Acts: YOUR STORY

While the Apostle Paul was in a place known as Caesarea, he was given the audience of a king.  King Agrippa interviewed him to find out if he was guilty and deserving of prison or death.  In response, Paul shared his story with the king and all those who were listening (Acts 26:1-29).  Woven into his account was a unique life intersection in which Paul came to know Jesus.  That interaction and exchange changed him forever.  

In what ways has God changed your life?  How do you see Jesus today?  If you were to describe some highlights from your life, what interaction with Jesus moved you?  How did you come to know Him?  As we read over Paul's example, let's consider how we might apply certain elements to our lives today.

Acts: PRESSING ON

Have you ever felt like throwing in the towel and quitting on something or someone?  Life is not easy and it can be tempting to call it quits some times. The Apostle Paul faced trial after trial, with severe adversity, and yet he carried on.  He often mentioned being led by God's Spirit, followed by his willingness to press on.  How are we doing when it comes to listening to God's Spirit and following Him, regardless of the direction?  We serve the Living God, who not only has the wisdom to lead us, but the power to strengthen us when life gets difficult.  Let's lean into Him this week. (Join us in reading along in our study of the Book of Acts: Chapters 21 - 24).

Acts: COMMON GROUND

Have you ever found yourself somewhere feeling totally out of place?  How did you adapt or react to the situation?  How did you feel when you were in that environment?

Paul once found himself miles from Jerusalem in a foreign land (Athens, Greece) and surrounded by idol worshippers.  Here is what he had to say to those around him, "For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: to an unknown god. So you are ignorant of the very thing you worship—and this is what I am going to proclaim to you." He looked for something he could use to build common ground with those he felt alienated by.  As a result, he made new friends and many came to faith that day as a result of his tact and genuine love for others. 

Next time we feel out of place, let's pray and ask God to give us wisdom to build common ground with those we may not see eye to eye with.  Love others entails taking an interest in their world, even when we feel out of place. We care pressing on in our study of the Books of Acts (This week: Acts 17 - 20).

Acts: TRUSTING IN ADVERSITY

Yes, I realize that we discussed Peter's escape from prison last week, and yet, here we are with another jail tale.  No, we are not obsessed with incarceration in Biblical times, but this account is difficult to overlook.  We are half way through our study of the Book of Acts and hope that you can join us this week to take a closer look at the way in which Paul and Silas handled adversity, and used it as an opportunity to make an impact in the lives of others.  How do you and I handle adversity in today's world? 

Acts: JAILBREAK

This week as we carry on our study of Acts, we continue to hear about more miracles. As Peter boldly proclaims to others the truth about Jesus Christ, he is locked up for doing so.  After a brief time in jail, an angel shows up on the scene, and helps Peter escape from this Roman prison (Acts 12:1-19).  Peter simply returns to what he was doing before he was locked up.  Imagine the surprise of those who locked him up when they came to realize that he was back on the streets, and that chains and bars could not bring an end to their desire to silence the truth concerning Jesus.

As you read this weeks chapters found in Acts 10 - 13, take some time to consider if there is anything that holds you back from allowing the truth of Jesus to be seen in your life.  Are there any chains that hold you back from truly experiencing Jesus today?  What would it mean to trust God's Spirit as these early followers did?  I am challenged as I continue to read about those who stepped out in faith on a daily basis and saw God show up as a result.

Acts: LISTEN AND OBEY

In Acts chapter 8, there is an interesting account told about a follower of Jesus by the name of Philip. He was told by an angel to head south down a road from Jerusalem toward Gaza. Most of us would here the word Gaza and consider the constant tension that exists on the Gaza strip to this day. Phil made his way there, although there were no other instructions as to what to do when he was on the road or where his next destination would be. While he was on the road, he saw a chariot with an Ethiopian man reading and God told him to go stand near the chariot. Once again, no further instructions, other than where he should stand.  The man in the chariot happened to be reading a passage from the Old Testament that made absolutely no sense to him.  What transpired was that Phil not only explained the passage but connected it to Jesus. The result was the man coming to know Jesus and he was baptized that day. 

How do we listen to the direction of God's Spirit each day?  What if we sense God wants us to do something or go somewhere but we are not sure what we will do once we get there?  As in this account with Philip, God often only directs us as far as we can see regarding the next few steps ahead. Why does this matter?  Imagine if God told you and me what the next 5 years would hold. I don't know about you, but I would probably charge out with the plan and check back in with God in 5 years time for my next instructions. I believe the Lord cares more about our relationship with Him than He does the tasks. The more important part is staying connected so that we might listen and obey on the daily journey and not get lost on the road. I hope you have an amazing week connecting with God as we read Acts chapters 6 - 9.

Acts: UNSCHOOLED & ORDINARY?

Do you ever feel I'll equipped to make a significant impact with regard to your faith?  If so, you are not alone.  While we may walk through life imagining the first disciples to be spiritual giants, the truth is that they were ordinary people just like us.  What made them extraordinary, was when they relied on God's Spirit and trusted Him for the direction of their lives.  

If you are reading along with us this week (Acts chapters 3 - 5), then I am sure you saw verse 13 in chapter 4 that says, "When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus." Ordinary people who were willing to simply trust God completely saw extraordinary things take place, because they had been with Jesus.  That same Jesus, who is the same yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:8) is available to all who are willing to trust Him, even if we feel rather ordinary. What a tremendous hope He is!

Acts: GOD'S SPIRIT IS ALIVE & PRESENT

Do you have a sense that God is near?  Perhaps you feel that He is distant or that He doesn't even exist? Despite our feelings, God gives us examples each day of His presence.  However, they can be easy to miss in our extremely fast paced culture.  I hope you will be able to join us as we begin to read through the Book of Acts.  While it is most often referred to as "the Acts of the Apostles," a better description would be "the Acts of God's Spirit through the Apostles."  Why not take some time this week to begin reading along and journal ideas that come to your mind in the process?  If you want to join us, we are simply reading the first two chapters of Acts and inviting God to reveal Himself to us though the Bible as well as in our every day lives.  I am looking forward to all that He has in store for us!