This Sunday we continued in our series titled "Living Grace" which is about living gracious lives that reflect the grace of God. This Sunday our challenge was to "Serve Graciously" and I issued a three part challenge for this week.
- Read - Follow along with us this week by reading a chapter a day (Monday-Saturday) starting in Acts 7.
- Think about the needs around you and your gifts. Are you ministering or volunteering?
- Do - Serve somewhere in ministry this week for one hour. If you don't have a place to serve yet contact the church office.
Since this series is about the amazing grace that filled the early church we will be reading through the book of Acts. If you need a little help with daily Bible reading try using the "Daily Reading Journal" page. It helps walk you through a short, reflective, practice that will help you get something to nourish your soul through the day.
Below I'm posting my own reading reflections which are simply my own reflections on the daily readings. These aren't "right" or "ideal" they are simply an example of what this daily reading practice looks like. I include them with the hopes that they inspire you in your own reading or help you see something in the text that perhaps you've overlooked. I would encourage you to go through the daily reading journal practice first and then once your done read over my notes.
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Acts 7:53, You are the ones that received the law as ordained by angels, and yet you have not kept it.
Stephen’s speech is a powerful reminder of the struggle and imperfections that God’s people have. I’m challenged here by Stephen’s example of forgiveness, and I pray that I could be as gracious in his position. Yet, what convicts me most in this passage is verse 53! I wonder what have I done with God’s law? I have received the gospels, yet does my life show I reject them? I preach on controlling our speech, yet my words get away with me. I’ve received God’s law, but have I kept it? May God help me hear, receive, and apply the truth of His word. So, that I might not miss him when he appears in people like Stephen.
Acts 8:29, Then the Spirit said to Philip…
Here we have a comparison between Simon and Philip. Simon the magician wanted to use God and his gifts; Philip wanted to be used by God. Simon couldn’t hear God because he was too busy bartering with him, trying to control him, and attempting to beg things from him. Philip instead was open to God, heard him speak, and obeyed! I wonder how many times God has wanted to speak to me but couldn’t because I was too busy trying to negotiate with him in my prayers. I pray that I would listen and be still long enough to hear his leading this morning. May I live today surrendered with my heart open to God’s leading.
Acts 9:17, So Ananias went and entered the house. He laid his hands on Saul and said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on your way here, has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.”
Saul is such a terrifying figure that even the apostles in this chapter are afraid to meet him! Thankfully, Ananias had courage to obey Jesus, to call Saul Brother, and to lay his hands on this monster (who would later become and Apostle)! The courageous love of Christ empowered Ananias and called Saul. It transformed Saul, his monstrous scales fell off, and he began a new life. Today may I be filled with courageous love and obedience. May I have the courage to serve even in difficult circumstances.
Acts 10:45, The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astounded that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on the Gentiles.
Peter and his friends had pre-determined how God could act. When the Spirit showed up in an unexpected place, Peter was astounded. As a “professional Christian” I know I have ideas about how God can or can’t work. I pray that I would have eyes that see what is there, instead of what I think should be there. I pray that I would recognize Christ in those around me, even those that don’t look like me.
Acts 11:21, The hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number became believers and turned to the Lord.
It seems to me that today we think God’s hand is with us when things are easy. Here we see that in the midst of this severe persecution God’s hand is with them. It even seems they could sense it as they spread the gospel with zeal and power. I think God’s hand is always with us, empowering us to do his will, whether we like it or not. The question is, what will we do when we feel it? Will we lean into it or ignore it? I pray that today I would feel God’s hand on my back in every situations and realize he empowers me to be a witness wherever I go - even when times are tough.
Acts 12:6, The very night before Herod was going to bring him out, Peter, bound with two chains, was sleeping between two soldiers, while guards in front of the door were keeping watch over the prison.
On the eve of his persecution Peter was asleep. He knew Christ was with him so it didn’t matter what anyone else planned to do to him. He was resting in the presence of Christ- while in prison. Meanwhile, the church was praying and when Peter was released, they didn’t believe it. Peter’s faith enabled him to be at peace, while the church’s faith wasn’t strong enough to believe the miracle before their eyes (that they had prayed for). I pray that I would have faith like Peter, a heart that rests in Christ’s presence, and eyes that expect to see God at work in miraculous ways today.