Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The First Missionary Journey


Acts 13:1-14:28


Paul and Barnabas went several places to share the gospel. They were met with receptive ears and with persecution. The persecution, even though severe, (Paul was even stoned to the point where he was presumed dead!) did not stop them from sharing that Jesus came to give people spiritual life.

When presenting the Message, Paul was aware of his audience and addressed them according to where they were at. He emphasized the positive and showed courage, while remaining accountable to the people who sent him (he reported back to them).


According to the E100 website, effective witnessing requires being respectful of the audience, emphasizing the positive, courage in the face of opposition, and accountability to the Church. The purpose of evangelism is to build the Kingdom.

Are you prepared and willing to evangelize? If not, what steps do you need to take to be both prepared and willing?

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Road to Damascus


Acts 9:1-9:31


Saul, a persecutor of the church, experienced the ultimate turnaround on the road to Damascus! After an encounter with Jesus, Saul was never again the same. His name was even changed! This reflects a complete change in identity.

After meeting Jesus, other people were used to help Paul. Ananias prayed for Paul to receive his sight. Barnabas helped Paul be accepted by the leaders of the church. And the leaders of the church both protected Paul from those who wanted to kill him, and sent him out to spread the gospel to other areas of the world.

Our passage concludes with this: “so the church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria had peace and was being built up. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it multiplied.


Is the church today “walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit?” As a part of The Church, are YOU? If not, ask God to teach you how. If you are, ask God to use you like He did Ananias and Barnabas to help build up the Body of Christ!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

The Travels of Paul - Reading Schedule

The Travels of Paul

76) The Road to Damascus

77) The First Missionary Journey

78) The Council at Jerusalem

79) More Missionary Journeys

80) The Trip to Rome

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Good News for All


Acts 10:1-11:18


Cornelius, a Gentile, heard from God and at God’s command sent for Peter. In the meantime, God spoke to Peter in a vision. Peter didn’t understand the vision, so he “pondered” it, and the Holy Spirit spoke to Peter and told him to go with the three men who were looking for Peter. Peter went with them to see Cornelius. Cornelius called together his friends and family to hear what Peter had to say. Peter then revealed he understood the vision God had given him - “God has shown me that I should not call any person common or unclean.” Peter then preached to the Gentiles, telling them first that God shows no partiality “but in every nation anyone who fears Him and does what is right is acceptable to Him.” While hearing Peter’s words, the “Holy Spirit fell on all who heard the Word.” Then people were baptized and Peter remained with them for a time. When Peter returned to Jerusalem, he encountered criticism for eating with the uncircumcised. Peter told them about the vision from God and what it meant. Peter then told them about the Holy Spirit falling on the Gentiles just as He had fallen on the Jews and said “If then God gave the same gift to them as He gave to us when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could stand in God’s way?” The critics fell silent and then glorified God for granting repentance and life to the Gentiles, also!


A fundamental truth of the Good News is that salvation through Jesus is for everyone, not a select group. The Kingdom of Heaven is open to all who believe in Jesus Christ and who receive Him. The Church needs to be blind to social status and the doors must be open wide to all who believe and receive!

Ponder in your heart, do you welcome all who seek Him, or do you judge them by what you can see? Do you decide who is and who is not worthy to be part of the Kingdom of God? If so, waste no time - repent and seek God’s forgiveness, then ask Him to show you how to show others the marvelous grace He offers!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Sharing the Word


Acts 8:26-40


God sent Philip to the desert, where he found an Ethiopian Eunuch studying the Scriptures.  Philip took the opportunity to witness to this man for Jesus by first asking questions.  This helped Philip to understand where the man he was speaking to was coming from.  Then Philip explained what the Bible says about Jesus.  Most importantly, he was present to witness in the first place only because he was willing to take action based on the prompting of the Holy Spirit, without understanding "why" he was doing so.  He didn't know why he was to go to the desert, only that he was to go.  


We are to be effective witnesses for Jesus, also.  Using this passage as a model, we can presume we need to take the following steps when witnessing to others:

1)  Be open to opportunities to witness.
2)  Start where the person is at.  Identify their questions and struggles.  Don't go with an "agenda," start with the person’s.
3)  Take time to explain what the Bible teaches.
4)  Encourage people to be honest in their questions.  And be honest in your response (including admitting when you do not know the answer to a question).
5)  Most importantly, be willing to act as the Spirit leads you.  Go when He says go!  And be silent when He says "be still."  

The E100 reading materials say "Effective witnessing is God-lead and people-centered."  I couldn't agree more!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The First Martyr


Acts 6:8-8:8


Steven was a man of wisdom. Impossible to beat in a debate. And a threat to the religious “status quo” of the day. So false witnesses spoke against him and he was brought before The Council. When given the opportunity to speak, Steven gave a moving and yet logical speech about the history of his people (which the religious leaders of the day would appreciate). Steven ended his speech, however, with words of rebuke for the religious leaders. As a result, they became angry and took him outside the city and stoned him. Steven’s last words were a prayer for God to forgive his murderers. Following Steven’s death, persecution arose against the early church in Jerusalem and the first Christians were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria.


God tried to get the religious leaders’ attention. They were more interested in their religion, however, than they were in loving God and people.

Jesus came to restore relationship between us and Him. Are you focused on a relationship with Jesus? Or on religious tradition?

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Growth and Persecution


Acts 3 and 4


The Believers, under the power of the Holy Spirit, acted powerful and boldly. A man who had been lame from birth was healed. Peter preached the gospel to those who were astonished by this. Peter and John were taken before The Council (the religious leaders of the day who yielded much power) and were threatened by them - but they still refused to stop telling people about Jesus. THEN they prayed for boldness! They wanted more! Most of all, though, in this passage we see the Church operating in unity, caring for one another, loving one another, and serving one another!


Unity, being of one heart and mind, breeds the natural result of love and sharing. It also empowers our witness and attracts others to the faith.

Are you walking in unity with others in the body of Christ? How can you take steps to restore a fractured relationship? Seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit and then do what He directs you to do in pursuit of unity with His children!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Day of Pentecost


Acts 2


The Holy Spirit has come, and the gospel is being shared in an exponential fashion! Peter has been transformed from an impulsive man who even denied knowing Jesus to a powerful, dynamic, and persuasive speaker, who is responsible for presenting the gospel passionately yet clearly, and many are being saved! Once people are saved, they “devoted themselves” to learning more, fellowshipping together, eating together, praying together, and caring for one another. They were learning to live in unity and intimacy with one another and with God!


The Holy Spirit empowers us to serve God in ways we could not otherwise do. He gives us insight into God’s Word, understanding of God’s plan, boldness, courage, effectiveness in ministry, and heartfelt love for others.

Is your walk Spirit-empowered? Are you seeking insight into God’s Word and His plan? Are you being effective in ministry? Are you showing love for others?

Ask God to empower you to love others and to be effective in His Kingdom. Submit to Him and watch what He will do in, through, and around you!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Reading Schedule - The Church is Born

I am overwhelmed. A quick look at the stats this week revealed that people in more than 20 countries are reading these words.

It is my prayer that each day’s post points you closer to Jesus and encourages you to be spending individual time in His love letter to you!

Thanks for stopping by. And don’t be shy. Feel free to comment on any post at any time!

For this week’s reading, we look at the beginnings of the Church:

71) The Day of Pentecost

72) Growth and Persecution

73) The First Martyr

74) Sharing the Word

75) Good News for All

Saturday, November 12, 2011

The Ascension


Acts 1:1-11


Jesus speaks His parting words to the disciples, and then is lifted to Heaven on a cloud.


The disciples are to wait in Jerusalem for the Holy Spirit to come upon them. Why? They needed to be empowered by the Holy Spirit before they would be able to fulfill their mission - to go and make disciples of all nations.

Are you relying on the Holy Spirit to fulfill your mission? Today’s challenge - pray, wait for the Spirit’s leading, then GO and DO what He’s told you to! :)

Friday, November 11, 2011

The Resurrection


John 20 - 21


Jesus is alive!


Jesus made the ultimate sacrifice so we could be spiritually free - He set aside His divinity to become fully human, live on earth, and die an excruciating death - then RAISED HIMSELF FROM THE DEAD and thus conquered sin forever!

I find it interesting that the culmination of our reading about the sacrifice Jesus made for us is today, which is Veterans’ Day in the United States and Remembrance Day in Canada.

Today’s challenge:

1) Thank Jesus for dying to set you free spiritually,

2) Thank a veteran for serving to secure your freedom in this physical life we are living, and

3) Serve someone today in Jesus’s Name.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

The Crucifixion


John 19


Pilate’s decision not to release Jesus (see yesterday’s post) resulted in Pilate’s decision to have Jesus beaten and (because of fear of what people would do to him if he didn’t) he had Jesus crucified.

Before he died, Jesus made sure His mother, Mary, was taken care of. After He died, Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus took care of burying the body. Jesus’s body was buried in a new tomb (no one else had been laid there).


Jesus went to trial willingly. Jesus went to the cross willingly. Not because He desired to suffer such a brutal death, but because He knew that was His mission on earth - it was the means through which we can be saved! Because of His love for us, He paid the price for our sin (death!). He completed His mission on earth!

Jesus CHOSE to die for me. And for you....

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Arrest and Trial


John 18


Judas betrayed Jesus and as a result Jesus was arrested by soldiers and some officers of the chief priests and Pharisees. Interestingly, when Jesus spoke the words “I am He” those who had come to arrest Him “drew back and fell to the ground.” (Note - this indicates Jesus could easily have avoided arrest - they were only able to arrest Him because He went willingly.) Simon Peter tried to come to Jesus’s defense with a sword, but Jesus rebuked him.

Jesus was taken first to the father-in-law of the high priest. Peter denied Jesus when asked by a servant girl if Peter was one of Jesus’s disciples. Jesus was then taken to the high priest to be questioned. Peter then denied Jesus again, this time to the people he was sharing a fire with. A third time Peter denied Jesus to one of the servants of the high priest. Then a rooster crowed.

Jesus was brought from the high priest to Pilate, who was the secular governor of Judea. Pilate tried to avoid bringing judgment on Jesus, but bowed to the will of the people and released Barabbas instead of Jesus.


Pilate SAID Jesus was not guilty, but refused to act on that statement. He faced a decision - what to do with Jesus? Everyone must make that decision at some point. Is Jesus a hassle? Or is He the Way, the Truth, and the Life?

It’s the biggest decision you will ever make. Will you accept Him as the source of Truth and listen to Him? Or will you reject Him?

If you’ve decided to accept Him as the source of Truth, are you listening to Him each day and following His voice? Or are you following another voice?

Only you can decide for you. Yes Jesus or no Jesus? If the answer is yes Jesus, He wants ALL of you!

Monday, November 7, 2011

The Last Supper


Luke 22:1-46


Here is what the E100 Challenge says about this passage:

Communion is more than just another meal!

Jesus was soon to fulfill the mission given to Him by His Father - to die on the Cross for the sins of the world. That’s what He wanted to symbolize for His followers with this meal. The bread helps us remember His body (22:19), the fact that He was about to take the punishment for sin. The cup helps us remember His blood (22:20), the fact that He was about to make the final sacrifice for the forgiveness of sin. He called it a “new covenant,” between God and humankind that would last forever.


The last supper symbolized the fulfillment of Jesus’ mission on earth. Observed by us as “communion,” it is a way to remember His body broken for us (the bread) and His blood shed for us (the cup). It represents a new covenant, and helps us stay committed to following Him by reminding us of what He did for us that freed us from the power and consequences of sin!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Raising Lazarus from the Dead


John 11


Jesus, although he knew about his friend Lazarus’s illness in time to heal, instead waited until Lazarus was dead and then raised him from the dead! This created an unforgettable symbol of the new life He would offer to those who believe in Him (vv. 25-26).


People can go to church all their lives and STILL not understand Who Jesus is and all that He offers to us!

“Jesus said…, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in Me, though he die, yet shall he life, and everyone who lives and believes in Me shall never die.”

Do you believe Him?

Friday, November 4, 2011

Healing a Demon-Possessed Man


Mark 5:1-20


Jesus frees a demon-possessed man, sending the demons into pigs (and the pigs jumped off a cliff). The herdsmen went into the village and told what had happened. People came out to the caves to see for themselves, and when they saw the man “sitting there, clothed and in his right mind” they were afraid and begged Jesus to leave. As Jesus was leaving, he instructed the freed man to “go…tell…how much the Lord has done for you, and how He has had mercy on you.”


Jesus wants to bring a radical healing into our lives - to break our dependence on sin and free us from its power! He also wants to empower us to share the gospel (“good news”) with others.

But the unexplained is scary (see v. 15). Some of us will be afraid to yield to the change He wants to make in us. Some people will be afraid of the change they see in others. Others will marvel at what Jesus has done.

Are you afraid of change? Of the impact it might have on your life? Your family? Your relationships? Or are you marveling at what Jesus has done (or will do)?

When Jesus’ power is working in you, when He has healed you, changed you, freed you…are you going and telling others what He has done for you?

A changed life is the most powerful statement of the gospel!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Healing a Blind Man


John 9


The E100 Challenge describes this passage like this:

After hearing about the miraculous healing of a blind man, the disciples tried to over-analyze the blind man’s predicament. But in the midst of all the arguing, the blind man had the clearest insight of all. He started with a basic understanding of the facts and formed an opinion about Jesus but finally made a decision to believe in spite of the consequences. That’s a good description of how to become a Christian.


How, then, should we respond to Jesus?

1) Get the facts - Jesus welcomes tough questions!

2) Make up your mind - discover Who He is and all that He is

3) Count the cost of following Jesus - there may be serious opposition!

4) Believe and commit to Jesus!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Walking on Water


Matthew 14:22-36


Jesus had just spent time ministering to crowds of people and is now seeking some alone time with the Father. He even sent the disciples away. When He went to join the disciples, they were on a boat far from shore. Jesus joined them by walking on top of the water toward them. The disciples were at first afraid, but soon realized it was Jesus walking toward them. Peter asked to walk on the water, too. Jesus allowed Peter to participate in the miracle, but Peter lost focus (he took his eyes off Jesus) and when he lost focus, he began to sink.


We face many problems in our lives. Being a Christian does not exempt us from them! In order to deal with them, we have a few responsibilities. First, we must recognize Jesus is ALWAYS with us. Second, we must trust Him, and trust that He has the power to deal with our problems. Next we must step out in faith - in whatever manner He is leading us - to deal with the situation. (Peter had to step out of the boat, remember?) :)

Finally, we MUST remember to worship and give thanks, regardless of the outcome!

Problems are an opportunity to move closer to Jesus. Will you “take courage” and step out of the boat? Keep your eyes on Him!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Feeding the Five Thousand


Luke 9:1-36


This passage begins with Jesus sending out the twelve disciples “to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal.” After they return, Jesus feeds five thousand men (plus women and children!) with five loaves and two fish - and there were TWELVE baskets of leftovers! (One for each disciple, perhaps?) Then Peter declares Jesus is Lord, Jesus foretells His death, and Peter, James and John (who have gone with Jesus up on the mountain to pray) see Jesus, Moses, and Elijah. The passage concludes with “a voice” from “the cloud, saying, ‘This is My Son, My Chosen One; listen to Him!’” (v. 35).


This passage clearly tells us that Jesus IS the Son of God! If we really believe that, we need to be sharing that news with others and we need to be doing good works in His Name! Our lives need to proclaim Jesus!

How can you proclaim Jesus to someone today? Whether it’s by sharing how He has rescued you from death, by seeing a need and meeting it anonymously (perhaps even including a note saying “because Jesus loves you”), or by doing something else He leads you to do, do something today to show Jesus to someone around you!