Acts 20:1-38 Fear is one of the greatest enemies of every Christian. Satan seeks to paralyze us with fear. Fear is Satan's anesthesia that causes us to be frozen on his operating table where he can perform wicked surgery on our souls. One of the secrets of the early church's success in the spread of the gospel is that those early believers loved not their lives to the death. When we read Revelation 12:11, we often skip over the last part. This verse reads, "And they overcame him [Satan] by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death."
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Acts 19:13-14 God is not the author of confusion. Satan is. We learn this in this chapter in Acts. Wherever idols are worshiped or participation in the occult is present, there is confusion because the author of confusion is on the scene.
Acts 18:22-19:12 When my children were little I would find Bible heroes, and then I would pray for my sons to be just like them. One of these Bible heroes was Daniel, who had an excellent spirit. Today we see another Bible hero whom we would like our children to emulate. His name was Apollos.
Acts 18:1-21 The red and yellow poppies shook gently in the breeze under a postcard blue sky as we looked upon the ruins of Corinth. Once a great city where Paul spent over a year and a half, it now was covered with a field of poppies. We were spending some time in Greece just after our tour to Israel. As I looked at what was left of Corinth, I understood why Paul spent so much time there. It must have been a beautiful city. We actually saw the judgment seat area where Gallio drove the Jews from his presence.
Proverbs 17:27-28 This proverb basically says, "If you have any sense at all, keep your mouth shut." Solomon puts it more eloquently when he writes, "He who has knowledge spares his words, and a man of understanding is of a calm spirit. Even a fool is counted wise when he holds his peace: when he shuts his lips, he is considered perceptive."
Acts 16:16-40 Picture Paul and Silas in stocks in prison. They should have been so discouraged and depressed, but this was not their state at all. They had been beaten, and I am sure the stocks were irritating their fresh wounds, yet they made a quality decision. They decided to praise the Lord anyhow. They began to sing praises to God. Suddenly there was a great earthquake, and the foundations of the whole prison were shaken, causing the doors of their cell to fling open. The guard of the prison awakened and was in great fear. This guard was about to kill himself because he knew he would be killed if Paul and Silas escaped. Paul cried out, "Do not harm yourself, for we are here." Then this prisoner fell at their feet and asked, "What must I do to be saved?" Paul answered, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you and your house will be saved." The guard took them to his house, where Paul and Silas explained to the whole household about the Lord. The guard washed their wounds and then everyone in his household was baptized.
Psalm 142:1-7 In the old days stores had complaint departments. These departments are now called Customer Service, but the name change has not changed the function of these departments. Customer service usually handles disgruntled people who have purchased something they are not satisfied with and have brought it back to the store for an exchange or for their money back. Those who stand behind the desks of customer service think they have a tough job, but their job does not compare to the job Moses had. He had over 600,000 complaining, murmuring Israelites at his throat day and night. At one point in the travels through the wilderness Moses asked the Lord to show him favor by just killing him. He had had it with their complaints, and he knew God was weary of it also.
Psalm 141:1-10 David knew how important the words we speak are. Throughout the Psalms, he prays for God to help him control his tongue. He prays in this psalm, "Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips" (v. 3).
Proverbs 17:22 In recent years some medical doctors have used "laugh therapy" with their patients. I heard a story about a lady who was healed through laughter. Her doctor prescribed a steady diet of "The Three Stooges." She was instructed to watch the videos of their old films as much as possible. It worked. She actually laughed her way to health. This secret was known by Solomon, who writes, "A merry heart does good, like medicine, but a broken spirit dries the bones."
Psalm 139:1-24 Yesterday we talked about how God can perfect everything that is a concern to us. Today we see how God is concerned for us and knows us intimately. In fact, God knows my needs before I even share with Him these needs in prayer. David writes, "For there is not a word on my tongue, but behold, O Lord, You know it altogether" (v. 4).
Psalm 138:1-8 Everyone alive has concerns, and it amazes me that God knows about each concern we have. More than that, He is able to perfect those things that are a concern to us. David writes, "Though I walk in the midst of trouble, You will revive me: You will stretch out Your hand against the wrath of my enemies, and Your right hand will save me. The Lord will perfect that which concerns me: Your mercy, O Lord endures forever; do not forsake the works of Your hands" (vv. 7-8).
Acts 12:24-13:15 This passage in Acts reveals some of the secrets of multiplying the church through the spread of the gospel. The first verse says, "But the word of God grew and multiplied."
Proverbs 17:14-15 We talked yesterday about the holy rain that descends when we praise the Lord. Today's proverb talks about strife and compares it to the letting out of water. We have a dam close by us, and on certain days the dam is opened to let out the water into the river. Before this happens, an alarm sounds to warn all those on the river to go to shore to avoid the rushing current that is about to be released. If anyone ignores that warning alarm and does not reach shore, he runs the risk of having his boat capsized by the raging currents, and he could drown.
Psalm 135:1-21 When I read this passage about the vapors ascending from the ends of the earth, I recall one of the funniest yet most penetrating sermons I ever heard. The psalmist writes, "He causes the vapors to ascend from the ends of the earth; He makes lightnings for the rain; He brings the wind out of His treasures" (v. 7).
Proverbs 17:9-11 It is the nature of man to cover for himself when he has done something wrong. When Adam and Eve sinned, the first thing they noticed was that they were naked, and they were ashamed. They were vulnerable. They dressed themselves in fig leaves to cover their nakedness. Before this time Adam and Eve wore glory clothes. God's glory light shone around them and protected them from being vulnerable. We are created in God's image to show forth His glory, but since the Fall, Satan has used shame as a false covering for those who sin. The good news is that Jesus bore our shame on the cross. He became vulnerable and naked for our sakes so that we might be covered with His blood and robe of righteousness and thereby be protected from shame.
Acts 10:1-23 We sat in the amphitheater under a cloudless sky. We were seated in an amphitheater built by Herod in Caesarea centuries ago. My husband read the account from Acts 10 to the people on our tour of Israel. As he read this story, I realized the great victory Peter had over prejudice in his life. We all need such a victory.
Proverbs 17:6 As I am reading this proverb, I am also watching my husband walk his first grandchild. He is smiling from ear to ear as he strolls this crown princess. Children's children are the crowns of old men. I know my husband would prefer his grandchildren over ten thousand crowns. Each of our grandchildren is a crown of glory to my husband. Also as a father to three fine sons, he is the glory of his three sons. Glory! Glory!
Proverbs 17:4-5 This proverb shares how God looks at the poor. Anyone who mocks the poor reproaches God. "He who mocks the poor reproaches his Maker; he who is glad at calamity will not go unpunished" (v. 5).
Psalm 130:1-8 Have you ever been offended? Most of the offenses I experience are those that I take up for others. The Bible is clear, however, that love is not easily provoked or offended. I have come to ask God's forgiveness for not walking in His path of love, and then to ask Him for the power to get back on that path. When we are personally offended, it is always because our pride has been hurt. Knowing this has helped me to stay on the path of love. The moment I am offended, I confess pride because I know it was my pride in some way that was hurt.
Acts 7:51-8:13 As Stephen was being stoned he prayed. "And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep" (Acts 7:60, KJV).
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