Category Archives: Cover to cover

Acts 23:26-27:8 

Here is the most detailed description of Paul’s testimony, shared with me to understand the transformation that took place in his life and what it looks like to serve and follow Jesus. Purpose screams from the storyline and with that comes boldness, wisdom, courage, value and a deep sense of commitment and faithfulness.

‘I’m sending you off to open the eyes of the outsiders so they can see the difference between dark and light, and choose light, see the difference between Satan and God, and choose God. I’m sending you off to present my offer of sins forgiven, and a place in the family, inviting them into the company of those who begin real living by believing in me.’ – Acts 26:17-18 MSG

I love the call of God in Paul’s life. I have looked for such a call between the ages of 12 and 14. Finally received a tap on the shoulder at 14. The specific call took place at age 25. I have another call that still has not materialized and that is okay. I am doing the work I am called to do now.

What an honour for God to choose me as His minister, an honour that suggests that I am not doing anything in my own strength but through the working of His Spirit which is revealed in me everyday.

What is the secret? Paul was forgiven and I was forgiven. Paul was the chief of sinners and I was up there too, but we both obtained mercy. More than mercy actually, we were honoured as ministers of Jesus. A call offered to everyone who has decided to follow Jesus.

I know that the real secret is in being obedient to that call, not just receiving it. It is a call where I cannot dishonour the One who called me.

It’s because of this ‘whole world’ dimension that the Jews grabbed me in the Temple that day and tried to kill me. – Acts 26:21 MSG

This is why persecution even exists. Paul’s story reminds me that while my own life may have no value in of itself, what an honour to be freely given God’s goodness. What a honour to humble myself and not to grudge whatever may come my way so that I may present myself to the world as a child of God.

It is God walking with me that matters most. I try to memorize a verse every week. This week it is Hebrews 4:16 – “So let’s walk right up to Him and get what He is ready to give. Take the mercy, accept the help.” The promise is that He will never leave me so my decision each day is to choose life and to raise an Ebenezer to the honour of His name. All of this because Jesus has helped me.

Father, thank You for calling me with a purpose and with a life that involves walking with You. Thank You for the power of the Holy Spirit enabling me to do and accomplish all that You have set before me to do. Thank You that my glory is not in me and what I have done, but rather, in You and what You have done.

Erwin (evanlaar1922)

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Acts 21:1-23:25

Paul was on the move. He was going from place to place, meeting with people. Several times he was warned of danger ahead of him. As he had once been a persecutor, I’m sure he was familiar with what persecution entailed. I can’t imagine … and yet, I can by his words. How his own words stirred up so much anger. I imagine a mob and the surge of harm pushing toward and against him. Guards grabbing at him and carrying him off. None of this was kind or gentle. And later to find that an ambush awaited him … (I wonder what is harder? To know or not know?)

While he is in prison …

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.”

Acts 23:11, NIV

Take courage.

Immediately I think on what Jesus told the disciples before he left, from John 16:33–how in this world we will have trouble, but to take courage (take heart, be of good cheer, be courageous), because he has overcome the world.

Paul will use the very words that pit him against hatred and speak them as his testimony–the truth.

Lord Jesus, I’m thankful for these words to grasp and tuck in my heart. Help me to take courage and speak truth.

Courtney (66books365)

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Acts 7:30-9:22 

I was seventeen and I went through a period of coldness, in my faith, for almost a year. I noticed it but did not know what to do about it. One day I was bored and I picked up my dad’s book, Martyr’s Mirror. It is a book telling the story of martyrs, people who died because of their faith. It started with the story in our reading today, and kept going throughout the deaths of all the apostles and then those who followed them. It did not take me long to fall on my knees and ask for forgiveness. These people knew the power of the Gospel and died for it. That was the man I wanted to be.

The story of the first martyr recorded is found in Acts 7:35–60.

It is another example of honour challenge and response with a lot of people trying to acquire honour and assign shame.


Challenge and response is a sort of social pattern, a social game, if you will, in which persons hassle each other according to socially-defined rules in order to gain the honor of another … because honor is a pivotal value (much like wealth in our society), nearly every interaction with nonfamily members has undertones of a challenge to honor. – Malina

I watch Stephen’s speech pattern change from storytelling to honour challenging the Sanhedrin. I am amazed at his courage for he surely could have blended in the background at some point but knew if he was going to have the opportunity to share the gospel, even though it guaranteed his death, he did. He wanted to make sure that the Gospel had nothing to do with the religious leaders.

As the rocks rained down, Stephen prayed, “Master Jesus, take my life.” Then he knelt down, praying loud enough for everyone to hear, “Master, don’t blame them for this sin”—his last words. Then he died. – Acts 7:59-60 MSG

The comparison is too much – Stephen has become my role model and many other Christians around the world when it comes to what serving, loving, forgiving and laying down ones life looks like. The religious leaders looked very religious compared to Stephen. They professed to be like prophets without realising they were exactly like those who killed the prophets. In fact, were they not the ones who killed their Messiah? There is a warning here for me too – stop pretending that I care about the law, love or the Gospel. Let me see my zeal for honour be one that does not honour me, but rather honours God and I do that by obeying Him.

While my persecutors have never threatened me with death, I can still see the eyes full of pride and anger as they are blinded to their own prejudice. They cannot or are incapable of seeing the evil of their own hateful disposition. Their fake zeal is a pretense, a cover, a sign of their own sickness.

Father, the word of the martyr’s testimony helps me overcome the evil one. May my testimony do the same for others who follow me.

Erwin (evanlaar)

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Acts 2:14-4:37

Repent is the first word that caught my attention. It has been on my mind in recent readings, and I wonder why I don’t read more about repentance from other resources.There’s ownership and accountability in repentance. It’s a turning away–a choice.

38 Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.”

40 With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.”

Acts 2:27-30, NIV, emphasis added

Lord, I need your word. I need my mind renewed daily.

Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them: “Rulers and elders of the people! If we are being called to account today for an act of kindness shown to a man who was lame and are being asked how he was healed, 10 then know this, you and all the people of Israel: It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed. 11 Jesus is

“‘the stone you builders rejected,
    which has become the cornerstone.’

12 Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.”

13 When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.

Acts 4:8-13, NIV, emphasis added

I (formally) met a woman the other day. She was so friendly. Her eyes were bright. Her enthusiasm was sincere. I had seen her interact with others before, and when she left me, her parting words stayed with me, “Peace be with you.”

Her smile. The joy. Those words. Who does this … on a Monday … in a cafeteria? And I felt astonished (and grateful, and seen, and blessed).

31 After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.

Acts 4:31, NIV, emphasis added

Lord, I feel the retreating call of winter, to hunker down at home when pressures and bustle and impatience seem at a frenzy. I want to draw closer to you, and these Scriptures stir a longing in me to live emboldened and courageous. Maybe courage starts with a whisper–peace be with you.

Courtney (66books365)

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John 10:19-12:11 

Again the Jews picked up rocks to throw at him. Jesus said, “I have made a present to you from the Father of a great many good actions. For which of these acts do you stone me?”

The Jews said, “We’re not stoning you for anything good you did, but for what you said—this blasphemy of calling yourself God.”

Jesus said, “I’m only quoting your inspired Scriptures, where God said, ‘I tell you—you are gods.’ If God called your ancestors ‘gods’—and Scripture doesn’t lie—why do you yell, ‘Blasphemer! Blasphemer!’ at the unique One the Father consecrated and sent into the world, just because I said, ‘I am the Son of God’? If I don’t do the things my Father does, well and good; don’t believe me. But if I am doing them, put aside for a moment what you hear me say about myself and just take the evidence of the actions that are right before your eyes. Then perhaps things will come together for you, and you’ll see that not only are we doing the same thing, we are the same—Father and Son. He is in me; I am in him.”

They tried yet again to arrest him, but he slipped through their fingers. – John 10:31-39 MSG

Fascinating reflection on Jesus engaged in a challenge/riposte situation. Jesus calls on His works as the evidence of His status as God’s Son and thereby sharing the same honour as the Father. The basic premise is that if they cannot accept what He is saying, they might think about accepting Him because of the works He was doing. While I like that premise I have to be careful for the anti-christs that come along and fake doing well to obtain followers.

Jesus was really contending against a fake zeal for the law, that is how He kept His cool when rocks and stones were in the people’s hands. Their fake concern for the honour of God was more of a religious horror, or even an imagined one.

Just look at Jesus – I imagine Him dressed in a fashion that would describe Him as poor, down and out, despicable – how could such a one like this profess Himself to be the Messiah and entitle Himself to such honours as declaring Himself to be the Son of God?

I know the multiple times the Father has honoured His Son already – He sanctified Him and sent Him into the world. While I have read stories of people to whom received the word of God, Jesus Himself was the Word.

What a dishonour for the Jews to be found in this situation. If Jesus was only honouring Himself, His honour was nothing. The same thing goes for me – it is Jesus’ honour I want, my own honour has no value whatsoever.

Father, I need the Holy Spirit and I need the Word to communicate so effectively in my world. Give freely as I step out in faith.

Erwin (evanlaar1922)

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