Friday, June 25, 2010

A LIGHT FOR THE GENTILES

[77]

TO THE JEWS FIRST

Read: Acts 13:13–52

'I have made you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.'" Acts 13:47 NIV
* * *
     Paul and Barnabas, led by the Holy Spirit, set out on a journey to Cyprus where they spoke in the synagogues. From there they traveled to Pisidian Antioch where the synagogue rulers sent word to them, saying, "Brothers, if you have a message of encouragement for the people, please speak." (13:15)
     Paul stood up and motioned with his hand, "Men of Israel and you Gentiles, who worship God, listen to me …We tell you the good news: What God promised our fathers he has fulfilled for us, their children, by raising up Jesus…" (13:16, 32-33a)
      The people, eager to hear more, invited the apostles to speak the next Sabbath when almost the whole city gathered to hear the word of the Lord. When the Jews saw the crowds, they were filled with jealousy and talked abusively against what Paul was saying. (13:44-45)
      The desire for power in these men blinded them to the truth that their Messiah had come and offered them forgiveness of sin. By rejecting Him, they gave up the gift of eternal life.
* * *
     Lord, I am so thankful that You offered that gift to us also, so that we could share the good news with others, both Jews and Gentiles.
* * *
     "We had to speak the word of God to you first. Since you reject it and do not consider yourselves worthy of eternal life, we now turn to the Gentiles."  Acts 13:46b

Thursday, June 17, 2010

UNEXPECTED ANSWER

[76]

KING HEROD'S PERSECUTION

Read Acts 12:1–24

     (King Herod) had James, the brother of John, put to death with the sword… So Peter was kept in prison, but the church was earnestly praying to God for him.  Acts 12:2, 5 NIV

* * *
     On the last night before Peter's trial, the disciples gathered at John Mark's home to pray for his deliverance. What they did not expect, was that their prayers would be miraculously answered that very night.
     A young servant girl, Rhoda, came to answer the door, and we are told that "when she recognized Peter's voice, she was so overjoyed she ran back without opening it and exclaimed, "Peter is at the door!" "You're out of your mind," they told her. When she kept insisting that it was so, they said, "It must be his angel." (12:14–15)
     While they tried to process what was happening, "Peter kept on knocking, and when they opened the door and saw him, they were astonished." (12:16)
* * *
     Lord, I wonder how many times I have prayed without really expecting an answer. It is a comfort to me that You worked this miracle, not because of the strength of their faith, but on the basis of Your Almighty power in answer to earnest prayer.
* * *
     …Herod, (who had murdered James) wearing his royal robes, sat on his throne and delivered a public address to the people. They shouted, "This is the voice of a god, not of a man." Immediately, because Herod did not give praise to God, an angel of the Lord struck him down, and he was eaten by worms and died.   Acts 12:21–23 NIV

Thursday, June 10, 2010

SON OF ENCOURAGEMENT

[75]

BARNABAS

Read Acts 11:19–30, 12:24–13:3

     They sent Barnabas to Antioch. When he arrived and saw the evidence of the grace of God, he was glad and encouraged them all to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts.   Acts 11:22-23 NIV
* * *
     Joseph, a Levite from Cyprus, received a new Christian name from the apostles. They called him Barnabas, which means "Son of Encouragement." He was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and faith, and a great number of people were brought to the Lord through his ministry. (11:24) He went to Tarsus to find Saul, and brought him to Antioch, where the two of them ministered for a year. In later years Saul, also called Paul, would write of Barnabas and his cousin John Mark, "They have proved to be a comfort to me." (Colossians 4:11)

     Barnabas possessed the gifts of encouragement and discernment. He was quick to recognize the Spirit of the Lord in a new believer and slow to write him off when he failed. His cousin John Mark ran away during a time of persecution, but later rejoined Barnabas in powerful ministry.
* * *
     Lord, help me to be an encourager like Barnabas. Grant me the wisdom to teach our children how to encourage each other as well. As with Barnabas, fill us with the Holy Spirit and faith so that we can encourage other Christians to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts. (11:23-24)
* * *
     The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch. Acts 11:26 NIV

Friday, June 4, 2010

WHAT GOD HAS CLEANSED

[74]

PETER AND CORNELIUS

Read Acts 11:1–18

     But the voice answered me again from heaven, 'What God has cleansed you must not call common.' Acts 11:9 NKJV
* * *
     Up to this time, the apostles preached primarily to the Jewish people. Even at Pentecost, the people from various nations were professing Jews. To come to God, Peter believed a person must become a Jew and follow the Jewish laws, abstaining from unclean foods.
     But God told Peter that he was going to do a new thing through him. He directed him to an Italian centurion named Cornelius whose heart was prepared to hear the gospel. Today he and his household were going to hear the good news, believe it, and receive the Holy Spirit; bringing Gentiles into the New Testament church.
* * *
     Dear heavenly Father, help me to remember that before I ever speak to someone about Christ, You have already paved the way. You said, "No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him,"(John 6:44 NKJV) I pray for the drawing of the Holy Spirit in the lives of our children and grandchildren. Speak to their hearts, so that our words will fall on willing ears.
* * *
     If therefore God gave them the same gift as He gave us when we believed on the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could withstand God?"      Acts 11:17 NKJV