Vs. 7, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” Paul writes quite an intense appeal to Timothy in the wake of his impending death. Timothy was to preach the word (vs. 2) and be a messenger of the Gospel to others! Question: Why was this so important? Because in the last days, people will turn from sound doctrine and truth (vs. 3-5). Paul knew his time was coming to an end and would reflect upon his life (vs. 6-8). Paul urged Timothy to come quickly to Rome and bring Mark before winter (vs. 9-18). We see the value of the relationships God blesses us with. But we also see another sad reality of the Christian life is that some will forsake us. However, Paul knew ultimately that the Lord was always with him (vs. 17-18). Even with Paul facing death, he still thought of others as he closes his last letter (vs. 19-22)
Regarding application…Be Prepared. Vs. 2, “Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction.” Question: Be prepared for what? To preach the Word of God! It may be easy to dismiss this personal exhortation and think it doesn’t apply to us. Because we too live in the last days, there will be many false doctrines. Paul and Timothy were not the only ones as we were reminded in this letter that were being prepared to stand up for the truth. The very fact that we are here today is evidence that throughout the centuries, people have been prepared to speak the truth and even die for it. Brothers and sisters, unlike athletes who prepare for a season of time in the year to compete, we must be ready in season and out of season. We are always “on call” when it comes to our duty as a soldier for Christ.
Vs. 1, “When it was decided that we would sail for Italy, Paul and some other prisoners were handed over to a centurion named Julius, who belonged to the Imperial Regiment.” The journey begins from Caesarea to Rome. From the very onset, the Lord provided a very kind Roman centurion Julius who would later save Paul’s life from certain death (vs. 42-43). Paul was not alone in this turbulent time, for Luke the author of Acts as well as a Christian convert from Thessalonica Aristarchus also accompanied Paul (vs. 2). This is a very long and arduous journey by ship. They transferred ships at Myra continued to head westward. By the time they got to the Island of Crete and arrived in Fair Haven (vs. 8), It was early October (vs. 9, Fast refers to Day of Atonement – Yom Kippur which was finished after Oct. 5th). Paul’s experience on the seas compelled him to warn Julius to inform the Pilot of the ship not to try sailing to a better port (vs. 12). Phoenix was not too far away and the Pilot didn’t want to stay at Fair Haven, so they set sail. But a storm, reminiscent of a storm like Jonah came unexpectedly to them (vs. 14). This storm was so severe it totally steered them off their course and they finally hit land (Malta). As you can see from the map, this was quite a storm to take them so off course. During this time, it began to get very hopeless for all who were on board (vs. 21). But Paul would exhort the crew to have courage (vs. 25). When they finally realized they were near land, a few more events transpired (vs. 27-44). Some sailors tried to escape out of fear of the ship being destroyed (vs. 31) and Julius ensured the other soldiers plot to kill the prisoner’s to prevent them from escaping was stopped (vs. 42). All in all, a pretty crazy couple of weeks!
Regarding application…Encouraging Others. Vs. 36, “They were all encouraged and ate some food themselves.” After many days of enduring a relentless storm and being sea sick, Paul encourages everyone to finally eat. Some scholars believe many did not eat and fasted purposefully to their pagan god’s during the storm. After giving thanks to God, Paul and the others finally get something to eat (vs. 38). While we may not endure physical storms on the high seas, we certainly endure spiritual and emotional storms. Likewise, as Christians we want to give thanks to God no matter the circumstances. And most importantly, we want to encourage others to partake in eating our spiritual food (bible) and dine with Jesus everyday. Over the years, I have had many opportunities to encourage others as they have come to me for prayer or spiritual advice. The one common denominator I have discovered is that during the storms of life, we often do not take time to read the Bible and pray. Whether in my own life or the life of others, the storms of life scare us so much that we don’t turn to the Lord as we should. Brothers and sisters, being a part of the body of Christ (the church), we should do our best to encourage others to spend time daily with the Lord (Colossians 3:16)
Vs. 17, “So if God gave them the same gift as he gave us, who believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I to think that I could oppose God?” In our first half of our passage, we see Luke sort of review what transpired as Peter comes back to Jerusalem to report what he had done (vs. 1-18). I like the wisdom Peter exercised by having six others come with him to the house of Cornelius (vs. 12). There is safety in numbers and it only makes the testimonies more valid. This issue of the Gospel being spread to Gentiles was not easy for those who had been Jews their whole lives. Luke then shifts our story to Antioch (vs. 19-30). Antioch was the third largest city in the Roman empire. When Stephen had been martyred, we were told earlier how the church had scattered from Jerusalem. People were now taking the Good News and sharing it to others! But the church in Jerusalem, wisely sent someone to ensure all was going well. They chose Barnabas who also sought out Saul (Paul) to assist him. The church of Antioch plays a very important role as we continue down the road of Acts. Many will continue to receive and accept the Lord! And lastly, we see the church at Antioch send support to the main church in Jerusalem (vs. 30).
Regarding application…Helping Hands. Vs. 21, “The Lord’s hand was with them, and a great number of people believed and turned to the Lord.” Question: Isn’t this a beautiful picture of God helping us? Through the helping hands of God, many would come to believe and put their trust in the Lord. That is why we give all the glory to God, for we are just His instruments to bring the Good News. When we lift up our hands physically and spiritually with the Lord, we are acknowledging to Him that we want him to protect and guide us. It always touches my heart to see children naturally holding the hands of their parents. Our heavenly Father is not going to leave us. You are in best hands possible! It brings much comfort to my heart when I think about my unknown future. As you start your day today or ending it…thank the Lord that you are not alone. As God lends a hand to us, let us be like Barnabas and lend helping hands to others!
Vs. 4, “On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about.” After the resurrection, Jesus spent forty more days with His disciples instructing them (vs. 2). He was reminding them that the thirds person of the Trinity will be coming. The Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit for many Christians is the most difficult to understand. While there are differences in understand the baptism of the Holy Spirit (vs. 5), we as Christians have the confidence that we have the Holy Spirit in us. The Holy Spirit helps us to be holy and sanctified for God. The Holy Spirit guides us and helps us to do the will of the Father in Christ Jesus. In this chapter, we see the disciples obey Jesus and wait for the coming of the Spirit (vs. 9-26). I love how we see the dependence shown in fervent prayer (vs. 14). We also see the adding of Matthias as Judas Iscariots replacement among the twelve (vs. 20-26)
Regarding application…You are Witnesses. Vs. 8, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” How can I not highlight this verse for our application today? This was Jesus’ last command before He ascended to Heaven. This fulfills the importance of what we call the Great Commission (Matt 28:19-20). Though we have not physically seen Jesus, we still have the important job of witnessing because we have experienced Jesus through the Holy Spirit. Brothers & sisters in Christ…This is our purpose. So often we ask ourselves, “What is God’s will for me?” We are to be witnesses of Christ in all that we do. A witness in a trial bears testimony for what they saw and believe. We do the same thing. That is why we devote time to reading the Bible, because the more we know, the more effective our witness becomes!
Vs. 2, “He told them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.” In our previous chapter, sending out the twelve was not enough. Jesus needed more, so we see that seventy-two (or seventy) will help spread the Gospel (vs. 1-24). It’s important to note a couple of things going on here; there is danger in ministry, that’s why we should not do it alone. And also, they were not just planting the seed of truth, they were to literally reap of the harvest (salvation)! The more I read Jesus’ ministry, I realize how he ensured that all were reached out to both the poor and educated. The Parable of the Good Samaritan was a response from an educated teacher of the law with a salvation question (vs. 25-37). But Jesus uses this a reminder to all that we are to love others as God loved us. Simple, huh? And lastly, we come to our dear Martha and Mary account of beings so worried about serving Jesus that we forget to spend time with him (vs. 38-42).
Regarding application…Being with Jesus. Vs. 39, “She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said.” Question: What was Martha doing? She was very busy doing all the work to prepare for the Lord. Question: Are you busy in your life these days? The Holiday seasons always seem to be synonymous with busyness. Yet, we have a beautiful picture of what it is all about. Martha was not wrong, there is a time to prepare. But she was so busy worrying about that, she didn’t have time to just sit and be with Jesus like Mary. For myself, I find I like to do tangible things to help the Lord. Like a good solider, I’m ready for battle, just tell me what you want me to do! Yet, my leader just wants to spend time with me? Dearest brothers & sisters…Jesus is our commander and chief, but more importantly, He loves us so much that he actually wants to spend time with you. That’s what this QT blog is all about, reminding us of the importance of being with Jesus!
Vs. 6, “So they set out and went from village to village, preaching the gospel and healing people everywhere.” For a specific purpose and time, Jesus would send out the twelve apostles to go and make disciples (vs. 1-6). Naturally, as the Gospel was being spread, more and more rumors started to circulate on just who this Jesus was. Question: Who is this Jesus? Herod was asking (vs. 7-9) and even Jesus’ own disciples were wondering (vs. 18-27). Fortunately, we are not left hanging on too long to this question for Jesus would answer it and proceed to show His glory on the Mount of Transfiguration (vs. 28-36). Yet, ministry and life did not afford Jesus and the disciples any breaks. Healings, more questions, oppositions and teachings would continue (vs. 37-62).
Regarding application…The Daily QT Vs. 23, “Then he said to them all: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” This verse is one of my inspirations on why I do QT (Quiet Times) daily. Jesus chose on His own free will to take up the cross. He showed us the importance of daily walking with the Father and a prayer relationship. Now, we are exhorted to “daily” walk, take the cross and follow Jesus. Question: What is the cross? Thankfully, it is not the literal cross, but it does denote a choice to go down a life that hearkens, “Not my will, but yours be done.” There are a plethora of life decisions we could selfishly do and attain. But taking that cross is sacrificing all of that for the sake of the Gospel. This is really about be willing to let go of the life we want and following Jesus daily. It’s not an easy road, but the joys that come from it last a lifetime and will continue through eternity!
Vs. 1, “After this, Jesus traveled about from one town and village to another, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God. The Twelve were with him.” It’s important to note how Jesus and the apostles depended upon the women who would come to help support them and even travel with them (vs. 2-3). And now we get the wonderful opportunity to hear the teachings of Christ. In the Parable of the Sower, we are starkly reminded of the importance of hearing and doing (vs. 4-15). The lamp on a stand instructs us to share His light to the world (vs. 16-18). While it may seem Jesus’ response to his family was a bit harsh, it’s really a encouragement to know we are part of God’s family (vs. 19-21). Jesus us with us in the storms (vs. 22-25), Jesus can deliver us from evil (vs. 26-39), and Jesus is our great physician (vs. 40-56).
Regarding application…Sharing Joy! Vs. 39, “Return home and tell how much God has done for you.” So the man went away and told all over town how much Jesus had done for him.” The man who had been healed from demon possession was so overjoyed he wanted to follow Jesus. But, Jesus knew the powerful testimony this man would have upon the town he was from. Everyone had known about this man and now that he was healed, it would bring much glory to Christ. Sometimes we have the tendency to want to dictate how we are going to be used by God, but God always knows the best way. We just need to trust and be obedient. Each of us has this joy deep inside from what Jesus has brought into our lives. Let’s go testify and share the joy this Christmas!
Vs. 13, “When the Lord saw her, his heart went out to her and he said, “Don’t cry.” What a privilege it is to have some insight into the heart of Jesus. In this chapter, we see four opportunities for Jesus to reach out His heart in compassion. The faith of the centurion (vs. 1-10), the widow’s loss (vs. 11-17), John the Baptist’s questions (vs. 18-35), and sinful prostitute all show us Jesus’ love in action (vs. 36-50). It’s interesting to note that Jesus marveled at this Roman Centurion’s faith (vs. 9). In the widow, it was Jesus who was filled with compassion to heal on His volition. With John, we see a prophet who is in jail and discouraged, but Jesus would affirm him and share encouragement. And in the sinful prostitute, we realize that all of us are sinners with a debt that cannot be paid on our own.
Regarding application…How Much? Vs. 47, “Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—for she loved much. But he who has been forgiven little loves little.” Question: How much do you love? Why did this prostitute give so much back to Jesus? The answer lies in her realizing that she was a sinner. Though her life must have been very difficult and filled with shame, we see that these tough times made her all the more responsive to Jesus. Question: How much do we need to be forgiven? The reality is…we all are like the prostitute; it’s time to stop thinking we are not a bad person. If we realize how much we’ve been forgiven, we will love much. An important reminder as we approach the love that was shown to us through the birth of Jesus. Let us love with a love that outpours our gratitude and honors the Lord rightly!
Vs. 12, “One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God.” What an amazing picture of the importance in bringing prayer in all decisions of life. Jesus prayed that night before he chose his twelve. What an amazing opportunity the apostles had to learn at the very feet of Jesus. Question: What is an apostle? The original word is the Greek word, “apostolos” which means “to send”. We don’t have apostles today (you had to physically see Jesus), but we are all called to be disciples (pupil). We also see Luke’s version of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus’ beautiful exhortation on how to live this Christian life. We are taught how to deal with blessings and react to it (vs. 20-26). We are taught how to deal with relationships and people (vs. 27-45). And we are also instructed how to build our lives on the rock (Jesus).
Regarding application…Obeying God. Vs. 46, “Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?” Listening and doing are two very different things. Coming to church, hearing a message, reading your Bible…these are all examples of hearing God’s word. But, it’s what we do with what we read and hear that counts. Question: What are you doing to obey what Jesus says? When I read in the Bible that Jesus says to pray and then don’t pray, I am building my life on the sand. If Jesus is truly your Lord, you would do what he says. When a parent tells their child to take the trash out, the child obeys because he/she knows that the parent not only loves them, but that they belong to that parent. Question: Do you belong to Jesus? If so, turn to the Lord, pray and love as He loved us!
Vs. 1, “One day as Jesus was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret, with the people crowding around him and listening to the word of God.” Much is covered in this chapter, but one undeniable thing we see: Jesus came to love and serve. Whether calling more disciples, reaching out to the sick, and loving those who are unlovely…Jesus covers it all in this chapter. Despite all the busyness of Jesus’ ministry, I love how stuck in all of this is vs. 15, where we are told Jesus often withdrew to lonely places to pray. In this we see the simplicity of being able to sustain life’s demands and responsibilities. Jesus prayed. Question: How is your prayer life?
Regarding application…Our Real Purpose. Vs. 10, “…Then Jesus said to Simon, “Don’t be afraid; from now on you will catch men.” Question: What is your goal in life? Many of us have huge aspirations to being successful, to making a difference, and to feel self-worth. Question: Who was Jesus addressing? Directly, He was speaking to the fishermen. You see, they already had their professional careers. This is how they supported their families and this is what they were good at. But, there is a far larger purpose that Jesus had in store for them. Likewise, we are not asked to abandon that which can help support our families and the church, but we are poignantly reminded that we all have a very similar task. We are to become fishers of men. Whatever you do, wherever you go, who you interact with…let this reminder from Jesus permeate your heart and spur you on towards sharing the hope that is found in Jesus. This is our purpose. This is why you live and breathe today. Go forth brothers and sisters and let’s do this for the glory of God!