Section Title

MAY

2019:


Jonathan Norton

May 1st—May 3rd

John 19—John 21 


Rev. JT Overby

May 6—May 10
Acts 1—Acts 5


Gary Reynolds

May 13—May 17
Acts 6—Acts 10

 

Dr. Craig Bowers

May 20—May 24
Acts 11—Acts  15

 

Dr. Kevin Calhoun

May 27—May 31
Acts  16  - Acts 20



  • May 1st, 2019


    by Jonathan Norton


    Read John 19


    Who crucified Jesus? The sins of every person, from Adam to the present, nailed Him to the cross. It’s important for us to understand that the crucifixion is not just a historical event that we recognize on Easter. It should be a reminder that our sin, our short comings, and our rebellion are why Jesus had to endure the cross.


    Where was Jesus crucified? At a place called Golgotha. We can learn a lot from this historic church. As many have tried to destroy its memory, some have also had the church built, rebuilt and expanded as a memorial. Different religions and ethnic groups have polluted the original site. Many different Christian sects argue over what should happen within this historical church. Territorial fights have even happened on occasions… We must learn a key lesson here: “That many people are put off by the religious traditions and squabbling within, that they reject the authenticity of the church”.


    Church family, if we are not careful, our character can appear much like the Church of Golgotha. The world looking on may only see hypocrites and sadly miss out on our Savior. Our lives should be doors for others to come to God, not walls built on religion that deter people from coming in to hear he Gospel. Isn’t it ironic that this historic church demonstrates the very need for the event it reveres – Christ’s death on the cross? Why? Because we all need a Savior and only the blood of Jesus gives us that Savior.

       

    Application:


    How often do you reflect on the cross? How often do you give thanks for what Jesus did on the cross?

    ____ ____________________________________________________________

    ________________________________________________________________


     


    How can reflecting on these truths help you live for God this week?

    ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________


    Prayer:


    Lord, thank you for your ultimate sacrifice on the cross. May we be the sweet aroma of Christ that attracts others to come in your church and listen to the Gospel, not  reject it? Amen.           


  • May 2nd, 2019


    by Jonathan Norton


    Read John 20


    We see in this chapter that John records the appearances of Jesus after His resurrection. Notice that these appearances are only to His own followers: He    appears to Mary Magdalene in verses 1-18, He appears to 10 disciples in verses 19-23, and He appears to Thomas in verses 24-29. Why did Jesus not appear to unbelievers? Because just like the miracles He performed had not convinced them, neither would His resurrection convince them He was Lord.

     

    Jesus appears exclusively to His own in order to confirm their faith in the living Christ. By doing so these appearances were so incredible that they totally transformed the disciples. They went from being cowardly men who would hide in fear to bold witnesses for Jesus. Friends, I tell you that Jesus still appears to us today, we just have to be looking and listening for Him. He will totally transform our lives and make us bold in His power, “IF” we are looking and listening for Him. In verses 14-16 Mary failed to recognize Jesus until He spoke to her. The moment He spoke she immediately recognized His voice (John 10:3-4, 27).

     

    John’s purpose in recording these resurrection appearances for us was to  demonstrate that Jesus’ resurrection was the crowning proof that He truly is the Son of God who laid down His life for each of us. Reflect on that for a moment. Incredible isn’t it?

          

    Application:

    In verses 2-4 we read that the disciples were running to the empty tomb with urgency and excitement. Do you run with that type of urgency and excitement to tell others of our Risen Savior? 

    ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________


    Are you looking and listening for Jesus daily? ________________________________________________________________

    ________________________________________________________________

     

    Prayer:
    Heavenly Father, I pray that you give me eyes to see and ears to hear you every day. I pray that I tell others about our Risen Savior with urgency and excitement. Amen.


  • May 3rd, 2019


    by Jonathan Norton


    Read John 21


    We close the Gospel of John with three truths. First, in verses 15-19 Jesus commands  Peter three times to feed and take care of His sheep. The idea here is that the elders of the church must be devoted to the service of the Lord and take care of His flock (1 Peter 5:1-4). The scripture is saying that God’s people should constantly be fed and nourished with God’s Word.

     

    Second, we see in verses 20-23 where Jesus reminds Peter to not compare or be concerned with someone else’s relationship with Christ. Jesus is saying here that we should focus on our own relationship and what the Lord would have us do for the Kingdom. Our role as Christians is not to condemn others or point the finger. Our role is to seek what God would have us do with our lives. That is plenty for us to focus on.

     

    Third, John closes his gospel in verse 25 with the reminder of just how awesome Jesus is. “Jesus did many others things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.” Wow!

     

    Charles Swindoll puts it this way: “If someone were to speak of the Lord Jesus, beginning now and going on for generations and generations to come, the knowledge of Him would barely be tapped. Hallelujah! What a Savior!”              

     

    Application:

    How are you being fed with God’s Word daily? 

    ________________________________________________________________

    ________________________________________________________________


    Are you more concerned with correcting others than focusing on your own relationship with the Lord?

    ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

     

    How often do you stop to dwell on how awesome God is?

    ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

     

    Prayer:

    Jesus, may I be feeding on your Word daily. May I remain focused on my personal walk with you Lord? Today I stop to say thank you for the countless amazing things you have done and continue to do. You are an awesome God! Amen.  



  • May 6, 2019

     

    by JT Overby

     

    Read Acts 1

     

    In the Luke’s gospel account, he covered all Jesus began to do. Now, he writes about all that Jesus continues to do—through the church. The apostles ask, “When will you   restore the kingdom?” They still don’t get it. Jesus says that they will be given power. Power to advance the good news of God’s kingdom that is coming into the world. The kingdom of sin and darkness no longer reigns, even though we still feel and see it  reigning in the lives of so many in this world. God’s kingdom is both here and on the way. 


    Where do they get this power from?  In John 16:7, Jesus says that it is to our advantage that he goes away, because when he does, he will send the Spirit. The very Spirit of Jesus was coming into the world and was coming to take up residence in the life of those  who turn to Jesus. 


    The disciples find themselves in the awkward in-between, when Jesus ascended but the Spirit hadn’t come. What do they do? They ground themselves in the Word and in prayer. They don’t stop seeking God even though they don’t fully understand all that is happening. They soon would come to understand, but until that day came, they devoted themselves to the Word and prayer.


    Application:

    Why doesn’t it always feel like an advantage that we have the Spirit inside of us, instead of Jesus beside us? 

    ________________________________________________________________

    ________________________________________________________________


    Are you experiencing times of waiting, or times of confusion in life or in your faith? How does the disciples’ response challenge you in your waiting?

    ________________________________________________________________

    ________________________________________________________________


    Prayer:
    You are the risen King! Give me grace to see that. Give me grace to trust in your Spirit at work in me. Give me grace to commit myself to the Word and prayer in times of   confusion and waiting.



  • May 7, 2019

     

    by JT Overby

     

    Read Acts 2

     

    A new thing. The old thing was at Babylon, and the tower that was built in pride and self-worship. There in Genesis 11 God confused the language of man and man dispersed. In Acts 2 God was doing a new thing. He was bringing salvation as his  kingdom was coming. 


    When the Spirit descended, he came with such force that it sounded like a mighty  rushing wind. This caused quite the commotion as Pentecost was said to be the busiest of the feasts in Jerusalem. They gathered around to see what was going on and what did they hear? They heard the gospel being preached and spoken in their own language. No more division. God was bringing salvation through Jesus, by the power of the Spirit.


    Peter stood up to speak to the crowds. According to God’s plan from before the world began, Jesus was to be delivered up and crucified for our sins. But he was raised because it was not possible for death to hold him! Through the proclamation of this gospel and the Spirit’s working, thousands who were in Jerusalem for Pentecost  believed.


    They then devoted themselves to the teaching (the Word), to the breaking of bread (remembering Jesus in the Lord’s Supper), and praying together.  Awe came upon them all as the good news became a reality in their lives. And in those things, God added to their number day by day. May we do the same.


    Application:
    When is the last time you felt awe in your faith? Why do you think that is? Spend a few minutes reflecting on the awesomeness of the Gospel, and the truth that the Spirit of Jesus now dwells in you.   ________________________________________________________________
    ________________________________________________________________


    Prayer:
    God, bring awe to these dry bones. Make me see again the beauty and reality of the Gospel. May your Spirit powerfully work that in me.

     



  • May 8, 2019


    by JT Overby


    Read Acts 3


    I remember the night I was saved so vividly. I remember the emotions I felt as for the first time I became aware of sin in my life. Guilt and conviction flooded my soul. I  wanted nothing to do with this sin that I was now aware of. I was fearful of the  judgment I now understood that I was under because of my sin. 

    It would have been wrong of the woman at church and my father, later in the evening, to give me something other than the gospel. They gave me what I needed  most though—the good news of Jesus. 

    The lame beggar’s greatest need wasn’t money. He needed money because he was lame. Peter and John approach the man and when asked for money, instead give him what he needed more than money. They gave him healing through Jesus. 

    Peter and John then go into the temple amidst all the commotion from the healing and give the people what they need most, what can spiritually heal them—the gospel. The church can only give away what it has. We have the good news that the world needs. Are we giving it to the world around us, or letting the lame remain in their condition?

    Application:
    Reflect on who you were spiritually before you came to put faith in Jesus. Spend a few moments in prayer thanking Jesus for how you came to hear the gospel, and believe in him. Spend a few moments praising God for the healing and salvation found in him alone.


    Prayer:
    Give me eyes to see the lame around me. Give me eyes to see those who need spiritual healing through Jesus. Give me grace to give the good news to those who need to hear it.



  • May 9, 2019

     

    by JT Overby

     

    Read Acts 4


    So many of God’s promises are like balm for a weary and wounded soul. Some  promises are harder to hear and harder to accept. In John 15:18-20, Jesus tells us that because we are his, just as the world hated and persecuted him, it will ultimately hate and persecute us. As some have said, persecution is the badge of being in Christ. 

    Despite the miraculous healing in Acts 3, the religious leaders begin to persecute  Peter and John for healing and teaching people about Jesus. They throw them in jail and then question them with all leaders present. How do Peter and John respond?

    They respond just as Jesus promised in Luke 12:12. The Spirit empowered them and spoke through them to speak the truth with boldness. The religious leaders were in awe at these uneducated men and how they responded. They didn’t cower when threats came. They didn’t keep quiet when challenged to speak. They spoke with boldness, and they even prayed for more boldness. After all, it was through the speaking of the word, the gospel that their number continued to grow and grow. May we have such boldness.

     

    Application:
    Why is it so intimidating to speak the truth? How does our fear reveal our lack of trust? Spend time in prayer asking the Lord for boldness, for grace to trust the Spirit to work, and for grace not to think saving people is up to us.
    ________________________________________________________________
    ________________________________________________________________


    Prayer:
    God give me grace to speak truth with boldness in the midst of adversity. Forgive me for my lack of boldness and trust in you. Give me grace to know and trust in your Spirit’s powerful working.



  • May 10 , 2019


    by JT Overby

    Read Acts 5


    At the end of Acts 4 we see Barnabas selling a field that belonged to him to give money to the needy. This brings him respect and recognition. In Acts 5 we see a couple desirous of what Barnabas received, but unwilling to part with their belongings totally. They sell some property but agreed beforehand to keep some of it back. Their attempted deception was unsuccessful. Their attempt to show themselves to be more spiritual than they were had deadly consequences.
     

    On the flip side we see the apostles up to their old tricks. They were teaching and preaching the gospel and the crowds were drawn to them. The religious leaders had enough. They violently brought them in and put them in prison, but in the night an angel released them. They went back to teaching. 


    The apostles didn’t care about themselves, their names, their glory, or their safety. They cared about making much of Jesus, even in persecution. The religious leaders wanted to kill them but settled for beating them. The apostles left, praising God for being counted worthy to suffer for Jesus’ name. They weren’t concerned about themselves; they were concerned for the name of Jesus being proclaimed. 


    Are we living as Ananias and Sapphira, or like the apostles who were willing to lay down their lives for the gospel?

     

    Application:
    What things are you tempted to hang on to, and value more than God like Ananias and Sapphira?  ________________________________________________________________
    ________________________________________________________________

    Do you get angry and upset with God over persecutions or hardships in your life, or do you count it as joy knowing it is a badge of being in Christ?

    ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________


    Prayer:
    God, give me grace to die to self, lest I die in selfishness. Give me grace to see your sacrificial love and live my life for the glory of your name



  • May 13, 2019


    by Gary Reynolds


    Read Acts 6

     

    Change has been the agent for growth in the church since it’s beginning.

     

    In Acts 6, the apostles made a tough leadership decision that affected a lot of people. Some people probably responded positively, and others probably responded negatively. But the apostles realized that without a drastic change, the Gospel would not spread as far as fast. 

     

    Some people do well with change and some don’t. What is the difference between those who can handle change and those who can’t?

     

    It comes down to what we value. Some of us value our own ambition and self-preservation more than Jesus’ mission. Some of us value our own preferences more than the mission of Christ. If personal comfort is our goal in life, we will fight against change. However, if Jesus is our ultimate treasure, change becomes a very exciting opportunity.

     

    Because the early church was willing to change, “a large number of priests became obedient to the faith” v.7. When change comes, we must decide what kind of person we’re going to be and what we value. Will we embrace change positively and allow growth to happen?

     

    Imagine what can happen when you open your heart to change. Imagine what can happen in our church when we are willing to make the changes necessary to see more and more people hear the Gospel.

     

    Application:

    What do you value most? 

    ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

     

    Are you open and willing to make changes in your life? 

    ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

     



  • May 14, 2019

     

    by Gary Reynolds

     

    Read Acts 7

     

    What do you think about when you hear the word “martyr”? Someone willing to die for their faith. Stephen is the first. It is very interesting to read how God stands by Stephen in this passage. Stephen’s eyes are opened and he sees the Lord Jesus  standing at the right hand of God the father as he dies. Ray Stedman says that “The blood of a martyr is the seed of the church”, meaning that when the church suffers this way, it will always grow immediately. The following chapter in Acts shows us this very thing. 

     

    Over the last 12 or 14 years, we have had the opportunity to go to the country of  Romania on several mission trips. The church in Romania has grown and is an inspiration to me as I see how God has worked there. There are many, many Christian martyrs from the country of Romania, as for many years they were under the communist dictatorship of Ceausescu. This  dictatorship came to an end in 1989 at the end of the Romanian revolution. However, as Christians there have become more “westernized” in their culture, they have become less committed and dedicated. On one of our last trips there, one of the pastors told us that they longed for the days of the oppression to return because it was then, that the church was the strongest and experienced the most growth and deepest faith in Christ.

     

    As I look at the news around the world, we may not be long for such  oppression...

     

    Application:

    God, give us the courage of Stephen before we must face oppression



  • May 15, 2019

     

    by Gary Reynolds

     

    Read Acts 8

     

    The death of Stephen set off a tremendous amount of persecution against the early church in Jerusalem. Believers were scattered all over the region, in Judea and Samaria. Saul was a devastating farce against the church and all who believed. All who were believers could be placed in prison or even killed for simply talking about Jesus.


     

    Yet even with this threat, “those who had been scattered preached the Word wherever they went” (V 4). Not even death could prevent the early church from  sharing the Gospel with the world.

     

    One such person was Philip. Philip was so bold and sensitive to the prompting of the Holy Spirit, that he made his way to an Ethiopian eunuch, asked if he understood what he was reading, explained the scriptures to him and led him to believe and have a desire to follow the Lord that as soon as the eunuch saw water, wanted to be baptized.

     

    Application:

    Our prayer should be that we are so bold and secure in our faith, that even death doesn’t deter our mission of sharing the gospel everywhere we go.

     

    Prayer:

    Oh, God, make me sensitive to Your spirit and prompting, that I follow your leading and share the Word I truth and freedom every day.

     



  • May 16, 2019

     

    by Gary Reynolds

     

    Read Acts 9

     

    Have you ever stood at the edge of the beach, looked out into the ocean and wondered how far you can see? (Actually, my biggest question is, how many gallons of water am I looking at?). When we lived in the Savannah area, we would go to the beach at Tybee Island. The east coast! I’ve wondered how far is that from someone looking back across this same ocean from their west coast. The horizon looks endless, yet in actuality it is only about 3 miles from the edge. However, as you travel out in the ocean, even 500 miles out, that 3 mile horizon still appears endless.

     

    I think about how far we are from God when we are unbelievers. And this endless horizon is only a particle of that gap.

     

    Saul was such a person. Oh, he was religious, and kept all the rules, yet he was an enemy of God.

     

    Saul had a very dramatic conversion experience. My experience was nothing quite like Saul’s. Yours probably wasn’t either. However, the gap from me to God and from you to God was no different than Saul to God.  In Saul’s experience, he saw Jesus for who He truly is. And Saul was no longer who he used to be. When you and I see Jesus for who  Jesus truly is, we become no longer who we use to be.

     

     

    Application:

    Seek to know Jesus for who He truly is....and you will not be who you used to be!



  • May 17, 2019

     

    by Gary Reynolds

     

    Read Acts 10

     

    Do you remember 5th grade recess and playing kickball? One of my most favorite games as a kid. I loved being captain for the day and getting to pick my team from among my classmates. As I think back, it was really different how each captain approached the way he or she made their choices. Those who were highly competitive would do their best to pick the hardest kickers and best catchers. Some wanted the most popular kids on their team. Some would pick the best looking guys or cutest girls. Some captains would just pick their favorite people with no regard for the game itself.

     

    Sometimes we show such partiality to who we think we want on our team!  Be assured, God is not partial to anyone! I love how verse 34 and 35 prick our hearts... Peter said, “I most certainly understand now that God is not one to show partiality, but in every nation the man who fears Him and does what is right is welcome to Him.”

     

    If God shows no partiality, who are we to do so?

     

     

    Application:

    Who is it that you have not shared with because they may be different?

    ________________________________________________________________

    ________________________________________________________________

     

    Who are you showing partiality to?________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

     

    V 36 ends with this… “the word which he sent to the sons of Israel, preaching peace through Jesus Christ” (He is Lord of all)!

     



  • May 20, 2019


    by Craig Bowers


    Read Acts 11


    Change can be challenging. The first 18 verses of this chapter teaches us a great truth:  Be careful to cooperate with God when He is at work. Peter asked in verse 17, “…who was I that I could stand in God's way?" It is possible to resist God’s work of change in, around, and through us. He is changing us and at work around us!


    Gentiles were being grafted into the Body! Because most of us are Gentiles, we would say,  AMEN. But the early church was packed with “Messianic Jews.” They never thought including Gentiles was possible. 


    The key to embrace change is love. Love doesn’t change the challenge, it  changes the heart of the one challenged. Those who “took issue” (opposed,   contended) with Peter, lacked a love for the Gentiles, (vs 12). They personalized their angry feelings about an undesirable change and directed it at Peter – who God used to bring about that Change. 


    God often changes His methods. See 1 Kings 19. God has demonstrated his  power by dividing the sea, calming the sea, walking on the sea.


    So how do you respond to people who ‘take issue’ when you obey God? You remain humble. Share the truth in a calm, godly manner. Remember, just  because God has prepared you for a change doesn’t mean others have  experienced the same  preparation.


    Avoid pointing fingers. “…who was I that I could stand in God's way?" Notice he   didn’t say, “who are YOU to stand in MY way!” He also didn’t say, “who are YOU to stand in GOD’S way!” He said, “Who am I that I could stand in God’s way!”

     

    Application:
    Am I going to go against God or go with God?  ________________________________________________________________
    ________________________________________________________________


    Am I going to fight against God’s work or join God in His work? ________________________________________________________________

    ________________________________________________________________



  • May 21, 2019


    by Craig Bowers                                                                                                          

    Read Acts 12


    Why do some people suffer while others don’t? Why does it seem like only the righteous suffer? Should we expect God to supernaturally intervene in our suffering?


    In Acts 12 we read that James & Peter were arrested. James was subsequently executed and Peter divinely delivered. Why did one suffer while the other was spared? Here are some facts: James & Peter both died. Peter died later than James. Peter suffered after James died. After James died, he didn’t suffer any more. 


    Here’s another fact: Your response to the suffering you endure determines the value of the suffering. By “value” I mean the eternal gain of your suffering. Experiencing pain,  discomfort, trials, and dark valleys does not guarantee growth, glory,  or  rewards. Our response to the experiences of life is more important than the actual experience! The attitude we possess as we go through a season of suffering  determines if the pain produces despair or depth, bitterness or brokenness, shallowness or substance, self-centered or Christ-consumed. We will either hold on tighter to that which the Lord wants us to release or we will loosen our grip on everything but Him. 


    It appears that James was cheated and Peter rewarded! That is our problem. We see things from a VERY skewed perspective. A godly

    response to pain removes the cataracts of carnality. 


    So, what does a godly response to pain include? A humble heart. It is the height of  arrogance that “demands” God to deliver anyone from pain. Peter learned that lesson when he sought to deliver Jesus from the pain of the cross. The Lord harshly rebuked him. Humility embraces pain with a surrendered heart. Our Lord can even use our pain to accomplish His purpose. When that is our attitude, we will persevere in prayer knowing that our King will use our crucible to advance His Kingdom. 


    Your spiritual eyesight cannot be the same after a valley. You will either be more consumed with yourself or far more consumed with His glory and loving others.    


    Application:
    How is God changing my love for Him and others through the pain in my life? 
    ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________


    Prayer:
    My King, may my response to pain exalt you and teach me to be more patient and kind to others.

     



  • May 22, 2019


    by Craig Bowers                                                                                          


    Read Acts 13


    How does God speak today? Through His completed Word and others. But our Lord also speaks to us when we are praying AND fasting. The greatest missionary duo was set apart by the church of Antioch because they heard from the Lord while fasting and praying. Notice verse 2, “While they were ministering to the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, "Set apart for Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them." God instructed the church to send out two of her best leaders! I imagine the church didn’t expect God to direct them to release their best. Actually, they must have needed additional reassurance because we read in verse 3, “Then, when they had fasted and prayed and laid their hands on them, they sent them away.”

     

    Please remember that the goal of fasting is not to lose weight! Biblical fasting is denying the physical body pleasures in order to pray. The demands of the flesh can overpower the voice of the Spirit. Our goal is to sensitize our human spirit to the voice of the Holy Spirit. 

     

    Begin simple. Fast a meal. If you are a diabetic, use good judgment. You may need to fast from something else that your flesh greatly enjoys. Remember the goal is to discipline your desires so that you can hear HIS desires. Our lives can become cluttered with many voices. But the most powerful voice that can scream louder than even the voice of God is your flesh. That includes natural desires. 

     

    You may be surprised by what the Lord wants to tell you that you will only hear when you fast and pray. Notice that the Body of Christ affirmed together this great and dramatic direction. Avoid the “Lone Ranger” mentality. Join with others in fasting ad praying and seek unity in the direction. 

     

    Application:
    Grab your calendar and set a day that you will engaged in the discipline of fasting and praying.  ______________________________________________________________


    Prepare yourself for the rebellion of the flesh and the revelation of God.



    Prayer:
    Lord, as I fast and pray, deliver me from the desire to have MY questions answered. Give me a desire to KNOW you as I fast and pray. 



  • May 23, 2019        


    by Craig Bowers                                                                        


    Read Acts 14


    Let’s focus on verses 21 & 22. “After they had preached the gospel to that city and had made many disciples, they returned to Lystra and to Iconium and to Antioch, 22 strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying, "Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God."

     

    We can almost miss the key to Paul & Barnabas’ success! Even though it is the  command of our King in His commission to the church! Notice the phrase, “and had made many disciples.” The Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20) commands us to “make disciples.” 

     

    When my wife makes brownies, I know for a fact what they smell like when they are cooking, look like when they are done, and taste like when I consume them. She knows how to make brownies! Believers are commanded to “make disciples.” However, how many people could identify what a disciple of Christ “smells, looks, and tastes” like? We don’t make disciples because we don’t know what a disciple IS. 

     

    Here is a very simple definition of a Disciple: A disciple surrenders to Christ as Lord, grows in Christ through community, and replicates Christ into the lives of others. The call to salvation is a call to BE a disciple. It is impossible to separate the two. We “make” disciples as people respond to the Gospel in surrender to Christ as King. They are immediately infused into a faith community that fosters, expects, and facilitates growth. The disciple realizes that replication is a part of being a Christ follower. When that happens, we are making disciples. 

     

    Application:
    Be about His commission by making disciples!

     

    Prayer:
    May my life be an inlet and outlet of Your love. 



  • May 24, 2019                                                                                                                               

    by Craig Bowers


    Read Acts 15


    This is one of the most important chapters in the Bible. A number of things are going on but let’s focus on the key issue. A great controversy swirls in the church over HOW Gentiles experience salvation. Some wanted the Gentiles to participate in the Jewish rite of circumcision before they could officially be “saved.” Fortunately, God makes it clear that salvation is based on Faith & Grace. 

     

    Faith is “our” part of salvation. “Without faith it is impossible to please God.” “For by grace are you saved through faith.” What is faith? Faith involves both our mind and our will. “Faith comes by hearing.” Hearing implies  understanding. We must understand the Gospel. But faith goes further. Faith is not simply hearing and believing. James teaches us that “Even the demons believe and tremble!” Faith must also touch the will. Faith hears the truth, believes the truth, and then SURRENDERS to the truth. Faith responds to the truth by embracing it! So, faith involves the head and the heart! 

     

    Grace is totally God’s part of salvation. Grace is not only misunderstood but offensive to “religious” people. Grace says that no one is good enough. Grace says that no one can ever be good enough. Grace is God giving us what we do not deserve and cannot earn. It is not simply “God’s riches at Christ  expense.” Grace is an offer that demands the recipient is empty handed. Not only is grace God’s provision. But Grace demands we acknowledge our utter poverty. We have nothing to offer God. God does not love us because of what we will one day do for Him. That would negate grace. Grace is acceptance because we simply believe and surrender. 

     

    Application:
    What does the grace of God teach you? ________________________________________________________________

    ________________________________________________________________


    Prayer:
    Lord, may I avoid seeking to add to that which you have freely provided.



  • May 27, 2019 


    by Kevin Calhoun                                                                                                       

    Read Acts 16


    In Acts 16 we read about the early stages of Paul’s second missionary journey. As Paul arrives in Philippi, a number of events take place. He receives a vision calling him to Macedonia, Paul and Silas are put in  prison for preaching the Gospel, and while they are in prison a jailer and his entire family are converted to faith in Jesus. The activity is non-stop.

     

    However, I am continually drawn to verse 14 in this chapter. Lydia, a seller of purple fabrics, is listening to Paul’s teaching when the Bible tells us, “and the Lord opened her heart to respond to the things spoken by Paul.” Oh, how the grace of God amazes me.

     

    I (we) must remember it is the Lord who opens the hearts of people to believe. It is the Holy Spirit’s role, not mine, to convict and draw people to God through faith in Jesus. I am called to be a faithful witness to what Jesus has done in my life. Then I trust God for the results. 

     

    Understanding this truth has been one of the most freeing lessons I have learned as a child of God. As you and I share our faith with others, we can trust God for the results. God draws people to Himself. He convicts them of sin. He opens their hearts to truth. It is God who saves, not us.  Thanks be to God!

     

    Application:

    List some areas in your life where you need to trust God more. ________________________________________________________________

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    List some ways you can be faithful to God today. ________________________________________________________________

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    Prayer:

    Lord, I want to be a faithful witness for You today.  Lead me to someone who needs to hear of Your love.  Help me to trust You for the results!  Amen!



  • May 28, 2019


    by Kevin Calhoun


    Read Acts 17


    It is here in Acts 17 we read about Paul’s sermon at Mars Hill.  As he spoke to the people Paul began by making reference to their altar to an “Unknown God." Paul then began to share with them about God’s redemptive plan through Jesus. Paul shared God’s call for people to repent because God will judge the world in righteousness (vss. 30-31).  Furthermore, God has demonstrated His plan by raising Jesus from the dead (vs. 31).

     

    I find verses 32-34 to be quite revealing. Verse 32 states, “Now when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some began to sneer . . .”   Then in verse 34 we read, “But some men joined him and believed . . .”

     

    The same is true today as we share our faith. Many will hear what we have to say and turn away in disbelief. Others, however, will hear and believe.  But, as I shared in yesterday’s devotion, it is God who opens the hearts of people to believe. 

     

    As a child of God, I am called to be faithful in sharing my faith with others. Some will refuse to believe what I share while others may turn to God through faith in Jesus. I may have the joy of seeing many of these people trust Jesus while others might not do so for years to come.  But my calling is to be a faithful witness.

     

    Application:

    List the name of one person with whom you are sharing your faith:

    ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________


     

    Say a prayer for that person asking God for an opportunity to share with him/her today.

     

    Prayer:

    Lord Jesus, I pray for ______________ today.  Please give me an opportunity to share with him/her today.  I trust You to open his/her heart to Jesus



  • May 29, 2019

     

    by Kevin Calhoun


    Read Acts 18


    I have always enjoyed reading this passage about Apollos (vss. 24-28).  Apollos is described as an “eloquent” man who was “mighty in the Scriptures.” The Bible also tells us he was “fervent in spirit,” and he was “speaking and teaching accurately the things concerning Jesus.”  However, in verse 26 we read, “. . . when Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him aside and explained to him the way of God more  accurately.”  If he was speaking and teaching accurately, why was there a need to explain the way of God more accurately?

     

    I believe the answer is simple. There is always more we can learn in order to  understand the truth of Scripture more accurately.  I know and understand much more today than I did when I first believed in Jesus as an 11 year old boy.  I also pray I will understand and know more in five years than I do now. Growth and development in the Christian walk is essential.

     

    In 2 Peter 3:18 we are instructed to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”  This growth takes place through the process of discipleship. New believers need mature believers to disciple them in their faith. Apollos needed Priscilla and Aquila to disciple him so he could understand Scripture more clearly. Apollos was then equipped to disciple others in their faith.

     

    Application:

    Who has helped disciple you in your faith? ________________________________________________________________

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    Would you be willing to lead a group of people in discipleship?  If so, who? 


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    Prayer:

    Dear Lord, thank you for men and women who taught me the truth of Scripture when I was a new believer!  Lead me as I seek to disciple others each day.  Amen!  



  • May 30, 2019

     

    by Kevin Calhoun


    Read Acts 19


    There are two verses in this chapter I find quite challenging as I seek to live and share my faith each day. The first is verse 10, “And this took place for two years, so that all who lived in Asia heard the word of the Lord, both Jews and Greeks.” The second is verse 20, “So the word of the Lord was growing mightily and prevailing.” I find great joy in reading about the spreading of the Gospel in the early church. At the same time, I find it challenging and convicting as I reflect upon the efforts of the church today to share the “Good News.”

     

    As I read about the early church, I see a group of people who were transformed by God in such a way that they sought to reach everyone with the message of Jesus. I am not sure we have that same concern in the church today. I sometimes wonder if our interest in our own comforts and desires outweighs our desire to reach others for Christ. I know I often find reasons (excuses) to do other things.

     

    What do you suppose would happen if we were dedicated to reaching as many people as possible with the hope we have in Jesus? Would we find the word of the Lord “growing mightily and prevailing” in our community today? It is something to think about. I know it challenges me.

     

    Application:

    List some activities that can easily get in the way of our witness. 

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    What changes will we make in order to share our faith more? 

    ________________________________________________________________

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    Prayer:

    Lord, I want You to be first in my life. Show me where I fall short. Give me strength and courage to be faithful to You each day. Amen.

     



  • May 31, 2019

     

    by Kevin Calhoun


    Read Acts 20


    What are some of your goals for your life? I know I have had several goals through the years: get a solid education, find employment in a church, be a faithful husband to Susan, be a father who provides for his children and sets a good example for them through word and deed, and now I look forward to the privilege of being a Grandfather. It is interesting to see how our goals may change throughout our stages of life.

     

    Toward the end of Acts 20 Paul is giving a word of farewell to the church in Ephesus. During his address Paul states, “I do not consider my life of any account as dear to myself, in order that I may finish my course, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus to testify solemnly of the gospel of the grace of God,” (vs. 24). Wow! Paul’s singular focus to be faithful to the call God placed upon him when his life was transformed by Jesus.

     

    I read these words from Paul, and I think about the life I have lived thus far, and I realize my ministry is not finished yet! I believe there is much the Lord would have me to do in His Church. Therefore, I want to be found faithful to Him. I long to hear, “Well done, my good and faithful servant . . . enter into the joy of My kingdom,” (Matthew 25:23). Until then, I want to keep serving my Lord. Will you join me?

     

    Application:

    What can you do today to serve the Lord?  ________________________________________________________________

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    List one person you can minister to today. ________________________________________________________________

     

    Prayer:

    Lord, make me an instrument of Thy peace today. May I bless someone today in the name of Jesus.