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Acts 7:1-53

In this passage, Stephen is addressing the leaders of Israel. These are the same men who had recently crucified Jesus. He uses the history of Israel to trace the rebellion of God’s people. There is example after example of the stubborn rebellion of Israel. This stubbornness culminates in their rejection of God’s appointed Messiah.

It’s easy to be hard on the Nation of Israel. They had God’s revelation available to them. They were the recipients of incredible blessings from Him. How could they exercise faithlessness? How could those resist God who knew the most about Him.

Before we are too hard on the Israelites for their rebellion, let’s look in the mirror. Before we were believers, were we rejecting the revelation of God’s character? Yup. (Rom. 1-3) Before we were believers, were we so self-reliant that we refused to acknowledge or dependance on the grace of God? Yup. How about now that we are Christians? Do we value our own methods for success and happiness above God’s guidance? Absolutely. Every sin we commit is a rejection of God’s purpose for us and a decision to follow our own will.

So then, how do we respond to Stephen’s sermon? We turn to God in repentance and faith, trusting His plan for us more than our own. We acknowledge our weakness and depend on God rather than on ourselves. That’s hard to do, but it’s what we are called to do as Christians.

By |May 3rd, 2013|Devotional, Uncategorized|0 Comments

Acts 5:17-6:15

The last section of chapter 5 was particularly convicting to me. The apostles were imprisoned for proclaiming the gospel. I am often afraid of being made fun of or ignored when I proclaim the gospel, while the apostles faced imprisonment and death willingly. That, in itself, is convicting.

Even more convicting is their response to being freed. When Gamaliel steps up and speaks on their behalf, they are freed (for a time) from their oppressors. If that happened to me, I would be jumping of the mountain tops rejoicing that God saw fit to deliver me from prison. However, when you observe the apostles they have a different response. Look at verse 41: “Then they left the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name.” They are not rejoicing for their deliverance. They are actually rejoicing that they had the privilege of suffering in the first place! Is that how we respond to suffering? Are we rejoicing in the privilege of being counted worthy of suffering for God? I know I’m not usually thinking that way when I suffer; however, if “all things work together for good” then suffering is a good thing and something worth rejoicing about.

By |April 30th, 2013|Devotional|0 Comments

Acts 2:14-47

There is a lot worth talking about in this passage. The thing that struck my eye can be found in verse 42: “And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.” Seeing this description of the early church was challenging to me. Can we describe our relationship to the word of God (the Apostle’s teaching), the congregational gathering of the local church (the fellowship), and one another in the body (breaking of bread and prayers) as devoted? What a great challenge.

By |April 23rd, 2013|Devotional, Uncategorized|0 Comments

Acts 1:1-2:13

Today’s scripture reading addressed the beginning of ministry after Christ. I see in this text a common theme with what we have recently been addressing at church. In this passage we can see that the disciples had to take responsibility for the early proclamation of the gospel, but they were dependent on the Holy Spirit to make their proclamation effective. This should motivate us to fulfill our responsibility to proclaim the gospel when opportunities arise. We can do this with confidence because, ultimately, the Holy Spirit is the one who is able to accomplish His work in the hearts of those whom we are able to witness to.

By |April 22nd, 2013|Devotional, Uncategorized|0 Comments