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Showing posts from May, 2020

Paul on Mars Hill, Acts 17: 16 - 34

It is the weekend and our reading thru the New Testament for today is Acts 17:16-34. After you've had a chance to read it through, come back and we'll think our way through the story of Paul in Athens. Paul had hurriedly left Berea and taken a ship to Greek's grand city of Athens. Athens was a "high city", one that meant more than being elevated, although Athens was built on a series of hills and could be seen from miles away. It had the reputation of being an intellectual and cultural center for the Greeks. Indeed it contained some of Greece's greatest structures - the Aeropagus, the Parthenon, the Acropolis, and the Temple of Olympus (Zeus). The city's center was in the Agora, the hub of the social and commercial life of the city. It is hard to describe Athens in modern terms. It is an intellectual and cultural center and yet it was controlled by pagan worship. Paul arrived and as he walked around the city he saw a city dominated by statues, shrin

A Journey of Good News, but not always Welcomed News - Acts 17:1-15

It is Friday and we continue our reading thru the New Testament in Acts 17:1-15. Take your time, catch the tension, and imagine the scenes. When you finish it, come back and we’ll walk through it together. We immediately notice a change in the language of chapter 17. Luke is not with them and so everything is written in the third person - “they”. Luke stayed in Philippi, perhaps because it was his home city; or perhaps to help the early church develop and grow. Luke’s account doesn’t again include him until chapter 20 on Paul’s third missionary journey, so the events are a record of Paul, Silas, or Timothy’s journals or memories - all directed by the Holy Spirit to become an inspired record of Scripture. Paul, Silas, and Timothy left Philippi after a successful, but troublesome stay. The church is birthed through the labor pains of a beating and a prison cell. God is at work, and Paul knows that it is through much struggle that the Kingdom of God grows. Paul has a strong affec

Triumph in Philippi - through Suffering, Acts 16:16-40

It is Thursday, May 28, and we are continuing our reading thru the New Testament in Acts 16:16-40. It’s a fascinating account of how God worked through Paul during a number of different events - all which continued to make the word of God spread. Read the passage first and then come back and we’ll explore the passage together. Paul is firmly established in Philippi, the Roman colony that today would be northern Greece - an area called Macedonia. From our reading yesterday Paul went to Macedonia because the doors kept closing in Asia (modern Turkey). God then gave to Paul a vision of a Macedonian man begging him, “come over to Macedonia and help us”. The door opened to carry the Gospel to mainland Europe. Philippi was a leading city that the Romans established as a military retirement center for their army’s veterans. Named after Philip of Macedon, the father of the Greek warrior, Alexander the Great, it was a prominent city for trade, commerce, and a strategic military stronghold

Open and Closed Doors, God is in Charge - Acts 15:36 - 16:15

It is Wednesday, the middle of the week, and we come to our reading thru the New Testament - in a year - with Acts 15:36 - 16:15. After you finish the Scripture reading come back and we’ll look at it together. The Jerusalem council settled the most important issue of how the Gospel was to be presented, and therefore understood. The message of the Gospel was that Salvation was by grace through faith in Jesus Christ - without works, including the former practice Jewish circumcision. So, it’s interesting to note how this next part develops. Paul and Barnabas are back in Antioch as a part of a teaching group of leaders in this now large, but mixed church. It is probably in the Spring of the next year that Paul approaches Barnabas with the idea of going back to the churches they had established - now probably 4-5 years ago. It must have been a welcomed idea because Barnabas wanted to take his cousin, John Mark with him. Barnabas was an encourager, one who believed in second chances,

The Jerusalem Council, Acts 15:1-35

It is Tuesday and in our reading thru the New Testament we come to Acts 15:1-35. This is a crucial section in the book of Acts, and in fact, for the entire New Testament, so take your time and understand what’s happening as you read. After you’ve read it through (we’ll stop at vs 35 today), come back and we’ll look at it together. There’s a rather old poem I remember from many, many years ago...and I don ‘t know who said it, or what the context was, but it seems applicable often in the church today too: “To live up above with the Saints that we love, oh that will be glory” To live here below with the Saints that we know, well, that’s a different story.” If there’s anything we’ve learned about church is that it isn’t always smooth sailing...people disagree about lots of things. The church in Acts had been growing. First it was the Samaritans who believed. Then Peter had a divine encounter with Cornelius, a Roman Gentile, who believed the Gospel