Good Life Journal -Acts 19

Scripture:

Acts 19: 23 … There arose no little disturbance concerning the Way.
V 24-27… Demetrius, who made silver shrines to Artemis, … gathered tradesman saying, “You know that from this business we have our wealth. … And you know this Paul has persuaded and turned away many people saying gods made with hands are not gods. … There is danger our trade may come in disrepute, … and the goddess temple be counted as nothing … and the goddess be deposed of magnificence, whom the whole world worships.
V 28 …When the craftsmen heard this, they became enraged …
V 29 So the city was filled with confusion ….
V 32 … some cried out one thing, some another … and most of them did not know why they had come together …
V 35 … the town clerk quieted the crowd ..
V 39 … there is no cause that we can give to justify the commotion.
Observation:
The town craftsmen of Ephesus were challenged with the message of Jesus. But this challenge was rooted in selfishness & greed.
They didn’t want their life & livelihood disrupted.
A charismatic leader, Demetrius, rallied the other tradesmen to riot against the Gospel.
Paul and Demetrius used he same technique: Persuasion.
But the persuasion came from the opposite source.
For Paul it was the love of God.
For Demetrius it was the love of money.
Jesus said we cannot serve two masters, God & money.
Here we see it causing a riot in the earliest days of the church.
This is not a new phenomenon.
Application:
When the Good News of Jesus enters a space, it disrupts.
Old thinking & doing is no longer sufficient.
Our motivations change. And this may cause our activities, even our livelihood to become “is disrepute”.
The Gospel forces choices.
“Choose this day whom you will serve”.
New information and new choices can create confusion, as we saw in these verses.
But the Gospel can also settle confusion.
God is not a God of confusion!
God does not want me confused!
God wants me to know very clearly who He is and what role He has in my life!
Am I confused by a choice or behavior or activity?
The Gospel should clarify, not confuse.
What will honor God more?
What will glorify God more?
What will help spread the Good News of Jesus more?
What shows love more?
The world is chaotic, for sure. This is not God’s doing.
God is a God of order, not chaos.
When chaos seems to being reigning & confusion abounds in my life, my house, the broader community or the world, I need to go back to the Good News.
God so loved …
Prayer:
Father, thanking you that you are sovereign over everything.
Thank you that your wisdom is perfect.
God when my life needs disruption, when things seem chaotic, show me how to honor you in it.
When things are confusing, show me how to best choose You!
Thank you for your Word!
Thank you for hour Love! Amen!

-Dan Shontere


Good Life Journal – Acts 18

Scripture:  

 Acts 18:9

One night the Lord spoke to Paul in a vision: “Do not be afraid; keep on speaking, do not be silent. For I am with you, and no one is going to attack and harm you.”

Observation:

 Paul must have needed encouragement. When the Jews in the synagogue opposed Paul and became abusive, Paul shook his clothes in protest and said your blood be on your own heads. That was a pretty dramatic gesture. Could Paul have been discouraged? Did he need some reassurance? The Lord appeared to him when he needed it the most and offered reassurance. “Do not be afraid; keep on speaking, do not be silent. For I am with you, and no one is going to attack and harm you.”

 Application:

 I go thru times in my life when I need encouragement. When I was sick and having operations, I had to lean heavily on my faith in God. It was so reassuring to me to know that God was with me, “Do not be afraid; for I am with you” Knowing that God was with me, helping me to not be afraid. When I needed it most, God held me up. They operated on me a week after my first operation and I had pneumonia. I was not afraid because I knew that God was with me.

 Sometimes we wait and expect the dramatic vision. We want God to appear to us in a vision and speak to us. If we truly have God in our heart, we know that he is with us. We know to look to his Word, the Bible to hear him speak to us.

 It is easy to sing songs and say nice prayers when things are going well. However, when the world is stepping on us and we have real fear, do we remember to seek God’s word? Do we remember to… not be afraid because God is with us? Emmanuel.

 Prayer:

Father, Thank you for being with me. 

I know that when I need you most, you are with me. 

Help me to spread this faith and confidence to others.

Don’t ever let me forget… Emmanuel… God is with me.

 – Don J


Good Life Journal – Acts 17

 

Scripture:

I just happened upon this: “Now while Paul was waiting for them at Athens, his spirit was provoked within him as he saw that the city was full of idols. So he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and the devout persons and in the marketplace every day with those who happened to be there. (Acts 17:16-17 ESV)”

Observation:

Difficult to say, I think, on how I should act when I “am provoked.” I remember the “Whips” episode in the temple and thinking that is the model of response to imitate. And then I straighten up and remember I am not Jesus. He has the chops to handle the whip with righteousness. Me? I would be doing it in anger.

However, I would like to have release for the “spirit of snortiness” that rises up in me. When I was younger I did–have release, that is. What a sight that was (and not good).

Here we have Paul–I am provoked he says to himself—“lookit all these idols! I will show them, I will ARGUE, tell them what dunces they are, etc.! That’ll get the job done!” No, that is not what he does. He is determined to reason with them from the scripture showing that Christ had to die and that He rose again and many other things pertaining to the Gospel—the epitome of patience and perseverance.

Application:

I have to be pro something and not just anti…Which kind of means we have to know “why” we are provoked; why we need to go; why it is the right action? Why not stand outside the “temple” and catch them on the way out, reasoning from the scriptures? Why have to “get” the main man in this case and put him in his place?

I always have to turn back to Matt 7 to get the strategic picture. But it isn’t good enough for the boots on the ground. We have silly people in our own local churches–shucks, we probably have salvationally deceived people perhaps sitting right next to us on Sunday AM.

So, maybe this is what I ought to think: 1) When I get “snorty” perhaps I should remember God doesn’t get all “snorty” with me; 2) “Come, let us reason together” says God. Perhaps I should be reasoning where “snortiness” isn’t Godly; 3) Perhaps I need to study, showing that I can handle the Word of Truth correctly and uprightly.

If I really look at myself in the mirror, and really ask God to reveal my soul, my heart, for me I have to say my “snortiness” comes from emotion, not preparing my feet for the message of the Gospel.

Prayer:

Father, my snottiness comes on like a bull in a china shop. I am ready to bull over all that oppose me. But that isn’t the Peace of the Gospel. I realize I need to be Firm, Friendly, Fair, Reasonable, Thorough, — humble, transparent, open for criticism, merciful to others, fierce to myself. I also realize that I am far from where I need to be.

Help me reach out in Faith, not shrinking back, but also not going where angels fear to go. Asking You for a heart that is after You and only You, and my head on straight concerning the Gospel.

-Rick Sutton


Good Life Journal – Acts 16

Scripture:

Acts 16:25 Around midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening.

 

Observation:

Paul and Silas were wrongly beaten and jailed for exorcising a demon from the girl who made money for her masters by telling fortunes. In spite of their circumstances, Paul and Silas were joyful and praised God while the other prisoners listened. Paul saved the jailer from suicide, then saved him and his whole family through faith in Christ.

Application:

People are watching and listening to us (Christians) to see how we act and react to our situations. Imagine the different outcome if Paul and Silas would have been sitting around complaining about the raw deal they got for being imprisoned. Although, sometimes we take credit ourselves, it is easier to praise God when things are going our way and everything is well. When we face difficult situations and can praise God by thanking him for those opportunities is when we have a powerful witness to those observing us just as Paul and Silas had on the jailer. I need to remind myself that we should rejoice at whatever amount of persecution/ suffering comes on us in the name of Jesus. This is being lived out daily by brothers and sisters in Christ where the Church is persecuted in the Middle East, Far East, Africa and all across the globe.

Prayer:

Father, Let my praise/worship for you in trying times help draw others nearer to you. Remind me you are worthy of any/all suffering and have it be to glorify you.

-Todd Dawson


Good Life Journal – Acts 15

Scripture:

Acts 15:39-41

And there arose a sharp disagreement, so that they separated from each other. Barnabas took Mark with him and sailed away to Cyprus, but Paul chose Silas and departed, having been commended by the brothers to the grace of the Lord. And he went through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches.

Observation:

After experiencing incredible ministry together Paul and Barnabas had a disagreement about John Mark. He had abandoned them on an early trip together. Barnabas sided with grace and thought he should get another chance. Paul sided with truth and stood his ground refusing to take him because of his past behavior. Their disagreement was strong and neither budged. With the mission of the great commission urgently calling them to go they decided to split up. Barnabas took John Mark and Paul took Silas. Though they separated God continued using both of them to strengthen the churches.

Implication/Application:

Drama isn’t just a 21st century issue. Traced all the way back to the very beginning of the church there was drama. People disagree and sometimes they disagree strongly. Good people disagree. Heroes of the faith disagree. This shouldn’t wreck our faith or cause us to be deeply discouraged. Sometimes it happens and we should be willing to agree to disagree for the sake of the mission.

A few things…

  1. People can have a different perspective. That’s ok. I don’t have to hate people that disagree with me. I can actually love people that disagree strongly with me. The goal isn’t for my view or position to win. The goal is the Great Commission. I can’t afford to forget that.
  2. People matter, even if they have messed up. John Mark was not useless because of his past failure. His past failure didn’t define him and we find out later that he was restored back to Paul and was of great use for the kingdom.
  3. Thank God for people like Barnabas. He was an encourager. He saw the best in people. He was an optimist. Every local church needs men and women like that. Sometimes the optimism can get annoying in the face of extreme reality but God gives people the gift of encouragement. Those people should be cherished in life and ministry.
  4. Mission first. Nothing should get in the way of making disciples, planting churches and strengthen those churches. NOTHING!

 

Prayer:

Father, thank you for the reminder that drama is par for the course. That encouraging people give life to the local church and no disagreement should trump the mission.


Good Life Journal – Acts 14

Scripture:
Acts 14:15 “Men, why are you doing these things? We also are men, of like nature with you, and we bring you good news, that you should turn from these vain things to a living God, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and all that is in them.

Observation:
After Paul heals a crippled man the city is quick to worship. The problem is they want to worship Paul and Barnabas, not the God who made the healing possible. The people call Paul and Barnabas by the names of their gods and are prepared to make sacrifices on their behalf. Paul and Barnabas stop them and make it clear that they are just normal men who came with a purpose of sharing the good news of Jesus Christ.

Implication/Application:
1. People were made to worship. That’s why it is so easy for us to do it. The problem is that most people waste their life worshipping false gods and things that don’t deserve worship.
2. People will try to worship spiritual leaders. Since most are blinded to God they will worship anything that appears to be spiritual. Unfortunately sometimes people place church leaders on a pedestal and begin worshipping them.
3. Godly leaders will redirect the worship to God. Godly leaders will rebuke/correct people if their worship is misdirected, even if that means they themselves will receive little or no praise or benefit.
4. Godly leaders are mission minded. Paul and Barnabas had a purpose, preaching the Gospel. Because their purpose was crystal clear they weren’t distracted when people tried to worship them.

I have never had someone try to sacrifice anything to me but I have had some people who misdirected praise towards me. They sense that I am their only way to God and that I am their angel. Though to my flesh that is flattering, it is false. I am only a man. I am simple and apart from Christ, I am a disaster. Though I am grateful to get the chance to serve in ministry I must not forget I serve Jesus. I am simply his servant. When people misdirect praise, I pray I remember my role quickly and redirect their praise to Whom it belongs.

Prayer:
Father, thank you for reminding me who I really am, what I am called to do and how I should handle the praise and “worship” of the men and women you have called me to reach. I’m nothing without you.


Good Life Journal – Acts 13

Scripture:

Acts 13:11 “Listen! The Lord’s power is set against you. You will be blind for a while, unable even to see the daylight.” At once, Bar-Jesus’ eyes were darkened, and he began to grope about for someone to lead him around by the hand.

Observation:

When you are in complete darkness, you have to put your trust in someone or something.

Bar-Jesus started to grope around once he was blinded. He was in complete darkness and basically helpless. He needed someone to be his guide. It got me thinking that if someone is suddenly blinded what can they do? I thought of 3 things:

  1. Stay in one place: Nothing to do. Nowhere to go. Just stay in one place. Eventually, though, you will need to go somewhere and do something. You will need a guide.
  2. Aimlessly walk: No purpose. No direction. You walk around hoping not to run into anything. You know that danger could be close by but you are powerless to do anything about it. Eventually you will be near danger and it will take someone’s assistance to help you.
  3. Go places guided by something or someone: Bar-Jesus immediately began to “grope about” for someone to guide him. He knew he was not able to do anything without someone’s help. But, (here is the interesting part) while the guide can see, you are putting all your trust and faith in the guide. The guide could be leading you to straight paths or down crooked paths but you really have no idea and have to put your trust in the guide.

Darkness causes us to stumble. But it only takes a little light to allow us to see a clearer path. Anywhere there is light, the light overpowers the dark. It may be dark around the light (think of a candle in a cave or nightlight in your house at night) but even the faintest of light is visible. The more light, the clearer the path.

Application:

We are all blind at some point in our life. We may be able to physically see but mentally we are blinded to the truth. The reality is that if you are blinded, you must put your trust in someone or something. You can’t just stay in one place and you can’t aimlessly walk around all of the time. So, who are you going to trust to guide you? In v 47, Paul tells the Jews that God has called him to be the Light to Gentiles in order to save the world. Those that have put their faith in Christ have seen the Light.

Darkness and Light cannot exist in the same place. Light overcomes Darkness. In John 1:5 it says “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” People are attracted to the light, no matter how bright the light is and how dark it is around them. We need to be as much like Jesus as we can so we can reflect as much of His light as possible because we may be called to be the guide

We have to put our faith and trust in the Light to be guided. Like Paul, we must be the light so we can guide others to get to know Him.

Prayer:

Help me to be the light for non-believers so they can be guided and come to know You.


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