Category: Acts–BibleTrekToday

Preaching, faith, baptism!

Scripture reading for April 29th: Acts 18

Key Scriptures: Acts 18:5-8 “When Silas and Timothy arrived from Macedonia, Paul was occupied with the Word, testifying to the Jews that the Christ was Jesus. And when they opposed and reviled him, he shook out his garments and said to them, “Your blood be on your own heads! I am innocent. From now on I will go to the Gentiles.” And he left there and went to the house of a man named Titius Justus, a worshiper of God. His house was next door to the synagogue. Crispus, the ruler of the synagogue, believed in the Lord, together with his entire household. And many of the Corinthians hearing Paul believed and were baptized.”

The apostles were always sowing God’s Word to those who would hear. God never forces anyone to believe, but gives opportunity through testimony, preaching and teaching. People are responsible for the condition of their hearts to receive. When the Jews opposed Paul and his workers, they shook out the dust and moved on, just as Jesus had instructed. Here we have them moving right next door to the local Corinthian synagogue in the house of a “God-fearing” Gentile, Titius Justice. Then the synagogue ruler believed and he and his whole household were saved and baptized! The Word and the dust are powerful witnesses! Household salvation strikes again!

Acts 18:9-10 “And the Lord said to Paul one night in a vision, “Do not be afraid, but go on speaking and do not be silent, for I am with you, and no one will attack you to harm you, for I have many in this city who are My people.””

Faith confession and prayer: Lord Jesus, I hear Your encouragement to preach Your Word. Our call is to be faithful and trust You to bring forth those with faith. Deliver me from fear of rejection and concern of acceptance. Teach me to fish for men and let me see household salvation in my own house!

Mark 6:11 “And if any place will not receive you and they will not listen to you, when you leave, shake off the dust that is on your feet as a testimony against them.”

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“Hearing something new!”

Scripture reading for April 28th: Acts 17

Key Scriptures: Acts 17:16-21 “Now while Paul was waiting for them at Athens, his spirit was provoked within him as he saw that the city was full of idols. So he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and the devout persons, and in the marketplace every day with those who happened to be there. Some of the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers also conversed with him. And some said, “What does this babbler wish to say?” Others said, “He seems to be a preacher of foreign divinities”–because he was preaching Jesus and the resurrection. And they took him and brought him to the Areopagus, saying, “May we know what this new teaching is that you are presenting? For you bring some strange things to our ears. We wish to know therefore what these things mean. Now all the Athenians and the foreigners who lived there would spend their time in nothing except telling or hearing something new.”

Driven to Athens by the persecution and death threats, Paul was vexed in his spirit as he saw that this city was full of idols. His remedy was to present the truth of Jesus Christ to whoever would hear him. He first went to the Jews in the local synagogue. He started there because they were his own people and the Old Testament Scriptures were a great opening to preach from. He then went to the marketplace and shared with whoever God put in his path. There he ran into the intellectuals of the city who invited him to come to what was the town square or people’s university and to share his new teaching. This group was always out for something new, just for the sake of being “woke” in their day. Oh that God’s people today would engage with our time and culture with Christ’s Gospel and reveal the true and living God Who supplies all our needs!

Acts 17:29-30 “Being then God’s offspring, we ought not to think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of man. The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now He commands all people everywhere to repent, . .”

Faith confession and prayer: Lord Jesus, fill me with the Holy Spirit and boldness to confront in love the idolatry of our time and culture with the truth of Your Gospel of Jesus death and resurrection. May all people everywhere repent as You have commanded and avoid eternal death!

Luke 13:3 “No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.”

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Household salvation!

Scripture reading for April 27th: Acts 16

Key Scriptures: Acts 16:25-30 “About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them, and suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken. And immediately all the doors were opened, and everyone’s bonds were unfastened. When the jailer woke and saw that the prison doors were open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself, supposing that the prisoners had escaped. But Paul cried with a loud voice, “Do not harm yourself, for we are all here.” And the jailer called for lights and rushed in, and trembling with fear he fell down before Paul and Silas. Then he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved? And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.””

Because of preaching Jesus, Paul and Silas were beaten and placed in stocks in the dungeon of a Philippian jail. Not dismayed, they were worshiping God about midnight when a peculiar earthquake rocked the jail. It loosed all the shackles and opened the doors, causing the jailer to wake up in despair. Thinking that the prisoners had escaped, he prepared for suicide knowing the government would hold him accountable. Paul called out to him, stopping his final act. The jailer came and fell down before the freed prisoners and asked the preachers an amazing question: “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” Paul and Silas were ready with a simple answer that would apply to the jailer and his family! It is still true today and has brought other household salvations.

Acts 16:33-34 “And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their wounds; and he was baptized at once, he and all his family. Then he brought them up into his house and set food before them. And he rejoiced along with his entire household that he had believed in God.”

Faith confession and prayer: Lord Jesus, thank You that you make it easy to know how we can be saved, not just from ourselves, but from sin and it’s deadly consequences. I pray for salvation for my household and the rejoicing that results from repentance and faith in Jesus Christ. Shake up my world today with Your salvation grace as I walk with You.

Acts 4:13 “And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other Name (Jesus) under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.

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Sharp disagreements!

Scripture reading for April 26th: Acts 15

Key Scriptures: Acts 15:36-41 “And after some days Paul said to Barnabas, “Let us return and visit the brothers in every city where we proclaimed the Word of the Lord, and see how they are.” Now Barnabas wanted to take with them John called Mark. But Paul thought best not to take with them one who had withdrawn from them in Pamphylia and had not gone with them to the work. And there arose a sharp disagreement, so that they separated from each other. Barnabas took Mark with him and sailed to Cyprus, but Paul chose Silas and departed, having been commended by the brothers to the grace of the Lord. And he went through Syria and Cilia, strengthening the churches.”

Even among strong believers there can come some sharp disagreements on methods and outreach partners. In this chapter, Paul and Barnabas were discussing the need to revisit the churches that they had founded on their first journey together. On that journey, John Mark had initially joined with them to help with the work, (Acts 13:5) but for some unknown reason deserted the mission to return home. (Acts 13:13) When Barnabas wanted to take John Mark with them again, Paul was opposed, so much so that they separated into two different missions. Thank God, Spirit- filled followers of Jesus can still have disagreements and be used by God!

Growing in grace is a progressive learning experience. We are all in process and this example from the apostle Paul’s life and ministry helps us understand that some things have to be worked through over time. Disagreements and differences of opinion are going to be part of ministry. Paul was not wanting to give John Mark another chance since he failed the first time. Barnabas, a natural encourager, saw the potential in John Mark and took him under his supervision on a separate outing. The church committed them both to God’s grace and sent them out. Ministry was multiplied and John Mark was restored. He eventually wrote the Gospel of Mark and was restored to Paul’s favor.

Romans 12:16-18 “Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.”

Faith confession and prayer: Lord Jesus, help me to live peaceably with all men, even in the sometimes sharp disagreement on methods and partners. May the grace of God fill my life with patience and restoration of those who have not met expectations.

2nd Timothy 2:1-2 “You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus, and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.”

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Through many tribulations!

Scripture reading for April 23rd: Acts 14

Key Scriptures: Acts 14:19-22 “But Jews came from Antioch and Iconium, and having persuaded the crowds, they stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, supposing that he was dead. But when the disciples gathered about him, he rose up and entered the city, and on the next day he went on with Barnabas to Derbe. When they had preached the Gospel to that city and had made many disciples, they returned to Lystra and to Iconium and to Antioch, strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying that through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God.”

God’s ways are not always our ways. Saul, when first converted on the Damascus road, was confronted by Jesus and repented and followed Him. He was told how much he would suffer for Christ’s Name, as he himself had caused suffering among God’s people. Now Paul and Barnabas were sent out by the Holy Spirit on a mission to reach lost souls. They preached and Jews, zealous for God, brought persecution and even now stoned Paul (Saul) to the point they though he was dead. The disciples gathered around his lifeless body, and Paul was raised up and continued preaching and even returning to the place where he was so stoned! He learned personally the truth that “through many tribulations we must enter the Kingdom of God.”

Acts 14:23 “And when they had appointed elders for them in every church, with prayer and fasting they committed them to the Lord in Whom they had believed.”

Faith confession and prayer: Lord Jesus, thank You for this record of the tribulations of those beginning the mission of taking the Gospel to the ends of the earth. Strengthen me and Your people to stand firm and boldly proclaim Your Good News! Help us to rejoice in tribulations and trials, knowing that the testing of our faith brings patience.

Mark 10:29-30 “Jesus said, “Truly, I say unto you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for My sake and for the Gospel, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life.””

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Prophesy and bold preaching

Scripture reading for April 22nd: Acts 13

Key Scriptures: Acts 13:1-4 “Now there were in the church at Antioch prophets and teachers, Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen a lifelong friend of Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” Then after fasting and praying they laid their hands on them and sent them off. So being sent out by the Holy Spirit, they went down to Seleucia, and from there they sailed to Cyprus. When the arrived at Salamis, they proclaimed the Word of God in the synagogues of the Jews.”

The Book of Acts switches here from the ministry of Peter to the ministry of Paul and his missionary calling to the Gentiles. In this passage, we have the leaders of the church in Antioch worshiping the Lord and fasting when, through one of the prophets present, a word of wisdom from the Holy Spirit came forth. We note that this was a word of confirmation, not initial direction. The Holy Spirit had already spoken the Barnabas and Saul about their ministry personally. It was now confirmed through the prophesy given during worship. The leaders were obedient and laid hands on Saul and Barnabas and sent them off. As they went on their way, it is emphasized that they were sent off by the Holy Spirit and they preached the gospel in the synagogues of the Jews first, as God’s chosen people to bring Jesus into the world. They hardened their hearts and Paul and Barnabas turned to reach the Gentiles, also God’s plan!

Acts 13:44-46 “The next Sabbath almost the whole city gathered to hear the Word of the Lord. But when the Jews saw the crowds, they were filled with jealousy and began to contradict what was spoken by Paul, reviling him. And Paul and Barnabas spoke out boldly saying, “It was necessary that the Word of God be spoken first to you. Since you thrust it aside and judge yourselves unworthy of eternal life, behold, we are turning to the Gentiles.””

Faith confession and prayer: Lord Jesus, thank You for the message of eternal life and forgiveness of sins through Jesus Christ. Thank You for the gift of prophecy in Your church. Fill me with Your Holy Spirit and use me to speak Your Word boldly to those in need of confirmation and salvation.

Acts 13:48 “And when the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the Word of the Lord, and as many as were appointed to eternal life believed.”

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A government crackdown on the church

Scripture reading for April 21st: Acts 12

Key Scriptures: Acts 12:1-5 “About that time Herod the king laid violent hands on some who belonged to the church. He killed James the brother of John with the sword, and when he saw that it pleased the Jews, he proceeded to arrest Peter also. This was during the days of unleavened Bread. And when he had seized him, he put him in prison, delivering him over to four squads of soldiers to guard him, intending after the Passover to bring him out to the people. So Peter was kept in prison, but earnest prayer for him was made to God by the church.”

Life in God’s kingdom is the only real life! But it is not always full of joy and delights here in this life. Those that live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution and James and Peter found out personally. James, the brother of John, one of the “Sons of Thunder” was probably beheaded by King Herod. It may be he resisted. Peter, the head disciple was arrested and put in prison and guarded by 4 squads of soldiers. They did not mess around with these Christ-followers. Because of Passover week, Herod just kept him guarded in jail, waiting until after the celebration to execute him in front of the Jews, many who were pleased to get rid of these ‘false teachers’. But God’s people were praying and it is not over even when it looks like it. A miraculous deliverance was brought about by angelic intervention and a squad of soldiers lost their lives for failure to guard their prisoner!

Acts 12:6-7 “Now when Herod was about to bring him out, on that very night, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains, and sentries before the door were guarding the prison. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood next to him, and a light shone in the cell. He struck Peter on the side and woke him, saying, “Get up quickly.” And the chains fell off his hands.”

Faith confession and prayer: Lord Jesus, thank You that life following You is never dull and boring. Help me to learn how to trust you like James and Peter in every situation. Take me by the hand and lead me step by step, and wake me up if necessary!

Psalm 34:6-7 “This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him and saved him out of all his troubles. The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear Him, and delivers them.”

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Discipleship at Antioch

/Scripture reading for April 20th: Acts 11

Key Scriptures: Acts 11:19-25 “Now those who were scattered because of the persecution that arose over Stephen traveled as far as Phoenicia and Cyprus and Antioch, speaking the Word to no one except Jews. But there were some of them, men of Cyprus and Cyrene, who on coming to Antioch spoke to Hellenists also, preaching the Lord Jesus. And the hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number who believed turned to the Lord. The report of this came to the ears of the church in Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas to Antioch. When he saw the grace of God, he was glad and he exhorted them all to remain faithful to the Lord with steadfast purpose, for he was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and faith. And a great many people were added to the Lord, So Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul, and when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch.

Luke now tells the story of how the Church spread out from Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria. The persecution after Stephen drove disciples outward, and under the direction of the Holy Spirit they preached the Word to Jews and increasingly to Gentiles. The Jerusalem church heard about the salvations and sent a trusted leader, Barnabas, to check it out. Barnabas was an encourager and was a “good man, full of the Holy Spirit and faith.” He exhorted the new believers to stay faithful but then went and found Saul (Paul) and brought him there to help disciple these Jew and Gentile converts. For a year they met together and taught the Word of God. It was here that disciples were first call “Christians.” Paul got experience teaching the new Gentile converts that he would be increasingly involved with as God had commissioned him.

Acts 11:26 “For a whole year they met with the church and taught a great many people. And in Antioch the disciples were first called Christians.”

Faith confession and prayer: Lord Jesus, making disciples of all men and teaching them to observe all that You taught is the mission of the church. Help Your church to keep the main thing the main thing. Fill me with the Holy Spirit and faith to fulfill Your mission.

Matthew 28:19-20 “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the Name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

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A preachers dream!

Scripture reading for April 19th: Acts 10

Key Scriptures: Acts 10:30-33 “And Cornelius said, “Four days ago, about this hour, I was praying in my house at the ninth hour, and behold, a man stood before me in bright clothing and said, ‘Cornelius, your prayer has been heard and your alms have been remembered before God. Send therefore to Joppa and ask for Simon who is called Peter, He is lodging in the house of Simon, a tanner, by the sea.’ So I sent for you at once, and you have been kind enough to come. Now therefore we are all here in the presence of God to hear all that you have been commanded by the Lord.”

Peter was the chief of the apostles of Jesus Christ and he was a devout Jew. Jews must never go to the house of a Gentile, or so Peter was taught. However, God gave him a dream of a sheet coming down from heaven with all kinds of unclean foods. He was commanded to arise, kill and eat. This happened three times and Peter was struggling to understand when the three men sent by Cornelius arrived at Peter’s lodging. The Holy Spirit spoke to Peter that he should go with them to Cornelius’ home. As he arrived, Cornelius shared his side of God’s directions and asked him to share what God had given him! Now that is a preachers dream come true! Peter preached the Gospel of Jesus Christ and God gave them salvation and the gift of the Holy Spirit!

Acts 10:44-46 “While Peter was still saying these things, the Holy Spirit fell on all who heard the Word. And the believers from among the circumcised who had come with Peter were amazed because the gift of the Holy Spirit was poured out even on the Gentiles. For they were hearing them speaking in tongues and extolling God.”

Faith confession and prayer: Father, thank You for preparing hearts of seekers to hear the Gospel message. Thank You for sending Your people to preach that salvation and the baptism of the Holy Spirit would be poured out through their obedience. Open doors for me today to share Your Word with seekers who are ready to receive Your Word.

Isaiah 9:2 “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone.”

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Who are You, Lord?

Scripture reading for April 16th: Acts 9

Key Scriptures: Acts 9:1-6 “But Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. Now as he went on his way, he approached Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven shone around him. And falling to the ground he heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me? And he said, “Who are You, Lord?” And He said, “I am Jesus, Whom you are persecuting. But rise and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to do.””

Luke was a Gentile doctor and traveling companion of Paul after he was converted. He gives us this record of Paul’s conversion, probably directly from the source. Paul was a zealous Jew and Pharisee who thought he was doing God’s work to root out false teachers who claimed Jesus was the Christ. He held the coats of those who stoned Stephen and gave approval. He obtained papers to go to Damascus and round up more “Christ followers” when his plans were interrupted by a visit from Jesus, Himself. He was knocked down and blinded by a bright light from heaven and a voice asked him why he was persecuting Him. Saul (Paul) replied, “Who are You, Lord?” He was ignorant of the basic truth needed to repent. Jesus revealed Himself to Paul and instructed him in the next steps of a new life with a new purpose.

Acts 9:15-16 “But the Lord said to him (Ananias), “Go, for he (Saul) is a chosen instrument of Mine to carry My Name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel. For I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of My Name.”

Faith confession and prayer: Lord Jesus, thank You for revealing Yourself to me and all who follow You. You are the Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God and my Lord. As Your chosen instrument, send me today to those You have ordained to reach with the Gospel.

Jeremiah 1:4-5 “Now the Word of the Lord came to me, saying, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.””

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