Monday, May 31, 2010

1 Corinthians 1:1-17

1 Paul, called to be an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and our brother Sosthenes,
2 To the church of God in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be his holy people, together with all those everywhere who call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ—their Lord and ours:
3 Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
4 I always thank my God for you because of his grace given you in Christ Jesus. 5 For in him you have been enriched in every way—with all kinds of speech and with all knowledge— 6 God thus confirming our testimony about Christ among you. 7 Therefore you do not lack any spiritual gift as you eagerly wait for our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed. 8 He will also keep you firm to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 God is faithful, who has called you into fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

10 I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in mind and thought. 11 My brothers and sisters, some from Chloe's household have informed me that there are quarrels among you. 12 What I mean is this: One of you says, "I follow Paul"; another, "I follow Apollos"; another, "I follow Cephas "; still another, "I follow Christ."
13 Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Were you baptized into the name of Paul? 14 I thank God that I did not baptize any of you except Crispus and Gaius, 15 so no one can say that you were baptized into my name. 16 (Yes, I also baptized the household of Stephanas; beyond that, I don't remember if I baptized anyone else.) 17 For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel—not with wisdom and eloquence, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.

Questions to consider:

• With what authority does Paul write to the Corinthian church?
• What authority do you claim for the positions you hold in school, church, work and
• Describe the spiritual resources and character of this church that lead Paul to give thanks
and praise to God. What characteristics does Paul attribute to God?
• What is the basis of Paul’s plea for unity? How does this basis affect his ministry?

Possibilities for prayer:

I really like how Paul states that God is faithful. Today as we pray, let’s think about what it means to describe God as faithful, what that means for our own lives. Let’s ask God to help us understand on a deeper level what it means that God is faithful, and take time to thank Him for the ways we’ve seen God’s faithfulness in our lives.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Acts 28:1-31

1 Once safely on shore, we found out that the island was called Malta. 2 The islanders showed us unusual kindness. They built a fire and welcomed us all because it was raining and cold. 3 Paul gathered a pile of brushwood and, as he put it on the fire, a viper, driven out by the heat, fastened itself on his hand. 4 When the islanders saw the snake hanging from his hand, they said to each other, "This man must be a murderer; for though he escaped from the sea, the goddess Justice has not allowed him to live." 5 But Paul shook the snake off into the fire and suffered no ill effects. 6 The people expected him to swell up or suddenly fall dead; but after waiting a long time and seeing nothing unusual happen to him, they changed their minds and said he was a god.
7 There was an estate nearby that belonged to Publius, the chief official of the island. He welcomed us to his home and showed us generous hospitality for three days. 8 His father was sick in bed, suffering from fever and dysentery. Paul went in to see him and, after prayer, placed his hands on him and healed him. 9 When this had happened, the rest of the sick on the island came and were cured. 10 They honored us in many ways; and when we were ready to sail, they furnished us with the supplies we needed.
11 After three months we put out to sea in a ship that had wintered in the island—it was an Alexandrian ship with the figurehead of the twin gods Castor and Pollux. 12 We put in at Syracuse and stayed there three days. 13 From there we set sail and arrived at Rhegium. The next day the south wind came up, and on the following day we reached Puteoli. 14 There we found some believers who invited us to spend a week with them. And so we came to Rome. 15 The believers there had heard that we were coming, and they traveled as far as the Forum of Appius and the Three Taverns to meet us. At the sight of these people Paul thanked God and was encouraged. 16 When we got to Rome, Paul was allowed to live by himself, with a soldier to guard him.

17 Three days later he called together the local Jewish leaders. When they had assembled, Paul said to them: "My brothers, although I have done nothing against our people or against the customs of our ancestors, I was arrested in Jerusalem and handed over to the Romans. 18 They examined me and wanted to release me, because I was not guilty of any crime deserving death. 19 The Jews objected, so I was compelled to make an appeal to Caesar. I certainly did not intend to bring any charge against my own people. 20 For this reason I have asked to see you and talk with you. It is because of the hope of Israel that I am bound with this chain."
21 They replied, "We have not received any letters from Judea concerning you, and none of our people who have come from there has reported or said anything bad about you. 22 But we want to hear what your views are, for we know that people everywhere are talking against this sect."
23 They arranged to meet Paul on a certain day, and came in even larger numbers to the place where he was staying. He witnessed to them from morning till evening, explaining about the kingdom of God, and from the Law of Moses and from the Prophets he tried to persuade them about Jesus. 24 Some were convinced by what he said, but others would not believe. 25 They disagreed among themselves and began to leave after Paul had made this final statement: "The Holy Spirit spoke the truth to your ancestors when he said through Isaiah the prophet:
26 " 'Go to this people and say, 
 "You will be ever hearing but never understanding; 
 you will be ever seeing but never perceiving."
27 For this people's heart has become calloused; 
 they hardly hear with their ears, 
 and they have closed their eyes. 
 Otherwise they might see with their eyes, 
 hear with their ears, 
 understand with their hearts 
 and turn, and I would heal them.'
28-29 "Therefore I want you to know that God's salvation has been sent to the Gentiles, and they will listen!"
30 For two whole years Paul stayed there in his own rented house and welcomed all who came to see him. 31 He proclaimed the kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ—with all boldness and without hindrance!

Questions to consider:
  • How does God continue to manifest His sovereignty?
  • Through what means does God provide opportunities for service in Malta?
  • How does Paul’s arrival in Rome demonstrate God’s faithfulness?
  • Do you really believe that God keeps His promises?
  • What is Paul’s message to the Jews in Rome? What is his authority as he preaches?
  • What does Paul do now that he is living in Rome?

Possibilities for prayer:

Throughout the book of Acts, we have read of the many adventures (and challenges) that Paul encountered while sharing the Good News. These tales made it clear that life for Christ is not always an easy one, but it is definitely one worth living. Paul obviously has a passion for his mission, and that is important for him to be able to persevere. As we finish up this book, let’s take some time to ask God for a passion like Paul’s, and like Peter’s, that we might have the endurance, perseverance, and joy to share the Good News of Christ no matter the circumstances or situation.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Acts 27:1-44

1 When it was decided that we would sail for Italy, Paul and some other prisoners were handed over to a centurion named Julius, who belonged to the Imperial Regiment. 2 We boarded a ship from Adramyttium about to sail for ports along the coast of the province of Asia, and we put out to sea. Aristarchus, a Macedonian from Thessalonica, was with us.
3 The next day we landed at Sidon; and Julius, in kindness to Paul, allowed him to go to his friends so they might provide for his needs. 4 From there we put out to sea again and passed to the lee of Cyprus because the winds were against us. 5 When we had sailed across the open sea off the coast of Cilicia and Pamphylia, we landed at Myra in Lycia. 6 There the centurion found an Alexandrian ship sailing for Italy and put us on board. 7 We made slow headway for many days and had difficulty arriving off Cnidus. When the wind did not allow us to hold our course, we sailed to the lee of Crete, opposite Salmone. 8 We moved along the coast with difficulty and came to a place called Fair Havens, near the town of Lasea.
9 Much time had been lost, and sailing had already become dangerous because by now it was after the Day of Atonement. So Paul warned them, 10 "Men, I can see that our voyage is going to be disastrous and bring great loss to ship and cargo, and to our own lives also." 11 But the centurion, instead of listening to what Paul said, followed the advice of the pilot and of the owner of the ship. 12 Since the harbor was unsuitable to winter in, the majority decided that we should sail on, hoping to reach Phoenix and winter there. This was a harbor in Crete, facing both southwest and northwest.
13 When a gentle south wind began to blow, they saw their opportunity; so they weighed anchor and sailed along the shore of Crete. 14 Before very long, a wind of hurricane force, called the Northeaster, swept down from the island. 15 The ship was caught by the storm and could not head into the wind; so we gave way to it and were driven along. 16 As we passed to the lee of a small island called Cauda, we were hardly able to make the lifeboat secure, 17 so the men hoisted it aboard. Then they passed ropes under the ship itself to hold it together. Because they were afraid they would run aground on the sandbars of Syrtis, they lowered the sea anchor and let the ship be driven along. 18 We took such a violent battering from the storm that the next day they began to throw the cargo overboard. 19 On the third day, they threw the ship's tackle overboard with their own hands. 20 When neither sun nor stars appeared for many days and the storm continued raging, we finally gave up all hope of being saved.
21 After they had gone a long time without food, Paul stood up before them and said: "Men, you should have taken my advice not to sail from Crete; then you would have spared yourselves this damage and loss. 22 But now I urge you to keep up your courage, because not one of you will be lost; only the ship will be destroyed. 23 Last night an angel of the God whose I am and whom I serve stood beside me 24 and said, 'Do not be afraid, Paul. You must stand trial before Caesar; and God has graciously given you the lives of all who sail with you.' 25 So keep up your courage, men, for I have faith in God that it will happen just as he told me. 26 Nevertheless, we must run aground on some island."
27 On the fourteenth night we were still being driven across the Adriatic Sea, when about midnight the sailors sensed they were approaching land. 28 They took soundings and found that the water was a hundred and twenty feet deep. A short time later they took soundings again and found it was ninety feet deep. 29 Fearing that we would be dashed against the rocks, they dropped four anchors from the stern and prayed for daylight. 30 In an attempt to escape from the ship, the sailors let the lifeboat down into the sea, pretending they were going to lower some anchors from the bow. 31 Then Paul said to the centurion and the soldiers, "Unless these men stay with the ship, you cannot be saved." 32 So the soldiers cut the ropes that held the lifeboat and let it drift away.
33 Just before dawn Paul urged them all to eat. "For the last fourteen days," he said, "you have been in constant suspense and have gone without food—you haven't eaten anything. 34 Now I urge you to take some food. You need it to survive. Not one of you will lose a single hair from his head." 35 After he said this, he took some bread and gave thanks to God in front of them all. Then he broke it and began to eat. 36 They were all encouraged and ate some food themselves. 37 Altogether there were 276 of us on board. 38 When they had eaten as much as they wanted, they lightened the ship by throwing the grain into the sea.
39 When daylight came, they did not recognize the land, but they saw a bay with a sandy beach, where they decided to run the ship aground if they could. 40 Cutting loose the anchors, they left them in the sea and at the same time untied the ropes that held the rudders. Then they hoisted the foresail to the wind and made for the beach. 41 But the ship struck a sandbar and ran aground. The bow stuck fast and would not move, and the stern was broken to pieces by the pounding of the surf.
42 The soldiers planned to kill the prisoners to prevent any of them from swimming away and escaping. 43 But the centurion wanted to spare Paul's life and kept them from carrying out their plan. He ordered those who could swim to jump overboard first and get to land. 44 The rest were to get there on planks or on other pieces of the ship. In this way everyone reached land safely.

Questions to consider:
  • With whom does Paul sail?
  • What kind of influence does Paul have on the ship? Why, do you think?
  • What do these events reveal about God?
  • What do your reactions in times of difficulty and stress reveal about your faith in God’s control of every situation?
  • How do your reactions affect others?

Possibilities for prayer:

Paul shows great wisdom in advising the men aboard the ship to eat. Without the strength that comes from food, they would not have been able to survive or properly command the ship. Let’s ask God to grant us supernatural wisdom, the kind of wisdom that we can share with others as well.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Acts 25:23-26:31

23 The next day Agrippa and Bernice came with great pomp and entered the audience room with the high-ranking military officers and the prominent men of the city. At the command of Festus, Paul was brought in. 24 Festus said: "King Agrippa, and all who are present with us, you see this man! The whole Jewish community has petitioned me about him in Jerusalem and here in Caesarea, shouting that he ought not to live any longer. 25 I found he had done nothing deserving of death, but because he made his appeal to the Emperor I decided to send him to Rome. 26 But I have nothing definite to write to His Majesty about him. Therefore I have brought him before all of you, and especially before you, King Agrippa, so that as a result of this investigation I may have something to write. 27 For I think it is unreasonable to send a prisoner on to Rome without specifying the charges against him."

1 Then Agrippa said to Paul, "You have permission to speak for yourself."
So Paul motioned with his hand and began his defense: 2 "King Agrippa, I consider myself fortunate to stand before you today as I make my defense against all the accusations of the Jews, 3 and especially so because you are well acquainted with all the Jewish customs and controversies. Therefore, I beg you to listen to me patiently.
4 "The Jewish people all know the way I have lived ever since I was a child, from the beginning of my life in my own country, and also in Jerusalem. 5 They have known me for a long time and can testify, if they are willing, that I conformed to the strictest sect of our religion, living as a Pharisee. 6 And now it is because of my hope in what God has promised our ancestors that I am on trial today. 7 This is the promise our twelve tribes are hoping to see fulfilled as they earnestly serve God day and night. King Agrippa, it is because of this hope that the Jews are accusing me. 8 Why should any of you consider it incredible that God raises the dead?
9 "I too was convinced that I ought to do all that was possible to oppose the name of Jesus of Nazareth. 10 And that is just what I did in Jerusalem. On the authority of the chief priests I put many of the Lord's people in prison, and when they were put to death, I cast my vote against them. 11 Many a time I went from one synagogue to another to have them punished, and I tried to force them to blaspheme. I was so obsessed with persecuting them that I even hunted them down in foreign cities.
12 "On one of these journeys I was going to Damascus with the authority and commission of the chief priests. 13 About noon, King Agrippa, as I was on the road, I saw a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, blazing around me and my companions. 14 We all fell to the ground, and I heard a voice saying to me in Aramaic, 'Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.'
15 "Then I asked, 'Who are you, Lord?'
" 'I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,' the Lord replied. 16 'Now get up and stand on your feet. I have appeared to you to appoint you as a servant and as a witness of what you have seen and will see of me. 17 I will rescue you from your own people and from the Gentiles. I am sending you to them 18 to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.'
19 "So then, King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the vision from heaven. 20 First to those in Damascus, then to those in Jerusalem and in all Judea, and then to the Gentiles, I preached that they should repent and turn to God and demonstrate their repentance by their deeds. 21 That is why some Jews seized me in the temple courts and tried to kill me. 22 But God has helped me to this very day; so I stand here and testify to small and great alike. I am saying nothing beyond what the prophets and Moses said would happen— 23 that the Messiah would suffer and, as the first to rise from the dead, would bring the message of light to his own people and to the Gentiles."
24 At this point Festus interrupted Paul's defense. "You are out of your mind, Paul!" he shouted. "Your great learning is driving you insane."
25 "I am not insane, most excellent Festus," Paul replied. "What I am saying is true and reasonable. 26 The king is familiar with these things, and I can speak freely to him. I am convinced that none of this has escaped his notice, because it was not done in a corner. 27 King Agrippa, do you believe the prophets? I know you do."
28 Then Agrippa said to Paul, "Do you think that in such a short time you can persuade me to be a Christian?"
29 Paul replied, "Short time or long—I pray to God that not only you but all who are listening to me today may become what I am, except for these chains."
30 The king rose, and with him the governor and Bernice and those sitting with them. 31 After they left the room, they began saying to one another, "This man is not doing anything that deserves death or imprisonment."
32 Agrippa said to Festus, "This man could have been set free if he had not appealed to Caesar."

Questions to consider:
  • Imagine the contents of Festus’s letter to Caesar.
  • What is the source of Paul’s courage in this difficult situation?
  • According to Paul, what is the real issue of his defense?
  • What has been your response to your knowledge of God?
  • Has your knowing God been worth what it has cost you? In what ways?

Possibilities for prayer:

Paul speaks quite boldly to the king, despite what the repercussions of such an act could be. We’ve seen over and over again that boldness and courage are important aspects of Paul’s journey and life experience. Let’s reflect on ways that we can be more bold in our daily lives and ask God to show us clearly those opportunities.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Acts 25:1-22

1 Three days after arriving in the province, Festus went up from Caesarea to Jerusalem, 2 where the chief priests and the Jewish leaders appeared before him and presented the charges against Paul. 3 They requested Festus, as a favor to them, to have Paul transferred to Jerusalem, for they were preparing an ambush to kill him along the way. 4 Festus answered, "Paul is being held at Caesarea, and I myself am going there soon. 5 Let some of your leaders come with me, and if the man has done anything wrong, they can press charges against him there."
6 After spending eight or ten days with them, Festus went down to Caesarea. The next day he convened the court and ordered that Paul be brought before him. 7 When Paul came in, the Jews who had come down from Jerusalem stood around him. They brought many serious charges against him, but they could not prove them.
8 Then Paul made his defense: "I have done nothing wrong against the Jewish law or against the temple or against Caesar."
9 Festus, wishing to do the Jews a favor, said to Paul, "Are you willing to go up to Jerusalem and stand trial before me there on these charges?"
10 Paul answered: "I am now standing before Caesar's court, where I ought to be tried. I have not done any wrong to the Jews, as you yourself know very well. 11 If, however, I am guilty of doing anything deserving death, I do not refuse to die. But if the charges brought against me by these Jews are not true, no one has the right to hand me over to them. I appeal to Caesar!"
12 After Festus had conferred with his council, he declared: "You have appealed to Caesar. To Caesar you will go!"
13 A few days later King Agrippa and Bernice arrived at Caesarea to pay their respects to Festus. 14 Since they were spending many days there, Festus discussed Paul's case with the king. He said: "There is a man here whom Felix left as a prisoner. 15 When I went to Jerusalem, the chief priests and the elders of the Jews brought charges against him and asked that he be condemned.
16 "I told them that it is not the Roman custom to hand over anyone before they have faced their accusers and have had an opportunity to defend themselves against the charges. 17 When they came here with me, I did not delay the case, but convened the court the next day and ordered the man to be brought in. 18 When his accusers got up to speak, they did not charge him with any of the crimes I had expected. 19 Instead, they had some points of dispute with him about their own religion and about a dead man named Jesus who Paul claimed was alive. 20 I was at a loss how to investigate such matters; so I asked if he would be willing to go to Jerusalem and stand trial there on these charges. 21 But when Paul made his appeal to be held over for the Emperor's decision, I ordered him held until I could send him to Caesar."
22 Then Agrippa said to Festus, "I would like to hear this man myself." 
 He replied, "Tomorrow you will hear him."

Questions to consider:
  • What kind of person is Festus? What fault do Felix and Festus have in common?
  • What kind of influence is Paul having on the authorities?
  • What are Paul’s views of justice? What are yours?
  • What is the movement toward Rome here? How does Festus present Paul’s case to Agrippa?
  • Imagine that you are in Paul’s situation. What are you feeling right now?

Possibilities for prayer:

It’s kind of impressive how Paul’s case catches the attention of more and more important people--people that shouldn’t really care what happens to a simple tent maker. It seems like this is a reflection of the way that God is invested in Paul’s life. Let’s thank God for the ways in which He shows how invested He is in our own lives, and that we are never alone in the midst of peace or conflict.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Acts 24:1-27

1 Five days later the high priest Ananias went down to Caesarea with some of the elders and a lawyer named Tertullus, and they brought their charges against Paul before the governor. 2 When Paul was called in, Tertullus presented his case before Felix: "We have enjoyed a long period of peace under you, and your foresight has brought about reforms in this nation. 3 Everywhere and in every way, most excellent Felix, we acknowledge this with profound gratitude. 4 But in order not to weary you further, I would request that you be kind enough to hear us briefly.
5 "We have found this man to be a troublemaker, stirring up riots among the Jews all over the world. He is a ringleader of the Nazarene sect 6-7 and even tried to desecrate the temple; so we seized him. 8 By examining him yourself you will be able to learn the truth about all these charges we are bringing against him."
9 The other Jews joined in the accusation, asserting that these things were true.
10 When the governor motioned for him to speak, Paul replied: "I know that for a number of years you have been a judge over this nation; so I gladly make my defense. 11 You can easily verify that no more than twelve days ago I went up to Jerusalem to worship. 12 My accusers did not find me arguing with anyone at the temple, or stirring up a crowd in the synagogues or anywhere else in the city. 13 And they cannot prove to you the charges they are now making against me. 14 However, I admit that I worship the God of our ancestors as a follower of the Way, which they call a sect. I believe everything that is in accordance with the Law and that is written in the Prophets, 15 and I have the same hope in God as these people themselves have, that there will be a resurrection of both the righteous and the wicked. 16 So I strive always to keep my conscience clear before God and all people.
17 "After an absence of several years, I came to Jerusalem to bring my people gifts for the poor and to present offerings. 18 I was ceremonially clean when they found me in the temple courts doing this. There was no crowd with me, nor was I involved in any disturbance. 19 But there are some Jews from the province of Asia, who ought to be here before you and bring charges if they have anything against me. 20 Or these who are here should state what crime they found in me when I stood before the Sanhedrin— 21 unless it was this one thing I shouted as I stood in their presence: 'It is concerning the resurrection of the dead that I am on trial before you today.' "
22 Then Felix, who was well acquainted with the Way, adjourned the proceedings. "When Lysias the commander comes," he said, "I will decide your case." 23 He ordered the centurion to keep Paul under guard but to give him some freedom and permit his friends to take care of his needs.
24 Several days later Felix came with his wife Drusilla, who was Jewish. He sent for Paul and listened to him as he spoke about faith in Christ Jesus. 25 As Paul talked about righteousness, self-control and the judgment to come, Felix was afraid and said, "That's enough for now! You may leave. When I find it convenient, I will send for you." 26 At the same time he was hoping that Paul would offer him a bribe, so he sent for him frequently and talked with him.
27 When two years had passed, Felix was succeeded by Porcius Festus, but because Felix wanted to grant a favor to the Jews, he left Paul in prison.

Questions to consider:

  • List the specific accusations against Paul.
  • What is Paul’s defense? How does he answer each charge?
  • What is the core of the problem according to Paul?
  • Characterize Felix. What are his responses? What are his motives?

Possibilities for prayer:

Paul’s troubles do not go away quickly. After two years, Paul is still being kept as a prisoner, though it is not entirely clear what his crime is. But through it all, Paul continues to proclaim the Good News. Today, let’s ask God to grant us increased perseverance, that we would have the strength to endure hardships that come our way with joy and courage, even when that might not be our natural response.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Acts 23:12-35

12 The next morning the Jews formed a conspiracy and bound themselves with an oath not to eat or drink until they had killed Paul. 13 More than forty men were involved in this plot. 14 They went to the chief priests and the elders and said, "We have taken a solemn oath not to eat anything until we have killed Paul. 15 Now then, you and the Sanhedrin petition the commander to bring him before you on the pretext of wanting more accurate information about his case. We are ready to kill him before he gets here."
16 But when the son of Paul's sister heard of this plot, he went into the barracks and told Paul.
17 Then Paul called one of the centurions and said, "Take this young man to the commander; he has something to tell him." 18 So he took him to the commander. 
 The centurion said, "Paul, the prisoner, sent for me and asked me to bring this young man to you because he has something to tell you."
19 The commander took the young man by the hand, drew him aside and asked, "What is it you want to tell me?"
20 He said: "The Jews have agreed to ask you to bring Paul before the Sanhedrin tomorrow on the pretext of wanting more accurate information about him. 21 Don't give in to them, because more than forty of them are waiting in ambush for him. They have taken an oath not to eat or drink until they have killed him. They are ready now, waiting for your consent to their request."
22 The commander dismissed the young man with this warning: "Don't tell anyone that you have reported this to me."
23 Then he called two of his centurions and ordered them, "Get ready a detachment of two hundred soldiers, seventy horsemen and two hundred spearmen [e] to go to Caesarea at nine tonight. 24 Provide horses for Paul so that he may be taken safely to Governor Felix."
25 He wrote a letter as follows:
26 Claudius Lysias, 
 To His Excellency, Governor Felix: 
27 This man was seized by the Jews and they were about to kill him, but I came with my troops and rescued him, for I had learned that he is a Roman citizen. 28 I wanted to know why they were accusing him, so I brought him to their Sanhedrin. 29 I found that the accusation had to do with questions about their law, but there was no charge against him that deserved death or imprisonment. 30 When I was informed of a plot to be carried out against the man, I sent him to you at once. I also ordered his accusers to present to you their case against him.
31 So the soldiers, carrying out their orders, took Paul with them during the night and brought him as far as Antipatris. 32 The next day they let the cavalry go on with him, while they returned to the barracks. 33 When the cavalry arrived in Caesarea, they delivered the letter to the governor and handed Paul over to him. 34 The governor read the letter and asked what province he was from. Learning that he was from Cilicia, 35 he said, "I will hear your case when your accusers get here." Then he ordered that Paul be kept under guard in Herod's palace.

Questions to consider:

  • How does God rescue Paul from the guerilla attempt to kill him?
  • Characterize Paul’s nephew. Imagine the family’s concern for Paul.
  • What is the basis of your confidence amidst turmoil and struggles?

Possibilities for prayer:

We’ve seen throughout this book the many trials and tribulations that Paul has faced, of varying degrees of intensity. What has been consistent is Paul’s trust and faith that God will come through in the end. Sometimes it is difficult for us to see the proverbial “light at the end of the tunnel,” but it is always there when we have God on our side. Let’s ask God for an increase in faith in the fact that God is on our side, so that we can be confident of our ultimate victory through Christ.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Acts 22:30-23:11

30 The commander wanted to find out exactly why Paul was being accused by the Jews. So the next day he released him and ordered the chief priests and all the members of the Sanhedrin to assemble. Then he brought Paul and had him stand before them.

1 Paul looked straight at the Sanhedrin and said, "My brothers, I have fulfilled my duty to God in all good conscience to this day." 2 At this the high priest Ananias ordered those standing near Paul to strike him on the mouth. 3 Then Paul said to him, "God will strike you, you whitewashed wall! You sit there to judge me according to the law, yet you yourself violate the law by commanding that I be struck!"
4 Those who were standing near Paul said, "How dare you insult God's high priest!"
5 Paul replied, "Brothers, I did not realize that he was the high priest; for it is written: 'Do not speak evil about the ruler of your people.'"
6 Then Paul, knowing that some of them were Sadducees and the others Pharisees, called out in the Sanhedrin, "My brothers, I am a Pharisee, descended from Pharisees. I stand on trial because of the hope of the resurrection of the dead." 7 When he said this, a dispute broke out between the Pharisees and the Sadducees, and the assembly was divided. 8 (The Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, and that there are neither angels nor spirits, but the Pharisees believe all these things.)
9 There was a great uproar, and some of the teachers of the law who were Pharisees stood up and argued vigorously. "We find nothing wrong with this man," they said. "What if a spirit or an angel has spoken to him?" 10 The dispute became so violent that the commander was afraid Paul would be torn to pieces by them. He ordered the troops to go down and take him away from them by force and bring him into the barracks.
11 The following night the Lord stood near Paul and said, "Take courage! As you have testified about me in Jerusalem, so you must also testify in Rome."

Questions to consider:

• How does Paul show his willingness to submit to the scriptures?
• When do you judge your conduct by the Word of God (even when those around you are
flagrantly violating it)?
• How do the Pharisees and Sadducees differ theologically? What is Paul’s strategy in raising
the issue of the resurrection of the dead?
• What special encouragement does God give Paul in this time? In what times of need have
you been encouraged by God.

Possibilities for prayer:

Even in the midst of the darkest times, God shows up and makes His presence known. Can you imagine if God was physically standing next to you? How could you feel anything but encouraged in the midst of such a situation! Today, let’s ask God for real reminders of His presence, that we might be encouraged as Paul was in his desperate situation.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Acts 21:40-22:29

40 Having received the commander's permission, Paul stood on the steps and motioned to the crowd. When they were all silent, he said to them in Aramaic:
1 "Brothers and fathers, listen now to my defense."
2 When they heard him speak to them in Aramaic, they became very quiet.
Then Paul said: 3 "I am a Jew, born in Tarsus of Cilicia, but brought up in this city. I studied under Gamaliel and was thoroughly trained in the law of our ancestors. I was just as zealous for God as any of you are today. 4 I persecuted the followers of this Way to their death, arresting both men and women and throwing them into prison, 5 as the high priest and all the Council can themselves testify. I even obtained letters from them to their associates in Damascus, and went there to bring these people as prisoners to Jerusalem to be punished.
6 "About noon as I came near Damascus, suddenly a bright light from heaven flashed around me. 7 I fell to the ground and heard a voice say to me, 'Saul! Saul! Why do you persecute me?'
8 " 'Who are you, Lord?' I asked.
" 'I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom you are persecuting,' he replied. 9 My companions saw the light, but they did not understand the voice of him who was speaking to me.
10 " 'What shall I do, Lord?' I asked.
" 'Get up,' the Lord said, 'and go into Damascus. There you will be told all that you have been assigned to do.' 11 My companions led me by the hand into Damascus, because the brilliance of the light had blinded me.
12 "A man named Ananias came to see me. He was a devout observer of the law and highly respected by all the Jews living there. 13 He stood beside me and said, 'Brother Saul, receive your sight!' And at that very moment I was able to see him.
14 "Then he said: 'The God of our ancestors has chosen you to know his will and to see the Righteous One and to hear words from his mouth. 15 You will be his witness to all people of what you have seen and heard. 16 And now what are you waiting for? Get up, be baptized and wash your sins away, calling on his name.'
17 "When I returned to Jerusalem and was praying at the temple, I fell into a trance 18 and saw the Lord speaking to me. 'Quick!' he said. 'Leave Jerusalem immediately, because the people here will not accept your testimony about me.'
19 " 'Lord,' I replied, 'these people know that I went from one synagogue to another to imprison and beat those who believe in you. 20 And when the blood of your martyr Stephen was shed, I stood there giving my approval and guarding the clothes of those who were killing him.'
21 "Then the Lord said to me, 'Go; I will send you far away to the Gentiles.' "
22 The crowd listened to Paul until he said this. Then they raised their voices and shouted, "Rid the earth of him! He's not fit to live!"
23 As they were shouting and throwing off their cloaks and flinging dust into the air, 24 the commander ordered that Paul be taken into the barracks. He directed that he be flogged and interrogated in order to find out why the people were shouting at him like this. 25 As they stretched him out to flog him, Paul said to the centurion standing there, "Is it legal for you to flog a Roman citizen who hasn't even been found guilty?"
26 When the centurion heard this, he went to the commander and reported it. "What are you going to do?" he asked. "This man is a Roman citizen."
27 The commander went to Paul and asked, "Tell me, are you a Roman citizen?" 
 "Yes, I am," he answered.
28 Then the commander said, "I had to pay a lot of money for my citizenship." 
 "But I was born a citizen," Paul replied.
29 Those who were about to interrogate him withdrew immediately. The commander himself was alarmed when he realized that he had put Paul, a Roman citizen, in chains.

Questions to consider:

• Why do you think Paul wants to address the crowd instead of taking safety in the barracks?
• What is the content and basis of Paul’s defense?
• What can you learn from this defense about giving a testimony?
• How does the crowd respond to Paul’s speech?
• Can you think of some modern counterparts for this situation?

Possibilities for prayer:

God seems to give Paul the right words to say to save him just in the nick of time--as he’s about to be flogged, the issue of his citizenship comes to mind. God does have a way of intervening when we think that there’s not much hope left. Maybe you have seen those situations in your own life, in big ways or in small ways. Let’s take some time today to praise God for being a God that saves, for being a God that sees us when we are in distress.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Acts 21:17-39

17 When we arrived at Jerusalem, the believers received us warmly. 18 The next day Paul and the rest of us went to see James, and all the elders were present. 19 Paul greeted them and reported in detail what God had done among the Gentiles through his ministry.
20 When they heard this, they praised God. Then they said to Paul: "You see, brother, how many thousands of Jews have believed, and all of them are zealous for the law. 21 They have been informed that you teach all the Jews who live among the Gentiles to turn away from Moses, telling them not to circumcise their children or live according to our customs. 22 What shall we do? They will certainly hear that you have come, 23 so do what we tell you. There are four men with us who have made a vow. 24 Take these men, join in their purification rites and pay their expenses, so that they can have their heads shaved. Then everyone will know there is no truth in these reports about you, but that you yourself are living in obedience to the law. 25 As for the Gentile believers, we have written to them our decision that they should abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from sexual immorality."
26 The next day Paul took the men and purified himself along with them. Then he went to the temple to give notice of the date when the days of purification would end and the offering would be made for each of them.
27 When the seven days were nearly over, some Jews from the province of Asia saw Paul at the temple. They stirred up the whole crowd and seized him, 28 shouting, "People of Israel, help us! This is the man who teaches everyone everywhere against our people and our law and this place. And besides, he has brought Greeks into the temple and defiled this holy place." 29 (They had previously seen Trophimus the Ephesian in the city with Paul and assumed that Paul had brought him into the temple.)
30 The whole city was aroused, and the people came running from all directions. Seizing Paul, they dragged him from the temple, and immediately the gates were shut. 31 While they were trying to kill him, news reached the commander of the Roman troops that the whole city of Jerusalem was in an uproar. 32 He at once took some officers and soldiers and ran down to the crowd. When the rioters saw the commander and his soldiers, they stopped beating Paul.
33 The commander came up and arrested him and ordered him to be bound with two chains. Then he asked who he was and what he had done. 34 Some in the crowd shouted one thing and some another, and since the commander could not get at the truth because of the uproar, he ordered that Paul be taken into the barracks. 35 When Paul reached the steps, the violence of the mob was so great he had to be carried by the soldiers. 36 The crowd that followed kept shouting, "Get rid of him!"
37 As the soldiers were about to take Paul into the barracks, he asked the commander, "May I say something to you?"
"Do you speak Greek?" he replied. 38 "Aren't you the Egyptian who started a revolt and led four thousand terrorists out into the wilderness some time ago?"
39 Paul answered, "I am a Jew, from Tarsus in Cilicia, a citizen of no ordinary city. Please let me speak to the people."

Questions to consider:

• What results when Paul relates God’s workings to those in Jerusalem? What kind of
happenings do you share with Christian friends?
• What problems do the elders anticipate with Paul’s presence in Jerusalem? What counsel
do they give? What is Paul’s response?
• Without compromising principle, how do you accommodate yourself to the attitudes or
convictions of other Christians?
• What danger befalls Paul when he takes the advice of the elders? What means does God
use to save Paul’s life?

Possibilities for prayer:

There is some confusion that seems to arise concerning who Paul has brought into the temple and it leads to some pretty serious consequences for him. But even in the midst of being harassed by a crowd and then arrested, Paul remains bold. Boldness is definitely a concept we have seen repeated throughout the book of Acts, which indicates to me that it’s pretty important! So let’s again ask God to be increasing our boldness and courage, even in the midst of challenging situations.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Acts 21:7-16

7 We continued our voyage from Tyre and landed at Ptolemais, where we greeted the believers and stayed with them for a day. 8 Leaving the next day, we reached Caesarea and stayed at the house of Philip the evangelist, one of the Seven. 9 He had four unmarried daughters who prophesied.
10 After we had been there a number of days, a prophet named Agabus came down from Judea. 11 Coming over to us, he took Paul's belt, tied his own hands and feet with it and said, "The Holy Spirit says, 'In this way the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem will bind the owner of this belt and will hand him over to the Gentiles.' "
12 When we heard this, we and the people there pleaded with Paul not to go up to Jerusalem. 13 Then Paul answered, "Why are you weeping and breaking my heart? I am ready not only to be bound, but also to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus." 14 When he would not be dissuaded, we gave up and said, "The Lord's will be done."
15 After this, we started on our way up to Jerusalem. 16 Some of the disciples from Caesarea accompanied us and brought us to the home of Mnason, where we were to stay. He was a man from Cyprus and one of the early disciples.

Questions to consider:

How do Paul’s friends feel about his going to Jerusalem? Why?
What is Paul’s conviction? Why?
When the advice of Christian friends conflicts with your own conviction, what do you do?
What differing views of suffering and trouble are reflected in this passage?

Possibilities for prayer:

Paul’s passion, conviction, and willingness to die on behalf of the message of Jesus is rather inspiring, but can also be rather frightening. Today, let’s pray against a spirit of fear or uncertainty that might find its way into our lives or hearts. Let’s ask for the strength and courage that God wants to provide us, and for God’s perfect love that drives out fear.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Acts 21:1-6

1 After we had torn ourselves away from them, we put out to sea and sailed straight to Kos. The next day we went to Rhodes and from there to Patara. 2 We found a ship crossing over to Phoenicia, went on board and set sail. 3 After sighting Cyprus and passing to the south of it, we sailed on to Syria. We landed at Tyre, where our ship was to unload its cargo. 4 We sought out the disciples there and stayed with them seven days. Through the Spirit they urged Paul not to go on to Jerusalem. 5 When it was time to leave, we left and continued on our way. All of them, including wives and children, accompanied us out of the city, and there on the beach we knelt to pray. 6 After saying good-bye to each other, we went aboard the ship, and they returned home.

Questions to consider:

• What initiative does Paul take at Tyre?
• Do you actively seek out other Christians in the place where you work or in your
neighborhood or on your campus? If you do, in what ways?

Possibilities for prayer:

It’s nice to be able to have common ground with people, even people that you’ve never met before. Paul experienced this common ground in Tyre, and we can experience it in our daily lives. Today, let’s thank God for the people that have been placed in our lives, with whom we can live in community.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Acts 20:13-38

13 We went on ahead to the ship and sailed for Assos, where we were going to take Paul aboard. He had made this arrangement because he was going there on foot. 14 When he met us at Assos, we took him aboard and went on to Mitylene. 15 The next day we set sail from there and arrived off Chios. The day after that we crossed over to Samos, and on the following day arrived at Miletus. 16 Paul had decided to sail past Ephesus to avoid spending time in the province of Asia, for he was in a hurry to reach Jerusalem, if possible, by the day of Pentecost.

17 From Miletus, Paul sent to Ephesus for the elders of the church. 18 When they arrived, he said to them: "You know how I lived the whole time I was with you, from the first day I came into the province of Asia. 19 I served the Lord with great humility and with tears and in the midst of severe testing by the plots of the Jews. 20 You know that I have not hesitated to preach anything that would be helpful to you but have taught you publicly and from house to house. 21 I have declared to both Jews and Greeks that they must turn to God in repentance and have faith in our Lord Jesus.
22 "And now, compelled by the Spirit, I am going to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there. 23 I only know that in every city the Holy Spirit warns me that prison and hardships are facing me. 24 However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God's grace.
25 "Now I know that none of you among whom I have gone about preaching the kingdom will ever see me again. 26 Therefore, I declare to you today that I am innocent of the blood of everyone. 27 For I have not hesitated to proclaim to you the whole will of God. 28 Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood. 29 I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock. 30 Even from your own number some will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them. 31 So be on your guard! Remember that for three years I never stopped warning each of you night and day with tears.
32 "Now I commit you to God and to the word of his grace, which can build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified. 33 I have not coveted anyone's silver or gold or clothing. 34 You yourselves know that these hands of mine have supplied my own needs and the needs of my companions. 35 In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: 'It is more blessed to give than to receive.' "
36 When Paul had finished speaking, he knelt down with all of them and prayed. 37 They all wept as they embraced him and kissed him. 38 What grieved them most was his statement that they would never see his face again. Then they accompanied him to the ship.

Questions to consider:

• Can you learn something from this passage about the government of a local church?
• To what dangers is a local church exposed? What safeguards does Paul present?
• What are the responsibilities of the elders?
• How is Paul supported by Ephesus?
• What is the elders’s response to Paul?

Possibilities for prayer:

Paul takes a definite step of boldness in going to Jerusalem, against the advice of other people he can trust because he feels called by God--or “compelled by the Spirit.” He knows that the results of this decision are not going to be easy, but he is convicted, so he persists. Today, let’s pray for conviction about things, decisions, in our own lives, that we might know the compulsion of the Spirit ourselves and step boldly forward into what God has for us with conviction that can withstand challenge--even challenge from those we know are trustworthy.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Acts 20:1-12

1 When the uproar had ended, Paul sent for the disciples and, after encouraging them, said good-by and set out for Macedonia. 2 He traveled through that area, speaking many words of encouragement to the people, and finally arrived in Greece, 3 where he stayed three months. Because some Jews had plotted against him just as he was about to sail for Syria, he decided to go back through Macedonia. 4 He was accompanied by Sopater son of Pyrrhus from Berea, Aristarchus and Secundus from Thessalonica, Gaius from Derbe, Timothy also, and Tychicus and Trophimus from the province of Asia. 5 These men went on ahead and waited for us at Troas. 6 But we sailed from Philippi after the Festival of Unleavened Bread, and five days later joined the others at Troas, where we stayed seven days.

7 On the first day of the week we came together to break bread. Paul spoke to the people and, because he intended to leave the next day, kept on talking until midnight. 8 There were many lamps in the upstairs room where we were meeting. 9 Seated in a window was a young man named Eutychus, who was sinking into a deep sleep as Paul talked on and on. When he was sound asleep, he fell to the ground from the third story and was picked up dead. 10 Paul went down, threw himself on the young man and put his arms around him. "Don't be alarmed," he said. "He's alive!" 11 Then he went upstairs again and broke bread and ate. After talking until daylight, he left. 12 The people took the young man home alive and were greatly comforted.

Questions to consider:

• Imagine the fellowship of these Christians traveling together. Where do they go? What do
they talk about, pray about?
• Describe the attitude of the church at Troas toward learning more about the Lord.
• In what ways do you take advantage of the opportunities that God provides you for spiritual
growth (even if/when it’s inconvenient for you)?

Possibilities for prayer:

God’s sense of convenience is sometimes quite unlike our own. Let’s ask to be given us a heart for a sense of convenience that matches up with God’s and for opportunities to act that out in our daily lives.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Acts 19:23-41

23 About that time there arose a great disturbance about the Way. 24 A silversmith named Demetrius, who made silver shrines of Artemis, brought in no little business for the skilled workers there. 25 He called them together, along with the workers in related trades, and said: "You know, my friends, that we receive a good income from this business. 26 And you see and hear how this fellow Paul has convinced and led astray large numbers of people here in Ephesus and in practically the whole province of Asia. He says that gods made by human hands are no gods at all. 27 There is danger not only that our trade will lose its good name, but also that the temple of the great goddess Artemis will be discredited; and the goddess herself, who is worshiped throughout the province of Asia and the world, will be robbed of her divine majesty."
28 When they heard this, they were furious and began shouting: "Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!" 29 Soon the whole city was in an uproar. The people seized Gaius and Aristarchus, Paul's traveling companions from Macedonia, and all of them rushed together into the theater. 30 Paul wanted to appear before the crowd, but the disciples would not let him. 31 Even some of the officials of the province, friends of Paul, sent him a message begging him not to venture into the theater.
32 The assembly was in confusion: Some were shouting one thing, some another. Most of the people did not even know why they were there. 33 The Jews in the crowd pushed Alexander to the front, and they shouted instructions to him. He motioned for silence in order to make a defense before the people. 34 But when they realized he was a Jew, they all shouted in unison for about two hours: "Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!"
35 The city clerk quieted the crowd and said: "People of Ephesus, doesn't all the world know that the city of Ephesus is the guardian of the temple of the great Artemis and of her image, which fell from heaven? 36 Therefore, since these facts are undeniable, you ought to calm down and not do anything rash. 37 You have brought these men here, though they have neither robbed temples nor blasphemed our goddess. 38 If, then, Demetrius and his associates have a grievance against anybody, the courts are open and there are proconsuls. They can press charges. 39 If there is anything further you want to bring up, it must be settled in a legal assembly. 40 As it is, we are in danger of being charged with rioting because of what happened today. In that case we would not be able to account for this commotion, since there is no reason for it." 41 After he had said this, he dismissed the assembly.

Questions to consider:

• What causes the new wave of opposition? What brings it to an end?
• Describe the crowd as related to their zeal for the moon goddess, the sense of confusion,
impulsiveness and prejudice. Are they different from people you know?
• What does this incident reveal about the results of the gospel in society?
• What observable changes have resulted from the gospel where you have been?

Possibilities for prayer:

Mob mentality is a little bit scary (or a lot scary) sometimes. What is pretty cool here is that God provides someone completely unexpected to bring about peace in a stressful and potentially dangerous situation. Today, let’s thank God for the way that His provision is evident in the various aspects of our lives, particularly when it appears in unexpected situations or in unexpected forms.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Acts 19:11-22

11 God did extraordinary miracles through Paul, 12 so that even handkerchiefs and aprons that had touched him were taken to the sick, and their illnesses were cured and the evil spirits left them.
13 Some Jews who went around driving out evil spirits tried to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who were demon-possessed. They would say, "In the name of the Jesus whom Paul preaches, I command you to come out." 14 Seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, were doing this. 15 [One day] the evil spirit answered them, "Jesus I know, and I know about Paul, but who are you?" 16 Then the man who had the evil spirit jumped on them and overpowered them all. He gave them such a beating that they ran out of the house naked and bleeding.
17 When this became known to the Jews and Greeks living in Ephesus, they were all seized with fear, and the name of the Lord Jesus was held in high honor. 18 Many of those who believed now came and openly confessed what they had done. 19 A number who had practiced sorcery brought their scrolls together and burned them publicly. When they calculated the value of the scrolls, the total came to fifty thousand drachmas. 20 In this way the word of the Lord spread widely and grew in power.
21 After all this had happened, Paul decided to go to Jerusalem, passing through Macedonia and Achaia. "After I have been there," he said, "I must visit Rome also." 22 He sent two of his helpers, Timothy and Erastus, to Macedonia, while he stayed in the province of Asia a little longer.

Questions to consider:

• What extraordinary results does God produce in Ephesus? Why, do you think, do he work
in this way?
• Of what significance is the incident of verses 14-17 to the exorcists and to the people?
• What are some modern counterparts of Ephesian superstition and magic?
• What difference does being a Christian make in your practices? In what ways can God use
you to rout basic evils in the culture in which he places you?
• What long-range plans do you have for your Christian service? What steps will you need to
take to fulfill those plans?

Possibilities for prayer:

I think it’s worth noting that the beginning of this passage, which references the extraordinary miracles done through Paul, comes right after Paul’s discussion of the importance of the baptism of the Holy Spirit. God is still active in our world, and those miracles that were done through Paul can totally be done through us as well. Let’s ask God to give us a vision for the things He’s doing in our world, increased faith that He wants to do great things through us, and the courage to actually try some things that might look a little crazy to the outside world.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Acts 19:1-10

1 While Apollos was at Corinth, Paul took the road through the interior and arrived at Ephesus. There he found some disciples 2 and asked them, "Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?"
They answered, "No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit."
3 So Paul asked, "Then what baptism did you receive?" 
 "John's baptism," they replied.
4 Paul said, "John's baptism was a baptism of repentance. He told the people to believe in the one coming after him, that is, in Jesus." 5 On hearing this, they were baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus. 6 When Paul placed his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied. 7 There were about twelve men in all.
8 Paul entered the synagogue and spoke boldly there for three months, arguing persuasively about the kingdom of God. 9 But some of them became obstinate; they refused to believe and publicly maligned the Way. So Paul left them. He took the disciples with him and had discussions daily in the lecture hall of Tyrannus. 10 This went on for two years, so that all the Jews and Greeks who lived in the province of Asia heard the word of the Lord.

Questions to consider:

• How does Paul explain the true significance of John’s baptism? How do these people show
their faith in Jesus?
• What is Paul’s reaction to stubbornness, disbelief, and slander?
• What steps are you now taking to bring a situation in your own community similar to verse

Possibilities for prayer:

Paul is all about the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit should definitely be an important part of what we believe and how we live our lives. Today, let’s ask for an increase of the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives, so that we might not be like those at Ephesus who had never heard of the Holy Spirit, but rather people who see the Spirit’s work in our lives on a daily basis.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Acts 18:12-28

12 While Gallio was proconsul of Achaia, the Jews of Corinth made a united attack on Paul and brought him to the place of judgment. 13 "This man," they charged, "is persuading the people to worship God in ways contrary to the law."
14 Just as Paul was about to speak, Gallio said to them, "If you Jews were making a complaint about some misdemeanor or serious crime, it would be reasonable for me to listen to you. 15 But since it involves questions about words and names and your own law—settle the matter yourselves. I will not be a judge of such things." 16 So he drove them off. 17 Then the crowd there turned on Sosthenes the synagogue leader and beat him in front of the proconsul; and Gallio showed no concern whatever.
18 Paul stayed on in Corinth for some time. Then he left the believers and sailed for Syria, accompanied by Priscilla and Aquila. Before he sailed, he had his hair cut off at Cenchreae because of a vow he had taken. 19 They arrived at Ephesus, where Paul left Priscilla and Aquila. He himself went into the synagogue and reasoned with the Jews. 20 When they asked him to spend more time with them, he declined. 21 But as he left, he promised, "I will come back if it is God's will." Then he set sail from Ephesus. 22 When he landed at Caesarea, he went up to Jerusalem and greeted the church and then went down to Antioch.
23 After spending some time in Antioch, Paul set out from there and traveled from place to place throughout the region of Galatia and Phrygia, strengthening all the disciples.
24 Meanwhile a Jew named Apollos, a native of Alexandria, came to Ephesus. He was a learned man, with a thorough knowledge of the Scriptures. 25 He had been instructed in the way of the Lord, and he spoke with great fervor and taught about Jesus accurately, though he knew only the baptism of John. 26 He began to speak boldly in the synagogue. When Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they invited him to their home and explained to him the way of God more adequately.
27 When Apollos wanted to go to Achaia, the believers encouraged him and wrote to the disciples there to welcome him. When he arrived, he was a great help to those who by grace had believed. 28 For he vigorously refuted the Jews in public debate, proving from the Scriptures that Jesus was the Messiah.

Questions to consider:

• Of what do the Jews accuse Paul? What is Gallio’s response?
• What conditions does Paul place on his promise to return to Ephesus? What does this
reveal about Paul’s concept of God?
• What gifts does Apollos have? How is he using them?
• What ministry do Priscilla and Aquila have to Apollos? What does this interaction reveal
about the early Christians?
• In what situations are you open and teachable from the Lord?
• What does Apollos do with his new knowledge? What do you do with the enlarged
understanding you receive about God?

Possibilities for prayer:

Apollos was a new Christian, but had a lot of excitement for the good news of Jesus and was able to use that excitement to share that news effectively. After some mentorship from Priscilla and Aquila, he was able to be even more effective in his sharing. There seems to be value to learning from those who have spiritual wisdom greater than our own, and accepting that wisdom humbly. Today, ask God to provide you with a spiritual mentor, and maybe even someone that you can mentor yourself!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Acts 18:1-11

1 After this, Paul left Athens and went to Corinth. 2 There he met a Jew named Aquila, a native of Pontus, who had recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla, because Claudius had ordered all Jews to leave Rome. Paul went to see them, 3 and because he was a tentmaker as they were, he stayed and worked with them. 4 Every Sabbath he reasoned in the synagogue, trying to persuade Jews and Greeks.
5 When Silas and Timothy came from Macedonia, Paul devoted himself exclusively to preaching, testifying to the Jews that Jesus was the Messiah. 6 But when they opposed Paul and became abusive, he shook out his clothes in protest and said to them, "Your blood be on your own heads! I am innocent of it. From now on I will go to the Gentiles."
7 Then Paul left the synagogue and went next door to the house of Titius Justus, a worshiper of God. 8 Crispus, the synagogue leader, and his entire household believed in the Lord; and many of the Corinthians who heard Paul believed and were baptized.
9 One night the Lord spoke to Paul in a vision: "Do not be afraid; keep on speaking, do not be silent. 10 For I am with you, and no one is going to attack and harm you, because I have many people in this city." 11 So Paul stayed in Corinth for a year and a half, teaching them the word of God.

Questions to consider:

• How does God lead Paul in Corinth with regard to housing, activity, and length of stay?
• What does this teach you about God? About Paul? Do you seek God’s guidance in these
• What significant change in strategy does Paul make when the Jews of the synagogue
oppose his message?
• Have you experienced God’s protection from opposition? In what ways?

Possibilities for prayer:

It is inevitably discouraging when something you are really excited about is rejected by the people around you. Paul definitely experienced this a lot in his sharing the Gospel in various places. But God has a way of encouraging Paul in his work--after being rejected, and entire household comes to God, and God even spoke to Paul in a vision about this specific issue. Today, let’s pray that God would be encouraging us in very tangible ways about the good things we’re doing for the kingdom. We can also pray that God might use you to be an encouragement to someone else.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Acts 17:16-34

16While Paul was waiting for them in Athens, he was greatly distressed to see that the city was full of idols. 17So he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and the God-fearing Greeks, as well as in the marketplace day by day with those who happened to be there. 18A group of Epicurean and Stoic philosophers began to dispute with him. Some of them asked, "What is this babbler trying to say?" Others remarked, "He seems to be advocating foreign gods." They said this because Paul was preaching the good news about Jesus and the resurrection. 19Then they took him and brought him to a meeting of the Areopagus, where they said to him, "May we know what this new teaching is that you are presenting? 20You are bringing some strange ideas to our ears, and we want to know what they mean." 21(All the Athenians and the foreigners who lived there spent their time doing nothing but talking about and listening to the latest ideas.)
22Paul then stood up in the meeting of the Areopagus and said: "Men of Athens! I see that in every way you are very religious. 23For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: TO AN UNKNOWN GOD. Now what you worship as something unknown I am going to proclaim to you.
24"The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands. 25And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else. 26From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. 27God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us. 28'For in him we live and move and have our being.' As some of your own poets have said, 'We are his offspring.'
29"Therefore since we are God's offspring, we should not think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone—an image made by man's design and skill. 30In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent. 31For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to all men by raising him from the dead."
32When they heard about the resurrection of the dead, some of them sneered, but others said, "We want to hear you again on this subject." 33At that, Paul left the Council. 34A few men became followers of Paul and believed. Among them was Dionysius, a member of the Areopagus, also a woman named Damaris, and a number of others.

Questions to consider:

• What different kinds of people does Paul meet in Athens? What are their interests and
• How does Paul begin his work in the city?
• At what point and in what ways does Paul’s message conflict with Epicurean and Stoic
• What are some common philosophies of life around you? In what ways does the Christian
message differ from these?
• What is the result of the message of Christ in Athens?

Possibilities for prayer:

As seems to be characteristic of Paul, he proclaims boldly the good news of Christ. To have that same kind of boldness is definitely something to which we can all aspire. Let’s ask God to increase our boldness so that we can speak confidently the good things that we know of God.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Acts 17:1-15

1When they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where there was a Jewish synagogue. 2As his custom was, Paul went into the synagogue, and on three Sabbath days he reasoned with them from the Scriptures, 3explaining and proving that the Christ had to suffer and rise from the dead. "This Jesus I am proclaiming to you is the Christ," he said. 4Some of the Jews were persuaded and joined Paul and Silas, as did a large number of God-fearing Greeks and not a few prominent women.
5But the Jews were jealous; so they rounded up some bad characters from the marketplace, formed a mob and started a riot in the city. They rushed to Jason's house in search of Paul and Silas in order to bring them out to the crowd. 6But when they did not find them, they dragged Jason and some other brothers before the city officials, shouting: "These men who have caused trouble all over the world have now come here, 7and Jason has welcomed them into his house. They are all defying Caesar's decrees, saying that there is another king, one called Jesus." 8When they heard this, the crowd and the city officials were thrown into turmoil. 9Then they made Jason and the others post bond and let them go.
10As soon as it was night, the brothers sent Paul and Silas away to Berea. On arriving there, they went to the Jewish synagogue. 11Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true. 12Many of the Jews believed, as did also a number of prominent Greek women and many Greek men.
13When the Jews in Thessalonica learned that Paul was preaching the word of God at Berea, they went there too, agitating the crowds and stirring them up. 14The brothers immediately sent Paul to the coast, but Silas and Timothy stayed at Berea. 15The men who escorted Paul brought him to Athens and then left with instructions for Silas and Timothy to join him as soon as possible.

Questions to consider:

• Contrast the attitudes of the Jews in Thessalonica and Berea toward Paul’s teaching.
• What is his method of teaching? What is the result in both places?
• Will the example of the Jews in Berea affect the frequency and method of your personal
Bible study? How?
• What is the basis of your sharing about Jesus with others?

Possibilities for prayer:

I like how this passage describes the Thessalonians as examining the Scriptures carefully and being very eager. This kind of eagerness is something that we seek for ourselves as well. Today, ask God to give you a real desire for the Bible, and for a greater understanding of the things that God is doing in your life and community.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Acts 16:25-40

25About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. 26Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everybody's chains came loose. 27The jailer woke up, and when he saw the prison doors open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself because he thought the prisoners had escaped. 28But Paul shouted, "Don't harm yourself! We are all here!"
29The jailer called for lights, rushed in and fell trembling before Paul and Silas. 30He then brought them out and asked, "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?"
31They replied, "Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household." 32Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all the others in his house. 33At that hour of the night the jailer took them and washed their wounds; then immediately he and all his family were baptized. 34The jailer brought them into his house and set a meal before them; he was filled with joy because he had come to believe in God—he and his whole family.
35When it was daylight, the magistrates sent their officers to the jailer with the order: "Release those men." 36The jailer told Paul, "The magistrates have ordered that you and Silas be released. Now you can leave. Go in peace."
37But Paul said to the officers: "They beat us publicly without a trial, even though we are Roman citizens, and threw us into prison. And now do they want to get rid of us quietly? No! Let them come themselves and escort us out."
38The officers reported this to the magistrates, and when they heard that Paul and Silas were Roman citizens, they were alarmed. 39They came to appease them and escorted them from the prison, requesting them to leave the city. 40After Paul and Silas came out of the prison, they went to Lydia's house, where they met with the brothers and encouraged them. Then they left.

Questions to consider:

• How do Paul and Silas respond to the discouraging circumstances of of verses 22-24?
• When you think that God clearly leads you into a situation and then everything goes wrong,
how do you feel?
• How important, do you think, is their conduct in the jailer’s conversation?
• What do these circumstances and results teach you about the ways of God?
• Has God ever worked in your life similarly to his work in Paul and Silas’s experience? What
• Can you find encouragement in today’s passage concerning God’s purposes for those
friends and family who aren’t followers (yet) of Jesus?

Possibilities for prayer:

It strikes me that Paul and Silas were praying and singing when God provided such a mighty demonstration of power. Sometimes I think we can forget how powerful the simple things are that we do all the time...praying and worshiping. Today, let’s thank God for the power that exists in prayer and worship, and ask for manifestations of that power in our lives as well.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Acts 16:11-24

11From Troas we put out to sea and sailed straight for Samothrace, and the next day on to Neapolis. 12From there we traveled to Philippi, a Roman colony and the leading city of that district of Macedonia. And we stayed there several days.

13On the Sabbath we went outside the city gate to the river, where we expected to find a place of prayer. We sat down and began to speak to the women who had gathered there. 14One of those listening was a woman named Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth from the city of Thyatira, who was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul's message. 15When she and the members of her household were baptized, she invited us to her home. "If you consider me a believer in the Lord," she said, "come and stay at my house." And she persuaded us.

16Once when we were going to the place of prayer, we were met by a slave girl who had a spirit by which she predicted the future. She earned a great deal of money for her owners by fortune-telling. 17This girl followed Paul and the rest of us, shouting, "These men are servants of the Most High God, who are telling you the way to be saved." 18She kept this up for many days. Finally Paul became so troubled that he turned around and said to the spirit, "In the name of Jesus Christ I command you to come out of her!" At that moment the spirit left her.

19When the owners of the slave girl realized that their hope of making money was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace to face the authorities. 20They brought them before the magistrates and said, "These men are Jews, and are throwing our city into an uproar 21by advocating customs unlawful for us Romans to accept or practice."
22The crowd joined in the attack against Paul and Silas, and the magistrates ordered them to be stripped and beaten. 23After they had been severely flogged, they were thrown into prison, and the jailer was commanded to guard them carefully. 24Upon receiving such orders, he put them in the inner cell and fastened their feet in the stocks.

Questions to consider:

• What kind of place is Pilippi? Does this give light to Paul’s strategies here?
• Contrast the various people the apostle encounters in this city.
• Why does Lydia believe Paul’s message?
• Why do the owners of the slave girl oppose Paul? What charges do they bring against Paul
and Silas?
• In looking at this passage, does doing the will of God necessarily exclude trouble? What
might that mean in your own life?

Possibilities for prayer:

One of the things that strikes me about this passage is the way that Luke writes that God “opened” Lydia’s heart to accept Paul’s message. It seems to me that without that little nudge from God, Paul’s words would not have been enough. Let’s think about some of the people in our own lives that we want to see coming into relationship with Jesus. Today, ask God to soften those hearts, to give them that little extra nudge so that Jesus’s truth can settle in.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Acts 16:6-10

6Paul and his companions traveled throughout the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been kept by the Holy Spirit from preaching the word in the province of Asia. 7When they came to the border of Mysia, they tried to enter Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them to. 8So they passed by Mysia and went down to Troas. 9During the night Paul had a vision of a man of Macedonia standing and begging him, "Come over to Macedonia and help us." 10After Paul had seen the vision, we got ready at once to leave for Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them.

Questions to consider:

• What indicates that Luke probably joins Paul at this time?
• How is Paul guided to cross over from Asia into Europe with the Gospel?
• Do you feel like God guides you into the right places? In what ways?

Possibilities for prayer:

Paul seems to have gotten quite a few visions and/or dreams so far in the Acts of the Apostles. One thing that’s pretty cool is that dreams and visions are still real today! Today, try asking God to speak to you through words, images, dreams, or visions. The things that you can learn from the Spirit in this way can be enlightening and inspiring.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Acts 15:36-16:5

36Some time later Paul said to Barnabas, "Let us go back and visit the brothers in all the towns where we preached the word of the Lord and see how they are doing." 37Barnabas wanted to take John, also called Mark, with them, 38but Paul did not think it wise to take him, because he had deserted them in Pamphylia and had not continued with them in the work. 39They had such a sharp disagreement that they parted company. Barnabas took Mark and sailed for Cyprus, 40but Paul chose Silas and left, commended by the brothers to the grace of the Lord. 41He went through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches.

1He came to Derbe and then to Lystra, where a disciple named Timothy lived, whose mother was a Jewess and a believer, but whose father was a Greek. 2The brothers at Lystra and Iconium spoke well of him. 3Paul wanted to take him along on the journey, so he circumcised him because of the Jews who lived in that area, for they all knew that his father was a Greek. 4As they traveled from town to town, they delivered the decisions reached by the apostles and elders in Jerusalem for the people to obey. 5So the churches were strengthened in the faith and grew daily in numbers.

Questions to consider:

• What causes sharp tension between Paul and Barnabas? What happens? How does God
overrule this argument for good?
• Why, do you think, do Paul and Barnabas choose to work with someone else rather than
• Do you have a friend with whom you work, pray, and share God’s workings?
• How can you reconcile God’s action regarding Timothy with the decision of the apostles
and elders from Chapter 15?

Possibilities for prayer:

One of the really exciting things about life in relationship with Christ is that we are allowed and even encouraged to be in community. Of course, sometimes being in community with others can be challenging (as Paul and Barnabas experienced first hand), but I’ve personally found it to be incredibly rewarding as well. Let’s thank God for the people, community, that we’ve been given. And if you don’t feel like you have someone to share work, prayer, and Jesus-seeking life with, try taking some time to pray that God would provide a friendship like that.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Acts 15:22-35

22Then the apostles and elders, with the whole church, decided to choose some of their own men and send them to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas. They chose Judas (called Barsabbas) and Silas, two men who were leaders among the brothers. 23With them they sent the following letter: The apostles and elders, your brothers, To the Gentile believers in Antioch, Syria and Cilicia: Greetings. 24We have heard that some went out from us without our authorization and disturbed you, troubling your minds by what they said. 25So we all agreed to choose some men and send them to you with our dear friends Barnabas and Paul— 26men who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. 27Therefore we are sending Judas and Silas to confirm by word of mouth what we are writing. 28It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us not to burden you with anything beyond the following requirements: 29You are to abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from sexual immorality. You will do well to avoid these things. Farewell.

30The men were sent off and went down to Antioch, where they gathered the church together and delivered the letter. 31The people read it and were glad for its encouraging message. 32Judas and Silas, who themselves were prophets, said much to encourage and strengthen the brothers. 33After spending some time there, they were sent off by the brothers with the blessing of peace to return to those who had sent them. 35But Paul and Barnabas remained in Antioch, where they and many others taught and preached the word of the Lord.

Questions to consider:

• How do the apostles and elders carry out their solution to the problem facing Gentile
• What kind of men are chosen to take the letter to Antioch?
• Does Jesus Christ mean more to you than your life? How do you know?
• How is the news received in Antioch?
• What are some “burdens” that you lay on yourself and other Christians? Are there ways in
which you have drifted into a type of legalism that demands things that God has not
actually demanded?

Possibilities for prayer:

Have you ever had a really bad day, or been really discouraged about something, but then a friend seemed to know just what to say or do to make you feel better? Just a few encouraging words can go a long way.

Let’s ask God to give us the gift of encouragement, that we might find the words to say and things to do to nurture and strengthen those around us. You’ll probably be surprised by how good it makes you feel to offer such encouragement--not to mention the recipients!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Acts 15:1-21

1Some men came down from Judea to Antioch and were teaching the brothers: "Unless you are circumcised, according to the custom taught by Moses, you cannot be saved." 2This brought Paul and Barnabas into sharp dispute and debate with them. So Paul and Barnabas were appointed, along with some other believers, to go up to Jerusalem to see the apostles and elders about this question. 3The church sent them on their way, and as they traveled through Phoenicia and Samaria, they told how the Gentiles had been converted. This news made all the brothers very glad. 4When they came to Jerusalem, they were welcomed by the church and the apostles and elders, to whom they reported everything God had done through them.
5Then some of the believers who belonged to the party of the Pharisees stood up and said, "The Gentiles must be circumcised and required to obey the law of Moses."
6The apostles and elders met to consider this question. 7After much discussion, Peter got up and addressed them: "Brothers, you know that some time ago God made a choice among you that the Gentiles might hear from my lips the message of the gospel and believe. 8God, who knows the heart, showed that he accepted them by giving the Holy Spirit to them, just as he did to us. 9He made no distinction between us and them, for he purified their hearts by faith. 10Now then, why do you try to test God by putting on the necks of the disciples a yoke that neither we nor our fathers have been able to bear? 11No! We believe it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved, just as they are."
12The whole assembly became silent as they listened to Barnabas and Paul telling about the miraculous signs and wonders God had done among the Gentiles through them. 13When they finished, James spoke up: "Brothers, listen to me. 14Simon has described to us how God at first showed his concern by taking from the Gentiles a people for himself. 15The words of the prophets are in agreement with this, as it is written: 
 16" 'After this I will return 
 and rebuild David's fallen tent. 
 Its ruins I will rebuild, 
 and I will restore it, 
 17that the remnant of men may seek the Lord, 
 and all the Gentiles who bear my name, 
 says the Lord, who does these things'
 18that have been known for ages.
19"It is my judgment, therefore, that we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God. 20Instead we should write to them, telling them to abstain from food polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from the meat of strangled animals and from blood. 21For Moses has been preached in every city from the earliest times and is read in the synagogues on every Sabbath."

Questions to consider:

• What is the issue that occasions this conference? Why is this such an important and
controversial matter?
• Have you ever had a disagreement over what men must do to be saved?
• How do the apostles and elders arrive at their conclusion? Can we learn something from
this about how to handle controversies within the church community?
• When someone from a background very different from your own becomes a Christian, what
do you expect of her?
• What do you consider essential to Christian life and spiritual growth?

Possibilities for prayer:

The grace that we have been offered by Christ is a generous and beautiful thing. And it is definitely encouraging for us, as modern-day Gentiles, to know that Christ’s sacrifice is enough to grant us salvation. And much in the way that Christ granted us abundant grace, we should not withhold it from others. Today, let’s not only thank God for the grace that we have been shown, but ask that we may be able to show that same grace to those in our lives.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Acts 14: 8-28

8In Lystra there sat a man crippled in his feet, who was lame from birth and had never walked. 9He listened to Paul as he was speaking. Paul looked directly at him, saw that he had faith to be healed 10and called out, "Stand up on your feet!" At that, the man jumped up and began to walk.
11When the crowd saw what Paul had done, they shouted in the Lycaonian language, "The gods have come down to us in human form!" 12Barnabas they called Zeus, and Paul they called Hermes because he was the chief speaker. 13The priest of Zeus, whose temple was just outside the city, brought bulls and wreaths to the city gates because he and the crowd wanted to offer sacrifices to them.
14But when the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard of this, they tore their clothes and rushed out into the crowd, shouting: 15"Men, why are you doing this? We too are only men, human like you. We are bringing you good news, telling you to turn from these worthless things to the living God, who made heaven and earth and sea and everything in them. 16In the past, he let all nations go their own way. 17Yet he has not left himself without testimony: He has shown kindness by giving you rain from heaven and crops in their seasons; he provides you with plenty of food and fills your hearts with joy." 18Even with these words, they had difficulty keeping the crowd from sacrificing to them.
19Then some Jews came from Antioch and Iconium and won the crowd over. They stoned Paul and dragged him outside the city, thinking he was dead. 20But after the disciples had gathered around him, he got up and went back into the city. The next day he and Barnabas left for Derbe.
21They preached the good news in that city and won a large number of disciples. Then they returned to Lystra, Iconium and Antioch, 22strengthening the disciples and encouraging them to remain true to the faith. "We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God," they said. 23Paul and Barnabas appointed elders for them in each church and, with prayer and fasting, committed them to the Lord, in whom they had put their trust. 24After going through Pisidia, they came into Pamphylia, 25and when they had preached the word in Perga, they went down to Attalia.
26From Attalia they sailed back to Antioch, where they had been committed to the grace of God for the work they had now completed. 27On arriving there, they gathered the church together and reported all that God had done through them and how he had opened the door of faith to the Gentiles. 28And they stayed there a long time with the disciples.

Questions to consider:

• How does Paul’s approach at Lystra differ from his approach at Antioch or Iconium?
• How would you describe the religion of the people of Lystra? What do they learn about
God on this day?
• What ideas about God are held by those around you?
• How important is follow-up to Paul? How does he counsel new Christians?
• How do Paul and Barnabas provide for the future needs of the people of Lystra, Iconium,
and Antioch? (hint: check out verse 23!)
• What is Paul’s relation to the Antioch church which has sent them out? Can you derive any
principles from this about you and your faith-related work should be tied to a local church?

Possibilities for prayer:

Paul and Barnabas continue to encounter difficult situations on their journeys. First the crowd wants to offer sacrifices to them as gods, and then they want to stone Paul to death! It seems like these two can’t win, even though the power of God is enabling them to perform miracles like healing people who cannot walk. Paul seems to manage humility on a consistent basis, which is something for which we can all be striving. Today, let’s ask God to give us the words to give Him the glory, and acknowledge Him as reigning supreme.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Acts 14:1-7

1At Iconium Paul and Barnabas went as usual into the Jewish synagogue. There they spoke so effectively that a great number of Jews and Gentiles believed. 2But the Jews who refused to believe stirred up the Gentiles and poisoned their minds against the brothers. 3So Paul and Barnabas spent considerable time there, speaking boldly for the Lord, who confirmed the message of his grace by enabling them to do miraculous signs and wonders. 4The people of the city were divided; some sided with the Jews, others with the apostles. 5There was a plot afoot among the Gentiles and Jews, together with their leaders, to mistreat them and stone them. 6But they found out about it and fled to the Lycaonian cities of Lystra and Derbe and to the surrounding country, 7where they continued to preach the good news.

Questions to consider:

• What circumstances lead Paul to decide to remain a long time at Iconium?
• What is the source of the opposition?
• What specific help does God give Paul and Barnabas at Iconium?
• How do the people of the city respond to the miraculous?

Possibilities for prayer:

Even when we’re doing the right things, saying the right things...things don’t always go as we’d like them to. Let’s ask God to give us the perseverance to keep pushing into good things, even when the response from those around us is not always the most encouraging.