Tag Archives: Paul

Godless Chatter – Who, Me??

A kind person blocked me on Facebook a few months ago in response to my sharing some memes that were aggressively critical of President Obama. That got my attention. After a thorough review of my posts I realized she had a point, and since then I’ve made an effort to temper my Facebook posts to avoid mean-spirited political jabber. Instead, I try to focus more on encouragement, the Lord, and the good things of life. Each morning I scroll through my posts from the day before, pleased to some extent with the progress I see but sometimes reminded of how easy it is to be sucked into the pit that Paul calls “godless chatter”. I still post politically from time to time, as it’s important to be engaged, but hopefully with factual and thought-provoking content.

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2 Timothy 2:14-16 NIV


We Christians must be wary of being drawn in to “godless chatter”, but with the immediacy of social media, it can be easy to fall into that trap. Note Paul’s warning here: those who indulge in such chatter will become more and more ungodly. As I scroll through Facebook and Twitter I can see that. We Christians must strive to be salt and light in all aspects of our lives. We are to be Christ’s workers in the harvest field, speaking and living a life that points straight towards our Savior. When we indulge in the “godless chatter” Paul speaks of here, our witness is tarnished and we become ineffective.

Christian friends, let us seek to honor God in all that we do – and in all that we post.

Learning from History ~ Acts 28:11-31

For two whole years Paul stayed there in his own rented house and welcomed all who came to see him. Boldly and without hindrance he preached the kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ. ~ Acts 28:30-31

English: page of the Acts of the Apostles from...

English: page of the Acts of the Apostles from the last edition of the bible originally translated by Johann Dietenberger, published in Augsburg 1776 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

With these two verses, The Book of Acts concludes. Paul and his entourage depart from Malta and finally arrive in Rome. Awaiting his trial before Caesar, Paul is placed under house arrest, living alone with one guard to watch over him. He continues his ministry from his rented house, sharing the Good News of the Gospel with all who come to see him.

Paul calls the Jewish leaders to his house to explain to them what happened in Jerusalem and why he is in Rome. He explains that the government wanted to release him, but at the objection of the Jewish leadership they did not. Interestingly, the Jews reply that they did not receive any letters from Judea concerning Paul, but they had heard of the “sect” of which Paul is a leader and wanted to hear Paul’s views. Paul shares the Gospel with them and, as usual, some believe and some don’t. Paul quotes from Isaiah 6 a passage prophesying that many of the people would hear but not understand the Gospel, and tells them that God’s message of salvation has been taken to the Gentiles, who will listen.

My kids ask from time to time why they must study history in school. The answer, of course, is we have much to learn from history. In The Book of Acts, Luke faithfully records the history of the early Christian church. Through this divinely inspired record, God offers several takeaways that the modern church must heed. And for the believer who truly seeks to serve the Lord, we see shining examples through Paul, Peter, Barnabas, Stephen and many others of what steadfast faith and faithful witness ought to look like. So, what do you say? Are you up to the task?

Ponder this: What is my ministry? What is my role in sharing the Gospel?

My prayer for today: Heavenly Father, thank you for sharing the history of Your Church through Luke’s writing. Help me, Lord, to learn from Your Words and discern Your calling for my ministry; then let me faithfully answer. In Jesus’ name, AMEN.

Godly Leadership ~ Acts 27:1-28:10

Last night an angel of the God whose I am and whom I serve stood beside me and said, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul. You must stand trial before Caesar; and God has graciously given you the lives of all who sail with you.’ So keep up your courage, men, for I have faith in God that it will happen just as he told me. Nevertheless, we must run aground on some island.” ~ Acts 27:23-26

Storm at sea.

Storm at sea. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It is time for Paul to travel to Rome and face Caesar. He is placed on a ship carrying 276 passengers and crew that encounters a storm of hurricane force. The storm is so fierce that the crew abandons all attempts to steer the ship as they throw cargo and tackle overboard in an attempt to save her. As the storm rages, Paul encourages the crew and passengers by sharing with them a vision from God: each of them would be spared but the ship would be lost. He encourages them to keep up their courage as he shares the vision. Later he encourages them to take food, and taking bread, he breaks it, distributes it, and everybody eats their fill. For 14 days they endure this storm until running aground off the shore of an island called Malta.

The shipwrecked passengers and crew are shown “unusual kindness” (38:2) by the residents of Malta. They are cared for and fed. Paul, along with others who are unnamed, is invited into Publius’ estate (he is the chief official on the island). Paul heals Publius’ father and several others on the island. They are later provided with provisions and prepare to set sail.

When God appoints a leader, He doesn’t mess around. He has already appointed Paul to take the Gospel to the Gentiles. And now, in this perilous situation, the appointed man of God assumes a leadership role that ultimately saves the lives of 276 passengers and crew. This wasn’t something Paul did on his own; he did it in direct response to God’s message to him in that vision. This is another example of Paul’s steadfast faith in the Lord, but more so, it shows how God intervenes through the man of God who responds in faith. No matter what trials we face in this life, God is there. We must be tuned in; we must listen. And when God speaks to us, we must stand firm and be guided by what He tells us – even when we are outranked.

Ponder this: Do I trust God enough to listen for Him during life’s storms and trials? Is God calling me to Godly leadership?

My prayer for today: Heavenly Father, thank you for teaching me about faith and Godly leadership through Paul’s example. Help me to seek you in all situations and circumstances and let me be a Godly leader according to Your good and perfect will. In Jesus’ name, AMEN.

Boldly Standing on Faith ~ Acts 24:1-26:32

But I have had God’s help to this very day, and so I stand here and testify to small and great alike. I am saying nothing beyond what the prophets and Moses said would happen–that the Christ would suffer and, as the first to rise from the dead, would proclaim light to his own people and to the Gentiles.” ~ Acts 26:22-23

These three chapters cover a span of just over two years, during which Paul was imprisoned in Caesaria. Governor Felix held him for two years because he didn’t know what to do with Paul, and he was hoping Paul would offer a bribe in exchange for his freedom. Felix was replaced by Festus, who promptly summoned the Jewish leaders to Caesaria to present their charges against Paul. After hearing the charges and Paul’s defense, Festus realizes that there is no merit to the charges, but wanting to appease the Jews he asks Paul if he would be willing to go to Jerusalem and be tried there. Paul, probably knowing he would never survive the trip, appeals to Caesar.

Festus recognizes that the charges against Paul have no merit, yet because of Paul’s Roman citizenship he must honor Paul’s request. King Agrippa pays a visit to Festus, so Festus discusses Paul’s case with the king. The king summons Paul, who presents his case and the Gospel. Festus and Agrippa agree that Paul has done nothing to deserve imprisonment or death. They would have released him then and there, but since Paul has appealed to Caesar, he would be sent to Caesar.

Cross Quilt at San Rafael's

Cross Quilt at San Rafael’s (Photo credit: lars hammar)

“And now it is because of my hope in what God has promised our ancestors that I am on trial today,” (Acts 26:6). Faith is one of God’s most precious gifts. Through faith we stand firmly on God’s Word in any place under any circumstance knowing that God will honor that. Through faith we share the Gospel with those around us – even if they happen to be senior executives or top government officials like Caesar. If we surrender our life to Him, God will work through us to advance the Gospel just as He worked through Paul. Our modern world sorely needs to hear the Gospel; honestly, fully, and completely. Think about that for a moment. If we simply live out our lives in silence, blending in with the world, we are of little use. Instead, let us stand boldly for Christ in faith. Let us be available to serve the Lord according to His good and perfect will.

Ponder this: In what places and under which circumstances might I serve the Lord?

My prayer for today: Heavenly Father, Thank you for gifting me with saving faith in your Son, Jesus Christ. Let my life, in both words and actions, be a walking witness to Him. Show me, Lord, how you would have me serve You. In Jesus’ name, AMEN.

Answering the Call ~ Acts 21:37-22:29

“Then the Lord said to me, ‘Go; I will send you far away to the Gentiles.’ ” ~ Acts 22:21

As the commander is about to lead Paul into the barracks, Paul asks if he may address the crowd. The commander grants his request, and Paul addresses the crowd in Aramaic, which immediately silences them.

Conversion of St Paul on the Road to Damascus

Conversion of St Paul on the Road to Damascus (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Paul offers his personal background as a citizen and as a Jew, describing his persecution of the earliest Christians before his conversion. He describes the stoning of Stephen as he stood aside and guarded the cloaks of those who stoned him. He then describes his conversion on the road to Damascus and God’s subsequent instruction that Paul leave Jerusalem: “Then the Lord said to me, ‘Go, I will send you far away to the Gentiles.’” (22:21).

The crowd listened intently until Paul said this. The riot begins again, and Paul is taken into the barracks where a centurion prepares to flog him. Paul cites his Roman citizenship, and is thereby spared of the beating.

It appears that Paul’s ministry is drawing to a close, and he knows it. But, is it really? Centuries later, God speaks to us today through Paul’s letters to the churches he founded. Countless people have come to know Christ via the “Roman Road”, a series of passages from Paul’s letter to the Romans that walk the sinner through our sinful nature and resulting death to sanctification through Jesus’ act of mercy and grace and eternal life through Him. God continues to speak through Paul today, and He will continue until the end of the age.

God chose Paul to be a messenger of the Gospel to the Gentiles. We believers are to share the Gospel in our world. For some of us, it’s an office and for others a warehouse. For some, it’s a schoolhouse and for others an airport. It really makes no difference; we are called to witness where we are. Jesus said, “In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16) Our light is our very life; our words and actions always witness to something. Let us speak and behave as witnesses for the Gospel knowing that God can and will work through us.

Ponder this: Do my words and actions point to the Gospel? How can I live as God’s witness in my world?

My prayer for today: Heavenly Father, I know that if I walk through life according to Your will, I will impact the world as You intend for me to do. Help me to fully trust You so that I may be an effective witness. Help me to live my life for You. In Jesus’ name, AMEN.

Fully Committed ~ Acts 20:1-38

However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me–the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace.~ Acts 20:24

The Farewell

The Farewell (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

After the uproar in Ephesus, Paul and several companions depart. Paul’s ultimate destination is Jerusalem, but he makes several stops along the way. During a stopover in Miletus, Paul sent word to Ephesus for the elders of the church to meet him in Miletus. When they arrive, Paul recounts his witness to them, warns them of opposition that will arise both from outside and from within the church, and tells them they will never see him again.

I am struck by the wisdom from God that Paul displays. Paul’s unwavering dedication to God’s service and those who believe, his insight into how his trials and tribulations are worth suffering for God’s good purposes, and his love for those with whom he served are all noteworthy. The degree to which Paul lives these traits is not of his own accord – we see here the power and influence that God can have over a life that is fully committed to Him and we see how God can use such a committed servant to win many for the Gospel.

We also see throughout Paul’s ministry the constant attacks Satan levies against the Gospel and those who believe. Paul’s warning here to the elders must be heeded today as well:

Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which He bought with His own blood. I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock. Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them. (verses 28-30)

My heart breaks when I consider the thousands who have been misled through false, incomplete, or watered-down teaching and preaching. The savage wolves about which Paul warned the elders from Ephesus are active in the church today, and many have unwittingly succumbed to their false teachings. Christians, we must be in the Word. We must be in prayer. And if we hear false teaching in the church, we must speak out as God leads us. Stand firmly and boldly upon the foundation of the Gospel and be richly blessed.

Ponder this: God doesn’t call all of us to a missionary ministry as He called Paul; to what is He calling me? Am I willing?

My prayer for today: Heavenly Father, thank you for faithful servants like Paul and the apostles. Let me learn from them and be inspired by them, but more than that, fill me with your Holy Spirit and guide my footsteps that I might be fully committed to doing Your will in my life. In Jesus’ name, AMEN.

Gospel Impact ~ Acts 19:23-41

When they heard this, they were furious and began shouting: “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!” Soon the whole city was in an uproar. ~ Acts 19:28-29a

The Artemis of Ephesus, 1st century AD (Ephesu...

The Artemis of Ephesus, 1st century AD (Ephesus Archaeological Museum) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Gospel’s impact on the people of Ephesus reaches a crescendo as local silversmith Demetrius raises concern among his fellow craftsmen that the Gospel message could damage their business. Demetrius made silver shrines of the Ephesian goddess Artemis and sold them to travelers coming to Ephesus on religious pilgrimage. If Paul’s message continues to spread, the silver trade could be hurt and Artemis’ credibility could be damaged thus having a negative impact on the Ephesians’ economy, Demetrius warns. Whipped into frenzy over this dire warning, the people seize two of Paul’s traveling companions (Gaius and Aristarchus) and drag them into the assembly hall.

The riot gains momentum. The Scripture tells us that there was mass confusion as people were shouting different things; “Most of the people did not even know why they were there,” we’re told in verse 32. Paul is kept from entering the hall, so Alexander, a fellow Jew attempts to address the crowd but they will not hear him. It is not until a civic leader, the city clerk, steps up to address the crowd that they quiet down and listen. The city clerk admonishes the crowd, telling them that these men have neither robbed temples nor blasphemed Artemis’ name. He tells them that this is not the proper way to handle this dispute. “The courts are open and there are proconsuls,” he says, “They can press charges. If there is anything further you want to bring up, it must be settled in a legal assembly” (verses 38-39). Upon hearing this, he dismisses the crowd, presumably peacefully.

First page of the Gospel of Mark, by Sargis Pi...

First page of the Gospel of Mark, by Sargis Pitsak, a Medieval Armenian scribe and miniaturist (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Over about two years’ time, Paul’s ministry made a significant impact on the people of Ephesus and surrounding areas. The Gospel has taken root and begun to grow into what would become one of the strongest churches in Asia.

If we plant ourselves firmly in the fertile soil of the Gospel and share the Truth out of sincere love, God can and will use us to change our corner of the world as well. We don’t need booming sound systems or kitschy sermon themes; all we need is the Gospel and the will of the Holy Spirit. Paul’s instruction to Timothy would be well heeded by us today: “Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage–with great patience and careful instruction.” (2 Timothy 4:2)

Ponder this: What does an honest and straightforward presentation of the Gospel look and sound like? What impact could I have on my world for the Lord?

My prayer for today: Heavenly Father, thank you for the power of the spoken word. That power is misused and abused at times; forgive me, Lord, for my abuses of your gift of language. Father, help me to speak all that I speak to Your glory. And when you give me the opportunity to witness, let my words be Your words so that the Gospel is in clear focus. In Jesus’ name, AMEN

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