Tag Archives: july 2016

7.27.16 – acts 22:22

A couple of years ago on a flight to Miami I got into a conversation with a man across the isle. Long story short he didn’t like to fly and began to have a panic attack. Our conversation began after the crew had managed to calm him down. He was apologetic for the scene he caused. I brushed it off as it really wasn’t a big deal. Come to find out a big part of his episode was his anxiety about going back home for a funeral. A few years earlier he had told his family that he was gay and they didn’t take it well. So much that he felt the need to leave.
In Acts 22 Paul has convinced the Roman authorities to address the crowd that wanted him dead. When he began to speak in Hebrew they calmed down and listened to his testimony. They considered all he had to say about Jesus and how he was the Messiah. This was until he spoke the word “Gentiles” and that the same salvation Paul was offering to the Jews was available to Gentiles. The crowd turned on him once again. The Jews felt entitled to a relationship that others could not enter into, unless they first became a Jew.
Human bias has existed for centuries, it is no more or less prevalent today. While it can be a condition of our upbringing, in adulthood it is a choice. During my conversation with the man on the plane he spoke of the rejection he had experienced and specifically from Christians. I’ll never forget the hurt I saw in his eyes when he said, “we’re human too, please treat us that way”. Our conversation ended well. He thanked me but in retrospect I know God put him there to work in my life. How can we embrace our uniqueness and reject another’s? Our humanity means we are flawed to our core but it is also the one thing that connects us all, in His image. Acts 22:22 – Up to this word they listened to him. Then they raised their voices and said, “Away with such a fellow from the earth! For he should not be allowed to live.”

7.21.16 – Acts 21:39

Simply put I’m not much of a reader. I guess I’d rather being doing something, than read about someone else doing something. In reading the Bible though I have gained an appreciation for the knowledge and the comfort I have come to know in Jesus. There are times when a chapter is more a precursor to the next. However to gain full understanding we must digest the former to appreciate the latter. Such is the case with Acts 21&22. For the most part all Acts 21 does is set the stage for Paul’s sermon to the Jews in Acts 22. However, it’s what he is willing to endure in Acts 21 that makes this sermon so special.
It’s been said our lives are like a book. They have a beginning and an end, multiple chapters with differing themes and of course a few plot twists. How many times have you been in the midst of a chapter in your life and all you want to do is flip to the next one to see what happens? God provides such times in our lives not only so we may prepare for the next but also to provide perspective and appreciation for the journey. If you find yourself in such a state relax, absorb everything around you knowing that in God’s perfect timing he will reveal the next beautiful chapter. Acts 21:39 – Paul replied, “I am a Jew, from Tarsus in Cilicia, a citizen of no obscure city. I beg you, permit me to speak to the people.”

7.13.16 – Acts 20:22

2 Timothy 1:7 – For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.
“So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself—nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.” – Roosevelt (1932 inauguration)
Fear is one of the most debilitating emotions we have. On the lighter side of this topic, one of my favorite examples of fear comes from an episode of the Andy Griffith Show. Barney and Gomer are assigned to fix the floor of a gazebo for a concert that evening. Barney taking charge tells Gomer to get underneath the gazebo, to which Gomer replies, “it looks kinda spidery under there”. The ensuing exchange is classic. However, it does depict a great example of our common reaction to the unknown or the probability of a circumstance. Gomer had no idea if there were spiders under the gazebo but the possibility was enough to stop him.
As Paul set out to Jerusalem, leaving his disciples to finish the work he began in Asia, he clearly knew the possibilities that awaited him, imprisonment at best and death a distinct outcome. Paul did not avoid the conversation of such possibilities, instead he framed it around the certainty that by continuing his ministry, regardless of the outcome, he was doing the right thing. He believed in what he was doing and instead of focusing on the negative possibilities he looked toward the completion of his “race” with great anticipation.
Whatever fears you face today, first know that these are not of God. As Roosevelt stated, fear only paralyzes our progress. Effort is a means to an end and while we might not always succeed, we do learn. In and of itself, overcoming fear could be the first step into a new life God has already laid out for you. Acts 20:22 – And now, behold, I am going to Jerusalem, constrained by the Spirit, not knowing what will happen to me there,

7.7.16 – Acts 19:2

here come a few note worthy moments in our lives where we must ask ourselves a tough question. It could be financial, employment or relationship related, a crossroads of your life kinda question. Actually the question part is rather easy, it’s the answer, our decision, that we struggle with.
In Acts 19 Paul meets “disciples” from the church of Ephesus. It doesn’t take long before he realizes they’ve never been baptized in the name of Jesus and therefore they knew nothing of the Holy Spirit. They knew of Jesus but didn’t know his saving grace. Without going into detail, biblical scholars debate as to wether these men were Christians. Regardless, after hearing Paul speak they were baptized in the name of Jesus and received the Holy Spirit. This wasn’t a tough decision for them as they already thirsted for salvation.
I would venture to guess life in 2016 is a little more complicated than what it was back then, yet this question still remains for all. Have you accepted Jesus as your savior? I’ll go one better, WILL you accept Jesus as your savior? You say you believe in God, you may or may not go to church, you classify yourself as a good person but here’s the deal, none of that matters. I struggled with this for years as I knew some of the things I was doing didn’t have a place in this life. I thought I would be missing out. That is a lie! To accept his son, God doesn’t ask us to lay our behaviors aside. Jesus meets us as far as we’ll go to meet him and he begins the process of our transformation from the inside out.
Back to our Ephesian friends, these men sensed the need to get right with God. They felt an urging to go deeper and turn their life over to Jesus. I too experienced that feeling but chose to ignore it for many years. If you are being reminded of Jesus in any way, know that you too are being called. Knowing what I know now, answering that call will be the best decision you’ll ever make. Acts 19:2 – And he said to them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” And they said, “No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.”