Category Archives: Acts

Genesis 8; Matthew 8; Ezra 8; Acts 8

We find that after the martyrdom of Stephen the gospel spread throughout the region like wildfire. There is a phrase that has often been quoted throughout church history and it goes like this, “The church advances on the blood of her martyrs.” In fact we find a connection between Samaria — where Philip is — and Ethiopian. The Spirit of the Lord carries Philip away to a deserted road where an Ethiopian eunuch is reading from Isaiah.

26 An angel of the Lord spoke to Philip: “Get up and go south to the road that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.”  27 So he got up and went. There was an Ethiopian man, a eunuch and high official of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, who was in charge of her entire treasury. He had come to worship in Jerusalem 28 and was sitting in his chariot on his way home, reading the prophet Isaiah aloud. (Acts 8:26-28 [CSB])

On that desert road this eunuch became a follower of Jesus. Some scholars say that this event was the beginning of the church in Ethiopia that goes strong till today. One act of obedience on Philip’s part and a conversation with an isolated government official and for two millennial there has been a church in Ethiopia.

What/who is God calling you to speak to today. The funny thing about His Kingdom work is that it never is empty of results. Who knows perhaps that conversation you have today or this week could have eternal benefits for millions of people for all eternity.

Father God, help us to keep our wits about us and to look for the opportunities you give us to share the good news of Jesus with those You put in our path. We look forward to what eternal results come from these encounters. In Jesus Name we pray, Amen.

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Genesis 7; Ezra 7; Matthew 7; Acts 7

The readings today caused me to remember God’s goodness, His provision, and His protection.

21 All the living things on earth died—birds, domestic animals, wild animals, small animals that scurry along the ground, and all the people. 22 Everything that breathed and lived on dry land died. 23 God wiped out every living thing on the earth—people, livestock, small animals that scurry along the ground, and the birds of the sky. All were destroyed. The only people who survived were Noah and those with him in the boat. 24 And the floodwaters covered the earth for 150 days. (Gen. 7:21-24 NLT)

What must it have been like on that ark knowing everything around you was being destroyed while you trust God for your life? I have been inside my house when really fierce winds and rain raged outside—it was the kind of storm that take down trees and rips off roofs. I must admit to feeling a sense of fear as to my fate. What struck me most reading the chapter this time was how God not only protected them but also provided for the needs of the eight passengers and all the livestock, animals, and birds contained safely within. Noah had no idea how long they were going to be afloat and he was told by God to load enough food for all of them. Only God alone could have made the food last for the year from the time they got on the boat until the time they got off! God’s goodness, His provision, His protection.

27 Praise the Lord, the God of our ancestors, who made the king want to beautify the Temple of the Lord in Jerusalem! 28 And praise him for demonstrating such unfailing love to me by honoring me before the king, his council, and all his mighty nobles! I felt encouraged because the gracious hand of the Lord my God was on me. And I gathered some of the leaders of Israel to return with me to Jerusalem. (Ezra 7:27-28 NLT)

The Israelites were finally able to go home after their long exile. God caused the King of Assyria to favor them to the point he even provided the means with which they could rebuild their Temple. He had protected a remnant of his people and sent them back to their own land. God is good!

24 “Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock. 25 Though the rain comes in torrents and the floodwaters rise and the winds beat against that house, it won’t collapse because it is built on bedrock. 26 But anyone who hears my teaching and doesn’t obey it is foolish, like a person who builds a house on sand. 27 When the rains and floods come and the winds beat against that house, it will collapse with a mighty crash.” (Matt 7:24-27)

As I thought back to the worst storm I could remember, I was thankful God had protected me and my home. The neighbor’s roof had shingles blown over the neighborhood, there were downed trees, and lots of debris. That is such a physical example of what Jesus is talking about—the other type of storm that enters our life. His teachings are the bedrock we build upon. He is that safe harbor in a storm. I’ve lived through several storms of that type—the kind that almost take you out because of the pain they cause to your spirit. I am not sure I would have survived the storm without Jesus to cling to. I truly learned of God’s sovereignty. I learned of his protection, his provision, and his goodness. I can trust he will be there again whenever the next storm hits.

55 But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed steadily into heaven and saw the glory of God, and he saw Jesus standing in the place of honor at God’s right hand. 56 And he told them, “Look, I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing in the place of honor at God’s right hand!” (Acts 7:55-56)

Lord Jesus, I look forward to seeing your face one day as Stephen did. I will be able to thank you in person for your protection, your provision, and your goodness in my life. I thank you for the storms I’ve endured so far because they drew me closer to you. I know it was only after the storm had blown over that I could see your purpose in it and it was always for my benefit. I lift my voice with Ezra’s and sing, “Praise the Lord”. In your precious name I pray, Amen

Cindy (gardnlady)

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Genesis 1; Matthew 1; Ezra 1; Acts 1

It is my prayer and hope that in our first day together, in the start of a new decade, as we engage in the first chapter of these amazing books, that we look to the art of talking with God. May this prayer be the first step to take us to that special place with Him.

 In the beginning, when God created the universe. Genesis 1:1 GNT

Our great and glorious God, creator of the heavens and the earth: We come before You this morning, for You are the beginner of all good things. All creation sings Your praises. From morning light to evening shade, from the expanse of the sky to the breadth of the sea, all that You have made declares that You are God and that there is none like You.

You caused the earth to sprout, to yield, to bear sweet fruit of many flavors. You gave the sun to warm us with its golden rays, the moon to illume the evening tide, the stars to keep us wondering and to prevent our wandering. You made the secret creatures of the sea and the soloists of the sky. You alone fashioned cows to feed in the open field, lizards to leap across desert rocks, and great beasts to pad along the forest floor. For all these things we praise You. They are all of Your design, Your execution, and exist for Your pleasure.

And yet as if all of this were not enough for You, you have done even more. You created man in your own image, male and female. You’ve called us to multiply ourselves, commanded us to exercise dominion over this world, and encouraged us to enjoy its food for our need. How easy it is for us at this moment to share in Your judgment that this is all good, even very good!

And still we wonder. If the lights of our heaven are so glorious, how much more the lights of Yours? If by Your word alone You have commanded into existence a world of astonishing creatures, what have You commanded for the creatures around Your throne? If this is the glory of the world that is seen, what will be the glory of a world unseen? If we are left breathless at the sights of a world that is tarnished by sin, what will be our wonder at a world where You have banished all evil? If we are stunned at the sight of your creation, how will we measure our amazement if we are granted even a glimpse of the Creator’s glory?

And so we come to You this morning not merely to sing Your praises, but also to bring our petitions. We confess that we have not respected enough Your creation. We confess that we have not reverenced enough You our Creator! Forgive us Father, and fit us for the new heavens and the new earth. Forgive us, male and female, for all that we have done that is not good, and refashion us, in your mercy, into the image of Your Son. Call the Spirit who once hovered over the waters to hold sway over our hearts. And hear us for the sake of our loving Saviour, who for our sakes hung on a tree bearing the bitter fruit of all our sin. AMEN. 

Erwin (evanlaar1922)

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Filed under 66 Books, Acts, Bible in a year reading plan, Ezra, Genesis, M'Cheyne Bible reading plan, Matthew, New Testament, Old Testament, Uncategorized

Deuteronomy 19-22; Acts 28

I was thinking about Romans over the past weekend, in particular chapters 10-12 and looking at the grafting in and out of the vine as part of producing and not producing fruit and how that is reflective on who I am as a follower of Jesus.

In doing so, I found a rabbinic teaching in Deuteronomy that took instructions about trees and turned those trees into disciples. So there was a match between my pondering and today’s readings. Not sure what it all means, so I will give it as is and let you take it somewhere or leave it right where it is.

When you besiege a city for a long time, making war against it in order to take it, you shall not destroy its trees by wielding an axe against them. You may eat from them, but you shall not cut them down. Are the trees in the field human, that they should be besieged by you? Only the trees that you know are not trees for food you may destroy and cut down, that you may build siegeworks against the city that makes war with you, until it falls. – Deuteronomy 20:19-20  ESV

Those who have made a decision to follow Jesus are strong candidates and are fit for leading others to do the same. Those who truly have made such a decision are described as disciples. There is a particular rabbinic mandate that opposes anyone teaching an unfit disciple. 

If a disciple of the sages is fit [הָגוּן], eat from him and do not cut him down, but if not destroy him and cut him down

Going back to my pondering in Romans. Our reading today in Acts illustrates the grafting in of Gentiles. Paul had incredible success – thousands of Jews started following Jesus. Yes, he also experienced persecution to the point that the words Jesus gave Ananias that Paul would suffer as he served came all true. Yet, here we have the call to specifically share the good news to the Gentiles and they would respond in an even greater way for they would actually listen.

Therefore let it be known to you that this salvation of God has been sent to the Gentiles; they will listen. – Acts 28:28  ESV

Father, I do not live in fear of being taken out of Your family. You have placed me here with You and Your love and grace sustains me. I want to learn from You and I want to listen to You. Help me take what I learn and hear and share it with others that they may walk with You as well. I cannot walk where You have called me, alone. I need You with me as You were with Paul. Thank you for sharing Yourself with me. I pray that I may always honour You in all that I do and say. Amen.

Erwin (evanlaar1922)

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Deuteronomy 15-18; Acts 27; Psalms 88

“Give generously to the poor, not grudgingly, for the Lord your God will bless you in everything you do. There will always be some in the land who are poor. That is why I am commanding you to share freely with the poor and with other Israelites in need. When you release a male servant, do not send him away empty-handed. Give him a generous farewell gift from your flock, your threshing floor, and your winepress. Share with him some of the bounty with which the Lord your God has blessed you. Remember you were once slaves in the land of Egypt and the Lord your God redeemed you! That is why I am giving you this command.” Deuteronomy 15:10-15 NLT

Remember. But, oh, how many times I forget. I think on God’s faithfulness. His provision. His constant care in my life. How can I not be generous? And share what he has given me. Sometimes it seems easier to hold on to it. Not only money, but my time, talents…all the ways he has been good to me. Sharing is to trust that God will fill the need. Many times, above and beyond what I could ask or imagine.

                                                *

Paul was sailing to Rome. He was a prisoner, under the custody of a Roman officer. He didn’t have a choice, but to rely on friends to take care of him. How humbling that must have been. I am thankful for the times that God has used other people to provide for me and my family. My prayer is that I would do the same for others who have a need.

“The next day we docked at Sidon, Julius was very kind to Paul to let him go ashore to visit with friends so they could provide for his needs.  The next day, as gale-force winds continued to batter the ship, the crew began throwing the cargo overboard. The terrible storm raged for many days, blotting out the sun and the stars, until at last all hope was gone. No one had eaten in a long time. Finally, Paul called the crew together and said, “But take courage! None of you will lose your lives, even though the ship will go down. What’s more, God in his goodness has granted safety to everyone sailing with you.’ So take courage! For I believe God. It will be just as he said. But we will be shipwrecked on an island.” Acts 27 NLT

Paul never gave up hope.  He kept encouraging the people, even after they didn’t listen to him.  His faith and courage had to be contagious.  When I feel alone, I want to be like Paul. Remembering that God is with me.  And reach out to those around me, while proclaiming my belief.  Knowing that the God who got me through the trial before, will be faithful again. 

Dear Father, thank you for your goodness. Help me to remember that everything I have comes from you. Help me to live with open hands. Thank you that you rescue me. Amen.

“O Lord, God of my salvation, I cry out to you by day. I come to you at night. Now hear my prayer; listen to my cry.” Psalms 88 NLT

Amy(amyctanner)

 

 

 

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