12 Now I want you to know, brethren, that my circumstances have turned out for the greater progress of the gospel, 13 so that my imprisonment in the cause of Christ has become well known throughout the whole praetorian guard and to everyone else, 14 and that most of the brethren, trusting in the Lord because of my imprisonment, have far more courage to speak the word of God without fear.
No matter where we find ourselves, God has us there for a reason. Paul is prison in Rome, but yet God was using him to tell the whole praetorian guard about Jesus. He encouraged others to share their faith. He did not let his circumstances get him down. He spent his time praising God and not complaining. He found a mission to do in his circumstances. He stayed positive and was able to change people forever because of it.
Is that how we handle hard times? Do we complain and miss the work God has for us to do? Are we too proud to work where God has us? Do we turn our hard times into times of praise? I know I struggle in a lot of these areas. Too many times I get caught up in my own circumstances to see the need around me. We need to learn to stop focusing on ourselves and focus on the work God has around us. We need to make the most of our circumstances and do the work God has for us to do.
Dear God forgive me for complaining too much to miss the work around me. Help me to be humble and not to think higher of myself. Help me to do all for the Gospel. Thank you for Your patience and the opportunities you share. Amen.
16 It happened that as we were going to the place of prayer, a slave-girl having a spirit of divination met us, who was bringing her masters much profit by fortune-telling. 17 Following after Paul and us, she kept crying out, saying, “These men are bond-servants of the Most High God, who are proclaiming to you the way of salvation.”
Imagine, everyday you are walking through town and somebody is yelling at you. They are saying you are servants of God and that you are proclaiming His message of salvation. That is what this demon possessed girl said about Paul. What a thing to be known for. Paul earned that reputation after he had previously had a really bad one. He was known for tormenting Christians. But He worked hard and was able to turn his reputation around.
What are you known for? A lot of people are known for negative things and cannot ever seem to lose that. They make one mistake and it seems to stick with them for life. Kind of like having to wear a scarlet letter. They wear their shame around their necks every day. A lot of times these are stuck with nicknames, which just reminds them of their failures. Others like Paul, are known for something good.
A good reputation is something hard to earn and easy to lose. That is why we need to be very careful of what we do when we have earned a good reputation. Many look for any little thing hoping to tear you down. A reputation of good repute lost is hard to regain. We must protect what we have earned.
Dear Jesus, help me to protect the reputation that I have earned. Give me the strength to do what is right, with the right attitude. Forgive me for the times I put my reputation at risk. Help me to be known as Paul was, Your servant and one who proclaims the Good News about You. Amen.
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
These nine characteristics are what the fruit of Christian should look like. They go hand in hand to make our fruit better, kind of like a good diet. They make up one fruit, not nine different ones. Notice in the verse the word fruit is singular and plural. There is not nine distinct fruits, instead only one. We need to have each one, to produce good fruit.
When we are lacking on one, we suffer not only in that area, but in the others. For instance, when we are not patient, our hearts are probably not filled with love and kindness. When we are not filled with joy, it is not easy being a good person. When we are strong in love, we tend to be more patient and kind. When we are full of self-control, we are full peace and patience. Each characteristic builds off of the others.
Our fruit is evidence of our salvation and sanctification. It is evidence we are growing in our walk with Him. Sometimes we buff up our fruit to make others think it is good, when it is not. We can fool people, but we cannot fool God. He knows, better than anyone what are fruit is like. How’s your fruit? It is a question each of us need to ask ourselves every day. We need to pray and ask God to show us any areas we might be lacking in and ask for His help to fortify our weaknesses. God is an expert gardener,w ho wants to grow the best. Sometimes He prunes us and it hurts, but it is for our good. So I ask again, how is your fruit?
Dear God, show me how I can produce better fruit in my life. Show me areas where I am lacking, that I can improve on. Help me not to make my fruit look better than it really is. Forgive me God, for the wrong attitudes I have. Help me to grateful and not a complainer. All too often I end up doing that. Cultivate me Lord and help me to produce Good fruit. Amen.
Galatians 3:28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus
When we belong to Jesus Christ, we are all one body. We belong to Him and each other. Jesus unites us together, to be one. As is said at weddings, what God has brought together let nobody separate them apart. Sadly, we in the church do the most separated of the body. We divide ourselves.
It is said that Sunday morning is one of the most racially divided times in America. We have white churches, black churches, Hispanic churches, and Asian churches. This is not what should happen! Look at the church in Antioch in the book of Acts. It was made up of Jews, Greeks, and from Africa. It was a racially diverse church, which matched the makeup of the population. Our churches should look like our communities. It should have similar racial make up. That is how Heaven will be. People from all tribes and tongues will be there. If it is good for Heaven, then it is good for us on earth. We must stop dividing ourselves based on race, for we are united in Jesus Christ!
Dear Jesus, help us in Your Holy Church, all of those of us who are saved, be united in You. Help us show the world what a difference You make. Help us to stop dividing ourselves and instead be united in You. Help us to reach to all believers and stand with them. Forgive us all for not always liking other races at times. We are wrong. You tells us we are one in You. Help us to be an example to a dying world, of how You make a difference. Strengthen Your church to stand firm in these times. You are our rock and help us to cling to You. Amen.
Galatians 1:24 And they were glorifying God because of me.
When people heard that Paul was no long persecuting the church, but instead proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus, they glorified God. Paul was now living his life in a manner which brought glory to God. That should be a goal we have for our lives. We should live everyday with goal of causing others to glorify God. This includes non-Christians. They know when a believer is living their lives correct or not.
When we are considering how to act, we need to ask ourselves will this cause God to be glorified. If it does not, we should not do it. If it does go for it. This especially is true of our attitudes. How we do something is just as important as what we do. We are all guilty at times of doing the right thing with a rotten attitude. This does not lead to God getting glory. It is when we do hard things, with great attitudes, that God gets the most glory. Like doing a task nobody wants to do and having joy while doing it. A great attitude will catch people’s attentions and they will know something is different about you. And that difference is God and they will glorify Him.
Having a good attitude and doing the right thing will inspire other Christians to do the same. When we work together, as brothers and sisters in Christ, God is glorified. God getting the glory should be the number one goad of our lives. It is time we live our lives for it!
Dear Jesus, help me to live my life for You and Your glory. May all that I do glorify You. Help me to remove the stuff that does not bring You glory. Forgive me for doing those things. Help me to do what is right, with the right attitude. Amen.
Acts 15:11 “But we believe that we are saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, in the same way as they also are.”
The question was raised before the church leaders, what should the gentiles do to be saved? Some argued they needed to be circumcised and fully follow the law of Moses. Peter, speaks up and lays out the case for grace. He realized that they had been saved by the grace of Jesus. He knew that they had failed at upholding the law of Moses. He knew if they put the same burden on the gentiles, they would fail as well.
God knew this as well, that’s why He sent His Son to pay the price of our sin debt and then freely offer us grace to be saved. Grace is the unmerited favor we receive, which we do not deserve. We do not deserve God to save us. We deserve Hell. But God loved us so much that He offers His grace. His amazing grace. Grace that is greater than all of our sin.
Have you accepted that grace? Have you asked Jesus to save you? Have you asked for His forgiveness? God’s offer is on a time limit. It is good until we die or He returns. Then the time is up. You must choose now to accept Him, before time runs out.
Dear God, thank you for Your grace. Thank you for saving me. Thank you for giving to me when I do not deserve it. You are so amazing!
Jeremiah 35:15 “Also I have sent to you all My servants the prophets, sending them again and again, saying: ‘Turn now every man from his evil way and amend your deeds, and do not go after other gods to worship them. Then you will dwell in the land which I have given to you and to your forefathers; but you have not inclined your ear or listened to Me.
God issued a severe warning to Judah. They need to turn from their wicked ways and do what is right. They needed to stop pursuing false gods, instead worship the one true God. They need to listen to the warning and incline their ear to it. Sadly, they did none of what God said and because of that, He kicked out of the land.
God in the say way, offers us this warning. The events of the past few weeks are part of it. We as a nation need to turn from our wicked ways. We as individuals must do the same. We must pursue what is right. We must stand up for those who cannot stand. We must speak up for those with no voice. We must listen to what God has to say to us. Repent and turn from our wicked ways!
We must humble ourselves and ask God to spare us. We must humble ourselves and confess our sins. We must humble ourselves and submit to God. We must follow His callings. The moral fabric of this nation has fallen. We call evil good and good evil. We have become a wicked nation. It is time to turn back to Him.
Revivals, just like fire, starts with an individual spark. We must be that spark. We must humble ourselves and walk in the way which brings glory to God. We must proclaim His truths. We must draw a line and stand for what is right. We must do it now!
Dear God, forgive us for our sins, both individually and as a country. Forgive us for walking away from You. Enough is enough, help us to return to You. Help us to take a stand for Your Kingdom. Help us to speak up for those who do not have a voice. Help us to help those who are in need. Help us to be the body, Your hands and feet, doing Your work. We can only do this by Your help. You are our only hope! Amen.
21 On an appointed day Herod, having put on his royal apparel, took his seat on the rostrum and began delivering an address to them. 22 The people kept crying out, “The voice of a god and not of a man!” 23 And immediately an angel of the Lord struck him because he did not give God the glory, and he was eaten by worms and died.
We need to be careful not to be prideful. Herod, accepted praise that he was like God and because of that his life was ended. Herod, was a prideful, egotistical man. Earlier in the chapter he had James, the brother of John, put to death. He loved the applause of men so much that he had Peter arrested. God supernaturally rescued Peter, but this did not cause Herod to be humbled. Herod was a prideful man and that was his downfall.
Pride can lead to our downfall as well. When we are full of pride, we stop paying attention to the little things and sin creeps into our lives. Pride causes us to stumble and fall. Pride causes us to take our eyes off of Jesus and put them on ourselves. If we continue to be prideful, a time will come when God will humble us. Pride leads to destruction.
Instead, God wants us to be humble. When we are humble, He can shape and form us. When we are humble, we server others more. When we are humble, we give God the glory. When we are humble, we care what God thinks and not man. When we are humble God can do amazing things with our lives.
Be humble and not prideful!
Dear Jesus, help me not to be full of pride. Help me to be humble. Forgive me for the times I am proud. Help me to be a servant and to consider myself no better than anyone else. This does not come easy and I need Your help. You demonstrated this humility when You came to earth and died for my sins. Help me to replicate You. Amen.
James 4:17 Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin.
We all know about sins that we do, think, or say. Those ones are pretty obvious. However, it is also a sin to not do something. If you know you should do the right thing and do not do it, that is a sin. The Spirit leads us to people who need are help and so many times we go on by. We need to slow down and help the hurting people in the world.
As an example, my wife just told a story she read on a Facebook, about a woman having car problems. This woman’s car would not start in a store parking lot. She tried all she knew, with no luck. As she tried, people walked by into the store and back out. Finally, one woman on her way back out of the store asked if she needed help. She was able to jump the woman’s car and get her going. How many people walked right past this woman? How many Christians walked right past her? How many were prompted by the Spirit to help her and did not? Those people who did not help her committed a sin of omission. What a chance for a witness, instead this woman left thinking a lot of people did not want to help her because of her race.
When the Spirit prompts us, we must act. We must go out of our way to help hurting people, in the name of Jesus. When we have a chance to do good, we must do it. You never know, your kind act might lead that person to Jesus. It might cause His name to be glorified. It is time for us to act!
Dear Jesus, forgive me for the times I failed to help people. Forgive me for the times I failed to follow Your Spirit’s leading. Help me to help others. Help me to not walk by those who are hurting. Help me to be Jesus to them. Amen.
Jeremiah 29:11 ‘For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.
Even when everything seems dim and things are just not going your way, you need to stop and remember that God has plan for your life. God’s plans are not always our plans, but in the end His plans are always better than ours. For He knows what is best for us. Which means sometimes we have to need to suffer and go through hard times, but it is part of His sovereign plan and we will be better off because of it in the long run.
God had tried many times to get the attention of the people of Judah. Their brothers of Israel already had gone into captivity, but Judah still went down the wrong path. For their good, they also need to go into captivity. But God told them, He would rescue them in 70 years and He did. Seventy years after the captivity began, Babylon was overthrown by the Medes and the Persians and the Jews were able to return to the land and start rebuilding.
God promised to restore hope to them and He did. God promises to restore hope to us and He will. God has great plans for our lives, we must remain faithful and trust Him to see us through. He is faithful!
Dear God, I thank you that You are faithful, even when I am not. Help me to trust in You with my whole heart. When I get down, help me to remember that You have great plans for me and that I need to remain faithful to You and trust in You. You are so amazing. Thank you for loving me so much to have a plan for my life! Amen.