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READING: Acts 13-14 – First Missionary Journey


Verse of the Day: “Set apart Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” (Acts 13:2)  

They went first to Cyprus, and “proclaimed the word of God in the synagogues of the Jews.” In Paphos they met a Jewish false prophet, Bar-Jesus, with Sergius Paulas, the proconsul and “an intelligent man, who summoned Barnabas and Saul to hear the word of the Lord.” The “prophet” contradicted them, to turn the proconsul from the faith. 

“Saul, called Paul, filled with the Spirit, said, ‘Son of the devil, full of deceit, will you stop making the straight paths of the Lord crooked?” Then he struck him blind for a time. This foe began groping to find someone to lead him. From this point forward, it was Paul and Barnabas, not Barnabas and Saul.  

They came to Antioch in Pisidia. In the synagogue, the rulers asked them, “If you have any word of exhortation for the people, give it.” Paul stood up and traced the story of Israel from Egypt, the wilderness, the occupation of Canaan, judges, Saul and David. Then said, “From this man’s posterity God has brought to Israel a Savior, Jesus, as promised.” Before His coming, John the Baptist preached a baptism of repentance. 

The rulers in Jerusalem did not accept Jesus and fulfilled the prophecies they had not understood. They had him killed, “but God raised Him from the dead.” We bring you the good news that what God promised to our ancestors has been fulfilled for us. As they were going out, people asked them to speak more about these things. Many Jews and devout Gentiles followed them as they urged them to continue in God’s grace. 

“The next Sabbath, almost the whole city gathered to hear the word of the Lord.” The crowds provoked Jews to jealousy, and they contradicted the apostles, who declared they would now turn to the Gentiles, who were glad. But the Jews stirred up persecution against Paul and Barnabas and drove them out of their area. They left, shaking the dust from their feet, and went to Iconium, where the same thing happened. 

From Iconium, after a long stay, they fled to Lystra and Derbe “and continued proclaiming the good news.” In Lystra, Paul saw a man, lame from birth, with faith to be healed. He said, “Stand upright on your feet;” the man sprang up.  

The people thought gods had come to them in human form; the priest of Zeus brought sacrifices to offer to them. They scarcely restrained them, insisting “We are mortals like yourselves; we bring you news you should turn from vain idols to the living God, who made heaven and earth.” 

Jews came from Antioch and Iconium, won over the crowds, and stoned Paul, leaving him for dead. The converts surrounded him, he got up, and the next day they went to Derby and “proclaimed the gospel to that city.” Then they backtracked, appointing elders in every city as they returned…  

…to Antioch in Syria where they related how God opened a door of faith for Gentiles… 

…a fruitful warmup for later journeys. 

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PRAY FOR YOURSELF  

Father, I know mission work is important, but is it always as chaotic as it seems to have been for Paul and Barnabas? Is this something that every person must be able to do? I know that you gave us gifts of apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers. There are all teaching gifts – but James said for us not all be teachers. I can see how living a godly, devoted life is a good thing, and that such a life gives opportunities to say a word (or have a conversation). Help me to recognize those opportunities and use them for your glory, even though I am neither an apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor, and have little ability to teach. This is my prayer in the name of Jesus, my Savior and Lord, who gave everything for me, AMEN!   

MY PRAYER FOR YOU (and for me)  

Father, I pray for all who may read these words, and for myself, that we may seek out the best ways of expanding Your kingdom. You lead us into opportunities that open doors for us. Give us steadfastness in prayer, and yes, even in fasting. Teach us to discern the opportunities you place before us. Help us to make disciples, not just church members. This is my prayer, in the name of Jesus, AMEN!  

READING: Acts 12 – Persecution by Herod & His Death


Verse of the Day: “While Peter was kept in prison, the church prayed fervently to God for him.” (Acts 12:5)  

Wanting to please the leading Jews, Herod became violent against the church and killed James (son of Zebedee and brother of John). Seeing that this pleased the Jews, he arrested Peter and put him in charge of four squads of soldiers to make sure he did not escape, as Herod proposed to kill him after the Passover. “While Peter was kept in prison, the church prayed fervently to God for him.” 

The night before he was to die, Peter, bound with two chains, was asleep. An angel appeared and a light shone in the cell where Peter was. The angel woke Peter, saying, “Get up quickly.” The chains fell off his wrists. The angel urged him to fasten his belt, put on his sandals, wrap his cloak around him, and to follow him. 

Peter thought it was all a dream. They passed the first and second guard, and the iron gate to the city streets opened of its own accord; they went through it and down a lane, when the angel suddenly disappeared. Then Peter realized it was real, so he made his way to the home of Mary, the mother of John Mark. Many had gathered there to pray. 

Peter knocked at the outer gate; a maid named Rhoda came to the door, recognized Peter’s voice, and ran back to say Peter was at the gate, without opening the door. The people inside said, “It is his angel.” Meanwhile, Peter was still knocking at the gate. When they opened the door and saw him, they were amazed. Peter described how the Lord’s angel led him out of the prison and asked them to tell James (brother of Jesus and leader in the Jerusalem congregation) and the church. Then he went elsewhere. Flight is better than fight. 

The next morning there was a commotion at the prison about where Peter was. Herod searched for him but could not find him, so he put the guards to death for letting him escape. 

Herod left Jerusalem and went to Caesarea. He had a quarrel with Tyre and Sidon. They petitioned Herod, asking for peace, because they depended on the king’s country for food. He gave an oration dressed in a royal robe that shone in the sun from silver woven into it. As he spoke, the people said, “The voice of a god and not of a mortal.” Because he did not give God the glory, an angel of the Lord struck him down and he died, eaten by worms. Josephus says it was five days of agony before he died. 

This is what happens when you kill God’s people and try to be a god. 

Persecution was real for the early church. Twenty-two of the twenty-eight chapters of the Acts of the Apostles have incidents of persecution, with some chapters having multiple incidents.  

How faithful would you and I be in that kind of persecution? 

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PRAY FOR YOURSELF  

Father, I know that our national constitution provides for freedom of religion; yet that freedom is being eroded in our day. How can we prepare ourselves for the time when we will be persecuted as the early church was? Help us to gain strength in trusting You to keep us safe in Your loving embrace. This is my prayer in the name of Jesus, my Savior and Lord, who gave everything for me, AMEN!  

MY PRAYER FOR YOU (and for me)  

Father, I pray for all who may read these words, and for myself, that we may do what we can do to accept persecution, if and when it comes, and to pray for the persecutor as Jesus taught us to do. Help us to bless and not curse, is my prayer, in the name of Jesus, AMEN! 

READING: Acts 10-11 – Gentiles Accepted – Cornelius and Antioch


Verse of the Day: “God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears Him and does what is right is acceptable to Him.” (Acts 10:34-35) 

These chapters focus on God accepting Gentiles into His kingdom. 

Cornelius was a devout, God-fearing man, who gave alms generously and prayed constantly. One day as he prayed, an angel appeared and told him to send to Joppa for Peter. He immediately sent two servants and a devout soldier. 

The next day, Peter was on the housetop praying while they were preparing food He had a trance and saw a sheet let down from heaven with all kinds of unclean animals, reptiles, and birds in it. A voice from Heaven said, “Rise, Peter; kill and eat.” Peter replied, “Not so, Lord; I have never eaten anything common or unclean.” The voice said, “What God has made clean, you must not call common.” This happened three times. 

While Peter was pondering this, the three Cornelius sent arrived, and the Spirit told Peter to go with them without doubting, for He had sent them. So, Peter went, taking six men from Joppa with him. 

Arriving in Caesarea, Peter found Cornelius had an audience of his household and friends to hear what Peter would say. He began, “You know it’s unlawful for a Jew to associate with Gentiles, but God showed me I shouldn’t call anyone unclean. May I ask why you sent for me?” Cornelius explained about his vision and said, “We’re here to listen to all you have to say.” 

Peter said, “I now understand God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears Him and does right is acceptable to Him.” He continued by preaching Jesus’s gospel. 

The Holy Spirit fell on the Gentiles, and they spoke in tongues. Peter asked, “Can anyone withhold water for baptizing these who received the Spirit as we have?” He commanded them to be baptized in the name of Jesus. 

Back in Jerusalem, Peter was accosted by circumcised believers who charged, “Why did you go to uncircumcised men and eat with them?” Peter explained, beginning with his vision and the Spirit telling him to go with those at his door. He pointed to the six brothers from Joppa who went with him and could vouch for what they heard in Caesarea, including the Gentiles speaking in tongues. He then asked, “Who was I that I could hinder God?” 

“And they praised God, saying, ‘Then God has given Gentiles the repentance that leads to life.” 

When Jerusalem heard of some preaching in Antioch, they sent Barnabas there, “When he saw the grace of God, he rejoiced.” He went to Tarsus to find Saul and brought him to Antioch where for a year they taught many people. “In Antioch the disciples were first called Christians.” 

Prophets from Jerusalem came; Agabus prophesied a severe famine that happened in the reign of Claudius. “The disciples determined each would send relief to the believers in Judea; this they did, sending it to the elders by Barnabas and Saul.” 

These were Gentile disciples sending relief to Jewish believers. 

Have we ever considered sending relief to Jews? 

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PRAY FOR YOURSELF 

Father, I rejoice with the Jerusalem church that God accepts Gentiles into repentance that leads to life. Without that acceptance, we would not have the privilege of serving Him. I thank You, Lord, that you planned things so that this would happen. This is my prayer in the name of Jesus, my Savior and Lord, who gave everything for me, AMEN! 

MY PRAYER FOR YOU (and for me) 

Father, I pray for all who may read these words, and for myself, that we may become more committed to benevolent concerns. Most who read this have wealth far beyond that of most of the people on earth. We need to do more to bless the poor, whom God loves. Solomon said, “He who gives to the poor lends to the Lord, and He will repay” and You, Father, always repay Your promises. Help each of us to be more benevolent to those who are in need, is my prayer, in the name of Jesus, who separated the sheep and goats based on how we treated His needy brethren, AMEN! 

READING: Acts 8-9 – Church Scatters Because of Saul & Saul Is Converted by Jesus


Verse of the Day: “Who are you, Lord? I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting; you will be told what to do in the city.” (Acts 9:5-6) 

The day Stephen died, Saul began a vicious persecution against the church that scattered it into Judea and Samaria. 

Philip, another of the seven, went into Samaria. Crowds listened eagerly to his message about the Messiah, for they saw the signs he did. A man named Simon Magus for a long time amazed the people with magic; when they believed Philip who taught the Kingdom of God and Jesus, they were baptized. Even Simon was baptized. 

An angel told Philip to go to the road from Jerusalem to Gaza. He went, and there was a man from Ethiopia, the treasurer of the Queen Candace. He had been to Jerusalem to worship and was returning home reading in his chariot. The Spirit told Philip to join the chariot. 

Philip asked, “Do you understand what you are reading?” He answered, “How can I unless someone guides me.” He invited Philip into his chariot and asked, “Does the prophet say this about himself or someone else?” He was reading from Isaiah 53. Philip began with this scripture and preached Jesus. 

The man said, “Here is water. What prevents me from being baptized?” He stopped the chariot, and he and Philip both went into the water, and Philip baptized him. The treasurer went on his way rejoicing, and Philip was caught away by the Spirit and preached until he came to Caesarea. 

Saul’s persecution of the church went to other cities. He had letters from the High Priest to synagogues in Damascus authorizing him to take any who followed the Way into custody and bring them to Jerusalem. As he and his companions neared Damascus, a bright light from Heaven shone around him. He heard a voice saying, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” 

He said, “Who are you, Lord?” The voice replied, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.” Saul asked what he should do, and Jesus said, “Go into the city, and you will be told what to do.” He was led by the hand, for the light he saw blinded him. 

Ananias came to Saul and told him Jesus had sent him to restore his sight and for him to be filled with the Spirit. Immediately, something like scales fell from his eyes, then he was baptized. He immediately began preaching in the synagogues that Jesus is the Son of God, the first mention of Him being God’s own Son in Acts. 

When he came to Jerusalem, he though his earlier companions would accept his message, but they plotted to kill him. When the believers learned of this plot, they sent him off to Tarsus by ship from Caesarea. Then the church had peace. 

Peter was called to Joppa where Dorcas (or Tabitha), who made clothes for the widows, had died. Peter raised her from the dead and remained in Joppa for some days with Simon the Tanner. 

The church, despite persecution, grew rapidly. 

Church growth today is lethargic. Have we lost the evangelism gene from our spiritual DNA? 

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PRAY FOR YOURSELF 

Father, I see a need for evangelism, but I do not know how to begin. My prayer is that You will help me overcome my fear of rejection and show me how to draw people into the grace and love of our Savior. This is my prayer in the name of Jesus, my Savior who gave His all for me, AMEN! 

MY PRAYER FOR YOU (and for me) 

Father, I pray for all who may read these words, and for myself, that we may think about how we can become more evangelistic, but we need to go beyond thinking about it. We need to act on what we can come up with after we see how the early church evangelized without the tools we have today. Let us begin by more fervent prayer for more people to reclaim the evangelism gene in our spiritual DNA is my prayer, in the name of Jesus, AMEN! 

READING: Acts 7 – Stephen’s Defense


Verse of the Day: “Lord, do not hold this sin against them. When he said this, he died.” (Acts 7:60) 

Stephen preached in the Freedmen’s synagogue; people argued and lied, “We heard him blaspheme Moses and God.” This is background from chapter six for chapter seven. 

The High Priest asked, “Are these things so?” Then Stephen made his defense, beginning with Abraham and God calling him from Mesopotamia. He traced the history of the Jewish nation from that point forward. 

 Abraham moved to Haran; when his father died, God sent him to the land of Canaan, “But He did not give him any of it, but promised He would give it to him and his descendants.”  

God said his descendants would aliens in another country four hundred years. Abraham fathered Isaac, Isaac fathered Jacob, Jacob fathered the twelve patriarchs. These, jealous of Joseph, sold him into Egypt. God was with Joseph, and he became ruler over Egypt. A famine came over Egypt and Canaan; Jacob heard Egypt had food; he sent the ten older brothers for food. 

Joseph recognized them, but they didn’t recognize him. On their second visit, he made himself known to them, and invited the family to move to Egypt. As time came near for fulfilling the promise God made Abraham, a new Pharaoh who did not know Joseph forced them to abandon their infants to die.   

Moses’ parents hid him three months before exposing him; Pharaoh’s daughter adopted him. He was instructed in all the Egyptian learning. When forty years-old, “He visited his Hebrew relatives.” He saw an Egyptian abusing an Israelite and killed him, burying him in sand. The next day he saw two Israelites fighting. He tried to stop their fight, but one said, “Who made you a ruler and judge over us? Will you kill me as you killed the Egyptian?” Knowing his deed was known, he fled to Midian where he kept sheep forty years. 

God spoke from a burning bush and sent him to Egypt to lead Israel to Canaan. It was Moses they rejected, saying, “Who made you a Ruler and Judge,” God sent to be ruler and liberator. He led Israel, performing wonders at the Red Sea. “This Moses, God told He would raise up a prophet like Him.” The ancestors weren’t willing to obey him, wanting to return to Egypt.  

They built the tabernacle in the wilderness; Joshua brought it with the people when he dispossessed the Canaanites. It was there until David prepared for Solomon to build the Temple. 

Stephen said, “You stiff-necked, uncircumcised in heart people, you oppose the Holy Spirit as your ancestors did. They killed those who foretold the coming Righteous One. You have become His murderers.” Hearing this, they became enraged. Stephen, looking into Heaven, said, “I see the Son of Man standing at God’s right hand!” 

They rushed him, dragging him outside the city, where they stoned him. He prayed, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them,” and died. 

Witnesses laid garments at Saul of Tarsus’s feet, who consented to his death. 

What would you or I pray in Stephen’s place? 

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PRAY FOR YOURSELF 

Father, I am horrified at how they treated Stephen. Yet, I know people are still being persecuted daily somewhere in this world of evil. I pray, that should a time come when I may face death unless I would deny Jesus, I pray that I would die rather than deny Him This is my prayer in the name of Jesus, my Savior who gave His all for me, AMEN! 

MY PRAYER FOR YOU (and for me) 

Father, I pray for all who may read these words, and for myself, that we may think about Stephen and his confrontation with Saul of Tarsus, who seems to be the prime perpetrator of Stephen’s murder. Stephen’s prayer as he died must have made an impact on Saul, who in the next chapter is on a rampage to destroy the church. Today, we do not kill our enemies; we merely ‘write them up’ in scandalous papers to destroy their influence and reputation. May none of us ever stoop to such chicanery, is my prayer, in the name of Jesus, AMEN! 

READING: Acts 5-6 – Apostles Beaten & Care for Widows


Verse of the Day: “If this is of God, you will fail. You will be found fighting against God.” (Gamaliel, Acts 5:39) 

Every church has occasional internal problems. The Jerusalem church was no exception. Some, like Barnabas, were selling property to provide for others and were esteemed highly. However, one couple sold property and brought part of the money to Peter, saying this was all they received.  

Peter said, “Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit,” explaining that they did not have to sell the property, and after selling, they could have kept part. But they chose to lie to God. Ananias fell dead. He was taken out and buried.  

His wife came in about three hours later; Peter asked if they had sold the property for so much. She affirmed what Ananias said. Peter told her, “Those who buried your husband will carry you out.” Sapphira fell dead. 

Fear came on the whole church, who recognized they were forgiven of sins to walk in God’s holy ways. 

Another problem occurred with the daily distribution to the needy. Greeks complained to the Hebrews their widows were neglected. The apostles called the church together and said, “It is not right for us to neglect the Word of God to serve tables.” They suggested the church choose seven men to serve tables while the Apostles devoted themselves to preaching and prayer. The church agreed, and the seven chosen all had Greek names. 

Even “many priests became obedient to the faith.” The apostles were healing many. People brought sick folks from everywhere. “More believers were added to the Lord in great numbers.” 

This made the High Priest, who did not believe in the resurrection, jealous. They arrested all the apostles and put them in the public prison. During the night, an angel opened the door and said, “Go tell the whole message about this new life.” At daybreak, they were in the Temple teaching. 

The High Priest sent for them from prison. They opened the door, and saw no one, though the doors were locked with the guards in place. Someone said they are in the Temple teaching. The High Priest sent for them. The captain went with the Temple police and brought them peacefully. 

The High Priest said, “We ordered you not to teach in this name, but you’ve filled Jerusalem with your teaching, and you’re bringing this man’s blood on us.”  

Peter and the apostles answered as before. “We must obey God rather than man. God raised Jesus, whom you killed on the tree, and exalted Him at His right hand as Savior that He might give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins.” 

This enraged them; they wanted to kill them. But Gamaliel, a highly respected teacher, said, “Let them alone; if this is of human origin, it will fail. If it is from God, you will fail. You may be found fighting against God.” They decided to beat them and release them. 

They left, “rejoicing they were worthy to suffer dishonor for the sake of His Name.” 

How would we have reacted in their place? 

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PRAY FOR YOURSELF 

Father, I wonder about Ananias and Sapphira. Why didn’t they tell Peter they couldn’t give it all, but they would give what they could. Help me to always be honest in my giving. This is my prayer in the name of Jesus. AMEN! 

MY PRAYER FOR YOU (and for me) 

Father, I pray for all who may read these words, and for myself, that we may think about the wisdom of the Apostles as they proposed a division of responsibilities in the church. This is my prayer, in the name of Jesus, AMEN! 

READING: Acts 3-4 – Cripple Healed at Temple & Peter and John Arrested


Verse of the Day: I have no silver or gold, but I give you what I have. In Jesus’s name, stand and walk. (Acts 3:6) 

Peter and John went to the Temple at prayer time. A lame beggar was laid at the Beautiful Gate of the Temple daily to beg from people entering the Temple. He saw the apostles and asked for alms; they stopped. Peter said, “Look at us.”  He looked expectantly. 

Peter said he had no money but would give what he had. He took the man’s hand, and said, “In the name of Jesus, stand and walk!” He stood, walked, and began to leap praising God. People recognized him and were amazed. A crowd quickly gathered, and Peter preached. 

Peter asked, “Why stare at us, as though we made him walk? God glorified Jesus, whom you rejected before Pilate, who wanted Him released. But you rejected the Righteous One and asked for a murderer. You killed the Author of life, whom God raised from the dead. We are His witnesses. It is Faith in His Name that makes this man walk.” 

He continued, “I know you acted ignorantly. God fulfilled what He said through the prophets; His Messiah would suffer. Turn to God so your sins may be wiped out, and refreshing times may come from the Lord. Moses said, ‘The Lord will raise up a prophet like me. Listen to Him; if you do not listen will be rooted out. When God raised up His servant, He sent Him to you, to bless you by turning you from your wicked ways.” 

While they were talking, the opposition came and took them into custody until… the next day, they brought them before the chief rulers. They made them stand in their midst and asked, “By what power or by what name did you do this?” 

Filled with the Holy Spirit, Peter answered, “If we are questioned today because of a good deed done to a sick man and are being asked how he was healed, let all of you know he stands before you in good health by the name of Jesus Christ, whom you crucified, when God raised from the dead. There is salvation in on one else, for there is no other name given among mortals by which we can be saved.” 

They recognized these men had been with Jesus. They saw the man standing with them and knew a real miracle had occurred. They asked themselves, “What shall we do with these men? It is obvious to all who are in Jerusalem that a notable sign was performed through them, and we cannot deny it. But to keep it from spreading further, let us warn them to speak no more in this name.” So that is what they ordered. 

But Peter was having none of it. He said, “You judge if we ought to listen to you or to God. We must speak of what we have seen and heard.” They threatened them again and released them. 

They went to the church, told what happened, and prayed for boldness. 

What would we (I) do in similar circumstances? 

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PRAY FOR YOURSELF 

 Father, I marvel at the boldness of Peter and John. To call out the very people who had so recently forced Pilate to crucify Jesus took great courage. To be so bold and courageous, is my prayer in the name of Jesus, AMEN! 

MY PRAYER FOR YOU (and for me)  

Father, I pray for all who may read these words, and for myself, that we may think about the courage and boldness of Peter and John, who must have taken note of Moses’ instructions to Joshua to be strong and courageous in his work. This is my prayer, in the blessed name of Jesus, AMEN! 

READING: Acts 1-2 – Ascension, Matthias, Holy Spirit Comes, Peter Preaches, Converts, Early Church


Verse of the Day: “John baptized with water; soon, you will be baptized in the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 1:5) 

Jesus’s disciples stood gawking into the sky; two men in white robes suddenly stood by them and asked, “Why are you looking up toward heaven? Jesus, Who went to Heaven, will return the same way He went to Heaven.” Then they returned from the Mount of Olives to wait. 

A group numbering one-hundred-twenty women and men were together as they waited. Peter suggested they choose someone to replace Judas. He said it must be one who was with them from the baptism of John and a witness of His resurrection. They picked two and prayed God would show who He chose by casting lots. The lot fell on Mattias. 

On Pentecost, a sound like rushing wind came. A large crowd came and saw tongues like fire sitting on each of them. Question: does ‘them’ here mean the Twelve or the-hundred-twenty?  Greek grammar says the entire group. All were speaking in tongues, telling God’s wonderful works, and people from every nation under heaven heard them speaking their own native languages. They marveled, but some said, “They are filled with new wine.” 

Peter spoke, saying, “They’re not drunk. This was spoken by Joel, ‘In the last days, I’ll pour my Spirit upon all flesh; your sons and daughters shall prophesy; I’ll show signs in heaven; the sun will be dark, and the moon becomes blood before the Lord’s great, glorious day. And all who call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” 

God proved Jesus with power, wonders, and signs He did through Him, as you know. Jesus was handed over by you and by lawless men you crucified Him; this was God’s deliberate plan. But God raised Him from death. because it was impossible for death to hold Him. Then he quoted David in Psalm 16, saying, “You will not abandon my soul to Hades, or let your Holy One see corruption.” David died, was buried, and is still in his tomb where he suffered corruption. He spoke, not of himself, but of Messiah, whom God raised, and we are all witnesses of the resurrected Christ

He is exalted at the right hand of God. He received the promised Holy Spirit and has poured out what you see and hear this day! David did not ascend into the Heavens, but said, “The Lord said to my Lord, ‘sit at My right hand until I make your enemies My footstool.’ Let the house of Israel know God has made Him both Lord and Messiah, Jesus whom you crucified.” 

They said, “What shall we do?” Peter said, “Repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins and you will receive the Holy Spirit.” Three thousand responded and were added to them. 

They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, fellowship, breaking bread, and the prayers. 

That is a simplified church, which is what we strive for! 

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PRAY FOR YOURSELF 

 Father, My God and Creator, I marvel at how Your plan came together! Jesus returned to You, and the disciples were left gawking, yet just days later when they receive Your Holy Spirit, they knew just what to do. I pray that by Your indwelling Spirit with me, I may know just what I need to do, is my prayer in the sacred name of Jesus, AMEN! 

MY PRAYER FOR YOU (and for me)  

Father, I pray for all who may read these words, and for myself, that we may ponder the things the early church devoted themselves to: The apostles’ teaching is clear. Fellowship is clear, but their one-another fellowship is a lot beyond the “fellowship dinners” of most churches. The breaking of bread is certainly the Lord’s Supper He gave as a memorial for us to always remember Him. The prayers were the prayers in the Temple, prayed at the hours of prayer by the Jews. Should we have set times of praying the prayer Jesus taught His disciples to pray? What about other prayers that men have written? This is my prayer, in the blessed name of Jesus, AMEN! 

READING: Joel 2:18-3:21 – GOD Has Pity, He Will Pour Out His Spirit – He Judges Nations, & Israel’s Future


Verse of the Day: “The LORD had pity on His people.” – Joel 2:18 (ESV) 

Immediately after the assembly of the nation of Judah because of the Locust Plague, God had pity on His people. He said, “I’m giving you grain, wine, and oil, and you will be satisfied; I will no longer make you a reproach among the nations.” He drove the Locusts into the Eastern and Western seas and supplied food, wine, and oil to Judah. He sent rain; grass and other vegetation began to grow. 

He promised to “restore to you the years that the Locusts ate, the army I sent among you,” that is, the Locust Plague. You’ll have plenty to eat, and “will praise the name of the LORD, and My people will never again be put to shame. You will know I am the LORD your God and there is no one else.” 

God said, “I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh; your sons and daughters shall prophesy; your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions. On male and female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit.” There will be wonders in the heavens. The sun will be turned to darkness, and the moon into blood before the great Day of the Lord comes. “And everyone who calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved.”  

In chapter three, following His restoration of Jerusalem, the LORD will call the nations to the Valley of Jehoshaphat for judgment. “The locusts, drought, and fires heralded the ‘Day of the LORD,’ which could be averted only by genuine repentance” (Homer Hailey, A Commentary on the Minor Prophets, p. 41).  

The first verses of chapter three point to the time after sending the Holy Spirit on all flesh, a time when “repentance and remission of sins was preached in His name.” We cannot say with certitude when judgment is of God or we think it is from God but is not. 

“Put in the sickle, for the harvest is ripe; tread, for the winepress is full. The vats overflow, for their evil is great.” This points to a ‘Day-of-the-Lord’ judgment, but not when or where it will be. This is how Joel tells us  God is vigilant and can bring His judgment on any nation in this After Pentecost Time. 

When the LORD roars from Zion, I think of New Jerusalem from which our Lord is coming. Verse eighteen of chapter three is our assurance God is with us. Compare Romans 8:38-39; “I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, not things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” 

Remember: The Day of the Lord is a judgment on the wicked, but redemption for the righteous 

There’s a great day coming. Are you ready for that day to come? 

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PRAY FOR YOURSELF 

Father in the Heavens, Jesus told His disciples when to flee from Jerusalem and Judea and to hide in the mountains, but we have no certain way of knowing when disturbances and wars in our time may be a “Day-of-the-Lord” event or part of the everlasting fighting among the nations. I pray for guidence from Your Spirit to let me know how to discerne the two different types of disruptions of our lives. I know that in Christ we are safe, regardless of which kind of disturbance we are experiencing. Help us to grow from these experiences, is my prayer in the sacred name of Jesus, AMEN! 

MY PRAYER FOR YOU (and for me) 

Holy God, Eternal Father, I pray for all who may read these words, and for myself, that we may take seriously the idea of “The Day of the Lord” as a judgment on wicked people, cities, and nations but is also redemption for those who are faithful to You. We trust You know what you are doing when You judge our civic bodies in our space-time universe. We have seen such judgments in the Scriptures, but we do not have the savvy to know when these disturbances are from you or not. We pray, Father, that you will not lead us into the time of trial and temptation, and when we see our civic leaders are going over a moral cliff we need to pray for them with urgency to change their course. I lift up this prayer that all who read this may pray for our governing officials that they may come to their senses and change their course. Let us have an influence on Western Culture similar to what the early church had on the Roman Empire. This is my prayer, in the blessed name of Jesus, AMEN! 

READING: Luke 24 – RESURRECTION!!!


Women, who had rested on the Sabbath after preparing spices and ointments to put on His body, went to the grave Sunday morning, arriving at dawn. “They found the stone rolled from the tomb, but going in, they did not find His body” and were perplexed. 

“Suddenly two men in dazzling clothes were with them. They said, ‘Why are you seeking the living among the dead? He isn’t here; He’s risen. Remember, while He was with you, He told you He must be crucified and rise again on the third day.” 

Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other women went back, found the eleven with others, and told them what they had seen. They did not believe them. But Peter “ran to the tomb, and looking in he saw the linen cloths and was amazed.” Seeing the grave clothes convinced him Jesus lived. 

Later that day, two were walking to Emmaus, and Jesus came near but their eyes were kept from recognizing Him. He asked what they were discussing as they walked. “They stood still, looking sad. Cleopas said, “Are you the only stranger who does not know what’s happened in Jerusalem these days?’ Jesus asked, ‘What things?’ They said, ‘The Chief Priests handed over Jesus of Nazareth, a prophet mighty in word and deed, to be crucified. And we hoped He would be the One to redeem Israel.” It is now the third day. 

They told about the women visiting the tomb and their vision of angels; others went to the tomb, and it was as they said, “But they did not see Him.” 

Jesus said, “How slow of heart to believe what the prophets declared; the Messiah must suffer and then enter His glory! Beginning with Moses, He interpreted the things about Himself in the scriptures.” 

They neared Emmaus, and Jesus acted as if He were going on. They begged Him to stay with them. He stayed, and at the table, He took bread and blessed it. They recognized Him, and he disappeared.  

They returned to Jerusalem “and found the eleven with their companions. They were saying, ‘The Lord has risen indeed and has appeared to Simon.’ Then they told what happened on the road and how He was known in the breaking of the bread.” 

Then suddenly, Jesus was with them, saying, “Shalom. They were terrified, thinking they saw a ghost. He asked, “Why are you frightened? Why do doubts rise in you? Look at my hands and feet; see it is I. Touch me and see.” 

In their joy they were disbelieving, and He asked if they had anything to eat. He took a piece of fish and ate it before them.  

Then He spoke, “I said while I was with you; the Law, Prophets, and Psalms must be fulfilled. The Messiah must suffer and rise the third day; repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in His name to all nations, beginning in Jerusalem.” 

This ‘commission’ was theirs then. 

It is ours today! How well do we keep it? 

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PRAY FOR YOURSELF 

Father, my God and Savior, I delight in You and the perfection of Your wisdom in winning by accepting death for Jesus that He might become the firstborn from the dead. Thank you for letting us die with Him that we may live with Him and with You eternally. In the name that is above all names, I offer this prayer of thanksgiving, AMEN! 

MY PRAYER FOR YOU (and for me) 

I offer this prayer for all who may read these words, and for myself. I pray that each of us may look at the commission Jesus gave His disciples in the end of this chapter before He ascended back into heaven. How do we respond to it today? In today’s church, how many disciples are making disciples who will make more disciples? Think of how we are doing; most of us are doing little to make disciples, maybe because we have not been taught to make them. I offer this challenge to all who read this prayer (and to myself) as a prayer to the first maker of disciples in His kingdom, AMEN! 

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