June 30, 2016
Have you ever fallen asleep during a sermon? Eutychus did and it nearly cost him his life. Fortunately for him, the Word came to him a second time and he awoke from the dead. Whether it was Paul’s overlong preaching, for he preached “even till daybreak,” or it was Eutychus’ lack of receptivity remains unclear. But one thing appears certain. Eutychus stayed awake for the rest of Paul’s sermon. 🙂
June 29, 2016
A riot broke out in Ephesus because the followers of the “Way” (A 1st-century description of Christ-followers) were accused of causing a decline in the sales of Diana figures made by the local silversmiths. The teachings of Christ had begun to influence the citizens of Ephesus and the region of Asia Minor to the point that it even affected their spending habits. Several Christians were dragged into the 25,000 seat Ephesian theater by the rioting mob. When one of the Christians named Alexander tried to make a verbal defense, the mob shouted him down. It’s difficult, if not impossible, to offer a reasoned defense of Christianity to a frenzied mob. Yet, today the city of Ephesus with its sexually perverted temple to Diana lies in ruins, while the followers of the Way continue. This should cause us to take heart when today’s Diana worshipers are shouting so loud.
June 27, 2016
When Paul met the Jewish tent-making couple, Aquila and Priscilla, in the city of Corinth, he found true partners in ministry and work. Paul was a bivocational church-planter and he needed work that provided a sufficient income with flexible hours. By joining with Aquila and Priscilla he found both. In Corinth he was given the flexibility to work and preach in one of Rome’s largest and richest cities. The couple even offered him accommodations in their home. When we think of Paul’s more famous gospel partners like Barnabas, Silas and Timothy, let us not forget his strategic partnership with Aquila and Priscilla. Christian business owners are often God’s provision for supporting and advancing the gospel. And they often become missionaries themselves, just as Aquila and Pricilla did as they followed Paul back to Ephesus and helped in the ministry there. Are you a tentmaker?
June 26, 2016
The Jews of Thessalonica that rejected Paul’s message formed a mob and dragged some of the believers before the city authorities. The accusation? Those “who have turned the world upside down” have now come to our city!” What they didn’t understand was that it wasn’t the men who were changing things, but the message. Furthermore, the world wasn’t being turned “upside down,” but right side up. For wherever the gospel is received, things are made right. O, that the gospel would turn this world upside down!
June 25, 2016
Luke, the human author of the Gospel of Luke and the book of Acts, included himself in the story of Paul’s journey to Philippi and his missionary work there. Although he never mentioned himself by name, he did change from his usual third person “they,” to the first person “we.” There are three “we” sections in Acts: 16:10-18, 20:4-21:19, and 27:1-28:30. Apparently, Luke traveled with Paul, Silas and Timothy from Troas to Philippi and then remained in Philippi after they left. Most of Luke’s writing in both Luke and Acts were from his interviews of eye witnesses and of his “orderly account” (Luke 1:3) of the same. Yet, in a few instances, Luke was himself an eyewitness. Luke, the “beloved physician,” as Paul called him (Col. 4:14), was too modest to even sign his name to his writings. Yet, nearly one third of our New Testament would be missing without his obedience to the Spirit’s inspiration. Luke, was there with Paul when they went down to the river outside of Philippi to pray.
June 24, 2016
The movement of the gospel from the Middle East into Europe began with a woman named Lydia. She heard the Good News from the apostle Paul while gathering with a women’s prayer group by the Krenides River outside the city of Philippi. Apparently, there wasn’t a sufficient population of Jews living there to establish a synagogue, so Lydia gathered with some local women to pray on the Sabbath. Can you imagine her delight when Paul, Silas and Timothy sat down near them and began to preach? Perhaps she had been praying for sometime for someone to come and open the Scriptures to them. And now, the Lord had answered her prayer. After receiving Jesus as Lord and Savior, she was baptized, and so was her whole household. Her home became the first base of operations for the Philippi church as she insisted on the apostles staying in her house. Amazing how God first called a business woman to help open up the gospel to the Western world!
June 21, 2016
As Paul and Barnabas traveled from city to city preaching the gospel, there were those that believed and those that rejected, and even those that persecuted them. Yet, regardless of response, the Word was “spreading throughout the whole region.” This is what news does, it spreads. How much more the Good News of Christ, which is the Gospel!
June 20, 2016
What more fitting epitaph of your life might be given than that you served God’s purpose in your own generation? Such was the summary of David’s life offered by the apostle Paul. God has a purpose for your life. It is both general and specific. It is general in that every person whom God has made, was made to glorify Him. It is specific in that each of us is called to serve God’s purpose in our “own generation,” offering our unique God-given gifts to serve His call. Two questions: 1) Do you know your specific purpose? 2) Are you obeying and trusting God to do it? As Queen Esther was asked, “Who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14).
June 18, 2016
Imagine attending a worship service that ends not with an invitation to go have lunch, but with a commissioning service that puts you on the next boat going out to sea. That’s what happened to Barnabas and Saul (“Paul”). Oh, to have worship services so Spirit-filled that people immediately surrender to do what God has called them to do. May churches around the world begin to experience an Antioch revival, a church known not for its seating capacity, but its sending capacity. Antioch, also called the “Cradle of Christianity,” where the Spirit called, and the people obeyed and went.
June 14, 2016
After Saul the Persecutor became Paul the Preacher, he sought to meet with the disciples, but they were afraid. But Barnabas, whose name means “Son of Encouragement,” vouched for Paul and presented him to the apostles. What a great friend to have! Someone who will mediate for you and put their own name on the line for you, so that you can have a second chance at life. How like Jesus was this Barnabas who encouraged both Paul and the apostles to be reconciled to one another.