Tuesday 12 May, 2020

Acts 17:22-34

22 Paul then stood up in the meeting of the Areopagus and said: “People of Athens! I see that in every way you are very religious. 23 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. 24 “The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands. 25 And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything. Rather, he himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else. 26 From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. 27 God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us. 28 ‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’[a] As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’[b] 29 “Therefore since we are God’s offspring, we should not think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone—an image made by human design and skill. 30 In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent. 31 For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to everyone by raising him from the dead.” 32 When they heard about the resurrection of the dead, some of them sneered, but others said, “We want to hear you again on this subject.” 33 At that, Paul left the Council. 34 Some of the people became followers of Paul and believed. Among them was Dionysius, a member of the Areopagus, also a woman named Damaris, and a number of others.

The bible tells us that God has placed an innate knowledge in the heart of every human being to know of His existence. The people here in Athens knew there is a God and wanted to worship Him, but didn’t really know who He is, so Paul took the opportunity to explain a bit about God. Some sneered, but some joined him and believed.

We can be fooled into thinking that the people of today mostly don’t believe there is a God. Sometimes it can seem like this, however the bible (an personal experience) tells us that this is not the case.  

It’s good to be reminded that eternity is set in the hearts of every human, and that creation daily pours forth speech about our God. People know in their hearts there is a God, but of course, many don’t really know who He is and what He is like.

Like Paul, we can look for opportunities to talk about who God is. Let’s be careful not to assume that people don’t want to know or hear about God. Sometimes it’s just a short sentence here and there in our everyday conversation with friends and colleagues that makes mention of God and reminds us all that He is exists and He can be known. 

My prayer is that this day, and every day I’ll have opportunities to talk about our wonderful God.

Written by Shelley Witt

[comments closed]

Monday 11 May, 2020

Acts 17:16-21

16 While Paul was waiting for them in Athens, he was greatly distressed to see that the city was full of idols. 17 So he reasoned in the synagogue with both Jews and God-fearing Greeks, as well as in the marketplace day by day with those who happened to be there. 18 A group of Epicurean and Stoic philosophers began to debate with him. Some of them asked, “What is this babbler trying to say?” Others remarked, “He seems to be advocating foreign gods.” They said this because Paul was preaching the good news about Jesus and the resurrection. 19 Then they took him and brought him to a meeting of the Areopagus, where they said to him, “May we know what this new teaching is that you are presenting? 20 You are bringing some strange ideas to our ears, and we would like to know what they mean.” 21 (All the Athenians and the foreigners who lived there spent their time doing nothing but talking about and listening to the latest ideas.)

Paul didn’t intend to come to Athens. He had fled there from Macedonia because of opposition. He was just waiting for his friends to catch up.

Athens must have seemed the most unlikely opportunity for the gospel. They were spiritually superficial: Paul was troubled by the idols to every possible deity they could find, including one to “an unknown God” in case they had missed one. And they were intellectually superficial: They were known for being entertained by new ideas, but not for acting on them. Luke doesn’t record the usual response from the Jews and “God fearing Gentiles”, and no response from those in the public square. The only response recorded was the philosophers who dismiss him as a “babbler” and preacher of foreign gods. And now, being brought before the city rulers to explain himself must have seemed daunting. (Remember the painful experience in Philippi.) By any rational assessment, Paul should not waste his time with Athens.

But Paul knows his God better. “Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days.” (Ephesians 5:16). He does seek out those who fear God. He goes to where the people are. He brings substance to the superficial intellectual exercises of the philosophers. He takes the opportunity of bringing the truth to the Areopagus, and though they dismiss him, at the end some do believe.

It’s easy to dismiss the workplace discussion of life or even the Christian-baiting argument as a waste of time. Still, wherever people are willing to allow us to talk about God, there is an opportunity for God to speak into the most unexpected lives. (So long as we are as positive as Paul’s speech to the Areopagus.)

Father, give me your eyes to see the opportunities and your boldness and grace to take them.

Written by David Cornell

1 (reply)
[comments closed]

Sunday 10 May, 2020

Acts 17:10-15

10 As soon as it was night, the believers sent Paul and Silas away to Berea. On arriving there, they went to the Jewish synagogue. 11 Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true. 12 As a result, many of them believed, as did also a number of prominent Greek women and many Greek men. 13 But when the Jews in Thessalonica learned that Paul was preaching the word of God at Berea, some of them went there too, agitating the crowds and stirring them up. 14 The believers immediately sent Paul to the coast, but Silas and Timothy stayed at Berea. 15 Those who escorted Paul brought him to Athens and then left with instructions for Silas and Timothy to join him as soon as possible.

Here we have people who are commended for two things: receiving the teaching of the word with eagerness, and also examining the scriptures to see if what Paul was teaching was correct.

This is a good model for us of how we should respond to teaching. We should be (1) eager to receive and learn new things and (2) diligent to examine what we hear and test it against the what we read in the Bible. Developing both of these qualities is essential for growth and maturity.

Some people are really eager to receive teaching and take on-board anything they hear without taking the time and effort to see if it lines up with the Bible’s teachings.

Others are so focused checking up on all the facts and the “letter of the law”  that they become cynical and lose their open-hearted eagerness to learn.

Lord, help me to be an eager learner and a diligent examiner of what I am hearing. Help me to keep an open heart and to be a determined seeker of truth.

Written by Shelley Witt

1 (reply)
[comments closed]

Saturday 9 May, 2020

Acts 17:1-9

17 When Paul and his companions had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where there was a Jewish synagogue. 2 As was his custom, Paul went into the synagogue, and on three Sabbath days he reasoned with them from the Scriptures, 3 explaining and proving that the Messiah had to suffer and rise from the dead. “This Jesus I am proclaiming to you is the Messiah,” he said. 4 Some of the Jews were persuaded and joined Paul and Silas, as did a large number of God-fearing Greeks and quite a few prominent women. 5 But other Jews were jealous; so they rounded up some bad characters from the marketplace, formed a mob and started a riot in the city. They rushed to Jason’s house in search of Paul and Silas in order to bring them out to the crowd. 6 But when they did not find them, they dragged Jason and some other believers before the city officials, shouting: “These men who have caused trouble all over the world have now come here, 7 and Jason has welcomed them into his house. They are all defying Caesar’s decrees, saying that there is another king, one called Jesus.” 8 When they heard this, the crowd and the city officials were thrown into turmoil. 9 Then they made Jason and the others post bond and let them go.

Paul and Silas had made their way to Thessalonica and were preaching the good news of Jesus. Amongst the listeners, were God fearing Jews. Paul reasoned and explained and proved that Jesus was the Messiah that they had been waiting for. Some believed but some were jealous. Those that were jealous struggled to accept the revelations that Paul was teaching them so they stirred up trouble.

It’s amazing to me that this message of salvation, that carries hope, love, peace and grace, can also stir unease and unrest in people. When someone shares a new, fresh, deeper revelation of God to me, I wonder how much convincing and explaining I need to have before I receive it?

Father God, may I have an open heart to receive deeper truths about you. Continue to teach me more about who you are.

Written by Gab Martin

1 (reply)
[comments closed]

Friday 8 May, 2020

Acts 16:35-40

35 When it was daylight, the magistrates sent their officers to the jailer with the order: “Release those men.” 36 The jailer told Paul, “The magistrates have ordered that you and Silas be released. Now you can leave. Go in peace.” 37 But Paul said to the officers: “They beat us publicly without a trial, even though we are Roman citizens, and threw us into prison. And now do they want to get rid of us quietly? No! Let them come themselves and escort us out.” 38 The officers reported this to the magistrates, and when they heard that Paul and Silas were Roman citizens, they were alarmed. 39 They came to appease them and escorted them from the prison, requesting them to leave the city. 40 After Paul and Silas came out of the prison, they went to Lydia’s house, where they met with the brothers and sisters and encouraged them. Then they left.

I love the audacity that Paul had. He knew who he was in this situation and His audacity was based on his citizenship – Paul was a Roman Citizen.

What about my citizenship? Because of Jesus I am a citizen of Heaven.  I have the highest possible standing – I am a co-heir with Jesus (see Romans 8:17), I am chosen by God Himself (see Ephesians 1:4), I am his adopted son (see Ephesians 1:5) and He loves me! (See 1 John 3:1). He dispatches angels on my behalf – I’m that precious to Him! (See Psalm 91:11)

With that kind of citizenship, what audacious step of faith could I take today?

Father, I know you are calling me to live audaciously for You, for Jesus, for the gospel and for loving those around me in your name. Please help me remember who I am – I am your Son! And with that Citizenship I can step out with fearless audacity.

Amen

Written by Boudy Van Noppen

[comments closed]

Thursday 7 May, 2020

Acts 16:25-34

25 About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. 26 Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everyone’s chains came loose. 27 The jailer woke up, and when he saw the prison doors open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself because he thought the prisoners had escaped. 28 But Paul shouted, “Don’t harm yourself! We are all here!” 29 The jailer called for lights, rushed in and fell trembling before Paul and Silas. 30 He then brought them out and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” 31 They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.” 32 Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all the others in his house. 33 At that hour of the night the jailer took them and washed their wounds; then immediately he and all his household were baptized. 34 The jailer brought them into his house and set a meal before them; he was filled with joy because he had come to believe in God—he and his whole household.

I get such a sense of “no time to lose” when I read this well-known account. The incredible miracle of the earthquake, doors opening, chains simply falling can be a distraction to the main event – the salvation of the jailer and his family. Paul and Silas did not take the chance to make a run for it, rather they saw the moment for the incredible opportunity it was.

The truth of the gospel transformed a man full of fear to a man full of joy.

Is my joy in knowing I am saved by faith in Jesus? I can imagine the jailer’s joy overflowing to those around as for years to come he shared this amazing event and he and his family’s salvation. Is God’s love and grace flowing out of me? Is it in my service like the jailer showed to Paul and Silas (v33-34), is it in my forgiveness to others rather than holding a grudge, is it in my praise of God even when times are dark and disappointing?

Thank you Lord that by you Holy Spirit you shine through in my life. Transform my fears to joy in you. Amen

Written by Claire Moore

[comments closed]

Wednesday 6 May, 2020

Acts 16:16-24

16 Once when we were going to the place of prayer, we were met by a female slave who had a spirit by which she predicted the future. She earned a great deal of money for her owners by fortune-telling. 17 She followed Paul and the rest of us, shouting, “These men are servants of the Most High God, who are telling you the way to be saved.” 18 She kept this up for many days. Finally Paul became so annoyed that he turned around and said to the spirit, “In the name of Jesus Christ I command you to come out of her!” At that moment the spirit left her. 19 When her owners realized that their hope of making money was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace to face the authorities. 20 They brought them before the magistrates and said, “These men are Jews, and are throwing our city into an uproar 21 by advocating customs unlawful for us Romans to accept or practice.” 22 The crowd joined in the attack against Paul and Silas, and the magistrates ordered them to be stripped and beaten with rods. 23 After they had been severely flogged, they were thrown into prison, and the jailer was commanded to guard them carefully. 24 When he received these orders, he put them in the inner cell and fastened their feet in the stocks.

So here we see the humanity of Paul.  He became so annoyed by this demon possessed woman not leaving them alone and constantly yelling out “These men are servants of the most High God, who are telling you the way to be saved”.   You would have thought that this woman was doing them a favour “announcing them and why they were here!”  However she must have got in the way of Paul and Silas and his response was to deliver her of the demon.  He sets this woman free from the demon and free from her “captors” who had used her bound state (slavery) to make money.

However, from this action of deliverance Paul and Silas are arrested, beaten with rods, severely flogged, shackled with irons and thrown far into prison.  It seems their outcome is even worse now….  These days we read many stories of our brothers and sisters in countries where they are beaten, tortured, imprisoned and murdered for their faith.  However the second part of this story has the most wonderful redemptive story for the jailer and his family.

In our lives through the good and the bad, through the success and failures God weaves in our story, a story of others within our worlds as well.   Our testimony is never just about us.  God is always using the good things plus our struggles and challenges to make a beautiful life when Christ is in the centre.  God is at work whether we can see it or not.   

Lord help me to keep my eyes on you.  Help me Lord to affect others around me by setting them free and finding hope in the midst of challenges. 

Written by Ps. Sue Botta

[comments closed]

Tuesday 5 May, 2020

Acts 16:11-15

11 From Troas we put out to sea and sailed straight for Samothrace, and the next day we went on to Neapolis. 12 From there we traveled to Philippi, a Roman colony and the leading city of that district of Macedonia. And we stayed there several days. 13 On the Sabbath we went outside the city gate to the river, where we expected to find a place of prayer. We sat down and began to speak to the women who had gathered there. 14 One of those listening was a woman from the city of Thyatira named Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth. She was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul’s message. 15 When she and the members of her household were baptized, she invited us to her home. “If you consider me a believer in the Lord,” she said, “come and stay at my house.” And she persuaded us.

A Turkish business woman, living in Greece, is taking some time out and has a chance meeting with some travelling evangelists. Her life was changed forever. Coincidence or divine appointment? Lydia was not necessarily expecting to become a follower of Jesus that morning, but when she encountered the spirit of God she responded. We need to have our hearts and mind open to the spirit at all times.  God doesn’t say -‘ it’s ok, you’re on holidays, I won’t interrupt you’.  He is greedy for our attention and our hearts. God will take any opportunity, any moment to pursue a relationship with you and me. We need to be open and expectant. 

Father God, speak to me today. Lord may I hear your voice and follow you today with all my heart. Ignite your Spirit in me. In Jesus Name Amen.

Written by Christine Knight

2 replies
  1. Howard says:

    Hi Chris, I really enjoyed that. I also find it very interesting that Lydia was a high-end businesswoman. I have just read that Thyatira was a centre for the dying of wool with a locally common vegetable root (madder). She appears to have been importing considerable quantities of dyed cloth and on-selling it to the upper classes and had a large house with guest rooms and probably servants. Further, she appeared to be in charge, in that she went to the river by herself (no accompanying man) and made the decisions about household guests without reference to a husband. A strong, independent and self-confident woman!

[comments closed]

Monday 4 May, 2020

Acts 16:6-10

6 Paul and his companions traveled throughout the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been kept by the Holy Spirit from preaching the word in the province of Asia. 7 When they came to the border of Mysia, they tried to enter Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them to. 8 So they passed by Mysia and went down to Troas. 9 During the night Paul had a vision of a man of Macedonia standing and begging him, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” 10 After Paul had seen the vision, we got ready at once to leave for Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them.

If someone said to me that they believed that the Holy Spirit was preventing them from preaching the gospel in a particular place, I would have a hard time accepting that. I mean, doesn’t God want the gospel preached everywhere? And not just preventing them from one place but another as well? That doesn’t fit with how I expect the Holy Spirit to move.

But that is the issue. I can have my own expectation of how I think God will lead me. And because I have these expectations, is it possible that I have tried to do something that I believed God wanted me to do, but was not in tune with the Holy Spirit and missed what HE wanted?

This is not about self-criticism, but rather being open to God saying no to a good thing because he had a different and better plan for me. 

Not too get paralysed by always questioning whether something is perfectly right or not, but in Paul’s case, I expect there would have been clear signs that it was God saying no. So instead of pushing through opposition, to ask is this opposition from God or not? And let that be a factor in determining the direction I take when serving God.

And Paul’s response can teach me. If I can’t do one thing, then try something else and keep trying until it is clear that this is the direction God has planned.

It’s better than doing nothing, waiting for a door to open that God has no plans to open.

Father, I thank you for giving us the Holy Spirit to be our guide. Help me to be more in tune with the Holy Spirit so that I can follow your plans for my life.

Written by Andrew Martin

4 replies
  1. B says:

    Great application – hold MY plans lightly and keep trying until God’s path is clear. Thanks Andrew

  2. Florence Farjandi says:

    Hallelujah, our God knows everything, He knows who is hangry or rthirsty for His words. God bless you Andrew, amen

[comments closed]

Sunday 3 May, 2020

Acts 16:1-5

16 Paul came to Derbe and then to Lystra, where a disciple named Timothy lived, whose mother was Jewish and a believer but whose father was a Greek. 2 The believers at Lystra and Iconium spoke well of him. 3 Paul wanted to take him along on the journey, so he circumcised him because of the Jews who lived in that area, for they all knew that his father was a Greek. 4 As they traveled from town to town, they delivered the decisions reached by the apostles and elders in Jerusalem for the people to obey. 5 So the churches were strengthened in the faith and grew daily in numbers.

What an ordinary start to a significant partnership. Paul comes to Lystra, Timothy lives in Lystra, the people of Lystra and Iconium speak well of Timothy, Paul hears about it, I imagine Paul spends some time with Timothy and then Paul asks Timothy to join him on his journeys. From this account there is no dramatic vision, just a normal relational process – people networking – that leads Paul to begin a friendship with one whom he would go on to call his spiritual son. 

Am I leaning into relationships with expectancy? Am I leaning into the everyday of life with expectancy? Am I trusting that you God will use many of the ordinary things of life for significant purposes? 

Please help me to begin the day in faith, and to maintain an attitude of expectancy throughout the day and week ahead. Amen. 

Written by Ps. Bethany Waugh 

1 (reply)
[comments closed]