Mark 11: “For All Nations”

I’m not sure why everyone was so surprised that Jesus walked into the Temple and set things straight. The prophet Malachi told them this would happen:

Malachi 3:1-3 (NLT) “Look! I am sending my messenger, and he will prepare the way before me. Then the Lord you are seeking will suddenly come to his Temple. The messenger of the covenant, whom you look for so eagerly, is surely coming,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.

2 “But who will be able to endure it when he comes? Who will be able to stand and face him when he appears? For he will be like a blazing fire that refines metal, or like a strong soap that bleaches clothes. 3 He will sit like a refiner of silver, burning away the dross. He will purify the Levites, refining them like gold and silver, so that they may once again offer acceptable sacrifices to the Lord.

Like we’ve seen before, no matter how many prophecies Jesus fulfilled, it didn’t stop the Pharisees (Levites) from plotting to kill Jesus.

Mark 11:18 (NLT) 18 When the leading priests and teachers of religious law heard what Jesus had done, they began planning how to kill him.

But this still doesn’t answer the question why Jesus was so upset. Until further study, one of the things I never realized was the actual location Jesus cleared out.

Court of the Gentiles

Located in the outer court of the Temple was the location called the Court of the Gentiles. This is the furthest point that a Gentile could go in the Temple. In fact, there were signs in both Hebrew and Greek warning that Gentiles would be executed if caught past that point.

Here’s the other thing about the Court of the Gentiles. It was the only place where Gentiles could observe the Jewish worship of God. If you attend a church, picture a room off the sanctuary where non-believers could gather and watch to see what was going on during the service. So basically the Jewish religious leaders took up the one location where Gentiles could see their interaction with God.

It’s important to note what Jesus says while he’s “cleaning the Temple.” We hear people say that Jesus declared, (v. 17) “My house shall be called a house of prayer.” Now, this is true, but we tend to leave off one of the most important part of his statement. His full statement is, (v. 17) “My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations.

This declaration by Jesus would not have set well with the Pharisees. In their mind there, and the mind of others as well, Jews were the only ones who could truly worship God. In fact, it made the Pharisees irate when they heard that Jesus was extending grace to both Jews AND Gentiles.

 

What Do We Learn?

I can’t tell you what to learn from this story, that’s the role of the Holy Spirit. However, I can tell you what I learned. I learned that still today as a church we struggle with making it harder for people to follow Jesus in the church. Yes, there was major corruption with the money changers and sellers of doves, oil, wine…etc, but at the root level, they ended up cluttering up the only area were Gentiles could experience worship of God.

The question to consider today is this: How have we cluttered up or made it more difficult for people to experience worship today in our churches?

James 3: “The Tiny Spark of the Tongue”

Great Peshtigo Fire

On Sunday, October 8, 1871, as legend goes, at 9pm Catherine O’Leary went out to her barn to milk her cow.

What happens next a still a little foggy in the annuals of Chicago History, but the ally-way behind the barn at 137 DeKoven Street became the epicenter for the Great Chicago Fire. I’m still not sure why they call it the Great Chicago Fire, doesn’t seem to be anything great about it, but who am I?

The fire blazed for two long days and nights and consumed roughly 3.3 square miles of the city. Although it’s never really been determined how the fire started you can be sure of this, fire causes fire. Just like some of the greatest forest fires in US history have been caused by cigarette buts, a small spark has the ability to create major devastation.

What’s amazing about the story of the Great Chicago Fire is that it wasn’t the only fire that was started that night. In fact, you might be surprised to know that the single worst wild fire in U.S. history, in both size and fatalities, known as the Great Peshtigo Fire burned 3.8 million acres (5,938 square miles) and killed at least 1,500 in Northern Wisconsin and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

Across the lake to the east, the town of Holland, Michigan, and other nearby areas burned to the ground. Some 100 miles to the north of Holland, the lumbering community of Manistee also went up in flames in what became known as The Great Michigan Fire.

Farther east, along the shore of Lake Huron, the Port Huron Fire wept through Port Huron, Michigan and much of Michigan’s “Thumb”. On October 9, 1871 a fire swept through the city of Urbana, Illinois, 140 miles south of Chicago, destroying portions of its downtown area. Windsor, Ontario likewise burned on October 12.

The Peshtigo Fire remains the deadliest in American history but the remoteness of the region meant it was little noticed at the time. And to think, this great devastation occurred all because of a spark from the lantern of Cathrine O’Leary at 9pm when she went out to milk her cow.

The Spark of the Tongue

Fire is one of those things that demands respect. We might be quick to declare that the larger the fire the more powerful the fire is, but the reality is, when dealing with fire it doesn’t take but a spark for a fire to quickly get out of control.

When referencing the tongue, James points out in Chapter 3:5-6 (NLT) In the same way, the tongue is a small thing that makes grand speeches.

But a tiny spark can set a great forest on fire. And among all the parts of the body, the tongue is a flame of fire. It is a whole world of wickedness, corrupting your entire body. It can set your whole life on fire, for it is set on fire by hell itself.

As we talk about the power of the tongue, it’s equally important to be reminded that James was writing regarding issues in the church. So obviously, like most churches, there was a person or persons who were probably talking nasty in the church! In fact, in my own opinion, when you re-read James 3, you almost get the sense that James is trying to get people to stop talking negatively about the leadership of the church. Again, this is just my own opinion, but read it for yourself. James 3:1-2 (NLT)

For Today

As we look at what all this means for today, I do believe it’s pretty self explanatory. In the first three chapters of James alone we find James addressing faith, listening, anger, true religion, and now the tongue. All of these things are things that require a higher level of spiritual maturity.

The challenge for us is to come to the realization that when we can control what we say, we control what we do, and even who we become. Like a bit in a horses mouth, or the rudder on a ship, regardless of the amount of tugging and wind, our tongue has the ability to steer us as we go.

1 Timothy 3: “Elders, Deacons, and You”

Paul continues to write to his young protege Timothy regarding leadership in the church. Paul’s desire at this point is to basically right out the resume for an elders and deacons in the church. In my tribe (Church of the Nazarene), we do delineate between elders and deacons, but we view those as pastors in the church and not lay leaders. Although here in Paul’s letters there is no distinction between whether her’s referring to pastor’s or lay leaders, it’s safe to assume that at this point they were looking for “qualified” lay leaders to serve as pastors in the church.

The Pastor and The Mule

In the life of the church there are men and women who are called by God to lead the church and Shepherd God’s flock. I do believe that everyone is called to serve God and advance his Kingdom, but for pastors, their call comes with a higher level of accountability. Remember the words of Jesus’ brother James concerning the role of teachers in the church, James 3:1 (NLT) Dear brothers and sisters, not many of you should become teachers in the church, for we who teach will be judged more strictly. 

But someone needs to step up, someone needs to lead the church that way God wants it led; that means sometimes taking the initiative.

A farmer’s mule once got very sick, so the farmer called in a vet who, after a thorough examination, gave the farmer some very large pills. “Give the mule one of these pills 3 times a day, and he’ll recover.” The farmer takes one look at the pills and says, “Hey doc, how am I supposed to get these pills down the mule’s throat?” The vet smiles and says, “Easy. Find a piece of pipe wide enough to fit the pill into. Put one end of the pipe into the mule’s mouth, put the pill in, and blow on the other end. Before he knows what’s happening, the mule will swallow the pill.” The vet drove back to his office, but a few hours later the farmer comes staggering in looking terribly sick. “Man, you look awful! What happened!” The farmer replies, “THE MULE BLEW FIRST!”

The moral of the story is somebody has to take the initiative—even in the church.

1 Timothy 3:1-13 (NLT)  is the place where we find Paul building the resume of both “elders” and “deacons.” The term translated overseer in the NIV was first used outside the church to refer to supervisors of various sorts. As a description of one level of church leadership, it appears in Acts 20:28 and, again alongside “deacons,” in Philippians 1:1.

Elder and Deacon List

Criteria for an Elder:

  1. Above reproach: Because it stands at the head of the list, it means: “Not liable to criticism as he would be if he failed in any of these qualities”
  2. Husband of one wife—completely faithful to his wife
  3. Exercise self control
  4. Live wisely and
  5. Have a good reputation
  6. Enjoy having guests in his home
  7. Able to teach—not just teaching gift; but spiritually prepared to teach others truths
  8. Not be a heavy drinker
  9. Not be violent
  10. Gentle
  11. Not quarrelsome
  12. Not love money
  13. Manage his family well
  14. Not a recent convert
  15. Respected by outsiders

Criteria for Deacons:

  1. Well respected
  2. Have integrity
  3. Not a heavy drinker
  4. Not dishonest with money
  5. Committed to the central truths of the faith
  6. Have a clear conscience
  7. Manage his family well
  8. Be faithful to his wife

Here’s something interesting to note about the two lists, the focus of the list is not the duty of an elder or deacon, but instead the focus is on their reputation both with believers and unbelievers.

This is a list for anyone to aspire too today. You don’t have to be a pastor to live to this standard, but as a pastor, you really don’t have a choice.

Romans 14: “Northern Conservative Baptist Reformed Great Lakes Region Council of 1855”

The Bridge

Once upon a time a man took a walk and came to a bridge. When he got to the middle of the bridge, he saw a man standing on the rail, obviously about to jump. The man was distraught so he said, “Don’t jump. I can help you.” “How can you help me?” asked the man on the rail. The first man replied with a question of his own: “Are you a Christian?” “Yes, I am.” “That’s wonderful. So am I. Are you Catholic or Protestant?” “I’m Protestant.” “That’s great. So am I. What sort of Protestant are you? Are you Baptist, Methodist, Lutheran, Presbyterian, or something else?” “I’m a lifetime Baptist,” said the man on the rail. “Praise the Lord,” came the reply. “So am I. Let me ask you this. Are you Northern Baptist or Southern Baptist?” “I’m Northern Baptist.” “Are you Northern Conservative Baptist or Northern Liberal Baptist?” “I’m Northern Conservative Baptist.” “Well, call Ripley’s Believe it or Not! This is amazing. So am I. Are you Northern Conservative Baptist Fundamental or Northern Conservative Baptist Reformed?” The man on the rail thought for a moment and then declared, “My father raised me as a Northern Conservative Baptist Reformed.” “It’s a miracle,” said the first man. “Put ’er there, pal. So am I.” Then he asked, “Are you Northern Conservative Baptist Reformed Great Lakes Region or Northern Conservative Baptist Reformed Great Plains Region?” The man on the rail said, “That’s easy. My family has always been Northern Conservative Baptist Reformed Great Lakes Region.” “This is a miracle of miracles. I don’t often meet a brother who shares my own heritage. One final question: Are you Northern Conservative Baptist Reformed Great Lakes Region Council of 1855 or Northern Conservative Baptist Reformed Great Lakes Region Council of 1872?” The man on the rail replied instantly, “Since the days of my great-grandfather, we have always been Northern Conservative Baptist Reformed Great Lakes Region Council of 1872.” This statement was followed by an awkward pause. Looking up, the first man cried out, “Die, heretic!” And he pushed him off the bridge.

We laugh at that story, but in many ways we’ve experienced a form of this story in our own lives. It’s amazing to consider that if two Christians were to agree on 94 of 95 points, we would end up focusing on the one point where we disagree. This is exactly what Paul was experiencing in Corinth, where he wrote the letter, and it was exactly what the church was experiencing in Rome at this time.

Paul’s “How To” Guide to Surviving the Differences in Church

As much as Paul has shared the differences between Jews and Gentiles, Chapter 14 is more like the “How To” section of what this could look like on a daily basis. There’s two main things that Paul gives his attention to: dietary restrictions and observance of special days. Next to circumcision, diet and calendar were the most sensitive issues that separated Jews from all Gentiles. Now that Paul is trying to unite them as Christians, these conflicts needed to be resolved.

Because of the sensitive nature of these issues, Paul had to offer relevant and specific council. Paul’s goal is to create and maintain harmony among the churches diverse believers. The important thing to consider while reading this chapter is to not keep this passage stuck in the 1st Century. The diversity Paul experienced was one thing, but remember the diversity we still experience in the church today. Again, the perspective of this conversation is between believers within the church trying to survive their different upbringings.

Conclusion and Takeaways

When you break down Romans 14:1-12 there’s really three key takeaways:

  1. Accept one another as God has accepted you (v. 1-4)
  2. Have your own Conviction-Jesus is your Lord (v. 5-9)
  3. Don’t judge Others-We will each answer to God (v. 10-12)

I want you to remember that there will always be people who see things differently than you. Instead of quarreling and grumbling over the petty differences, embrace the phrase, “That which unites us is greater than that which divides us.”

Ephesians 4 is a great place to remember the things that unite us.


Ephesians 4:4-6 (NLT)  For there is one body and one Spirit, just as you have been called to one glorious hope for the future.

There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism,
one God and Father of all,
who is over all, in all, and living through all.

 

1 Corinth. 16: “En Garde”

At the end of Pauls first letter to the church in Corinth is a power packed verse for living: 1 Corinthians 16:13 (NLT) 13 Be on guard. Stand firm in the faith. Be courageous. Be strong. 14 And do everything with love.

If we were to break this down, it would look like this:

  • Be on guard
  • Stand firm in the faith
  • Be courageous
  • Be strong
  • Do everything with love

Be On Guard

Growing up I always loved the story of the Three Musketeers. I think the coolest thing about the Musketeers is that they were incredible swordsmen. Now, if you grew up a boy, or grew up with a boy, or watched a boy growing up, you know that a boy can turn any item into a sword. In fact, no only can they turn any item into a sword, but they learn very quickly the famous start to any duel, “en garde” (on [your] guard in French).

En garde is a term that basically means, get ready cause I don’t want kill you unless you’re ready… or at least that’s what I thought. Truth be told it’s an ancient french term that is, “Used to warn a fencer to assume the defensive position of readiness for an attack.”

As Paul used it, “be on guard” literally translates “watch” or “be watchful.” What Paul was saying to the Corinthians and what he’s saying to you and me today is to be spiritually on guard against any and all spiritual attacks.

Stand Firm in the Faith

The other thing Paul communicates, is for the Corinthian Christians to hold tight and stand firm in their faith! Remember, Paul is writing to a church that was struggling with a ton of spiritual immaturity. There isn’t another church in the entire New Testament that gets more attention for being so messed up than the church in Corinth.

Like the church in Corinth, we too are bombarded by a society that if allowed will ethically and morally corrupt our character. The difference is, the Corinthian church was confused between the difference between what was happening in the church and what was happening in society. Paul was trying to motivate the church to remember the gospel he preached to them, and to not waiver in their commitment to living out that gospel, no matter what society threw at them.

Be Courageous and Strong

Although I put “be courageous” and “be strong” together, Paul breaks it down into two separate statements. “Be courageous” is literally translated in the Greek, “act like men.” God wants us, in the midst of being on guard and our commitment to stand firm in the the faith, to be strong, and act courageously as Christians.

Deuteronomy 31:6 (NLT) 6 So be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid and do not panic before them. For the LORD your God will personally go ahead of you. He will neither fail you nor abandon you.

The principles up to this point to be on guard, to stand firm, and to be courageous, are all things Paul wants them to do, but to be strong is about what God does to them. The instruction from Paul here is to submit to God and be filled with His strengthening power. Only when we allow God to give us strength do we then have the ability to be on guard, stand firm, and be courageous.

Do Everything With Love

It’s no wonder Paul ends his power packed principles with, do everything with love, especially knowing Paul puts such a high price on love. This praise, “doing everything in love,” is the equivalent of saying we should be like Christ and reflect His love to the world around us. Christlikeness should be the foundations of everything we say and do. For the church in Corinth, doing everything in love meant no more feuds, no more showing-off spiritually, no more lawsuits between Christians, the elimination of pride and arrogance in the church’s leadership, no more gluttony and drunkenness during the fellowship meal–in short, applying this principle of love for Christ and love for each other meant helping to create a radically different church, sold out to Christ and untainted by the world.

 

1 Corinth. 12: “Anatomy Shuffle”

Growing up in youth group we used to play a game called “Anatomy Shuffle.” The premise of the game was rather easy. Forming two circles and partnered with a teammate, a person would could call out two body parts and you had to be the first to put those two parts together.

Example: the leader would call out, “elboy to kneecap,” the two teammates would rush to find each other and get their two parts together to complete the challenge. Whoever was the slowest had to sit down. It always got interesting when you would yell out, “forehead to forehead.”

It’s a super fun game, but it also has a strong point. The point is, you need both parts to complete the challenge.Think of it this way, you can’t win the game alone. Even the most competitive, “I-can-do-anything-and-I-don’t-need-anyone-else-person,” can’t get their right elbow to their left ear.

The Behind the Scenes Folks

Paul desires for the Corinthian church to recognize how much they need each other. It’s not a coincidence that we just read about Paul’s disgust for the way the rich were treating the poor in Chapter 11, and now we’re reading words like, 22 In fact, some parts of the body that seem weakest and least important are actually the most necessary.

Although Paul isn’t talking about the poor in verse 22, he is talking about a group of people who are at times equally marginalized in the church, the Behind the Sceners. Behind the Sceners may not be out front exercising their spiritual gifts, but it doesn’t make them any less important to the Body of Christ, the church. Speaking as a Pastor: We need our behind the scenes people! In fact, the church wouldn’t thrive without people who God has spiritually gifted to work in the background. I would agree wholeheartedly with Paul that these folks are actually the most necessary. 

Paul really stresses the importance that each person has in the body of Christ, and that we truly need each other. Think of the church like a band, better yet, a choir. The choir analogy fits better with Paul’s language in verse 25 (NLT) 25 This makes for harmony among the members, so that all the members care for each other.

Harmony

Growing up and into college I’ve had the distinct privilege of singing in some incredible choirs and ensembles. I was even blessed my freshman year at ENC to sing at Jordan Hall with players from the famed New England Conservatory of Music. If there’s one thing I love about a choir its the complex harmonies and sounds a mass choir can make. There were many times while singing I would be amazed at what we were able to do. I can still remember all the words and tenor part to “My Times Are In Your Hands,” and “The Lord Bless You and Keep You.”

Truth is, it would sound a little funny if I was to sing just the tenor part without the other parts. It’s kind of funny, but I have a really hard time singing melody! I’ve been singing harmony for so much of my life I can’t hear the melody in some songs. But without a person singing the melody, the harmony sounds silly …And so it is with the church.

If the church was comprised of all tenors it would be, well… awesome, but that’s not my point. My point is, if in the choir of life you’re a Soprano, than carry the melody! If in the choir of life you’re a Bass, hold us firmly to the foundation of the song around us. You know the Alto’s in your church, they’re the serious ones who like to get the job done!

But just like a band, or a choir, when you spend enough time together, and travel together, you become family. Paul’s talking to a church here that is becoming a family. He’s wants them to see the unity in their diversity. He wants them to recognize that each one of them, like each one of you, has a special role in the life of the church.

1 Corinthians 12:26-27 (NLT) 26 If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it, and if one part is honored, all the parts are glad. 27 All of you together are Christ’s body, and each of you is a part of it.

 

1 Corinth. 5: “Little Things Matter”

As I’ve mentioned before I was a youth pastor for eight years, and during that time I had the opportunity to use quite a few analogies.

Brownies

One year on a retreat we were talking about “The Little Things.” In order to demonstrate the power of little things I made a batch of brownies. During the service I called up the largest kid in the group and told him that I made a batch of brownies, as he started to eat one I told him that there was only one slight problem, I put a little bit of dog poop in the brownies. Not enough to make them sick, but enough to make a point. [CONFESSION] I didn’t actually make the brownies with dog poop. The reaction of the kid was classic as he spit out the brownie and was repulsed I would do such a thing!

It’s a powerful and intentional analogy. Think about it? How often in life do we allow just “a little” of something to slip in our lives and ruin the whole batch? Now if Paul were only talking about the little things in our lives, but instead he was talking about the “little things” that slip into our churches.


1 Corinthians 5:6-7 (NLT) Your boasting about this is terrible. Don’t you realize that this sin is like a little yeast that spreads through the whole batch of dough? Get rid of the old “yeast” by removing this wicked person from among you. Then you will be like a fresh batch of dough made without yeast, which is what you really are. Christ, our Passover Lamb, has been sacrificed for us.


You Can’t Ignore the Problem

Paul here is writing to a group of people who wanted to simply ignore the problem in their church. They were under the impression that little things couldn’t possibly have that big of an effect on the church. Oh but they do… Regardless of what you feel about the “yeast” here’s the bottom line, sin is sin. This is why Paul used the analogy of yeast.

Yeast is the ingredient that makes bread rise; a little bit is all that’s needed to affect the whole batch. Here me: Sins left unchecked, no matter if in secret or public, affects the integrity of the entire church. Now, what’s important to know about this particular yeast is Paul’s understanding of how serious it was. Paul wasn’t telling the church that if they got rid of one person they would suddenly be purified of all sin, instead, Paul’s fear was that this particular sin, unchecked, would continue to spread.

 

The Passover Lamb

It’s important to take note of the reference to the Passover by Paul here. The Passover was a community  festival. What Paul is saying is that although Christians have individual roles in the church, the life of the church is lived in community. The Passover was also a time when the Hebrews prepared for their exodus from slavery in Egypt. They were commanded to prepare bread without yeast because they didn’t have time for the bread to rise. The connection is, get rid of the sin in the community as to not disregard the sacrifice of Christ, the Passover Lamb.

The Challenge

From the beginning to end of Chapter 5, Paul issues a challenge to the Christians in Corinth. In context, Paul is talking to the church in Corinth, but this passage also issues a challenge to you and me today. The basic challenge is this: Will you continue to turn a blind eye to an blatant sin in the church? It’s hard to read, especially for a people pleaser like me, but Paul reminds us at the end of the chapter that we have a real responsibility to deal with blatant, unrepentant sin of a professing Christian. We don’t do the person sinning, or the church, any favors by ignoring the problem. We shouldn’t look at these verses as permission to conduct a witch hunt. Rather, these instructions are for dealing with the open sin of a Christian who’s sinning without remorse. The most important thing is to handle all of this by prayer, wisdom, discernment, and scripturally. For more information on how Jesus instructed us to handle these sensitive issues, see Matthew 18:15-17.

2 Thess. 1: “Our Church, God’s Pride”

Fast forward six months from the last letter, and Paul is feeling the pressure to write another note of encouragement to a young primarily Gentile Christian church. He understands their pain, he too was persecuted by the Jews in Thessalonica: Acts 17:13 (NLT) 13 But when some Jews in Thessalonica learned that Paul was preaching the word of God in Berea, they went there and stirred up trouble.

Not much has changed in the last six months, suffering and growth were still on the menu for the church. Just look at the comparison between the first chapters of both letters:


Suffering

1 Thessalonians 1:6 (NLT) So you received the message with joy from the Holy Spirit in spite of the severe suffering it brought you. In this way, you imitated both us and the Lord.

2 Thessalonians 1:4 (NLT) We proudly tell God’s other churches about your endurance and faithfulness in all the persecutions and hardships you are suffering.

Growth

1 Thessalonians 1:8 (NLT) And now the word of the Lord is ringing out from you to people everywhere, even beyond Macedonia and Achaia, for wherever we go we find people telling us about your faith in God.

2 Thessalonians 1:3-4 (NLT)  We ought always to thank God for you, brothers and sisters, and rightly so, because your faith is growing more and more, and the love all of you have for one another is increasing. Therefore, among God’s churches we boast about your perseverance and faith in all the persecutions and trials you are enduring.


Church Pride

Continue reading 2 Thess. 1: “Our Church, God’s Pride”

1 Thess. 1: “Ringing Out from You”

Introduction

Welcome to 1 Thessalonians! The year is A.D. 51. Writing from Corinth, Paul sits down with both Silas and Timothy to write a note of encouragement and explanation to the people of Thessalonica. The encouragement part was to spur on the church and the Thessalonian Christians to keep being the Godly example their reputation suggested. The explanation portion of the letter is to address the many questions brought up by the young believers in the church.

So you have some context, it was in Thessalonica that Paul and Silas found refuge after their experience in Philippi… you know, the place where they were beaten and thrown in prison? Again, to help with context, the first eleven verses of Acts 17 take place while they were in Thessalonica.

Because Paul didn’t spend a ton of time with the Thessalonians he was fearful they didn’t understand how to teach the next generation. Paul was partially correct, but also pleasantly surprised when Timothy came back reporting all the church had accomplished since his departure.

Faith, Hope, and Love

You can learn a lot about a church from the opening of Paul’s letters. He typically brings greeting, thanking God for the believers, and a word of encouragement. In 1 Thessalonians 1 we find out what Paul thinks about the church while he prays for them: Continue reading 1 Thess. 1: “Ringing Out from You”

Acts 9: “Strength and Peace in the Church”

Acts 9 is famous for the story of Saul becoming Paul. It’s one of the most incredible stories of transformation and conversion in the entire Bible. However, my reflections are meant to help us look deeper into the less popular points of the chapter. Every time I sit down to study God’s word, I always ask, “God what do you want me to read or learn through my reading.”

What really jumped out of my reading in Acts 9 was a very simple, but profound verse:


Acts 9:31 (NKJV) 31 Then the churches throughout all Judea, Galilee, and Samaria had peace and were edified. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, they were multiplied.

Continue reading Acts 9: “Strength and Peace in the Church”