Re:Verse reading–Acts 20:17-38 (day two) Therefore, I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all men. For I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole purpose of God. vs. 26-27

 When Pilate saw that he was accomplishing nothing, but rather that a riot was starting, he took water and washed his hands in front of the crowd, saying, “I am innocent of this Man’s blood; see to that yourselves.” Matthew 27:24

Similar words – much different motivation. Pilate didn’t want the blame, Paul carried a burden for humanity. Whenever we are motivated to act, what spurs us on? Do we act based on fear of the world or fear of the Lord? How often have you felt the urging of the Holy Spirit to speak only to quench prompting because of your own fear? We don’t want to get in to an argument. We aren’t sure how they will respond. We aren’t the most qualified to have these kinds of discussions.

Paul was fearless. He felt that nothing else mattered. He was never hostile, but he was not bullied either. He had a purpose to tell all he could about Jesus. Is our purpose any different? Have the rules changed at all? Are we innocent?


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Next Assignment

Re:Verse reading–Acts 20:17-38 (day one)

“And now, behold, bound by the Spirit, I am on my way to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there, except that the Holy Spirit solemnly testifies to me. . .that bonds and afflictions await me.”–v 22-23.

It was not going to be easy.  Paul’s next assignment.  The past years had often been hard, painful, taxing.  The next chapter looked like more of the same.

Inspiring, isn’t it!  These men.  Bond slaves of Christ.  Willing to suffer, to face any hardship so long as they knew He was with them.  Tradition says that Paul was eventually beheaded.  Peter was crucified upside down.

A sign of spiritual integrity and maturity.  Obedience to Christ is the goal.  It is never measured against personal peace or comfort.  Dangers are faced.  Fears denied.  Friends left behind.  All for love of Christ.

The world is better because they were willing. What is His next assignment/duty for you?

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Deep Questions

Re:Verse reading–Acts 17:10-12, 16-34 (day seven)

People around you are looking for answers just like the Athenians.  You might not realize it if you listen to the loud voices of our culture, but people are searching for truth.  They want to know answers to the deepest questions of life from their individual purpose on this planet to why gruesome evil does not fade.  People are are carrying the burden of unanswered questions that you hold the key to.  Paul understood this.  He was ready when the thoughtful men of Athens truly wanted to know about life and this unknown God they had built an altar to.

All these deep questions people want to know harken back to the Gospel.  You know the truth, you know the Gospel, and most importantly, you have the gift of the Holy Spirt who will strengthen you and give you the words you need to say.  Do not be afraid to point people to God when they are wrestling with the deep questions of life.  The truth of the Gospel is the only peace in that struggle.  They may not understand it right away, but it will all make sense some day.

And they took him and brought him to the Areopagus, saying, “May we know what this new teaching is which you are proclaiming?  For you are bringing some strange things to our ears; so we want to know what these things mean.” (Now all the Athenians and the strangers visiting there used to spend their time in nothing other than telling or hearing something new.)  Acts 17:19-21

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Re:Verse reading–Acts 17:10-12, 16-34 (day six)

And Paul went in, as was his custom… Acts 17:2

A custom is “something that is done regularly by a person.” (Merriam-Webster) In Paul’s case he had gospel customs, or missionary customs; things he did regularly to introduce others to the person and work of Jesus. When he would come to a new city or town, he would always go to synagogue first (if the city had one) to teach his fellow Jews about Jesus. Only after spending time with his brethren would he then turn his attention to the gentiles in the city, searching for people of peace (those open and responsive to the Gospel) in the marketplace and “spiritual” places.

Certainly, there is much to learn from Paul’s customs, but will you first consider with me one thing? Right now, what are your Gospel customs? Do you have any? Should you? Should we as a church family? Sorry, that is way more than one thing, but it is well worth our while to consider such things.

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The Sin in Athens

Re:Verse reading–Acts 17:10-12, 16-34 (day five)   “Men of Athens, I observe that you are very religious in all respects. For while I was passing through and examining the objects of your worship, I also found an altar with this inscription, ‘TO AN UNKNOWN GOD.’ Therefore what you worship in ignorance, this I proclaim to you.”

The sin Paul confronts in Athens, is NOT atheism it is religion. The problem with religion is that is it man-made (vs 24). The danger of religion is that it distorts and detracts from God’s revelation of himself (vs. 23). It was natural and easy for those in Athens. It is just as common in our culture today. We turn to and trust things we build and can control. The lie is that a religious life will make more sense and we will be happier. The truth found in scripture is that God is the creator of the universe and everything in it. And real meaning and purpose is found only when we turn to and trust Him.

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Our Sovereign God

Re:Verse reading–Acts 17:10-12, 16-34 (day four)

The word is ‘sovereign’. God is sovereign over all. Look at verse 26…God made every nation and people, He determined their appointed times, and He even determined the boundaries of their nation. There are many today who believe they are in control…that they control the destiny of their nation. Dictators that believe they can conquer and control other nations and add to their kingdom. It is God who is in control…He is sovereign…He has complete control and authority over the nations. Regardless of what one despot thinks or another, apart from God’s plan, their plans to change the world map will not succeed.

God is also sovereign in our lives. We might outwardly acknowledge that He is in control of our lives, but how much do we live that belief?  Stop and reflect on what ‘complete control and authority’ means in your life. Does your life demonstrate submission to the sovereignty of God?

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Re:Verse reading–Acts 17:10-12, 16-34 (day three)  

“Boldly and without hindrance he preached the kingdom of God.” Ecclesiastes tells us that the end of a matter is better than its beginning. As the church began, the band of believers saw an explosion of growth and joy. Even though the establishment—through arrests, beatings, and jail time—responded harshly, the joy of so many people embracing Christ opened the disciples’ hearts to a Holy Spirit-fueled courage and a command of circumstances they had never before known. As years passed, did they perhaps begin to think of themselves as naive in retrospect? Things would get much, much worse. And through it all, their faith and joy would grow much, much deeper. These were the days that taught Paul how all things bend toward the good in the lives of those who love God. That was reality. It still is.

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Object Lesson

Re:Verse reading–Acts 17:10-12, 16-34 (day two)  

For while I was passing through and examining the objects of your worship, I also found an altar…vs. 23a

Why do we love children’s sermons so much? It’s true that we often get as much out of those few moments as the kids, and sometimes more. In that brief time our pastors often find an object that the kids can connect with. A picture, a toy, a book, etc. These “objects” become the focus of a larger lesson. Its a pretty effective teaching model. Begin at a place where both teacher and student can relate, and then expand on their understanding of a broader topic.

Paul did just that. These Athenians were accustomed to discourse and welcomed a new way of thinking. Paul simply met them where they were. He didn’t have to manufacture his witness. He was aware of his audience and their understanding of the world. One of our core commitments at FBCSA is to seek out meaningful opportunities to witness. Start where they are, and let your knowledge of Jesus fill in the rest.

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Some girls do

Re:Verse reading–Acts 17:10-12, 16-34 (day one)

“Now these were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness”–v 11

“Well, I ain’t first class, but I ain’t white trash, I’m wild and a little crazy too.  Some girls don’t like boys like me.  Aww, but some girls do.”–Sawyer Brown.

An early discovery comes to those who move out to make disciples.  Some people won’t listen to your message.  They may even hate you for it.  But, and this is the joy, some people will listen.  And believe.

Acts 17 has a bumpy beginning.  The people of Thessalonica form a mob and make continued work there impossible.  So, Paul and team move to Berea and find an entirely different mood and mind!  Sincerity/spiritual hunger rather than anger/resistance!

Aren’t you glad Paul didn’t quit because the first group “didn’t like him”!

“In due time we will reap a harvest if we do not grow weary” Galatians 6:9

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Re:Verse reading–Acts 16:11-34 (day seven) 

Paul and the early Christians missionaries in Acts made many people angry.  Most often we see them challenging the religious status quo, and the religious leaders chase them out of town.  This week is different.  Paul and Silas are stuck down, beaten with many blows, and thrown into a maximum-security prison cell with their feet shackled, not because they are sharing the Gospel, but because the profit was gone (v.19).

The thought of the profit being gone is frightening.  We work our whole live to keep the profit up so that we can take home a pay check to take care of our families.  Where do we turn when the profit dries up and we are left with nothing?  These slave owners turned themselves over to anger leaving a wake of destruction.  We do not have to lose our minds when the profit dwindles.  Jesus taught a better way.

In Matthew 6:31-33 Jesus tells us to keep a proper perspective on profit and providing for our families:  Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’  For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.  But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

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