Where He Leads

Acts 15-16


When I started my teaching career 24 years ago, I had no idea that I would spend two and half decades in the same district. I only agreed to the original interview because I thought that it would be good practice for interviews with school districts that were better funded and closer to where I wanted to live. But through the years, I have had amazing students, super supportive principals and supervisors, and colleagues who have become my closest friends. 


There have been times where I sought other jobs outside my district. The crazy thing is that I have never had an invitation to interview for those other positions. Now either I have a highly inflated self-perspective of my skills, or I don’t know how to complete and submit an application, or just maybe, God wants me to stay where I am. 


So I can relate a little bit to Paul in Acts 16 when he realizes that he’s not supposed to go into Asia but rather head up to Macedonia.


Can you imagine setting out on a road trip and not really knowing for sure where you’ll end up?


It makes sense to pray and seek wisdom and discernment before making major life decisions. But this is how God wants us to live our day-to-day lives too. Yes, dreaming up plans, setting goals, and creating task lists are good things to do, but it’s also important to be sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit. Asking God to help determine the best use of your time each week, each day, is a good way to practice your listening skills and hone your sensitivity to God’s direction. 


As we go about this week, pause and think about what you already have on your calendar of things to do and places to be at and people to meet up with. Does any of that need to be revised? Does something need to be removed or added? Do you have enough margin in your day-to-day that you can spontaneously respond to God’s leading? 


If nothing specific comes to mind or your days and week go pretty closely as you expected, that’s okay too. What really matters is that you sought God. You took time to listen and you were willing to act on his call. That’s the kind of heart God desires.

-Bethany Ligon

Today’s Bible reading passage can be read or listened to at BibleGateway here – Acts 15-16

Tomorrow we will read Galatians 1-3.

Passion for God’s Word

Acts 13-14

Today, we pick back up with Paul, and we have yet to mention his main companion that shows up in chapters 13 and 14 – Barnabas.  Barnabas means “Son of Encouragement”, as he was an encourager to those around him.  Barnabas travelled with Paul frequently when Paul would go to a different region to share the gospel message.  They mostly got along great and accomplished a lot, but they did reach a disagreement down the road.  Barnabas wanted to take his cousin, Mark, with them during one of their missionary journeys, but Paul did not since Mark abandoned them on a previous trip.  We are getting ahead of ourselves a bit here though, so let’s rewind to chapter 13.

            In chapter 13 of Acts, Paul and Barnabas set sail and visited a couple of places, most notably Cyprus and Antioch.  It was at these different locations that they took advantage of their opportunity to share God’s message with others.  It’s important to note that some places that they traveled to the gospel message already was presented and spread a bit, as they weren’t the only ones around spreading this gospel message.  However, they were certainly instrumental in furthering the spread.

            In verses 16-41 of chapter 13, Paul delivers a message to the people on the Sabbath.  At the conclusion of this message that he presented, “the people begged that these things might be told them the next Sabbath,” (Acts 13:42).  From a preacher’s perspective, this would be a dream come true!  The people were so eager to hear the gospel message that they BEGGED!  They didn’t just ask or hope or want, but they BEGGED to hear the gospel message.  When was the last time that you were so eager to hear God’s message being shared?  For most of us, it probably has been a while.  Somehow, someway we need to find that passion again for God’s Word.  Pray to God today, that he would fill your heart with a passion and desire to dig deeper into His Word.  That would be a great place to start.

            We fast forward a week from Paul’s message in verses 16-41, and we arrive at the next Sabbath in verse 44.  Verse 44 reads, “The next Sabbath almost the whole city gathered to hear the word of the Lord,” (Acts 13:44).  How awesome would that be?!  The week prior, the people begged to hear more of God’s word being spoken, as they had so much excitement.  It is evident that they didn’t contain their excitement to themselves.  Apparently, their passion for God’s Word drove them to share with their friends and family about the word of God that they just listened to.

            It’s a general notion that word of mouth is the best mode of advertisement.  The group who listened to Paul’s first message did a great job of advertising to others by word of mouth.  This proved to be extremely effective, as almost the whole city showed up the following week.  This serves as a good reminder for us to advertise God’s Word by word of mouth with our friends and family.  When was the last time that you shared a bit of God’s Word with someone who is not an active believer?

            Paul continued to gain a following in the different locations that he traveled to.  On the other hand, though, his adversaries were continuing to grow.  In chapter 14, Paul was stoned nearly to death for his faith and his part in spreading the gospel message.  My mind cannot stop thinking about the differences in how the early Christians were persecuted versus how we are persecuted (or the lack thereof) today in America.  I’m grateful that we don’t have to experience some of the trials and tribulations that the likes of Paul went through.  However, I can only imagine how much more serious we would take our faith if we had to physically risk our lives in order to share the gospel message with others.  Something for you to ponder.

            We continue to see the great works of some of the heroes of our faith in Acts.  I hope that these great heroes, such as Paul and Barnabas, serve as an encouragement and lesson for all of us.  God bless.

-Kyle McClain

Today’s Bible passage can be read or listened to at BibleGateway here – Acts 13-14.

Tomorrow we will read James 1-5.

God’s Work & Way

Acts 11-12

The past couple of days we have really focused on Saul/Paul, and for very good reason!  Today, we get to highlight another very important figure in the New Testament – Peter.  Peter was seen as one of the pillars of this new Christian movement in the city of Jerusalem.  Jerusalem served as the central hub for the Jews.  Therefore, it served as a central hub for the Christians as well, as many of the Jesus followers were simply Jews who believed that Jesus was the Messiah they had been looking forward to for so long.  Peter was instrumental to share this news with other Jews.

            In chapter 11, Peter went up to Jerusalem.  When he arrived to Jerusalem, he received a lot of flak for eating with and associating with the uncircumcised.  Jews were circumcised, as they followed the law of Moses.  Therefore, Jews did not want to be seen around those who were uncircumcised, but Peter ate with them regardless.  Sounds like Peter learned some lessons from his teacher – Jesus.  Peter shared how the uncircumcised Gentiles received the gift of the Holy Spirit, so who was he to stand in God’s way?

            While Jerusalem was the central hub, we see in chapter 11 that many people who believed in Jesus as the Messiah dispersed because of the persecution.  This was quite common as the early Jesus followers received persecution from non-believing Jews and from the Roman Empire.  Some of the Jesus followers escaped to Antioch, and it was there that the disciples were first called “Christians”.

            In chapter 12, we see more persecution of this Christian movement.  This time, the persecution was directed against two key leaders and figures – James and Peter.  James (the brother of John, not Jesus) was killed at the hands of the treacherous King Herod.  While Herod was at it, he decided to arrest Peter because the Jews were pleased with Herod’s persecution of the Christians.  Evil!  Herod wasn’t able to persecute the Christians for much longer though, as God struck him down and killed him.

            Peter, fortunately, did not spend too much time in prison, as he broke out.  God sent an angel of the Lord to help Peter break out.  This was a semi-common theme in the New Testament of early Christians breaking out of prison, thanks to God.  After breaking out, he was then able to go meet with John, and the mother of John.  What an emotional instance that must have been.

            Praise God for leaders like Peter and James who were willing to suffer for the sake of God and his Son Jesus.  We could see more of this attitude today in 2020.  There is certainly much to take away from their relentless attitude of spreading the gospel message.  

-Kyle McClain


Today’s Bible reading passage can be read or listened to at BibleGateway here – Acts 11-12

Tomorrow we will continue with Acts 13-14.

Say Bye to Your Friends and Family; Say Hi to God

Acts 9-10

            Yesterday, we took a look at how Saul, the author of nearly half of the books of the New Testament, was introduced to the scriptures.  We were introduced to a devout Jew who was persecuting the Jesus followers.  Today, we get a taste of redemption, as Saul dramatically turns his life around.

            Before we get that taste of redemption though, we open up chapter nine with Saul still breathing out threats to the Jesus followers.  Saul went on a bit of a scavenger hunt trying to find anyone who belongs to “the Way”.  “the Way” is just another “way” (ha, pun intended), to refer to the group of people who followed Jesus, as the term “Christian” was not a thing at that point in time.

            On Saul’s diligent scavenger hunt to persecute the group of Jews who followed Jesus, he went to the city of Damascus.  On his way to Damascus, Saul has a vision of none other than Jesus himself.  Again, this is the kind of stuff that the movies are made out of!  He ended up being blinded by the vision, and he didn’t eat or drink for three days.  Then a man named Ananias came and restored Saul’s sight through the power of God, and Ananias confirmed to Saul what had taken place.  Saul is also baptized and received the Holy Spirit.

As a result of this vision that Saul has of Jesus, he performs a complete 180 in his life.  He went from being a man who hunted Jesus followers to becoming a man who tried to create as many Jesus followers as possible.  He repented of his sins immediately and started proclaiming this message of Jesus in the synagogues.  This obviously created some confusion and amazement from the people, as just a couple of days ago he was seeking to have these same types of people killed and imprisoned!  Saul was so on fire for Jesus, that now nonbelieving Jews were seeking to put Saul to death.  What a crazy, dramatic turn of events.

Chapter nine then goes straight from Saul leaving Damascus to arriving in Jerusalem.  Luke, the author of Acts, chose to leave out a three-year gap.  Yep, you read that right.  There was a three-year gap between Saul leaving Damascus and arriving in Jerusalem.  We get this notion from Galatians 1:16-18.  After Saul left Damascus and before Saul arrived to Jerusalem, he spent about three years in “Arabia”.  N.T Wright talks about this three-year gap in his biography on Paul.  If you are an avid reader, then I would strongly suggest this book.

It is very possible that Saul spent a chunk of this three-year gap at Mt. Sinai getting ready for his upcoming ministry.  It’s pretty cool when you consider Moses and Elijah spent valuable time with God on Mt. Sinai as well.  I’m sure this time for Saul was extremely valuable, as he prepared to do so many good works for God and his Son Jesus.

It’s important that we find that quiet, alone time with God to prepare for our ministries as well.  I find that as a husband, dad, pastor, son, friend, and more, that it can be difficult to find that quiet, alone time with God.  Truth be told, it does not happen unless I am very intentional about it.  I’m guessing the same could be said for you as well.  I strongly encourage you to intentionally find and make that quiet, alone time with God.  Sometimes the best thing for us is to step away from our spouses, children, parents, friends, and coworkers, and have a close, intimate encounter with God.  I find that the best spot for me to do this is out by myself at our nearby park.  I’m guessing the experiences that I have with God out in his creation, by myself, are similar to the experiences that Moses, Elijah, Saul, and Jesus had with God.  So, get out there and say bye to your friends and family for a bit, and say hello to God.  Trust me, you won’t regret it.

We haven’t even touched on Peter at all yet.  Peter did a number of awesome things for the LORD in chapter nine and ten, these include: healing a paralyzed man, raising a woman from the dead (Yeah, Jesus isn’t the only one who was resurrected in the New Testament), and sharing the gospel message with a group of gentiles.  We could discuss these great acts of Peter for quite some time.  Instead, I’d rather us conclude and focus on this aspect of Saul spending that alone time with God for three years and preparing for his revolutionary ministry.

Please, please, please, find and make that quiet, alone time with God.  You can spend time reading God’s word, praying, meditating, and reflecting on all that God has done and will continue to do in your life.  For our southern friends who aren’t freezing outside, go find a park and spend that quiet time with God.  For our northern friends who live in the cold, shut yourself in a room by yourself with a cup of hot cocoa and spend that quiet, alone time with God.  Or, you can buckle down and spend a couple hours in the cold at the park with a jacket and blanket.  I mean Jesus spent 40 days without food; surely, we can spend a couple hours outside even if it is a little cold.

Get on out there!  Say bye to your friends and family; say hi to God.

-Kyle McClain

Today’s Bible passage can be read or listened to at BibleGateway here – Acts 9-10.

Tomorrow we continue with Acts 11-12.

Hero of our Faith

Acts 7-8

            Stephen is a great hero of our faith who does not get a lot of limelight, as he is only covered at the end of chapter six and chapter seven.  He is an honorable man we can all learn a lot from, as he was willing to lay it all on the line.

            At the end of chapter six, Stephen was seized for preaching about Jesus of Nazareth.  Some false witnesses ensured that he would get into trouble with the high priest and other Jewish officials.  The high priest had Stephen speak for himself, and that is the majority of the content in chapter seven.  In the first 50 verses of Acts chapter seven, Stephen provides a pretty nice summary from Abraham to King David.  At the conclusion of this summary, he begins to rip into the Jews for being a “stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in hearts and ears,” (Acts 7:51).

            The Jews did not take too kindly to the words of Stephen, so they decided to stone Stephen.  I can’t even imagine the level of pain Stephen would have been going through, as he was being stoned to death.  If it were me, I would have been so riled up in anger, and I would have wanted to retaliate.  However, that is not the course of action that Stephen took.  Just moments before Stephen’s death, he fell “to his knees he cried out with a loud voice, ‘Lord, do not hold this sin against them.’  And when he had said this, he fell asleep,’” (Acts 7:60).  What a way to go out!

            Stephen followed the example set by his Lord and Savior, Jesus of Nazareth, as Jesus prayed for the forgiveness of the people who crucified him.  There is so much to be learned in this short recording of the life of Stephen, a lesson of strength and grace.

            At the same time that Stephen’s life comes to an end, we are introduced to the man who wrote nearly half of the books of the New Testament.  It is an introduction that is only made for the movies (and, well, the Bible).  This man proved to be a foundational piece in the spreading of the gospel message.  He would go by the name of Saul.

            Saul is introduced in the scriptures as approving the execution of Stephen, a hero of our Christian faith.  Not only did Saul approve the execution of one man, but he “ravaged” the church.  Saul went from house to house finding people who claimed to believe in Jesus.  Once he found these people, he would send them to prison.  Surely, this led to many of them having to die for their faith.

            What an awful start to one’s life!  Thank the LORD that Saul did not follow this course of action for much longer, as we will see in the coming chapters.  We can learn from Saul that God is willing, able, and wanting to use anybody, no matter what someone has committed in their past. 

Let this serve as an encouragement to you, as you may struggle with some choices you have made in your past.  Don’t let decisions you made in your past prevent you from being an instrument of God’s work, as God was even willing, wanting, and able to use the likes of Saul, a man who persecuted many Christians.  Praise God that we serve a forgiving God.

There’s a lot to learn here, as we take a look at the life of Stephen and the introduction of Saul.  It’s my prayer that we all learn to have the strength and grace of Stephen, and we don’t let our past stop us from serving God like Saul.

-Kyle McClain

Today’s Bible passage can be read or listened to at BibleGateway here – Acts 7-8

Tomorrow we continue the story of Saul with chapters 9-10. Don’t miss it!

Share Jesus – at all costs

Acts 4-6

            Earlier this year, in June, I experienced a first.  Let me walk you through the moment.  I was preaching at the North Hills Church of God in Springfield, Ohio, as I do every Sunday.  At this point in time, our church chose to worship outside because there were a lot of unknowns of the Coronavirus.  There were very strict rules in place to help prohibit the spread of the virus.  During my message, a police officer slowly pulled through our long driveway and checked what was taking place.  For a split second, I thought that I was maybe going to get in trouble for hosting a large group gathering.  I thought I could get in trouble for preaching to a group of people.  It was the first time in my life that I ever wondered whether or not I would get in trouble with preaching God’s Word.

            To say that we have it pretty easy in the United States is quite the understatement.  I praise God that we have the freedom to share God’s Word with others without even having the fear of being persecuted.  I have spent all of maybe 5 seconds in my life thinking that I could get in trouble/persecuted for sharing God’s word.  If I had to guess, I would say that most people reading this would have a similar experience to myself.  There are people today who do not have this luxury, and this was especially true in the book of Acts

            In Acts chapter 4, our heroes, Peter and John, were sharing God’s Word with others.  When they did this, they were arrested and presented before the Jewish council.  The council questioned Peter and John, and the council commanded them to no longer share the good news about Jesus and remain silent.

            I absolutely love Peter and John’s reply to this command to remain silent: “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge, for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard,” (Acts 4:19,20).  Burn baby to you, council!  Peter and John made it obvious to the council, that they must listen to the voice of God over the voice of men.  They had to preach the good news of Jesus, for that is what God wanted them to do, not the council.  Peter and John did not care what the consequences would be for preaching about Jesus.

            Peter and John were eventually released after receiving more threats from the council.  Word got out of what had taken place to Peter and John.  The Christ followers responded by praying to God for boldness.  The early Christ followers did not succumb to the external pressures of the world.  Rather, they prayed to God and came together as one to share this radical message of the Messiah.

            These Jesus followers gave their all to further spread this message.  They were even willing to contribute all of their possessions to spread the knowledge of Jesus the Messiah, and that is literally what they did.  They pooled all of their possessions together for the good of the gospel message (outside of a few greedy people *cough* Ananias and Sapphira *cough*).

            My oh my!  Imagine what good we could accomplish today if we had the same mindset of the Jesus followers in Acts.  These people had no cares in the world what would happen to them for sharing the gospel message, even though the threat was very real and evident.  All they did was pray for more boldness, and it didn’t stop with just their voices either.  They were willing to give all of their possessions to help spread this gospel message.

            What great examples these early Jesus followers provide for us today.  In comparison, today, we seem to be a whole lot more reserved in our approach to spread this gospel message.  Maybe we should take a note from the early church and take some more extreme measures in our life to spread the gospel message.  If we do, God can work so many wonderful wonders in and through us. 

            Be bold and give it all to God!

-Kyle McClain

Today’s Bible passage can be read or listened to at BibleGateway here – Acts 4-6

Tomorrow we continue the exciting, inspiring historical account of the early church with Acts 7-8. Come read along!

Be A Witness

Acts 1-3

If you have been following along with the SeekGrowLove devotions for the past 1.5 months, we have been able to take a look at the life and ministry of Jesus through the four gospels.  What a crazy, action-packed time during Jesus’ ministry on earth.  Today, we transition into the book of Acts, and we get to see how Jesus’ disciples will respond to these couple crazy years with Jesus.  As we near the end of 2020, we are all too familiar of what it looks like to live through some crazy events.  As we read through the book of Acts, we can take some notes of how Peter, Paul, and others responded to the crazy events revolving around Jesus.

Before Jesus ever ascended to heaven (yep, not even Jesus went to heaven right after his death), he spent 40 days preaching about the Kingdom of God.  Right before Jesus’ ascension, he told his disciples to, “Witness in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth,” (Acts 1:8). 

The order of locations that Jesus provides is important.  He starts off with Jerusalem; Jerusalem was basically the home base for the Jews and early Christians.  They first needed to witness to their home base of Jerusalem.  Then, they needed to witness in Judea and Samaria; that consists of the land surrounding the city of Jerusalem.  After they have witnessed to the surrounding area, then they had a calling to witness to the ends of the earth.  The book of Acts follows this exact blueprint, which I find to be so fascinating.  Chapters 1-7 are all witnessing in Jerusalem.  Chapters 8-9 consists of them witnessing in Judea and Samaria.  Then, chapters 10-28 cover the disciples, Paul, and others witnessing to the ends of the earth: Caesarea, Antioch, Asia Minor, Greece, and Rome.

We can learn a lot from this blueprint that Jesus provided for his disciples.  We have a calling to witness to those right around us, whether that be your family, friends, coworkers, etc.  Studies show that the most effective mode of evangelism is relational evangelism.  We are best able to spread the news to people we have a relationship with.  Are you using your relationships with nonbelievers, as an instrument to spread the gospel message of the Kingdom?  When you have spread the gospel message to those around you, are you helping that message be spread throughout the ends of the earth?  We have better capabilities now than ever to spread the gospel message to the ends of the earth.  Let’s take advantage of those capabilities.

We can’t go through Acts 1-3 and not mention Peter’s killer sermon in chapter 2.  It is truly one of my favorite sermons ever recorded.  Peter absolutely brings it to the Jews.  You can feel his passion for his Lord and Savior in this message, and he shares this passion with the Jews, the same people who had him crucified (as Peter so gracefully informs them)!  If you want to see someone who is on fire for God and his son, Jesus, then look no further than Peter’s message here in Acts chapter 2.  I hope and pray that we can reflect this passion in our lives today.

I look forward to covering the first half of Acts with you all.  It’s my prayer that we can all learn from the wonderful examples of Peter, Paul, and others throughout this wonderful book.  Witness to those around you, and then help spread that message to the ends of the earth!

-Kyle McClain

Today’s Bible reading passage can be read or listened to at BibleGateway here – Acts 1-3.

Tomorrow we continue this exciting book, with Acts 4-6. Now’s a great time to jump on board and finish 2020 strong with a daily reading of God’s Word as we watch to see how the world responds to the life, teaching, death and resurrection of God’s Son, Jesus. Let’s get ready for his return!

What’s Yours?

Acts 24-28

purpose

Monday, June 12

 

In this section of scripture, I was most impressed with Paul’s focus on his purpose, to preach the kingdom of God and to teach the things concerning the Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 28:31) all through confrontations, imprisonments, and wild storms at sea.  Throughout these major crises, Paul kept his cool and stuck to his mission.  He saw every crowd, every Jewish leader or government official as an opportunity to share the good news.

 

Many times in our lives, we face overwhelming situations or things that aren’t fair and each time we have a decision to make.  Do you lose yourself to the circumstances that surround you or do you stay focused on your mission?  Have you made a conscious realization or decision about your purpose in life? If not, take a moment to write down and define your purpose.  Here are a few scriptures that might help:

 

Matthew 22:36-40

“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?”

And He said to him, “ ‘YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.’

“This is the great and foremost commandment.

“The second is like it, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.’

“On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.”

 

Matthew 28:19-20

Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

 

These sections of scripture give a basis for our purpose.  Love God, love your neighbor, go and preach the gospel to all creation and baptize them, and teach them all that Jesus taught.  Paul was entirely focused on this, so much so, that being accused by leaders in the Jewish community did not deter him, nor did he get shaken when the governor imprisoned and questioned him.  He still maintained his calm and focus as he appealed to Caesar.  He used each situation as an opportunity to speak truth.  I found this section to be confrontational personally because there are times when I do lose my focus.  I only see what is happening around me and start to feel overwhelmed instead of putting my attention on God and the purpose He has given me!  We have power through the holy spirit just as Paul did.

 

We can harness our minds, no matter what our situation whether it is good or bad, to accomplish our mission.  We may be unjustly accused, people may lie and scheme against us, or we may even be imprisoned or face major storms in life…but we can look beyond the surface and fulfill our purpose by loving people enough to share the gospel and spread the truth.  Go be a Paul!

-Ruth Finnegan

 

 

 

Giving – the Very Best

Acts 20-23

act-20-35-ww-mf-9x

Sunday, June 11

I would like to start off this post with a short introduction.  My name is Ruth Finnegan and I am married to Sean Finnegan and we have four sons, who range from age 11 to 1 month old.  It is my joy and pleasure to be a stay-at-home mom!  When Sean and I first got married we had a lot of discussion about “how are we going to be.” We decided to set a few tenets or standards for our life together.  These were:  seek righteousness; don’t be cheap, tip generously, only use good toilet paper, and be given to hospitality.  Recently, I went to the store to stock up on toilet paper and they were out of our usual brand.  I bought a cheap package to tide us over until I could go to the store again.  Oh man! Mistake!!  Sean started declaring, “Have we lost all of our principles?? What is this, sandpaper?! Should we stop tipping too?” I burst out laughing when he said this because I was instantly brought back to that conversation early on in our marriage.  I went out and bought good toilet paper for the house and got rid of the cheap stuff.

 

Sean and I have been married for almost 14 years and we have always been passionate about being given to hospitality (Romans 12:10).  Over the years, we have had many people come stay with us.  Some come for just a night and some for many months.  We feel that God has given us much and blessed us abundantly and that it is our joy to bless others with our home (and with our good toilet paper).   I have found that you discover a lot about people when they stay with you in your home.  I thought about this as I read Acts 20:17-38.

 

When Paul was in Ephesus, his mission was certain.  He served and lived among the people, he kept back nothing, teaching them “repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ” (Acts 20:21).  Paul was a true shepherd who cared for his flock and was very clear about his purpose.  He made sure that he was not a burden.  He took care of himself and those with him and he used every opportunity to teach and shepherd the flock there.  He truly cared for people and genuinely wanted the believers to be protected from the wolves that were sure to come.  Paul knew he had to leave and wouldn’t see them again.  He implored them with these final words:

 

35 In everything I showed you that by working hard in this manner you must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He Himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”

 

And with that, he knelt down with them and prayed for them.  When Paul left, they did not breathe a sigh of relief because he had inconvenienced them.  No, they had deep sorrow in their heart because he had been a blessing to them.

 

We have had people stay with us that were all about what they needed or being served so when their time of departure came, we were thankful!   We have also had the pleasure of having guests that infused our home with light and eternal blessings!  They had eyes to see and wanted to be a blessing and help.  When we go about our lives and come into contact with others, let’s strive to be like Paul.  He was all about teaching the eternal things of life like the Kingdom of God.  He was not a burden but a blessing to the believers and sincerely cared for them.  He didn’t complain about his lot as a missionary, he was driven by the holy spirit even when it came to his own discomfort and sacrifice.  Let’s strive to encourage others and remember it is more blessed to give than to receive!

-Ruth Finnegan

(Photo Credit: http://www.alittleperspective.com/acts-20-2016/)

 

 

 

Can You Be Called a Berean?

Acts 17-19

autumn background

Saturday, June 10

Does your church have a Berean Youth Group?  Way back when, as a child growing up at Garden Park Church of God our youth group was called the Bereans, and I know the name was also used in many other church youth groups.  Hopefully, even if you have never been called a Berean, you really are – or you are working towards that right now.

The name comes from Acts 17.  Paul and Silas had just barely escaped a mob of jealous Jews in the city of Thessalonica.  During the night they fled to the next town and their missionary journey continued – in the town of Berea.  Acts 17:11 says, “Now 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.”  Unfortunately for this church group the troublemakers from Thessalonica came to Berea to rile up the masses against the missionaries here, too.  Paul was quickly whisked away to safety in yet another town even further away (Athens) and Silas and Timothy were told to, “join him as soon as possible.” (17:15)  So, this is sadly the only mention in the Bible of the church group at Berea (besides one of its members accompanying Paul in Acts 20:4) .  And yet, what a great thing to be said about this body of believers!  I would imagine that this church did alright – even without the help of months or years of teaching and preaching and encouragement by the famous missionaries (as several other churches would receive).  This church was making sure that they were grounded in God’s Word – daily.  They were diligently using God’s Word (the Old Testament, at that time) to test the “modern” ideas and theories.  Looking to His Word to see – who is this Jesus?  Is Jesus really the promised Messiah?  Is everything that Paul says true?  I have no doubt that God blessed their searching and revealed the answers to them.

In these 3 chapters alone there are multiple other passages reminding us of the importance of Scripture.

Acts 17:2-3 “As his custom was, Paul went into the synagogue, and for three Sabbath days he reasoned with them from the Scriptures, explaining 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.”

In Acts 18 we meet an interesting man named Apollos, a man with a “thorough knowledge of the Scriptures” (Acts 18:24) – remember that was the Old Testament.  He was on-fire for God, believed in Jesus and was a great speaker and spoke accurately all that he knew – even though he had thus far ONLY been taught about Jesus’ baptism.  Priscilla and Aquila saw his passion and heart and welcomed him into their home so they could teach him much more.  Armed with his new-found knowledge and understanding Apollos “was a great help to those who by grace had believed.  For he vigorously refuted the Jews in public debate, proving from the Scriptures that Jesus was the Christ.” (Acts 18:27,28).

You don’t need to know everything to start standing strong for Jesus.  Start with what you know and keep using all your means and the Word of God given to you to deepen your understanding and your love for your Creator and His Son.  And, just like Priscilla and Aquila, be a Godly mentor and guide to anyone in need of just a bit more understanding.

My prayer for you and me is that we might love His Word more and more and learn what He has prepared for us.   Let’s be Bereans together – examining His Scriptures daily.  His Word is alive and active.  Love it and learn from it!

-Marcia Railton