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.

Galatians 4

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The Christian life is one that often gets a bad rap from those on the outside looking in. The misperception is that there are too many rules and regulations, no margin for anything fun or remotely enjoyable, and an overall lack of freedom that seems suffocating.

Galatians 4 is a counterargument to that line of thinking. According to Paul, it’s apart from faith in Jesus Christ that we’re actually “enslaved to the elementary principles of the world” (v. 4). Through the sending of his Son, God has actually redeemed–or bought back–his people from enslavement to the law and sin, bestowing on them the status of sons and daughters.

If you have placed your trust in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, Paul has some great news for you: “You are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God” (v. 7). Brothers and sisters, you are a child of God–with all the rights and privileges pertaining thereunto. Oppression has given way to freedom. Condemnation has surrendered to love. Guilt has been conquered by grace. Live like the son or daughter that you are!

Galatians 3

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It is not always what we want to hear, but sometimes a harsh word of truth has the greatest impact. Please don’t hear that as permission to go be mean to the people around you. I am not talking about the word you give, but rather, the one you receive. You may be like me, and sometimes you get so deep into your own thoughts and own ways that you become hard-hearted to any word of counsel.

I remember many times growing up on the football field where an outsider might have observed an interaction between a coach and a player and assumed the coach was just a mean spirited man who enjoyed making life miserable for teenagers. But this couldn’t have been further from the truth. Some of the most meaningful lessons I learned in football came through sharply spoken words.

Paul has some sharp words for the Galatian church. “O Foolish Galatians!” Ouch. Why is Paul being so critical? Because the the Galatians have forgotten something so foundational to deep growing faith…the primacy of Jesus Christ. They have taken their eyes off the most important thing and because of this have allowed competing false ideas to invade their thoughts and actions. They have allowed the thought that our works have an important role in our own salvation to erode their deep faith in the person and work of Jesus Christ.

Believer, remember the words from chapter two, it is no longer us who live but Christ who lives in us. IF we forget this, or if we add something to this faith, like our own works, Paul has nothing but harsh words for us. Remember Christ today. Think on the sufficiency of his death, burial, and resurrection for you salvation and sanctification today. It’s all about Christ. Let’s know him and make him known.

Galatians 2

Read Galatians 2

When I was in youth group many years ago, we would sing this repetitive single verse song. I don’t remember all of it, but I remember part. It went like this:  

“It’s by grace, I have been saved. Through faith, not of myself. It’s a gift, from Almighty God, it’s by grace I’ve been saved.” 

The song had a catchy melody and became a great way for us to receive an understanding of the concept of justification by faith. And the words of the song come straight from Paul’s writing in Ephesians 2:8-9, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”  Paul’s words are used almost verbatim. 

Paul’s declaration of justification by faith is also found in Galatians 2:20. He says, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” We see this again in Romans 6, “For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with.” 

Paul encourages us to die with Christ and allow Him to live in and through us. Our old self has passed away, and we have been raised to walk in new life with Christ. He puts an emphasis on our faith in Jesus being the only thing that saves us. This is justification by faith—we are declared righteous in the sight of God only because of Jesus. 

Receive this gift today.


Acts 15

Read Acts 15.

The early church was booming. Both Jews and Gentiles were responding to the gospel. The bride of Christ was still enjoying the excitement of the honeymoon phase, if you will.

And then Acts 15 happened.

First, there arose in the early church “no small dissension and debate” regarding the requirements for the newly converted Gentile Christians (v. 2). Later in Acts 15, “a sharp disagreement” arose between two prominent ministry partners, Paul and Barnabas, and their differing opinions of John Mark (v. 39). Fissures were forming in the first-century family of faith.

But the early church leaders refused to allow dissensions, debates, and disagreements to slow the spread of the gospel and the growth of the church. The Jerusalem Council quickly convened to denounce any unnecessary obstacles that might hinder “the Gentiles who turn[ed] to God” (v. 19). Paul and Barnabas opted to carry on their respective ministries in different directions rather than dwell on their disagreement (though I’m inclined to believe they eventually reconciled based on Paul’s later affirmation of John Mark in 2 Tim. 4:11).

It’s probably no secret to you that dissensions, debates, and disagreements still arise in the church some 2,000 years later. May we learn from our first-century family of faith and be equally determined to acknowledge and address our disagreements in ways that do not distract from the mission to make disciples.

James 5

Read James 5.

Patience is not a gift of mine. When I’m in a frustrating situation, I want it fixed. When I’m learning a new skill, I want to master it right away. When I’m waiting on my coffee to brew, I want it to brew twice as fast. This issue is due in part to my lack of mastery in the skill of resting. I move quick, I have high expectations, and productivity brings me comfort. All of these qualities are fine on their own, but the problem lies in that none of these provide much room for resting, peace, and patience. Unless I’m intentionally focusing on patience and rest, it doesn’t happen. And still, sometimes it takes someone close to me calling me out and reminding me to calm down, be patient, and rest.

Here in James, we are reminded that struggles, suffering, and waiting are all part of this life. Everything will not always go our way and we won’t always get the results that we so desire. We won’t see eye to eye with everyone around us. But in the midst of both suffering and joy, we are called to wait patiently on the Lord…to remain steadfast in our walk. We are called to live in peace with those around us, striving to further the kingdom. So whatever season you are in, whether one of joy or suffering, can you focus your heart on our Savior? Can we step back from our busy schedules and rest in the peace our Father provides? Allowing that peace to sustain us as we wait for the coming of Jesus?

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.

James 1

Read James 1.

Car manufacturers like to highlight how safe their vehicles are, and rightly so. Safety first! But it’s also ironic that the way they make their cars safer is by running them into concrete walls at various angles and speeds in an effort to put every joint, weld, and system of the car to the test. A vehicle that can’t pass the safety tests in a controlled environment can’t be trusted on the highway.

According to James, faith is kind of like that: “For you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing” (v. 3-4). It’s under the duress of testing and trials that our faith often proves to be genuine – or as one of my former pastors used to say, “Faith that can’t be tested can’t be trusted” (see 1 Peter 1:6-7).

So when – not if, but when – you find your faith being tested, may God grant you the wisdom (v. 5) to see and actually believe that he is shaping and strengthening your faith, both for your good and for his glory.

Acts 14

Read Acts 14.

What is your foundation? When we think about building a home, we might take for granted that the shape, size and make up of the foundation determines what the house about can look like. We know that the strength and durability of the foundation will determine how long the home will stand and the storms it can endure. While it isn’t always visible, it determines nearly everything about the building above. So, what is your foundation?

When we read the book of Acts, it is clear what the foundation of the apostles was; Jesus. Just follow Paul and Barnabas through one chapter and there is a boldness and tenacity that speaks to the strongest of foundations. When they are threatened in Iconium, they moved on still speaking the name of Jesus. When they were worshipped in Lystra, they wept and tore their clothes and pointed to Jesus and not themselves. When they returned to Antioch, they took none of the credit for work done, but instead pointed to Christ and his goodness and faithfulness.

When Christ is our foundation, the core of our identity, then nothing can deter us from living on mission for him. When he is the highest priority in our lives, not hardship or trail can derail us from living for him. Our lives are lived to him, for him and through him and that life is good. So, what is your foundation right now?

Acts 13

Read Acts 13

In Acts chapter 13 we read about the working of the Holy Spirit in the “setting apart” of Saul and Barnabas. 

Being sent out by the Holy Spirit, they traveled to preach the word of God. The account in Acts provides insight to their journey including stops along the way and excerpts from the messages they spoke. 

Chapter 13 ends with Paul and Barnabas speaking to both Jews and Gentiles explaining the Lord had made the Jews “a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.” 

We too are called, set apart to share the good news of the Gospel.

Matthew 28:19 tells us to “go” and make disciples and gives us the assurance the Lord is with us along the journey. The same Holy Spirit that called Saul and Barnabas is the same Holy Spirit that works today in our lives, calling us to be lights for all the world.