Saturday, December 24, 2016

Acts 9

Summary: Saul, wanting to imprison those in the Way, is stopped and blinded by none other than Jesus Himself. This and the hospitality of those in the Way converts him in. As he intermingles with the (rightfully wary) disciples, Peter converts two towns next to each other with healings.

Response: So if we're going by after-school special morals, we have that you're not always right, people really can change, and that more than one good thing can happen at the same time. And since I've been sick since two nights ago, that'll have to do.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Acts 8

Summary: With Stephen's death comes a zeal for persecution from a man named Saul not yet seen in Jerusalem. The Way dias because of people fleeing to safety. During this diaspora, Philip (an apostle) began teaching in Samaria, then to an Ethiopian man.

Response: If it wasn't already, this is the beginning of our (yes, you and me) inclusion into the Way. Before this, an offshoot of the Temple; after, we have the same promise as God's chosen people (and yes, the same responsibility).

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Acts 7

Summary: Stephen's testimony goes all the way back from Abraham to Solomon, ancestors of the Jewish council against which he's defending himself. He says they're ignoring the power and intent of God, which gets them angry, but claiming to see Jesus at God's right hand pushes them past the tipping point, and they stone him to death.

Response: Stephen was a deacon, we heard last chapter, so he wasn't necessarily a preacher. But he sees the connections between history and service that I too often write about in places like these early in the morning and then forget about. Keep my mind on You, Lord!

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Acts 6

Summary: As the Way grows stronger, dividing work between apostles' teaching and praying and deacons' serving; the resistance also grows, with one group fabricating lies about Stephen, one of the deacons, to bring him into a religious court.

Response: "All who were sitting in the council looked intently at Stephen and saw his face was like the face of an angel." My notes to me it was not necessarily a look of innocence, as we might portray someone with an angel today, but so glowing with a holy message that he's almost full to bursting. I hope that I can someday serve as he served and have God's word on my lips in the same way.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Acts 5

Summary: After an odd story about a couple who, after lying about giving money to the apostles, drop dead; we have another cycle of the Way growing in number, the apostles arrested, questioned, and released. An angel releases them from the prison, and a member of the interrogators appeals to the rest of them by reason: if this is human, it'll fail, but if it's God, then we can't stop it, so the best course either way is to leave it alone.

Response: Alright, yes, Ananias and Sapphira. God drops two people dead for lying. I mean, I don't know if that was all they'd ever done; it certainly keeps others from doing the same, helps others in the Way true to it, though I'm not a fan of it being through fear. This isn't a huge sticking point between God and me, so I'm moving on.

The angel in the story was pretty cool. That part (like others that are coming) reads like a sitcom script: they're gone! go get them! they're not here either! etc.

Finally, I think it's pretty apparent which direction the Way went, looking super long term. I don't speak about Christianity as a whole very often. There are parts of history where people have bent the faith to their own wills, and many still do. But I still believe most Christians are, can be, are trying to be, the hands and feet of Christ, doing that whole healing and saving the lost thing. Lately, I've missed opportunities to serve the least in my community because I've been so busy. I'm hoping to get ahead in my break and elsewhere to get time back for that.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Acts 4

Summary: The Temple leaders question Peter and John because they healed in Jesus' name and spread news of His resurrection, but they can't charge the two with anything and only threaten them. Returning together, the followers of Jesus pray for unity under Jesus, and to the eye, the small group does a great job, living in community so they can help others and worship God.

Response: This is the same group that manipulated the Roman government to crucify Jesus. I suppose that they, again, will have to wait until popularity dies down before doing anything rash, though I've been wrong before.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Acts 3

Summary: By making their presence known through healing a lame man, Peter and John get an opportunity to tell of Jesus on their terms.

Response: Just a couple of stray thoughts. This is a different Peter than we see in Luke. He's still headstrong, but as a leader and not a follower. I love hearing redemption stories, but I wonder if we'll see these figures of the early church stumble any more without Jesus there to correct them. The Old Testament heroes were all flawed, and I worry that, in an effort to be legitimized, all the saints will be portrayed as infallible, which is not very relatable. Then again, the Holy Spirit is supposed to change us, right? This will probably need more prayer.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Acts 2

Summary: The apostles gathered together on a certain day and received the ability to speak in many languages to the cosmopolitan population of Jerusalem. Questioned, their leader Paul speaks of Jesus' resurrection and His legacy, to repent and sin no more. Then they put it into practice, living communally and vibrantly.

Response: Throughout the last chapter, the thought in the back of my head had been, "now what?" But this is the "now what:" the people of God serving and growing their number. I don't think I've read Acts right after a Gospel before, so I've missed the continuity from Jesus to the Church, which is really cool so far.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Acts 1

Summary: Jesus is still alive! He appears to the disciples over a forty-day period before His ascension, and then they are left to do His work. Their first goal is to recoup a loss in their group, replacing Judas Iscariot with Matthias.

Response: I mean, in hindsight it seems good to have the group whole again. Still, I guess I wonder if the thought ever crossed them to replace Jesus in the same way. Lord, help me to focus on You and Your plans, and to have the energy to help fulfill them.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Luke 24

Summary: Through messengers at the tomb, through visits with disciples on the road, and finally to all his gathered followers, Jesus makes it clear: He has risen from the dead! Not only that, but this is something the Scriptures have pointed to all this time. Their hope restored, the disciples bid farewell to Jesus as He ascends into heaven.

Response: You couldn't write a better movie ending, which even hints at a sequel. I guess that's where I'm headed next--Acts!

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Luke 23

Summary: The Jewish leaders bring Jesus to regional rulers; when they won't condemn Him, the crowds (usually on Jesus' side) shout for His death. It's gruesome and many signs come about, but Jesus is indeed crucified, dead, and buried.

Response: And, for the most part, He lets it happen. I've made statements before about how God loves us so much that He accepts our choices, even the most terrible ones. He's even willing to die for us-and did-rather than give that choice up.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Luke 22

Summary: Jesus has, so far, escaped the wrath of Jewish leaders in Jerusalem because He has appeared only in crowds. Yet He came out to His usual secluded prayer space and, betrayed, He was arrested by a mob, publicly beaten, and grilled by the group of Jewish leaders.

Response: Jesus' pull to God (and his desire to do God's will) was so strong, He gave up His one tactical advantage on purpose. He tried to offer grace to His jailers, torturers and interrogators each step of the way, not so He might be saved but so they might turn from what they were doing. I can only hope I see such signs any better, but only with Your help, Lord.