Saturday, June 30, 2012


For the week beginning Sunday July 1, 2012

(Working for the LORD is a way of life)
Acts 18

Throughout the Book of Acts, Luke introduces us to many characters that were instrumental in the development and establishment of the early Church, and, in this lesson we’ll focus on two more of those wonderful characters. They are a couple of friends of Paul’s, named Priscilla and Aguila.
Now we all know that Paul was a Rabbi, but what many don’t know is, that, in addition to being a Rabbi, Paul was also a tentmaker, and this is something that he had in common with his friends, Priscilla and Aquila. The three of them were also, each, missionaries for CHRIST, another of their common threads.   
Perhaps, we will not find a more fascinating pair in all of Scripture, than Priscilla and Aquila. This husband and wife team, were probably, the foremost pioneers in the “house church” concept of first century Christianity. Most Christian church services, both teaching and worship, was held in private homes, because in those days, no pure Christian churches had yet been constructed, and then too, it was also very dangerous to be a follower of CHRIST, or, an “Adherent of the Way”, as they were then, most popularly known.
Priscilla and Aquila were also a curiously nomadic pair, as in the Book of Acts, we first find them in Rome (Acts 18:2), where they were ejected by the Emperor Claudius, as he sought to expel all Jews from Italy in and around A.D. 52. Then, we find them in Corinth, where they first met Paul, and had him as a house quest, during his second missionary journey (Acts 18:1-3). Next, we see them in Ephesus, where they had traveled with Paul from Corinth. There, we find them instructing a Jewish scholar named Apollos, in the ways of GOD, more accurately, educating him about the impact of CHRIST JESUS on humanity. Apollos, who was well versed about CHRIST and baptism with water, needed to be informed about baptism with the HOLY SPIRIT (Acts -26).
In Romans 16:3-5, Paul sends greetings to this intriguing couple who had made their way back to Rome, and had opened up, yet another church in their home there. Also, in Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians, written a couple of years earlier, he informed us that they were back in Corinth, where they were operating, still another house church, from their home (1 Corinthians 16:19). Then finally, in Paul’s second letter to Timothy, his last known written communication, he tells us that Priscilla and Aquila have set up house, once again, in the large port city of Ephesus (2 Timothy 4:19).
But it doesn’t really seem to matter, where, we find this intriguing couple, whenever, and wherever we do run across them, we always seem to find their home to be a place of Christian fellowship and service. Every home should be a Christian Church, a place where, perhaps, JESUS could come to stay for a while. For Priscilla and Aquila, wherever we find them, their home always seemed to radiate friendship, fellowship, and love.
Oftentimes we look at home as a place where we go to shut the world out. However, we need to always remember that, equally, our homes should be a place with an open door (Romans 12:13 & 1 Peter 4:9). We should always keep in mind that, an open door, along with an open heart, and an open hand, are probably the key characteristics in the Christian Faith.
And so, we see that, Priscilla and Aquila may have appeared to live a nomadic life, but for them, working for the LORD in this manner, was a way of life. “Upon this rock, I will build my Church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it”, is what JESUS said to Peter in Matthew (KJV). And, even though, we, as Christians, may never organize our churches in the same way, and we may never worship GOD in the same way, we, in fact, may never even believe in precisely the same things about Christianity. However, “Christian unity”, can and will, transcend all these differences, and bring GOD’s people together in fellowship and love. It is the kind of unity that JESUS prayed about in John 17, and, the kind of unity that Paul wrote about, to the Churches in all of his doctrinal letters. It is a unity, not born, of bricks and mortar, but rather, it is a unity of personal relationships, not unlike the one we’ve already seen between the FATHER and the SON, as an example to us, for all times. 


(1). Reflect on your own home for a while, and ask yourself, “Is my home suitable at
       this very moment for a visit from CHRIST, without me having to move, hide,
       clean, or throw away, various items?
(2). Is my behavior the same at home, at work, or school, as it is at church, or do I
       have to make a lot of adjustments at the door on Sunday morning?
(3). From this day forward, begin to focus on raising the level of your every day
       behavior to reflect more nearly, the life of CHRIST, and, according to the
       standards set forth by GOD, through HIS Holy Word.
(4). Our homes can be as GODLY as Priscilla and Aquila’s, once we commit to a
       desire to reflect GOD’s image to others, through our own day to day behavior
       and make our desire to do GOD’s will a way of life.


Pray to GOD for help in all areas of life, especially those areas that are out of control, and detrimental, or contrary to Christian behavior. Pray also for continued strength and growth in those areas of behavior that are positive, so that you may be able to use those strengths to help others improve their lives, even as you work to improve your own home.

KEY VERSE: Acts 26

DEVOTIONAL PASSAGES: Luke 12:35-48, Matthew 7:24-27, Matthew 10:40-42, Joshua 24:15

Tuesday, June 19, 2012


For the week beginning Sunday June 17, 2012

(Your Christian journey can include many stops and many ups and downs)
Acts 17

Thessalonica was a city of some 200,000 residents that was located about 100 miles from Philippi along the major stretch of Roman highway known as the “Egnatian Way”. In fact, the main street through Thessalonica was actually a part of that road.  This bustling city had a very large Jewish population, and also, had a Jewish synagogue for their worship. Whenever Paul arrived in a city that contained a Jewish synagogue, he would always go there first, to preach to the audiences that were already there worshiping.
The “GOD-fearers” that were in the temple worshiped under the banner of Judaism, but some, as a result of Paul’s and Silas’ preaching, were immediately drawn to the Christian doctrine. This angered the, already jealous, Jewish leaders, and they, as a result, went out into the streets and stirred up a mob of unsavory fellows. They attacked the house of Jason, the person, whom Paul and Silas resided with in Thessalonica, but did not find them. Not being able to find Paul and Silas, they dragged Jason out, along with some other believers, instead. Jason and the others were charged with treason and later released on bail.
That same night, Paul and Silas left town and headed for Berea, some 60 miles away. They found the people of Berea a lot more receptive to their message. In fact, they became avid listeners, and also, searched the scriptures each day to prove the correctness of their teachings. After seeing the truth of Paul and Silas’ teachings, many in Berea were converted to Christianity, including some prominent Gentile men and women. However, when the Jews in Thessalonica got wind of Paul and Silas’ success in Berea, some of them went there immediately to stir up trouble. Then, the believers in Berea escorted Paul to Athens, and left Silas and Timothy there in Berea.
Upon arriving in Athens, Paul sends the escorts back with a message for Silas and Timothy to join him there as soon as possible. While waiting in Athens for the arrival of Silas and Timothy, Paul became deeply disturbed by all the idols that he saw throughout the city. He also had debates with the “Epicureans” and “Stoics”, two of the main religious philosophical groups in town.
The Epicureans were a group that believed that everything happened by chance. They also believed that the gods cared nothing about this distant world of ours. They believed that when a person dies, that was it, and nothing else would happen after that. They believed that a man’s pleasure in life should be his ultimate objective.
The Stoics, on the other hand, believed that everything was God, both spirit, and matter, and, that every person had a small piece of that spirit in them, and that that spirit would return to God once a person died. The Stoics also believed that, periodically, the world would be destroyed by fire, and then, start all over again, repeating the same cycle.
And so, when Paul told them about JESUS, they scoffed at him and tried to dismiss him as a babbler who had picked up some strange ideas, or, foreign religion. They then took Paul down to the Council at “Areopagus”, or “Mars Hill” to stand before them and tell them more about his strange doctrine (Acts 17:19).
In verse 22, we find Paul standing in the midst the Areopagus, where he is about to deliver a brilliant six-point sermon to this idol worshiping, superstitious group of pagans. Here in verse 22, as expressed in the original Greek, the word Paul uses for “superstitious” is “deisidaimonesteros” (dice-ee-dahee-mon-es-ter-os), and “it describes one who is religiously superstitious, or much more paranoid than others, and in fact, actually, faithless”.
While walking along in Athens, Paul had noticed an altar that was inscribed with the words, “To the unknown GOD”. He then brilliantly uses this altar as a base, or beginning point for his sermon (verse 23). Paul’s first point is that GOD is the CREATOR, not the “created” like their idols are (verse 24). Paul’s second point is that GOD is the “GREAT PROVIDER” (verse 25).
Thirdly, Paul says that, not only is GOD the “CREATOR” of man, GOD is also the “ORCHESTRATOR and CONTROLLER”, of all men’s lives (verse 26). Paul’s fourth point was that, GOD has placed a hunger and thirst inside of each of us, innately from birth, and the only way to satisfy that hunger or thirst, is by seeking, and ultimately finding HIM. And it is only for HIS purpose, that we were ever created in the first place (verse 27-28).
The Fifth point Paul raises to the group is that, GOD will no longer overlook our ignorance in building idols, and HE has set a day of judgment for all men (verse 31). And finally, also in verse 31, Paul closes out his speech by telling them about JESUS, WHOM GOD has appointed to be that JUDGE. Furthermore, GOD has shown every one of us, just who that MAN is, by raising CHRIST JESUS from the dead.
When they heard Paul speak of the resurrection, some laughed, but still, there were others who wanted to hear more. And some even joined him and became believers. One of those who joined, a man named Dionysius, had been a member of the very Areopagus that Paul was preaching to that day. And so you see, Paul had brilliantly used their own monument to the unknown god, to show them the real GOD, WHOM they did not know.
For Paul, Silas, Timothy, and Luke, and even Barnabas and John Mark, who had gone in the other direction, the “Christian Journey” was filled with ups and downs, assaults and persecutions, people who listened, and those who mocked, those who joined the struggle, and those who dropped out due to their love of the things of this world.
And it is that way, all along anyone’s Christian journey, and it was that very same way for CHRIST, WHO showed us how it was to be done. We must continue on along our Christian journey, and never waver from the trials and tribulations that we encounter. And always remember we do not set out on this trek alone, but rather, we are always accompanied by, and equipped with, the power of THE ALMIGHTY GOD.   


(1). Keep your focus on GOD, as it gives us perspective on present and upcoming
       difficulties along our Christian journey.
(2). Don’t try to tweak the Gospel to suit your audience’s personal feelings, we are
       not supposed to feel good about ourselves, unless we are lining up with GOD.
(3). The word of GOD was sent to us, to show us how far we are from GOD’s
       glorious standards, so therefore, just tell it like it is.
(4). Remember, in some of the places Paul visited, along his journey, telling the truth
       made things considerably worst for him with man, but, in all of the places he
       visited along his Christian journey, telling the truth made it considerably better
       for him, with GOD.


Pray to GOD for continued strength and perseverance, as you travel along your Christian journey, that you may be able to stay faced in the right direction, which is, with your eyes on CHRIST JESUS.

KEY VERSE: Acts 17:28

DEVOTIONAL PASSAGES: Matthew 28:19-20, Mark 6:10-12, Mark 6:4