February 7, 2019

Today you should read: Acts 21:27-40

Talk about serious commitment!

Paul, having already been persecuted and physically injured by the Jews, went right back into the thick of Judaism to preach Christ: the temple. How did he expect this to end? We will never know, but this much we do know: Paul had a heart for his people.

We must wrestle with this question today:
Do I have a heart to see my close friends and family come to know Jesus?

There is little doubt that Paul grew up with many of the people that were on Temple Mount. He was a Pharisee. He taught the law. He was well-known even before His days as a Christ-follower. Once, along with them, he persecuted the Church. Now, he begged them to believe the good news of Jesus Christ. Sadly, they wanted nothing to do with it. Their eyes are still unable to see the beauty of the Gospel:

“But their minds were hardened. For to this day, when they read the old covenant, that same veil remains unlifted, because only through Christ is it taken away.” 2 Corinthians 3:14

Yet, Paul entered the “lion’s mouth”, so to speak, of his Jewish roots to present Jesus to his people. Even while they were trying to break him physically, his heart broke for them. His words found in Romans 10 ring true here:

“Brothers, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved. For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. For, being ignorant of the righteousness of God, and seeking to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.” Romans 10:1-4

Today, we’re faced with the reality that some of those we love most may never trust in Jesus, but that doesn’t negate our responsibility to pray for their salvation and share Jesus with them.

Lord, please give us a Kingdom heart like Paul displays in Acts 21.

By: Todd Thomas — Worship & College Pastor

February 6, 2019

Today you should read: Acts 21:1-26

Missions in Action

Today’s reading is a journal from Paul’s third missionary journey.  He traveled from Ephesus to Cos, Rhodes, and Patara, past Cyprus to Syria (harbor of Tyre).  He stayed for a week and ministered to the believers there.

We went ashore, found the local believers, and stayed with them a week. (v.4)

Paul traveled to Ptolemais for a day and then off to Caesarea to stay with Philip the Evangelist and encourage him in the Lord.  Paul ends up in Jerusalem where he gave a full missionary report of his travels and what God was doing around the world (much like missionaries today).

The next day Paul went with us to meet with James, and all the elders of the Jerusalem church were present.   After greeting them, Paul gave a detailed account of the things God had accomplished among the Gentiles through his ministry.  After hearing this, they praised God… (v.18-20)

In several of these locations, God spoke through His Spirit saying that Paul would be captured and killed if he went to Jerusalem.  Paul went anyway – being lead by God. He wasn’t afraid – He trusted the hand of a Sovereign God.

I am ready not only to be jailed at Jerusalem but even to die for the sake of the Lord Jesus. (v. 13)

This is the heart of a missionary.  Do you have that kind of heart? Are you committed fully to the cause?  If not, ask God to change you today – to give you a heart of commitment to Him.  Let’s pause today and pray for missionaries all over the world that are serving with full abandonment.

By: Tim Parsons — Lead Pastor

February 5, 2019

Today you should read: Acts 20:1-38

After the apostle Paul traveled to Macedonia, Greece and then raised a teenager from the dead who fell asleep during one of his sermons and fell out of a window, he preaches his last sermon during the course of his missionary travels to the elders of Ephesus. Professor & Acts Commentary author, John B. Pohill calls it Paul’s “conscious final legacy” for the apostle Paul did not expect to return to Ephesus and he loved them so much. In this final legacy speech, he wants to make sure that this church and their leaders know that we are to live for something way beyond ourselves. In fact verse 24 sums it up.

But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.

As Christians we all have a calling beyond our job, passions and hobbies. A calling rooted in our identity in Christ.

Even if it’s not to full-time ministry, God has called you to be set apart as a Christian to the roles and responsibilities that you have as parents, to the mission of this church, all because of the Gospel.

And even if you have been called to ministry, it doesn’t mean that it’s going to be in the most radical way where a million people come to Christ and you have a ministry or church of thousands. It may seem quite ordinary to everyone else but it could be extraordinary in kingdom impact that you won’t know about this side of heaven.

There’s a calling to the Gospel that we have received. In fact we’re entrusted with it according to Acts 20:24. And as a church we have been “entrusted” with this calling of the Gospel. However it’s easy to either forget about this calling or become apathetic toward it. That’s because we lose sight of perspective or where our priorities should be and we drift without the right perspective or priorities.

In the Life Application commentary it says “Paul’s words here reveals his priorities and values and is a great perspective for any believer of any age.”

That’s why the apostle Paul points out some of these things in this legacy sermon to the elders of Ephesus AND to us today. He says…

  1. The right perspective toward God = SERVICE (v. 19)

  2. The right perspective toward the church = BIBLICAL TEACHING & COMMUNITY (v. 20)

  3. The right perspective toward the lost = EVANGELISM (v. 21)
  4. The right perspective toward self = SACRIFICE (v. 22-23)

  5. The right perspective toward life & ministry = BEING ALL IN & FAITHFUL (v. 24)

And when we have the right perspective & priorities concerning the calling He’s placed on our life or on this church, we will leave a legacy in what matters most, the Gospel.

Do you have the right perspective & priorities in your life? At church? with the legacy you will be leaving behind?

By: Erik Koliser — West Campus Pastor

February 4, 2019

Today you should read: Acts 19:21-41

You ever see a crowd in a frenzy, and yet, you’re unsure of what’s happening? It often happens at sporting events or in high school hallways when a fight breaks out. Or when there’s an unruly customer at Walmart. Or on college campuses with those awkward street-preachers. All you know is that there is a commotion, and you want to know why. So you follow the crowd.

That’s the situation in Acts 19:21-41.

Demetrius was mad at Paul, and really, at Christianity (the Way) in general. His idol-creation business had suffered fiscal woes, due to many repenting and turning to Jesus. He wasn’t thrilled, so he started inciting a riot. The Bible tells us that people followed along with this, but that they were confused and not even sure what they were rioting about. Really, it was all about one thing: idolatry.

Paul and his companions were in the middle of a dicey situation. God saved them from immense harm. The mayor of Ephesus diffused the situation, and the gospel preaching band kept moving.

How can we respond to this passage/story?

When Jesus comes into our lives, our idols must leave. There’s only room for one ruler in our lives. It’s either idol worship or Jesus. Demetrius not only worshiped idols, but he made them for others too. Have you been guilty of that as well (bringing others down in your sin)? What idols do you have in your life that need to disappear? How can you take steps in the right direction today?

By: Todd Thomas — Worship & College Pastor