciples who need rest.
Chapter 16:16-24
     As Paul and the other men were traveling they were being followed by a demon possessed girl whose master used her for his own fortune. After a long time of her taunting them Paul turn and looked at her and in Jesus's name cast the demons out. She was freed and healed but the master wasn't happy because what made him money was gone. He had Paul and Silas dragged into the city and brought before the high officials. The officials had them beaten and then locked away in the inner prison with their feet bound in stocks.
Chapter 16:25-34
     Even though they were in a bad position they still had reason to praise God. The other prisoners listened as they sang and were happy. There was a great earthquake that came and shook the foundations of the jail along with all of the chains. The guard awoke and saw the doors open and was about to kill himself when Paul called out to him that they were all still there. In what circumstances other than in the Lord's presence would a group of inmates want to stay in jail when all the chains were off. The guard was overwhelmed by their actions and asked how he could be saved too. Paul simply said, "Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved, you and your household." He believed and him along with his household were baptized immediately. The guard not only took them into his home but he also fed them and cleaned their wounds.
Chapter 16: 35-40
    The next day the officials sent the guard to tell Paul and Silas that they had been warned and could leave the jail but they had to leave the city as well. Paul didn't like this and told the guard that the officials would have to escort them out personally. It was the law that no Roman citizen could be punished like they were unless they had just cause. Since they hadn't really sought out what had happened with the girl and her master the officials were in the wrong. They were afraid when they hear these men were Romans and did as they had requested. Paul and Silas did leave the jail but they did stop by Lydia's house so they could encourage those who were new to the faith.