Acts 19

Read Acts 19.

My band recently released a song that we worked on for two years. If you add up just the time we spent in the studio, it might be more accurate to say that we only spent twenty-ish hours recording. So why did it take two years? If I’m being honest, we gave up a lot along the way. We spent a lot of time wondering if the recording was something we should even be doing and spent more time distracted by other life events. Staying motivated and on track can be hard.

And he entered the synagogue and for three months spoke boldly, reasoning and persuading them about the kingdom of God. But when some became stubborn and continued in unbelief, speaking evil of the Way before the congregation, he withdrew from them and took the disciples with him, reasoning daily in the hall of Tyrannus. 10 This continued for two years, so that all the residents of Asia heard the word of the Lord, both Jews and Greeks.

Acts 19:8-10, ESV

In this passage in Acts 19, we see about two years of Paul’s life. He spends that time trying to reason and persuade a great number of people to accept the good news of Jesus. If we are honest with ourselves, many of us would struggle to last the first three months. Focusing on any specific task for a length of time can be difficult, especially when that task is reasoning with others. We have a continual mission to share the gospel, and Paul shows us a great example of the perseverance that this mission takes. Let’s use that example to renew our motivation to reach the world for God.

Acts 17

Read Acts 17.

On April 4, 2009, an unidentified man saved the life of a 27-year-old woman by pulling her from a burning home in Jacksonville, Florida. As reported by The Florida Times-Union, this man was driving by, stopped to rescue the woman, and drove away as fire and rescue arrived on the scene. His identity was never determined.

23 For as I passed along and observed the objects of your worship, I found also an altar with this inscription: ‘To the unknown god.’ What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you. 24 The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, 25 nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything.

Acts 17:23-25, ESV

As Christians, we have a direct relationship with the Lord of everything. We know God. We know the identity of the one who created us, the one who saves us and guides us. There are many today, just like the Athenians we see in Acts 17, who have the idea of an unknown god with an unidentifiable existence. Like Paul, we are called to proclaim the gospel, so that everyone who hears has an opportunity to know the one true God.

James 4

Read James 4.

13 Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”— 14 yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. 15 Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.”

James 4:13-15, ESV

Life is short and fleeting, and that should give us even more of a desire to look to God as the creator and giver of all things. We are only here for a little time, but God put us on the earth with a purpose that serves His greater plan. We shouldn’t waste time by thinking that we can control what tomorrow holds. Instead, we should be focused on the provision and blessings from our Lord and seek His direction in all things.

Acts 8

Read Acts 8.

One of my favorite responses is “I don’t have a reason not to.” It’s a mess of a sentence, but it can be a motivational truth. When nothing is in the way of a positive choice, the follow-through becomes very easy.

36 And as they were going along the road they came to some water, and the eunuch said, “See, here is water! What prevents me from being baptized?” 38 And he commanded the chariot to stop, and they both went down into the water, Philip and the eunuch, and he baptized him.

Acts 8:36-38, ESV

In these verses, we see the eunuch choosing to be baptized just moments after hearing the good news of Jesus. Nothing was stopping him. Philip was there, water was there, and they made it happen. What step do you need to take to follow Jesus today? Whatever it may be, my guess is that nothing is standing in the way. Go ahead and take that step. When it comes to living for God, we have no reason to wait.

Luke 22

Read Luke 22.

God knows exactly who we are. Sometimes we are guilty of thinking that maybe He doesn’t really know us or what’s best for us. There are even times when we foolishly believe that there are parts of us that we can hide from our Creator. The truth is that there is no way we could ever surprise God, no curveball we could throw that would catch Him off guard. He knows the heights of our good deeds and the depths of our darkest sins.

60 But Peter said, “Man, I do not know what you are talking about.” And immediately, while he was still speaking, the rooster crowed. 61 And the Lord turned and looked at Peter. And Peter remembered the saying of the Lord, how he had said to him, “Before the rooster crows today, you will deny me three times.” 62 And he went out and wept bitterly.

Luke 22:60-62, ESV

Just like Peter in this passage, there are times in life when we are confronted with our own sinful nature. We can surprise ourselves by sinking to new lows in our thoughts or actions. God knows us at our worst. Jesus knew that Peter would deny him three times before it happened, but He still offered Himself as a sacrifice to pay for Peter’s sin and for ours. When we are the worst versions of ourselves, the beauty of our conviction is that we already know the solution. Forgiveness is on the other side of repentance.

Luke 12

Read Luke 12.

What would you do if today were your last day? If you somehow knew that tomorrow was the end of your life and the start of your eternity, what would your plan of action be? We see this scenario played out in our culture a lot in movies and songs, and the answer is usually something reckless or romantic or both. A lot of people would allegedly go skydiving and then call up their high school sweethearts. Maybe your answer would be to make amends with your enemies and tell your family members you love them. There’s nothing wrong with those answers. The problem is with the question. The reality is that we will never have that insider information to see this scenario played out.

18 And he said, ‘I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. 19 And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.”’ 20 But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ 21 So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.”

Luke 12:18-21, ESV

The Parable of the Rich Fool is one of my favorite passages in the Bible, if you are allowed to pick favorites. It is reminder that life is fleeting, but it’s also a reminder that we should be living our lives the right way. For many, living every day like it’s their last means doing all of the fun and rewarding things they’ve always wanted to do. If we are spending our lives only seeking possessions or experiences, Jesus tells us that we are not rich toward God.

Luke 2

Read Luke 2.

Do you know the story of your birth? I was born at a normal hospital after trying to make my first appearance at my brother’s third birthday party. What can I say? Mr. Gatti’s was an exciting place back in the mid-nineties. Maybe your story is good or bad or maybe you don’t know it, but all of our entrances into this world can be summarized like this: a baby was born.

In Luke 2, we see an account of the birth of Jesus. In one way, we can view it as normal. A baby was born. Our God came to the earth as a fully human baby. In another way, Luke 2 is an account of the greatest birth of all time. Our God came to earth as a fully human baby. Christ came into this world the same way as everyone else, but it was so He could fulfill God’s ultimate plan of redemption. He came to live a perfect life and to save us by taking the punishment for our sin.

11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.

Luke 2:11, ESV

1 Peter 5, 2 Peter 1

Read 1 Peter 5, 2 Peter 1.

What inspires you? When you’re feeling rough, where do you turn for motivation? The internet is full of inspirational quotes and positivity influencers and motivational speakers. Maybe you’ve checked your daily horoscope or saved a fortune cookie paper or at one point in your life owned a “Hang in there, baby!” cat poster. Some are not so great, but sometimes those things really can have a positive impact, especially when they say exactly what you needed to hear. Most importantly, you can always find inspiration in scripture.

Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. 10 And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. 11 To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen.

1 Peter 5:6-11, ESV

Context is always important — Peter wasn’t writing this letter directly to us — but we can certainly look back on these words and be inspired. Wherever you find yourself today, it isn’t bad advice to cast your anxieties on God, resist evil, and stand firm in your faith.

Hebrews 8-9

Read Hebrews 8-9.

Do you remember dial-up internet access? It was loud. It was slow. We had to reconnect each time. Free trails were given to us on CDs at Walmart for some reason. It was good enough, even though we weren’t able to use our landline phones while we were checking our email. If you don’t remember dial-up, I’m sure you can look it up online. Dial-up, with all of its flaws and limitations, connected us to the internet and was the best we had until the 2000s when something better came along.

13 For if the blood of goats and bulls, and the sprinkling of defiled persons with the ashes of a heifer, sanctify for the purification of the flesh, 14 how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God.

Hebrews 9:13-14, ESV

Before Jesus, our sins could only be paid through sacrificial blood. In fact, death is still the only acceptable payment for sin. In Hebrews 8 and 9 we see a description of the way priests used to enter holy places and offer the blood of animals to sanctify the people. It was a slow, complicated process that had to be repeated over and over. It was all we had until the sacrifice of Christ on the cross. Not only is the new covenant in Christ something better, it’s the best we could ever hope to get. He paid our debt once and for all, giving us a way to restore our connection to God forever. We were on dial-up, and the salvation we now have in Jesus is so much better that the same metaphor doesn’t event seem fitting.

Acts 22-23

Read Acts 22-23.

What’s your story?

If you are a Christian, you have a story of how you became a Christian. This testimony might include what your life was like before or how you felt at key moments or how you feel the Holy Spirit guiding you now. Some people have testimonies that seem like epic tales of struggle and redemption, and some people have stories about one time when they were at summer camp. The reality of this is that however “exciting” your testimony may seem to you, it is worth celebrating and sharing.

“Brothers and fathers, hear the defense that I now make before you.”

Acts 22:1, ESV

In Acts 22, we see a situation where the outcome seems to be dependent on Paul’s story, and he shares boldly and truthfully about specific parts of his life. What we can pull from this text is that Paul’s life was exactly what it needed to be to get him to that moment. Paul’s life is tremendously exciting to read about, but it’s not for our entertainment 2000 years later. Paul, through his obedience to God, lived a life that served God’s plan. Paul’s story was the exact story that it needed to be to glorify God.

So, whether you find your story interesting or entertaining or powerful or not, it is the exact story that sets you up to live for God in the way that He desires. If you get a chance to share, don’t hesitate. Your story has power.