Join Jeri Howe and myself as we get the conversation going around Acts!
October 4, 2012
Read Acts 4:23-34
We need people.
We need each other. In celebration and in sorrow, we need each other.
. Peter and John needed the other believers. After their encounter with the religious leaders (following the healing of the beggar), they returned to the believers – and they prayed.
I love the way they address God. ‘O Sovereign Lord..” This stood out to me today. The Sovereignty of God can seem so big and difficult to grasp. I like to put it this way, “God gets His way.” Another says it like this, “My life and times are in your hands.” In other words, God is sovereign over everything and He works His good in and through our lives and the circumstances we face. In their prayer, the believers were stating from the beginning their trust in the Lord, their Master, and in His sovereignty.
I know many facing difficult circumstances and challenges right now. Amidst it all, God is sovereign. In stating this, I am not dismissing the pain, I am not sticking my head in the sand, and I am not just giving a pat answer. No, I’m simply saying that God knows, He is Sovereign, and He sees.
We can pray “O Sovereign Lord, you are the Creator of heaven and earth, You are present and we cry out to you for help and intervention. You are our keeper, our Helper, our Friend, and the One we rely on to carry us through these times. May your Name be lifted up in our lives and may many see and put their trust in You.” (See Psalm 40)
Amidst the ups and down, the good and the bad, we need others to join us in prayer and to pray for us. Don’t be afraid to ask another to pray for you today.
Q: Who needs you to pray for them? Let them know you are lifting their name before the Sovereign Lord.
September 30, 2012
Read Acts 4:15-22
There is so much happening in this section of Scripture. The undeniable power of God healing a man’s life. The quieting of the religious leaders. The boldness of Peter and John. The refusal to keep quiet about Jesus name. The recognition that a man was healed after more than forty years of not being able to walk.
For me today, I am most encouraged about God’s healing work in this man who is 40-plus-years-old. It strikes me today that there are many in their forties who have suffered a long time. Many long for healing–for a miracle. I know of such men. I know of such women. And, I believe that God still heals today. I do not want to in any way misrepresent this Scripture, but I do think it is worth noticing that for whatever reason, in God’s timing, in His Sovereignty, in His Knowing and His power, He allowed this man to experience a healing work in this season of his life.
Men and women today need hope to believe God can and will work miracles in their lives today. Men and women today need to believe they are not forgotten (especially GenXers). And men and women today need to see that the healing work God will do is for His Name’s sake. His work in your life is for His glory and attention.
Let’s ask ourselves a few questions today:
Where have you tried to deny or shut down the work of Christ in your life through disinterest, a lack of faith, a dwindling hope? Be honest.
When have you taken a stand to speak up for and speak of Christ?
And, what healing work do you need to ask God for today? How might God use it to bring honor to His Name?
September 29, 2012
Read Acts 4:13-14
These two verses in a tweet format:
Ordinary men who had been with Jesus amazed the leaders with their boldness and left them wondering what to do because the work of Christ was so evident.
I have to ask myself, “What is the evidence of Christ’s work in my life?”
September 28, 2012
Read Acts 4:11-12
Peter continues to make plain the Gospel of Jesus. He reminds the religious leaders that their rejection of Christ was spoken of many years before. And then he makes an absolute statement. Referring to Jesus Christ, Peter says:
“There is salvation in no one else!
God has given no other name under heaven
by which we may be saved.”
Wow! This strong statement sounds a little out of place in our world of choice. We value a culture of appreciating others’ opinions, faiths, and perspectives. I love to dialogue with friends who think and believe differently than me. But, the salvation He speaks of is not meant to be one of many for us to choose from as if we are on a buffet line. No, this salvation, while completely free, yes it’s a gift, is only found in Jesus. He is the way, the truth, and the life.
Friend, if you are reading this today and you don’t have a clue about Christ, and you want to know more, this is a good place to start. Women Pursuing God was developed for women who know Christ and those who are simply exploring faith. We are, after all, pursuing God – Someone to make sense of this world, Someone to fill the empty places, yes, Someone to bring salvation.
Salvation comes through faith in Jesus Christ alone.
Q: How have you responded to the free gift of salvation thorugh Jesus Christ?
September 27, 2012
Read Acts 4:5-10
After spending the night in jail, Peter and John are taken before the rulers. Once again, Peter leads. He not only clarifies how the crippled man was healed but he also authoritatively leads these rulers back to Christ, back to the power name of Jesus Christ.
This is another great reminder that as believers, we will have multiplied opportunities to point people to Christ. He is central in our lives. He is our Healer, Redeemer, Good Shepherd, King, Counselor, Defender, Strong Tower, and Friend. Don’t forget Him. Through Christ’s death, the penalty for sin was paid, and we have life – yes, a forever kind of life!
Q: How is the power of Christ being displayed in your life? How did you point someone to Him today?
September 26, 2012
Read Acts 4:4
Despite the struggle, despite the push back from the religions leaders and jail time, people came to believe that Jesus is the Messiah. Many people came to the Lord. We read that 5,000 male adults believed. And, we have good reason to believe that while not mentioned by name, women and children also came to faith.
DON’T LET THE STRUGGLE AND DIFFICULTY GET IN YOUR WAY OF SEEING THE WORK GOD IS DOING!
No question today.
September 25, 2012
Read Acts 4:1-3
Thrown in jail!
Yep that is what happened to Peter and John once the religious leaders got to them. They didn’t like that they were teaching the people about resurrection through Jesus.
Doing God’s will, following His leading can land you in some interesting places. I was pondering about the low they might have felt after the high of experiencing the promised Holy Spirit and then being part of a seeing a man walk who had NEVER WALKED. The Scripture does not say they were low – I am simply wondering how they might have felt.
Lows after highs happen. But, we can prepare ourselves to stand firm on God’s Word and His leading so that we are not swayed, shifted, or tossed as we read in James.
Q: Where do you find strength when you are confronted after following Christ’s leading?
September 24, 2012
Read Acts 3:17-26
Peter continues to clearly spell out that it was God’s redemption plan all along that put Jesus on the cross. He emphasizes twice in this section the power of repentance. I love this! In verse 19, He talks about repentance and having our sins wiped away. “A clean slate” my dad used to say. What a beautiful image of every sin being removed, fully wiped away, completely gone – because of what Christ did on the cross.
He goes on to share that after repentance comes times of refreshment will come from the presence of the Lord. How many of us need this!?
There is much more in these verses, of course, but for tonight, let’s think about the reality of the amazing love God has for each of us, that He planned the solution for our sin, and that through Christ’s death, we receive forgiveness for our sins.
Q: Have you experienced the times of refreshment discussed in this passage?
September 23, 2012
Read Acts 3:12-17
“..why stare at us?” from Acts 3:12 (NLT)
God uses us, all of us, in so many ways – yes through our giftedness, and yes, in our weakness. And, in this case, through the power of Christ, God used Pater to reach out to a man begging in front of the temple. But Peter took this opportunity to make it clear that was not him but Christ.
Q: When is the last time you said, “It’s God, not me”?
September 22, 2012
Read Acts 3:9-11
In this passage it hit me again–there were people who walked by this man day after day and seemingly did nothing. And, there were two men who walked by him one day, and offered what they had to give.
It got me thinking about the places in my life that need to shift, that need a miracle, a dramatic change. Am I “walking by” these areas day after day and doing nothing? Am I praying? Am I offering what I can to these miracle-needing-situations?
For me, I don’t want to stand back and simply be astonished – I want to be part of the miracle!
Father, give me faith, strong faith, in you to know that you want to use me, and your Power within me, to bring about change, Your change, in lots of places around me. Give me the confidence, strength, and readiness to do what you ask! In Jesus’ name, Amen!
Q: Which side of a miracle are you on right now?
September 21, 2012
Read Acts 3:8
We love verse eight! We love a happy ending! Isn’t it true? Yes, this verse is a strong testimony of the power of God in this man’s life. Yes, this situation is easily defined as a miracle.
But what about the many years he sat? What about the many who are not healed and are restrained to a wheelchair? Do we rejoice with them? Do we acknowledge the work of God in a life who is not jumping, leaping, and praising God?
There is something that happens in the life of the believer when we are “seated” at the Beautiful Gate. There is a work worth praising God for, although to the natural eye, it seems like desperation, neglect, or even death. For this man’s entire life, he sat. And in that place, there was and is purpose.
Q: How have you received the seated times in your life?
September 20, 2012
Read Acts 3:3-7
“I’ll give you what I have.”
How many times have we been faced with a circumstance or situation and thought, “I’m not the one to do this” or” I don’t have what you need.” In this section of Scripture, Peter acknowledges what he doesn’t have – money! And, he goes a step further and decidedly offers the beggar what he does have.
Not one of us brings everything to the table. Not one of us has it all together. Not one of us can meet every need. But we can give what we have. We can give what we know to give in Jesus name. Peter had the power of God working through Him. So He gave it away, in a sense.
Friend, don’t be disheartened by what you don’t have. Consider how God might want to work through you despite your weakness, or lack of funds.
Q: How is God moving you to trust Him in desperate situations to give to others what only He can give through you?
September 19, 2012
Read Acts 3:2
I find it so interesting that a man who was unable to walk from birth is placed outside the temple to beg. Perhaps someone cared for him in his younger years—we don’t know. But here he is begging either as a means to support himself or as a means to support another. He is outside the doors of the temple so we presume that those who would enter to pray or worship would see him each day.
What would have happened if one of the regular temple-going people took him in? What if that was the solution?
My friend Kathy founded a Kansas City based organization, Strand of Three, that helps people who are in need of food, people who are mal-nourished, people who are under-nourished. They do not wait for someone to beg or ask. No, this non-profit takes the food right to where they are.
I know what is going to happen to this man. I know the joy he is about to experience. Still, my heart wonders why his begging was the solution rather than another coming alongside him and serving him, caring for him, loving him.
Q: Is there someone in your life in great need who God has called you to serve?
September 18, 2012
Read Acts 3:1
This chapter starts with two men deciding to pray at the ninth hour – or three o’clock in the afternoon. . . At this time, prayer also occurred in the morning and at the noon hour. I know in my own life when I am praying more, my focus shifts toward God and not on myself. When I make prayer a priority, I find that I get it more deeply that God is responsible for the concerns I have. And, when I pray, I can trust that God is moving on behalf of those I am lifting before Him. Every day we should be praying. And multiple times a day. Lord help us to pray more.
Q: What does prayer mean to you?
September 17, 2012
Read Acts 2:42-47
After repentance comes growth. After receiving the promise, the gift of the Holy Spirit, came a “togetherness.” I admit, I want to see this more in the body of Christ today. I wonder what we would be like if we acted like these new converts did as described in these six verses: giving to the needy, worshipping together, sharing meals in homes. This all sounds very good to me! Togetherness. Sometimes I can get distracted by all the disunity, arguing, petty jealousies etc. that goes on. Sometimes I just want to live in these six verses.
Q: What do you do to contribute toward harmony, serving, and unity with believers?
September 16, 2012
Read Acts 2:37-41
Reading this section again, I am clear on the powerful work of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer and in the lives of those yet to believe. After Peter spoke, and we know He was emboldened by the power of the Holy Spirit, it says that people were cut to the heart. They responded by saying, “What must we do??” And Peter plainly and simply told them Repent and be baptized. Repentance – turning away from the sin in your life. Baptized – a symbol of the transformative work that happens when we go from death to life in Christ.
Q: Have you repented lately? Have you experienced the power of the Holy Spirit in your life?
The passage also says “With many other words and exhortation..” Luke didn’t include everything Peter said that day but he let us know that Peter kept on talking! Interesting.
Today we emphasize the power of listening, and this is good, but have you ever experienced a time when you were prompted by the Holy Spirit to keep on talking?
September 13, 2012
Read Acts 2:22-36
This is the longest section of Scripture we’ve looked at so far but it includes Peter’s address to the people of Israel. In it we see Peter explaining God’s endorsement of Jesus and David’s prophetic words about Him. He sums up this section in verse 36 when he says,
“So let everyone in Israel know for certain that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, to be both Lord and Messiah!”
You can hear Peter’s intensity. You can hear his conviction as he speaks directly to the people of Israel telling them that Jesus is the Promised Messiah.
Q: Who do you say Jesus is?
Read Acts 2:17-21
I love the wored “everyone”. In this section of Acts 2 we see this word in verse 21. But really, it’s throughout these verses as we see that God did not limit the outpouring of the Holy Spirit to one segment of people. No, we read the Holy Spirit is being poured out on young and old, male amd female, servants – everyone!
I remember having a conversation with a guy on a flight to Colorado. He was struggling with a lot of life issues – including fear of flying. Listening to Him, I began to understand His need of God. Listening to him, I understood that he felt unworthy. At one point in the conversation, I was prompted, compelled even to say, “You know, if you call on the name of the Lord Jesus you will be saved.”
I don’t know if he ever decided to follow Christ but I know that the promise God gave to the prophet Joel so many years ago – that was repeated by Peter, is still true for us today. We can have salvation through Christ Jesus. And, we will have His Spirit living in us when we believe in Him and receive the forgiveness of sins that only He can offer.
Q: How do you communicate the love of Christ to everyone in your life?
“Then Peter stepped forward with the eleven other apostles and shouted to the crowd, “Listen carefully, all of you, fellow Jews and residents of Jerusalem! Make no mistake about this. 15 These people are not drunk, as some of you are assuming. Nine o’clock in the morning is much too early for that. 16 No, what you see was predicted long ago by the prophet Joel:”
One word that jumps out to me in this section is the word “with.” Peter stepped forward with the other eleven. The Message reads, “backed by the eleven”. I love Peter’s boldness and his sense of urgency in addressing the crowd. But I especially appreciate that when he spoke, his ministry friends were with him.
Q: When have you stood with someone?
These men were all called as apostles. Each had different gifts, personality and abilities. In this moment, in this life-changing event, they stood together. Despite the naysayers and doubters the power of God was on display. Yes, on display through the many languages bellowing praise to God and on display through the confidence demonstrated in Peter.
Q: When have you experienced the empowerment of the Holy Spirit in your daily life?
September 10, 2012
Read Acts 2:5-13
The two things that hit me as I read this section of verses are:
- There were Jews from every nation present at the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.
- They heard in their own language the sounds of people praising God for all the good things He has done.
Jesus promised that the Holy Spirit would come. And, clearly His loud entrance was not simply for the believers alone to experience, but it was for the world to see.
What does the world see today? Are they amazed at the work the Holy Spirit is doing in our lives? Are they erplexed?
Q: How would you like to see the Holy Spirit more revealed in your life?
September 9, 2012
Read Acts 2:1-4
“On the day of Pentecost[a] all the believers were meeting together in one place. 2 Suddenly, there was a sound from heaven like the roaring of a mighty windstorm, and it filled the house where they were sitting. 3 Then, what looked like flames or tongues of fire appeared and settled on each of them. 4 And everyone present was filled with the Holy Spirit and began speaking in other languages,[b] as the Holy Spirit gave them this ability.”\
After the waiting, there came a “suddenly”. I’ve read this passage many times in my life and I’ve heard numerous teaching about the power of God coming on these 120 through the Holy Spirit.
Today, however, what is grabbing my attention is the fact that the Word says it happened “suddenly.” We know there was waiting. Earlier we read that Jesus told them to wait. We know they were together. Scripture tells us this. But, there was distance between the time they were with Jesus and this day. Waiting.
Q: How do you approach the waiting in your life? Do you anticipate the “suddenly?
September 8, 2012
Two words stand ou to me in this passage: Peter continued. In the midst of an incredibly difficult time, Peter continued. He reminded them of the facts, he reminded these Christ-follwers of the prophecy, and he moved forward with leading them toward the need to select a replacement.
Two men were ready to serve. Two men were prepared and surrendered – but they only needed one to replace Judas. I love the prayer in the middle of all this:
“O Lord, you know every heart.
Show us which of these men you have chosen as an apostle…”
I loved that part of their selection process was to seek the Lord in prayer. I love that they acknowledged that God knows the hearts of his servants! Yes, God knows each of our hearts – our desires, our wants, our burdens, and our pain. And, in God’s amazing design of us, He places us where He wants us to serve. In this case, Mathias was chosen. I couldn’t find another reference to Joseph called Barsabbas in Scripture. I don’t know if he served behind the scenes or if he was up front.
What I do know is that he was yielded to God to serve as one of the twelve. He was yielded to God to serve Him.
Q: How have you yielded to God?
September 7, 2012
“Then the apostles returned to Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives, a distance of half a mile When they arrived, they went to the upstairs room of the house where they were staying.
Here are the names of those who were present: Peter, John, James, Andrew, Philip, Thomas, Bartholomew, Matthew, James (son of Alphaeus), Simon (the Zealot), and Judas (son of James). 14 They all met together and were constantly united in prayer, along with Mary the mother of Jesus, several other women, and the brothers of Jesus.
During this time, when about 120 believers[b] were together in one place, Peter stood up and addressed them. “Brothers,” he said, “the Scriptures had to be fulfilled concerning Judas, who guided those who arrested Jesus. This was predicted long ago by the Holy Spirit, speaking through King David Judas was one of us and shared in the ministry with us.”
The first thing the disciples did after Jesus ascended was to pray. The Scripture says they were united in prayer. I love this! At a time of great confusion, loss, and betrayal, these followers of Christ, together, went to God. And, through their prayers, they were united.
Still there must have been some grief or some emotional unrest or sadness. In the midst of this, Peter stands up and says, “This had to happen. Scripture had to be fulfilled.” He was bringing a full picture, and perhaps some redemption, to a very difficult time. What a leader! And then Peter makes this statement, “Judas was one of us and shared in the ministry with us.” Judas was with them and there was ministry work completed. He shared in the ministry. Let’s not forget this.
Q: When have you stood up and proclaimed truth even though you were experiencing pain?
Q: When have you reminded people of the good someone brings even after they have made a very bad choice, even a choice of betrayal?
As leaders this is not easy but God calls us to these places of leadership. Situations like this require that we know the Word, that we see the big picture, and they require living a life of forgiveness. Yes, leaders forgive regularly.
September 6, 2012
“After saying this, he was taken up into a cloud while they were watching, and they could no longer see him.0 As they strained to see him rising into heaven, two white-robed men suddenly stood among them “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why are you standing here staring into heaven? Jesus has been taken from you into heaven, but someday he will return from heaven in the same way you saw him go!”
Two things hit me about this section of scripture – the first is that Jesus’ last words while He was on earth were to wait for the Holy Spirit because He was going to empower them to witness of Jesus. The second is that the two robed men foretell that Jesus will return.
It’s really important that we are powered-up by the Holy Spirit to share Christ, to witness of Him. Jesus promised the Holy Spirit and He is here with us today. And, Jesus promised to return. Another part of scripture tells us that we should long for His appearing. I don’t know if I do that – long, that is. I’m so busy witnessing of Him, and working that I don’t long. Help me God.
Q: What in your life shows that you long for Christ’s return?
September 5, 2012
“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere – in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth
In contrast to what He had just said about God alone knowing the times where His kingdom will be established, Jesus begins this verse with the announcement of the purpose for the Holy Spirit. Power for the believer. Power to be Christ’s witnesses. Awesome!
I have been struck in recent days that we witness Christ to each other as believers as well as to those who do not know Christ. Because of the power of the Holy Spirit being within us, and upon us – however you want to say it, we are able to reflect Christ – in our attitude, in how we treat one another, in our words, and in our walk. I am thankful we have the power of God – yes, God Himself available to help us, to power-us-up to do this!
Lord, today I need the Holy Spirit’s power to witness of you in my life. Help me.
Q: What specific area do you need the power of God to help you demonstrate Christ?
September 4, 2012
“He replied, “The Father alone has the authority to set those dates and times, and they are not for you to know.”
Jesus replied to His disciples with a response that does not give them details and leaves them without question as to what He was saying. He said, “God alone knows and you don’t get to know.” These men were Jesus’ closest friends. He tells them, and, He is telling us there are areas that God alone has the authority, knowledge, and final decision-making power. The facts are that we are not going to understand or know everything around us. The facts are that there are some things we are simply not going to know.
Q: Have you ever heard God answer, “…it’s not for you to know right now”?
September 3, 2012
So when the apostles were with Jesus, they kept asking him, “ Lord, has the time come for you to free Israel and restore our kingdom?”
It’s human nature to want to figure it all out. We study, we research, we plan, and we decide. I imagine this was true for the disciples as well. These men were aware of God’s Covenant promise to Abraham. And, in their minds, the Messiah would come and restore everything right here, right now. I get that.
What stands out to me most is that the disciples kept asking Jesus. These men walked with Jesus for years and still didn’t understand fully what He was communicating to them. So, they asked.
We can ask Jesus too. We may not get what we want or even what we think we deserve, but we can ask. Without reservation we can take our questions, our wonderments, our concerns to Him.
Q: What question do you want to give to God today?
September 2, 2012
Once when he was eating with them, he commanded them, “Do not leave Jerusalem until the Father sends you the gift he promised, as I told you before. John baptized with water, but in just a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”
It was over a meal, a familiar place, that Jesus gives his disciples firm instruction not to leave Jerusalem. They are to stay, linger, and wait because there is a promised gift.
When I hear the words “Do not leave” that sounds very different to me than simply the word, “Stay.” In this section of Scripture, Jesus is giving instruction that seems to communicate such a strong message that He puts His words in the “negative”. Interesting. God knows our tendency to wander, to want to leave a situation, to surmise on our own when our time is done, or when our influence has ceased. Here Jesus makes it clear. Do not leave. And, it’s not for nothing as my friend Tina would say. Jesus explains that in a similar manner to being baptized in water, there is a baptizing in the Holy Spirit that was promised and this group of people was to wait for it.
Q: In your own life, what response do you give when God tells you “Do no leave”?
September 1, 2012
Acts 1:3 (NLT)
“During the forty days after his crucifixion, he appeared to the apostles from time to time, and he proved to them in many ways that he was actually alive. And he talked to them about the Kingdom of God.”
Jesus revealed Himself over and over after His crucifixion and resurrection. He went out of His way to to prove that He was actually alive. He went out of His way to prove that what He said is true. Jesus does this for us today. Watch how He reveals Himself to you.
Q: How have you experienced Jesus showing up in different ways today?
August 31, 2012
I woke up one morning in early June 2012 and decided to study the book of Acts. Has this ever happened to you? You get this compulsion to do something and it seems enormous but you go for it anyway.
When I mentioned to one of my staff, she said, “Great Cheryl — even if it takes you two years” Whew, I felt relief. Yes, even if it takes me two years. I just want to study these men women who were critical to starting the church.
I’ll keep my blog entries fairly short as I’ll be doing this daily. The book of Acts has twenty-eight chapters and one-thousand six verses – so I’m thinking that if we can review two to eight verses each day, we should be through this book easily within a year – but I won’t rush it! We all can just take our time listening to God as we study His word, and specifically this book. So, let’s get started:
Acts 1:1-2 (NLT)
“In my first book I told you, Theophilus, about everything Jesus began to do and teach until the day he was taken up to heaven after giving his chosen apostles further instructions through the Holy Spirit.”
Luke starts the book out reminding his readers that Jesus did not leave any of us alone. Jesus left further instructions through the Holy Spirit. This caught my eye that right from the beginning of this book we are focusing on the Holy Spirit. And, it’s Jesus who points us to Him as our teacher.
Q: How did you rely on the Holy Spirit to teach you today?
If you don’t know much about God, Jesus Christ or the Holy Spirit, ask Him to reveal Himself to you. And, keep reading this blog.