Thursday, 9 November 2017

Acts Chapter 18 - Reactions of People.


Having completed the 31 Day Blogging Challenge last month I have decided to continue blogging on through the book of Acts but not everyday, probably 2 times a week.

We finished on Day 31  Knowing God having finished chapter 17  noting that God looks for true worship and obedience and that Christianity is not based on works but on the death & resurrection of Jesus.

So on to Acts chapter 18 today.


verses 1 - 4

Paul has come to Corinth (from Athens) which is the first time we see it mentioned in Acts.
We are then introduced to a married couple called Aquila & Priscilla who were originally from Italy but had moved here having had to leave there homeland because they were Jews.

The first thing I thought about was that Paul found people he could easily become friends with because they had two things in common

  • They were Jews
  • They had the same occupation


How do we meet people and become friends?

Exactly the same way through our jobs or through coming from the same background.

When we went to live in America from 1992 - 1995 we first met people through Fred's job there and then through the church we attended.
Then later through our daughter's school and the neighbourhood we lived in.

When we went to live in Belgium from 2004 - 2010 things were different because we were not fluent Flemish or French speakers so a lot of the time we gravitated towards British and American people but in the end had friends from many nationalities due to going to an International Church.

We probably tend to forget that Paul may not have had any contacts in Corinth to go to and it is not easy to arrive anywhere not knowing anyone and settle there.

People always have to provide for themselves and can not always be dependant on others and that is just what Paul did here.  He worked at a skilled job during the week and then on the Sabbath he reasoned in the synagogue with Jews and Greeks.


reasoned
adjective
  1. based on logic or good sense.

    "a reasoned judgement"   or   "a reasoned argument"
  2. well expressed, well presented, considered, sensible, intelligent


Something to note here is that Paul did not have to devote all his time to preaching, teaching or indeed studying the scriptures to be able to share about Jesus.  So neither do we, instead we just have to be willing to give up of our weekends or free time from the daily work and provision we are responsible to make for ourselves and family.

It does not say in these few verses that Aquila & Priscilla were Christians but obviously they were friendly and hospitable to Paul and willing to share work with him.



verses 5 - 11

Silas & Timothy have now rejoined Paul after having been left in Berea in Macedonia in Day 30 The Power & Destruction of Envy 

This means they were not in Athens at all and also not with Paul when he met Aquila & Priscilla and worked with them.

We now see Paul being zealous in his proclaiming of Jesus as the Messiah to the Jews but this message was not well received and it specifically states that the Jews were against Paul and blasphemed.

 But when they opposed him and blasphemed, he shook his garments and said to them, “Your blood be upon your own heads; I am clean. From now on I will go to the Gentiles.” 


Paul claims he will not bother to witness to the Jews again but only to the Gentiles.

He obviously took the blasphemy very seriously.



blasphemy
noun
  1. the action or offence of speaking sacrilegiously about God or sacred things; profane talk.


But even with this happening the next convert we see is the ruler of the synagogue (presumably a Jew) and his household.  This reminds us of other instances of families already covered in Day 19  It's Not About Us, It's All About God  with Cornelius and  Day 26  Believe in the Right Thing  with the Phillippian jailer.

Then we also see "many of the Corinthians" believing and being baptized and they were presumably Gentiles because they were Greeks.


So even when there was opposition to God's Word being preached and the truth of the Gospel being told; God was still working and bringing people to know Him.  



Even today God is still working and bringing people to know Him.


We need to remember this and believe that

Even today when there is opposition to God's Word being preached and the truth of the Gospel being told; God will still be working and bringing people to know Him.  



If you are interested in more of the posts in this series on The Book of Acts please click on the link below and you will find a list & link to all of the posts.







Tuesday, 31 October 2017

Knowing God - 31 Days in Acts


At the end of this blog post the whole 31 Days Challenge will be over.  Some days the blog post has taken a little over an hour to work on but mostly it has taken up to three hours or more so for any blogger who can keep up daily blogging for longer than a month - Good for you!


Yesterday we left chapter 17 at the end of verse 15 so today we will finish off the chapter.


verses 16 - 21

Paul had gone on to Athens ahead of Silas, Timothy and Luke because of the anger incited up against him at the end of  Day 30  The Power & Destruction of Envy

Now we see him getting upset about the idol worship of the people in this city.  He feels so strongly about it that he goes to the synagogue and tries to get the Jews and the Gentile worshippers to see how wrong this is.  We are told he even went into the marketplace each day to talk to people there. 

The people who seemed to take the most notice are the philosophers who just want to always talk and hear about new things and they think that Paul is talking about a new god because he is preaching about the resurrection of Jesus which is unfamiliar to them.

The first thing that stood out to me here was the mention, yet again, of the resurrection being preached about and we have seen this several times before by Peter and others so it appears that the Apostles and other early Christians thought it important that they spoke of the resurrection and indeed could not preach about Salvation without including it.  
We would not have any hope of resurrection ourselves if Jesus had not been resurrected and yes part of our eternal life will involve resurrection for us so it is a main part of our understanding about Salvation.

So the philosophers take Paul to Mars Hill ( Areopagus ) because they want to know what this talk of his is all about.





verses 22 - 34
He starts with something that is familiar to them all which is the altar with the inscription to the 

TO THE UNKNOWN GOD.

An altar indicated that they would worship this god, one whom they did not know anything about but Paul directs them straight to God the creator of the world from this.

He explains who the god they don't know is, He's the creator, He is Lord of heaven and earth and everything else but does not dwell in temples that the people have made.
He isn't worshipped by our hard work instead He has formed us all as we are and placed on on this earth so that all men would seek Him and find Him.  He does not need us to do things for Him as we saw in Day 29  What Does God Need?

Why?
Because everything we do is made possible by Him

28 for in Him we live and move and have our being, as also some of your own poets have said, ‘For we are also His offspring.’ 


So the true God is not an idol, not made or formed by man but is alive and is to be worshipped by all when we understand who He is


30 Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, 31 because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead.”


and He brings us to the knowledge of Him and the understanding that we need to repent of our sins and accept the fact that one day we will face Jesus and we will have no righteousness of our own to be able to stand before Him as He judges the world.  We will have no right to say we have worked for Him if we have not accepted Him as the true and living God because he has not looked for work.


God looks for true worship and obedience.


Then back to the testimony of the resurrection again.

Some people mocked Paul for telling them about the true God the one they felt existed but did not know who He was and perhaps were just happy not knowing so that they could believe whatever they wanted but Paul because He was a believer and was called of God to preach had the responsibility to speak the truth to them.

This should be a challenge to us that no matter what others decide to believe about God, if it is not what the Word of God tells us then we as believers have also the responsibility to tell them the truth.

Remember all of us will stand before Christ one day and we can only depend on one thing 
 - not how we lived our lives 
but who we truly worshipped as our Lord.


Christianity is not based on works but on the death and resurrection of Jesus in our place for the life we are not able to live by ourselves.


Christianity is not based on works but on the death and resurrection of Jesus in our place.


Thank you for joining in so much with me over this past month and for those who have asked if I'm going to continue in Acts the answer is yes, but not on a daily basis.  I will post a few times a week but not feel an obligation to keep to a very rigid schedule.

For anyone who has been reading and realises that they have not known who the true God is or has in the past kept putting off actually becoming a true believer then please click on the short  3 2 1 video at the side of my blog to hear more about the Gospel or contact me for further info.




Also if you have missed any of the days in this series on Acts please click on the link below and you will find a list & link to all of the 31 Days.





Monday, 30 October 2017

The Power and Destruction of Envy - 31 Days in Acts



Today then is Day 30 and we are on chapter 17 of Acts.



verses 1-10

Paul, Silas, Timothy and Luke are still travelling and have reached Thessalonica.
There is a synagogue there and as we have seen in previous chapters the synagogue is where they go to be able to speak to the Jews of the new location they are in.  So no change here but this time we see that they go there for 3 consecutive Sabbath Days.  It does not tell us that they were greatly received and many were saved straight after the first sermon but rather that they reasoned and explained for 3 different days so people were listening but not necessarily responding immediately.

Doesn't this give us encouragement to know that Paul did not always have a great immediate response from everywhere he went but would sometimes have to wait to see the fruit of sharing Christ with others?  We need to not get disheartened and think we can't do a good enough job when we do not see results like Paul often saw.


So in verse 4 we read that many were saved, some were Jews, a lot were Greeks and some women get a mention here.

However, in verse 5 we see another reaction

But the Jews who were not persuaded, becoming envious, took some of the evil men from the marketplace, and gathering a mob, set all the city in an uproar and attacked the house of Jason, and sought to bring them out to the people.

Look at the result of envy here.

The meaning of envy:

a feeling of discontented or resentful longing aroused by someone else's possessions, qualities, or luck.

Note it does not say that the person has done something wrong to cause this feeling in others.





First of all what were they envious of?  
If we go by the meaning above then they were envious of the qualities Paul and the others had or the way things were happening around them or the good situation they appeared to be in or the way others liked them.
This means they resented Paul & the others and the effect they thought they had on people which was not an effect they themselves had.
There was probably a lot of admiring talk about these visitors and the Jews who had not believed their message grew angry and did some irrational and violent things because of the feelings they allowed to accumulate in their minds.

A lot of harm can be done in any setting whether it be a home, a city, a church, a community, or a workplace when someone becomes envious of another.

Secondly what does envy entail?  

Envy 

  • brings exaggeration of incidents or actions, 
  • increases associations with people who may have other ulterior motives, 
  • invites gossip, 
  • often involves lies, 
  • incites other people who would otherwise have been happy enough with the situation originally, 
  • spits out accusations 
  • brings on attacks whether physical or verbal.

No-one involved in the situation can come through it unharmed in some way.

Jason is a new person introduced to us now, obviously someone who was hospitable and a believer and because they cannot find Paul and the others, he is ill treated simply for providing a place for the visitors to stay.

Then in verse 7  I think it is very interesting to read

 Jason has harboured them, and these are all acting contrary to the decrees of Caesar, saying there is another king—Jesus.” 

because it makes me think of the accusations that were actually made of Jesus when the Jewish rulers were inciting the people and having Jesus brought for trial before being crucified.


Thirdly what were the two results of this envy?

verse 9   -   Jason & other believers had to give money to show they are promising that Jason's guests will not be a problem in the city.

verse 10  -  Paul, Silas, Timothy and Luke had to leave straight away and go to Berea possibly because the other believers could not trust the mob or the Jews and still feared something would happen to them.


In a situation ruled by envy it is always hard to trust again.


verses 11-15

We can think back to Day 22  Daily Scriptures  when we looked at the verse about the Bereans and see a different attitude here from people who trusted by verifying with scripture and not going by feelings.

However those who had been ruled by envy came to Berea to cause trouble once more and again Paul & Luke had to leave immediately, moving on this time to Athens.  Silas & Timothy were left behind in Berea but Paul wanted them to join him again as soon as possible.



Evil will always want to stop the Gospel being preached.



I'm trying to read and write about the Book of Acts for 31 Days so please come back and join me for some notes & some thoughts each day. 

As the month goes on each Day's Link will be added in 



Sunday, 29 October 2017

What does God Need? - 31 Days in Acts



Today is our last Sunday in our 31 Days in Acts and as in the previous Sunday I would like to take one verse and dwell on it for a short time.


We have reached chapter 17 and have 2 more days to go after today so hopefully we will at least leave this monthly challenge at the end of this chapter.  If you know me well you will know that I like beginnings and endings and things in order - not that I have everything in order but it is one of my dreams.



Just picking out one verse from a chapter can sometimes be rather easy and sometimes rather difficult depending on the inspirational writing of that chapter or the story involved in that chapter or the sheer abundance of stand out verses which in themselves can hold a message for us.

Mostly verses which encapsulate the core of the Gospel are ones that draw us to them but I'm not sure that at first glance we could find this verse in that category.

Today I've chosen to look at Acts 17 v 25





We know from reading the Bible that as Christians we are called to serve God so immediately we should not be confused by thinking this verse is telling us not to serve God or work for His Kingdom, because scripture will not contradict other scripture.


God does not need us to do anything because

God does not need anything.


God is self-sufficient    (Why We Worship 21)



and

God is all powerful   (Why We Worship 14)



He does not need us to do anything but He does want us to do something because

God is our creator   (Why We Worship 15) 



 and one of  the things He wants from us is our service.

He wants us to speak for Him, to work for Him, to love others for Him; He wants our service as a means of our worship.

He has given us everything and so we should desire to give Him all that we can because of His love, grace and mercy to us.

Let's remember 

Q:   What is man's chief end?

A:   Man's chief end is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever



So the answer to the question that is the title for this blog post

What Does God Need?

is simply
 NOTHING.  

God needs nothing but He wants our worship.




It is always important that we make sure what we read or believe from a verse is correct by looking at that verse in context so let's read the verse before it

24 “God, who made the world and everything in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands. 



and the verse after it

26 And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings



Yes He is our creator and our Lord and deserves our work and worship.


What does God need?




I'm trying to read and write about the Book of Acts for 31 Days so please come back and join me for some notes & some thoughts each day. 

As the month goes on each Day's Link will be added in 




Saturday, 28 October 2017

The Call - 31 Days in Acts



Yesterday in chapter 16 of Acts we met Timothy and Lydia, talked about Empowering People's Lives and briefly mentioned the call to Macedonia in the vision Paul had.


Now today we are going to look at the result of the call in the rest of chapter 16 but first I just wanted to mention something that I hadn't thought about before.

In verse 10 we read

10 Now after he had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go to Macedonia, concluding that the Lord had called us to preach the gospel to them.


We have two pronouns there that indicate there were more than Paul, Silas & Timothy heading off to Macedonia after the vision.

It says 
"immediately we sought to go"  
and 
"the Lord had called us to preach the gospel"


We really need to remember that there was always another person around,

the one who was recording all the facts, 

the one we started off in Day 1 chapter 1 saying Thank You to 

LUKE  the doctor and the author of this book and the Gospel named for him.


This is the first time (or maybe I have missed another little pronoun somewhere) we have seen him include himself in the people travelling among the Apostles.

Interesting that he deliberately does mention "we" in the decision to go, so does this mean that they all were included in making the decision and not just Paul in charge?

Then he used "us" in reference to preaching the Gospel which makes me wonder if the preaching was not simply left to the Apostles as we may feel through the examples we are presented with along the way.  I am sure they would all have been involved in sharing the Good News as they talked with people but this might be the indication here more towards them each having opportunities to preach and it would make sense because that would be part of the discipling and mentoring by the Apostles.


Looking now at verses 16 - 24 we see what happens after the group have accepted the call to Macedonia and the offer to stay with Lydia in her home in Philippi. 

We have the story of the girl with the evil spirit taunting them as they went to prayer - a time when the devil certainly wants to draw their attention away from their purpose.

The girl is saying a form of the truth but that does not mean she is saying it in a respectful way or for the right reason.  Paul deals with her wrong intentions by casting out the evil spirit but then her employers are not happy and decide to bring more evil upon Paul & Silas by taking them to the Roman authorities and complaining about them causing division in the city.

The devil will always use another way to stop the Word of God when he fails in his first attempt.

The people are incited and then the authorities are incited and anger rules the day.  

The devil thinks he has won when Paul & Silas are beaten severely and thrown into the inner part of the prison and locked up in the stocks.  But this is one of those well-known stories in Acts and we know that the devil does not have the final say.




Verses 25 - 34  tell us who is triumphant over all as Paul and Silas are not disheartened in prison but instead sing the praises of God and the earthquake shakes the prison to frighten all within and to free the two prisoners from there chains.
When we first hear this part of the story I'm sure most of us would be tempted to think that Paul and Silas would use the opportunity to escape but God's ways are not our human ways and God had more to do here than just rescue His people.

He also had more people to bring into His Kingdom.

The result of the quake may start with a very frightened jailer ready to kill himself but it ends with a very happy household as they are presented with hope and joy in the future.
No preaching was necessary here just a simple explanation about Believing in the Right Thing using that great verse 16 which we covered in Day 26.


Fear turned into Joy because of the simple message of the Gospel.



Verses 35 - 40  finish off the chapter with the recounting of how Paul and Silas are finally asked to leave not only the prison but the city.  No punishment now they are being requested to leave because of the fear the rulers have over what has occurred.

The whole city knows and their attitude has been turned upside down from evil prevailing to the presence of God prevailing.

This is the result of obedience to the call to come to Macedonia.




I'm trying to read and write about the Book of Acts for 31 Days so please come back and join me for some notes & some thoughts each day. 

As the month goes on each Day's Link will be added in 



Friday, 27 October 2017

Empowering People's Lives - 31 Days in Acts



Day 27 and we are more than halfway through the book of Acts.

Yesterday we reached chapter 16 but just concentrated on one verse (Acts ch. 16 v. 31) and talked about how we need to  Believe in the Right Thing.



Today we are looking at two people we meet for the first time.


Timothy  (verses 1 - 5)

  • Paul met him when he and Silas came to Derbe and Lystra.
  • He is referred to as a disciple. 
  • His mother is a Jewish believer.
  • His father is Greek.
  • There is a good report given of him by the believers in Lystra and Iconium.
  • Paul wanted him to travel on with him and Silas.
  • Paul had Timothy circumcised.



Lydia   (verses 11 - 15)

  • Paul meets her in Philippi.
  • She was a seller of purple cloth. 
  • She was from Thyatira.
  • She worshipped God.
  • She met Paul at a prayer meeting.
  • She listened to Paul speaking.
  • She and her household were baptized.
  • She persuaded Paul, Silas and Timothy to go and stay at her home.



Two believers of different backgrounds, genders and ages.

Both believers and Paul obviously thought highly of each of them.


Looking at the points above this chapter indicates that Timothy was probably young, well-brought up and had been influenced by his mother toward believing in God but because he is described as a disciple it seems that he was devout and wanted to learn more and grow in his faith.  Other believers had taken notice of him and spoken well of him so this would indicate his behaviour, attitude and commitment was good.
Paul obviously trusted Timothy and saw good potential in him because he wanted to take him on with them in their journey.
Paul decided that Timothy should be circumcised which may seem strange due to the decisions made in the previous chapter about the circumcising of Gentiles not being necessary when they became believers.  However although Timothy's father was Greek, his mother was a Jewish believer and hence Timothy was probably considered a Jew who would be travelling with Jews.  Or perhaps there was another explanation but obviously not important for us to know exactly why.


Not all believers are the same, we are all unique.

From what we read about Lydia we see that she was an older woman who had her own business and purple was a colour reserved more for a regal or well-to-do society.  
It states that Lydia worshipped God which reminds us of Day ??  chapter ?? where we read about Cornelius because he was described in a similar way.  As with him and now with Lydia they both needed to meet with someone who could teach them more about following Jesus and influencing their whole household to the full message of the Gospel.  Then we see she was obedient to this message and they were baptized.
She was hospitable and willing to open her home to 3 people to come and not only have a meal but to stay there.



Looking back now to verses 6 - 10 which come between these two meetings with Timothy and Lydia, we see what happened between the two encounters.
Apparently they had hoped to go to preach the Word in Asia but The Holy Spirit stepped in to change their plans.  Instead Paul then had a vision where their new destination was revealed, Macedonia.

“Come over to Macedonia and help us.” 10 Now after he had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go to Macedonia, concluding that the Lord had called us to preach the gospel to them.



So we can see that meeting up with certain people was done by the leading of The Holy Spirit and not just a casual happening.  God can still lead us to people today even though we may not recognize that happening.


We all need to come to know God and follow Him and let the message of the Gospel empower our lives.



The main thing to see about these two encounters is that even though we are all different and unique we all need to come to know God and follow Him and let the message of the Gospel empower our lives.


Tomorrow we will continue in chapter 16 and see more about why that call came for Paul to go to Macedonia.





I'm trying to read and write about the Book of Acts for 31 Days so please come back and join me for some notes & some thoughts each day. 

As the month goes on each Day's Link will be added in 




Thursday, 26 October 2017

Believe in the Right Thing! - 31 Days in Acts

It is Day 26 of 31 Days in Acts and I'm realising how close to the end of this month we are.


Again we have come to one of my favourite chapters of Acts.
So much happens in this chapter and a clear Gospel message for us all to use.

We meet some important characters that do help with the advancement of the Gospel.

But for right now I would just like to look at one verse in this chapter which is where all the focus of this chapter should really go.





I have worked with Kids Groups and Sunday Schools for over 40 years and one of the best ways to help children to memorize scripture is through song.

One of the first visualized kids songs I bought was the one that taught this verse.  

The song is called

"S A L V A T I O N"

and the first verse of it goes



(spelling out the letters of the word Salvation)

which is just the truth of the Gospel and we should not water it down but remember that it simple and clear - we will not enter God's Presence without His Salvation.


Then the second verse brings in the action we need to take




which is to receive His gift of Salvation because we cannot work to earn it; it is freely offered to us through the death of His son Jesus.  

Then the reference of the verse this is all based on and the instruction to 

Believe

but not just believe in anything,  believe in the Lord Jesus.




Even though this may have been a song for children to learn from the message is still the same for all of us no matter what age and throughout all time the message will never change.  It is the only way to Heaven, it is the only way to have your sins forgiven as you repent before God and accept His gift of Salvation.


It is the only way, Believe!



I'm trying to read and write about the Book of Acts for 31 Days so please come back and join me for some notes & some thoughts each day. 

As the month goes on each Day's Link will be added in