January 18, 2019

Today you should read: Acts 10:1-48

Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”

There was a young-man of 75 years named Abram, who heard this message from the Lord and obeyed. This message is the beginning of the story of the Bible appearing in Genesis 12:1–3. Chapter 12 begins following a man who turned into a nation. God’s promise for obedience was threefold. 1. Land—“Go to the land I will show you.” 2. Seed—“you will be a great nation.” 3. Blessing—“I will bless you and make your name great…I will bless those who bless you…in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” In todays passage, the third of God’s three promises to Abram (later Abraham) comes to fruition.

Acts 10 begins one of the most controversial issues of the early church—that is, does a person need to become Jewish to become a Christian? It was not uncommon for non-Jews to convert to Judaism and become “proselytes.” There were many more people, however, that were attracted to Judaism, but chose not to go through with the membership procedure involving a pair of scissors. As one might imagine, circumcision was a barrier for conversion.

One of the primary “problems” with Israel in the Old Testament was the belief that God’s blessing stopped with them. By the time we enter into the New Testament, the Jews thought pretty highly of themselves. We see this in Peter’s words to Cornelius, “You yourselves know how unlawful it is for a Jew to associate with or to visit anyone of another nation, but God has shown me that I should not call any person common or unclean.” There is wisdom in the Old Testament about associating with non-Jews, but this statement missed the point. Israel, as promised to Abram, was supposed to be a blessing to the whole world. God’s Covenant, although beneficial to an individual, is something to be shared, never hoarded. This is a mistake we too often make as well. We are not saved only for our benefit. Although we benefit, we are saved to glorify God and make Him famous in our world by proclaiming the Good News of salvation to others.

Peter gets it. “Truly I understand that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him.” Then as Peter shared the message of the Gospel, we see the effect. While Peter was still saying these things, the Holy Spirit fell on all who heard the word.

The amazing thing is that the Spirit came upon Gentiles without circumcision. They experienced the sign of the New Covenant (Jer. 31) without following the Old Covenant. The implications here are earth-shattering to the Jews. This is scandalous. This will be one of the central issues of the New Testament and will be a main topic for Paul’s later writings. Even after the issue is settled in chapter 15, this will be an ongoing struggle.

Questions for reflection:

What does it mean to you that your salvation was a part of God’s plan since the beginning?

Are you guilty of keeping the message of salvation to yourself?

What is one practical thing you could do to spread the name of the Lord today?

By: Tyler Short — Connections Ministry Associate

January 17, 2019

Today you should read: Acts 9:36-43

I love this brief snapshot of a woman unmentioned elsewhere in the Bible. Her name was Dorcas. Her reputation, second-to-none. Her name in both Aramaic and Greek means ‘gazelle’, which is very fitting for her character: she was swift to serve. The description we have of Dorcas is found in verse 36 and 39:

 “She was always doing kind things for others and helping the poor.”

 “The room was filled with widows who were weeping and showing him the coats and other clothes Dorcas had made for them.”

What is your reputation? Are you known for being a servant? Are you swift to serve? Do you have a heart for meeting needs? If not, be inspired today from the short description of Dorcas and rise up as a servant of God! Don’t settle for being a lazy, self-focused spiritual taker. Be a faith-filled, giving “Dorcas”.

Now that I have inspired you to name your next kid Dorcas, let’s shift gears to the miracle of the story. The Lord used Peter to do what only God can do: raise Dorcas from the dead. This was yet another sign of God’s strength and another affirmation of the Christian faith. This resurrection story has two-fold significance for us today. First, we can trust that Jesus is real. His disciples were given power to carry on His mission. Whole towns were changed. Lives were altered. Second, we can trust that we will be raised with Him one day. He is in the resurrection business… He’s the president and CEO. BELIEVE!

Much love to your Thursday, CPC.

P.S. I actually know an awesome missionary named Dorcas. You would think this passage was describing her 🙂

By: Todd Thomas — Worship & College Pastor

January 16, 2019

Today you should read: Acts 9:1-31

When’s the last time you saw God change someone’s life?  I mean really change them. Acts 9 is about life-change.

Saul was:

Angry – full of threats towards followers of Jesus

Eager to Kill Christians

Prepared – he had all he needed to fulfill his mission (authority)

Headed down the wrong road

Then Saul meets God.  It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience of life-change.  God rattles Saul’s cage. Changes his name to Paul, but more importantly, God changes Saul’s life forever.

Paul was:

Chosen – by God to be a choice instrument in His hands

Anointed  – he began powerfully preaching the message of Jesus

Wanted – the Jews (who he used to be partners with) wanted him dead now

Bold – in his witness

What changed?  He met Jesus. Jesus changed him forever.

One more thing…

Can you imagine being Ananias?  It must have been very scary to be asked by God to disciple Paul.  This was the man responsible for killing so many Christians. Ananias had to trust the voice of God.

What if he had said no to God?  What an opportunity he would have missed!  Ananias got to be the first person to disciple the apostle Paul.  Think about that for a minute.

Now, let me ask you a question.  How many opportunities do you and I miss by failing to obey God and boldly share with those He places in our paths? How many apostle Paul’s do we miss because we’re afraid?

God please help us to be bold and obedient to you.  To share you without fear to those we go to school with, work with, and live with.  Help us to be your hands and feet to others that may seem hopeless – remembering that hope is found in You.

By: Tim Parsons — Lead Pastor

January 15, 2019

Today you should read: Acts 8:26-40

Over the last few days, we have been reading about the persecuted Church in the book of Acts. We read yesterday how the persecution in Jerusalem had caused the believers to scatter throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria. This must have seemed like a victory for Saul, who was persecuting Christians, but we see in our passage today that God uses persecution for His purposes.

Philip receives a message from an angel of the Lord to be exactly where he would meet the Ethiopian eunuch. Philip overhears him reading from Isaiah 53, and explains that Isaiah was prophesying about Jesus, the Suffering Servant who was “led like a sheep to the slaughter” (v.32). The Ethiopian eunuch believed in Jesus and was baptized that day.

So what do we take from this passage?

First, Philip used the Old Testament to point to Jesus. On this side of the cross, we can clearly see that Isaiah 53 is talking about Jesus. These verses come right before those referenced in Acts 8:

“Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.” Isaiah 53:4-6

When the Ethiopian eunuch read these verses, however, he did not know who Isaiah was speaking of. Philip explained the prophecy to the eunuch, and he believed. Luckily for us, we know that the Old Testament ultimately points forward to Jesus.

Second, Philip was ready to share the Gospel with those around him. Philip was clearly a man who was daily guided by the Holy Spirit. He walked with God, and this led him to the opportunity to share the Gospel with someone. As we walk with God daily, I believe the Holy Spirit works in our life to make us sensitive to the opportunities around us to share our faith. When we are regularly in the Word and fervently praying to God, we should want to tell someone about Jesus and how he has saved us from our sins.

Take some time today to meditate on Isaiah 53, and thank God for sending Jesus to be the Suffering Servant on our behalf.

Also, as we daily discipline ourselves this year in Bible reading and prayer, ask God to reveal to you the opportunities in front of you to share the Gospel.

By: Lucas Taylor — West Campus Pastoral Ministry Apprentice