An Acts-ive Faith (Part 17a)

Acts 17: What’s the Latest? (And why it may not matter . . . )

Acts 17:21 Now all the Athenians and the foreigners residing there spent their time on nothing else but telling or hearing something new.

Oops — sorry I’ll have to blog later — the latest post just came in on my cell phone . . . after that I’ll have to play the latest version of my favorite game that comes through my phone. And I haven’t checked up on all my Facebook friends yet today . . . After that, I may have to go shopping to make sure I have the latest trend in my wardrobe. (Okay, I’ll write my blog, but I was making a point — LOL).

The latest — are we more concerned about knowing the latest or about walking in truth? I accepted Jesus Christ when I was 14, which was many years ago. I also gave my life to Christ during my last year of high school — I had a more adult understanding of what I was dong at that time. When I accepted Christ, I was not following the latest trend: I was dong something that had been done by my parents, grandparents and great grandparents. I am grateful for my spiritual heritage of serving Jesus and his church. My father was a church elder, my mother was the Sunday school superintendent and secretary-treasurer of the ladies group; my Mother’s dad was a Presbyterian Sunday school teacher, my Father’s dad was a church treasurer. My Father’s grandfather (his Mother’s dad) was a Methodist minister in the 1930s.

The Methodists were on fire for God in the 1930s. My aunt ended up taking some of her schooling in the States, boarding with her grandparents. She has described what part the church played in her life at that time.

She wrote: “My grandparents . . . were very strict. They would allow no dancing or card playing. There were regular evening prayers. Sunday mornings we attended Sunday School and church, and in the evenings, Epworth League, church again, followed by a fellowship hour for teenagers. Wednesday evening we attended prayer meetings. Revival services were held periodically.”

When my husband and I attend prayer meetings in the evening we are not doing anything new. Some of the prayer meetings we attend are on zoom, so the technology we are using is fairly new. But the need to cry out to God was not only around in my grandparents time: it pre-dated Paul’s trip to Athens.

I don’t need to focus on hearing the latest. I need to focus on hearing and applying truth. I need to focus on developing a closer relationship with Jesus Christ, the Way, the Truth and the Life.

When Paul spoke to the Athenians, he spoke truth, not the latest new things. People reacted in three ways. Some mocked him because he spoke of the resurrection of the dead, some wanted to hear more and some believed. As I speak/write about my experiences of God, and how His Word is affecting me, may many of you readers come to a saving knowledge of Christ if you do not already know Him. May those who know Him, grow closer to Him.

Prayer for those who want to begin a walk with Jesus: Confessing to God that I am a sinner, repenting of my sins (turning from them) and believing that the Lord Jesus Christ died for my sins on the cross and was raised for my justification, I do now receive and confess Him as my personal Saviour. Amen.

Prayer for those walking with Christ: Lord Jesus, help me to always be more concerned with truth than with the latest trends. Amen.

Note: My aunt’s identity is not mentioned and the book her story is published in is not identified on the internet to protect family privacy.

CC: K Carswell 2022

Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holman Christian Standard Bible, Copyright 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2009 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by Permission. Holman Christian Standard Bible, Holman CSB and HCSB are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers.

An Acts-ive Faith (Part 13)

Acts 13 Watch out for Jealousy

Acts 13:44, 45 The following Sabbath almost the whole town assembled to hear the message of the Lord. But when the Jews saw the crowds, they were filled with jealousy and began to oppose what Paul was saying by opposing him.

Paul and Barnabas were in Antioch and Paul spoke to the people at the synagogue. He spoke so well, that the people wanted to hear more so they were invited back for the next Sabbath.

Nearly everyone in the city gathered to hear them on that day. Verse 45 states that when the Jewish leaders say the size of the crowds, vicious jealousy filled their hearts and they rose up to oppose what Paul was teaching. They insulted him and argued with him about everything he said (TPT). They further stirred up a mob and ran them out of town (verse 50).

The Jewish leaders were so jealous that they could not hear what Paul was saying. They could not hear the offer of eternal life through Christ. They may have been fearful of losing influence. They may not have wanted Paul and Barnabas to be more popular than they were.

Yet, in their jealousy, they missed the opportunity to know Christ.

I know a woman in church who is honored with a ministry I would love to have. However, being jealous of her is not a good option! Spending time in jealousy, takes time away from my own focus on the Lord, and from developing my relationship with Him and doing what he calls me to do.

Jealousy can be repented of — then I can go forward, be blessed by the other woman’s ministry and develop my own relationship with the Lord and her, and develop my own ministry.

Prayer: Father, help me quickly repent of any jealous feelings I have. Have me focus on You and what you have called me to do. Amen.

CC: K Carswell 2022

Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holman Christian Standard Bible, Copyright 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2009 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by Permission. Holman Christian Standard Bible, Holman CSB and HCSB are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers.

An Acts-ive Faith (Part 12)

Acts 12 Rescued! (Prayer is the key)

Acts 12:17 Motioning to them with his hand to be silent, he explained to them how the Lord had brought him out of the prison.

King Herod had attacked some who belonged to the church and had James, John’s brother put to death (Acts 12:1). This made some of the Jews happy, so Herod had Peter arrested and put in prison.

The church did not want to lose Peter. Herod was going to execute him the next day. The church prayed earnestly — and one of the places they prayed was a house prayer meeting at the home of Mary, the mother of John Mark.

Peter thought he was dreaming while he was being rescued. It wasn’t until he was on a city street, that he realized he was saved. He then went to Mary’s house. When Peter knocked on the door, Rhoda was so excited she forgot to let him in! The church did not believe that Peter could be at the door — and yet he was.

The power of prayer — how many times have you experienced it? One of my most memorable times was when my husband was very ill during our first year of marriage. He worked in a hospital at the time, and because we were married so late in life, I had been introduced to most of his co-workers. Our church, churches we had been associated with and many of his co-workers were praying for him. the doctor was very happy he recovered, because recovery was not a sure thing. I can attest to the fact that prayer works!

Thought for the day: Who do I need to be praying for? Am I in a community that prays?

Prayer: Lord, I pray for those readers who need to be rescued in any way: from imprisonment, from sickness, for loneliness. Lord, please open the prison doors and help them, like Peter, find a praying community to belong to. Amen.

CC: K Carswell 2022

Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holman Christian Standard Bible, Copyright 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2009 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by Permission. Holman Christian Standard Bible, Holman CSB and HCSB are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers.

An Acts-ive Faith (Part 10)

Acts 10: God Knows Where We Are

Acts 10: 3-6 About three in the afternoon he distinctly saw in a vision an angel of God who came in and said to him “Cornelius!” Looking intently at him, he became afraid and said, “:What is it, lord?” the angel told him, “Your prayers and your acts of charity have came up as a memorial offering before God. Now send men to Joppa and call for Simon, who is also named Peter.”

God knew where Cornelius was. He knew his lifestyle. God also knew where Peter was and knew his lifestyle.

God knows where we are physically, emotionally, spiritually and in every other way.

This thought can be challenging to me, especially on the days when I don’t feel I have done much for Him. Yet, during a recent not-so-great day it brought comfort, as God knew what was happening in my life. God was able to show me how often I get upset about things that do not matter in the long run. I was able to hear his voice, able to repent of my attitude that needed repenting of.

Question for myself: Since God knows where I am, how am I to live my life, today?

Another thought

Peter had served God all his life as a Jewish man, and God knew that. He knew had had always followed the Jewish laws. Yet, God wanted to use Peter to expand the church, to allow the gentiles to become full members. Acts 10:9-16 tells the story of the vision. God told Peter to go with the men and to meet Cornelius.

God had to work in Peter’s life, so Peter would go to meet a gentile. God wanted to expand Peter’s vision of the work of God; He wanted to give Peter new ways to serve him.

Question for myself: I have been a Christian for years. Am I open to new things that God may be trying to show me? Am I open to new ways to serve him?

Prayer: Lord Jesus, you know both where I am and where you want to take me in the future. Help me walk with you today, listening to your voice and obeying. Amen.

Photo credit of Simon the Tanner’s house in Joppa, Israel: K Carswell

CC: K Carswell 2022

Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holman Christian Standard Bible, Copyright 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2009 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by Permission. Holman Christian Standard Bible, Holman CSB and HCSB are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers.

“An Acts-ive Faith” (Part 7)

Acts 7: History Matters

Acts 7:51 You stiff-necked people with uncircumsised hearts and ears! You are resisting the Holy Spirit; as your ancestors did, so do you.

Stephen had just been dragged and placed in front of the council. The high priest had asked him to defend himself against the lies that were said against him. He didn’t bother defending himself. He spoke of the history of the Jewish people, a history that the high priest, council members and men who were accusing him were well aware of. He was not interested in defending himself — he was defending the Christ.

The council members were unwilling to deal with their history.

National History

History is real and the past has a part in shaping us. We live in an age of ‘cancel culture’ and the tearing down of statues of historical figures. This may not be helpful — although putting the people and activities in context and repenting of of sins of the past is necessary. May the Lord help us to repent of past evil and not ignore it as the council did!

Personal History

There is good and bad in each country’s history and there is good and bad in each person’s family history. I am blessed to have an aunt who worked on the family history on my father’s side and a cousin who worked on my family’s history on my mother’s side. These inform part of who I am. I have a physical heritage like eye color, but I also have a social and religious heritage passed down from my forefathers. My paternal great grandfather was a Methodist preacher in the 1930s, and my maternal grandfather was a Presbyterian Sunday School teacher. My parents took their family to church each Sunday, so I had early chances to hear about the Lord and to serve Him. (My mother was Sunday school superintendent, so in Grade 7 and 8, I and another girl taught the four and five year old children. I remember one coming home slightly down, because one of my students had asked me if God was real or not. My mother’s encouraged me with “while at least you got her to ask the question!” )

God is indeed very real, as real as he was when Stephen testified about him. He is real and working in the lives of the nations and the lives of individuals. May we submit to him and follow his lead.

CC: K Carswell 2022

Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holman Christian Standard Bible, Copyright 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2009 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by Permission. Holman Christian Standard Bible, Holman CSB and HCSB are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers.

CC: K Carswell 2022

Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holman Christian Standard Bible, Copyright 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2009 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by Permission. Holman Christian Standard Bible, Holman CSB and HCSB are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers.

CC: K Carswell 2022

Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holman Christian Standard Bible, Copyright 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2009 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by Permission. Holman Christian Standard Bible, Holman CSB and HCSB are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers.

Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holman Christian Standard Bible, Copyright 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2009 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by Permission. Holman Christian Standard Bible, Holman CSB and HCSB are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers.

“An Acts-ive Faith” (Part 4)

CC: K Carswell 2022

Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holman Christian Standard Bible, Copyright 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2009 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by Permission. Holman Christian Standard Bible, Holman CSB and HCSB are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers.

Acts 4:11,12 When they observed the boldness of Peter and John and realized that there were uneducated and untrained men, they were amazed and recognized that they had been with Jesus. And since they saw the man who had been healed standing with them, they had nothing to say in response.

The rulers were not used to being taught by fishermen. They had asked by what power or in what name Peter and john had healed the lame man. Peter gave them the answer: it was in the name of Jesus. The rulers then realized the men had been with Jesus. Spiritual power does not come from education level or social status. It comes from time spent with the Lord.

May I so walk in my life that people recognize that I have been with Jesus.

May I not care if they call me “uneducated and untrained “. Every job has its skill level, and Peter and John were professional fishermen — a blue collar job, but one that provided food to the population.

Another Thought: A Beggar No More:

Acts 4:14 And since they saw the man who had been healed standing with them, they had nothing to say in response.

The 40 year old man (his age is given in Acts 4:22) had been healed the previous day. When Peter took him by the hand and raised him up, his feet and ankle bones had received strength. Acts 3:8 tells us he jumped up , stood and started to walk. He entered the temple complex with them ‘walking, leaping and praising God’. The 40 year-old man was inside the temple. He was not just at its gates begging. He was no longer lame, he was not longer a beggar. What a life change!

Life changes happen to us all. We go from childhood to adulthood, from being in school, to having a job, from being single to being married, from working to retirement. How do we best deal with all these changes?

The lame man chose to stay with people who knew the Lord. Who we hang out with matters., especially as we rebuild our lives after a time of change.

I recently retired. How will I spend my time? I have many hobbies and there is always chores to do, so filling time is not a problem. But how do I best fill my time? I don’t want my time to be filled with activities that don’t matter. As I make these changes, I will be hanging out with Godly friends, who will help me further fulfill my calling. We are not to old to do what God would have us do or to have him heal us. Remember the man who was healed was 40 years old.

Thank you Lord that I am not to old to have a miracle performed over me.

cc: K Carswell 2022

Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holman Christian Standard Bible, Copyright 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2009 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by Permission. Holman Christian Standard Bible, Holman CSB and HCSB are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers.

“An Acts-ive Faith” (Part 3)

Acts 3:16 By faith in His name, His name has made this man strong, whom you see and know. So the faith that comes through Him has given him the perfect health in front of you all.,

The Contemporary English version of the Bible words the verse this way: “You see this man, and you know him. He put his faith in the name of Jesus and was made strong. Faith in Jesus made this man completely well while everyone was watching.

Peter and John had gone to the temple to pray, They prayed for a lame beggar, who became whole. He entered the temple with them, walking, jumping and praising God.

The man had been made strong because of faith in Jesus.

What areas of my body need healing? What areas of my life need to be made strong by the name of Jesus?

One of the areas of my life that needs strengthening is finishing projects. I am better at starting projects than completing them. In late December and early January, I made sure that I completed a few of my unfinished projects. They included doll clothes for my sister’s grandchildren. The effect on the grand scheme of things of me completing those items: zero. However, because of the Lord’s great love for me, I believe it is still important to Him. He wants me to grow in character, so that I am a ‘completer;, that I finish well what I start.

I am so happy that in the most important area of my life, my faith, I do not have finish alone. Scripture says that Jesus is the author and finisher of our faith (Hebrews 12:2).

Another Thought:

The man was strengthened in his feet and ankles. He was strengthened to walk in the presence of the Holy Spirit. He jumped for joy as he entered the temple gates.

I am an analytical introvert who tends to be serious a lot of the time. Jesus is working in my life. People who know me may be surprised as they see me beginning to leap for joy, as Jesus brings further healing into my life.

CC: K Carswell 2022

Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holman Christian Standard Bible, Copyright 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2009 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by Permission. Holman Christian Standard Bible, Holman CSB and HCSB are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers.

Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holman Christian Standard Bible, Copyright 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2009 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by Permission. Holman Christian Standard Bible, Holman CSB and HCSB are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers.

“An Acts-ive Faith” (Part 2b)

Acts 2: We Are all Witnesses

Acts 2:32 “God has resurrected this Jesus. We are all witnesses of this.

Murray and i were both part of a mission trip to Estonia and Russia in the mid-90s. Around that time we dated for awhile, but went out separate ways.

I continued to work and be active in children’s ministry.

A friend invited me to pray at a business and at one of the meetings, she said her pastor was gong to be there. She did not have to introduce us — his first name was Murray. We ended up taking a second look at each other and spending time together. We recently celebrated our twelth wedding anniversary.

As a twelve year old, one of my prayer requests was to marry a man who loved the Lord and who loved to pray. The Lord enabled me to do that. The Lord also allowed me to be a pastor in charge of children’s ministry for a short time.

Prayer is still a big part of our lives, even though my husband and I no longer have pastoral roles.

I have testimonies of God helping me breath when I was suffering a bad asthma attack, of being protected from a car accident that should have happened, of God providing friends to this introvert.

Jesus is still alive and working. Of that, I am a witness.

CC: K Carswell 2022

Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holman Christian Standard Bible, Copyright 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2009 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by Permission. Holman Christian Standard Bible, Holman CSB and HCSB are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers.

Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holman Christian Standard Bible, Copyright 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2009 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by Permission. Holman Christian Standard Bible, Holman CSB and HCSB are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers.

“An Acts-ive Faith (Part 2a)”

Acts 2: We Are all Witnesses

Acts 2:32 “God has resurrected this Jesus. We are all witnesses of this.”

This was spoken by Peter on the day of Pentecost. Standing near him were others who walked with Jesus as he ministered on earth and who had seen him alive after the crucifixion. Peter could say he was a witness of the resurrected Jesus.

Here is part of my witness of the resurrected Christ:

The snow blew toward the windshield as the car traveled toward an emergency room in the city. I was seated between my parents , struggling to breath from a severe asthma attack, as they drove me to hospital. The snow continued to swirl around the car, but we finally arrived at the hospital. I was given medication. My mother tells of the doctor thinking that I wasn’t that sick. If my asthma was not as bad as it had been at home, it was probably because of the trust I had in my parents during the car ride. I had felt safe and secure seated between my Godly parents.

I grew up on a farm and my parents took their family to church every Sunday, so I had a chance to hear about Jesus at a young age. While I was in Grade 5, the Gideons came to a small country school to give out New Testaments. My copy is falling apart now, but it still states that I received it in February of 1971. On October, 29, 1974, I signed the back of the New Testament, saying that I wanted to accept Jesus as my Savior.

I wondered if I was a successful Sunday school teacher. I was in Grade 7 or 8, teaching the four-and five-year-olds with another young lady. One of the students asked me ‘is God real?” and I felt that I had not communicated well. A wise Sunday School superintendent (who I always addressed as ‘Mom”) said that I was successful — I had succeeded in having the student ask if God was real!

In high school, I heard about Campus Life meetings. I was shy, so it took me awhile to be brave enough to join the group. In Grade 12, I made a commitment to Christ in front of the Campus Life director. (I had more understanding of what I was doing than I had had years before.) After I had made the commitment, the group was at a meeting in someone’s home and people were sharing. I prayed “I’ll testify if the lights flicker on and off.” I still do not know why those lights flickered — but my testimony of my salvation was a surprise to some. With my church background and lifestyle they thought I had been saved for years. (I probably had been saved since 1974, but again, my understanding of salvation was greater when I was older.)

God continued to bless me in my early adulthood. I moved to a larger city to attend journalism school, and for the first year was blessed to stay with a wonderful Christian couple.

“It feels like I’ve been to the dentist!” It was a weird thing to say at church — but it was exactly how I felt. I was in a prayer line at a revival meeting sponsored by the small Pentecostal church I was now a student at. I felt like I had just had a filling put in a tooth!

I had graduated from journalism school and then worked for three years at a small city newspaper. I loved reporting– and had been sent to cover revival meetings. Two or three years after I first covered a meeting, I began my training at a small Bible centre, run by a local pastor. I had felt the call of God on my life at the first meeting I attended, but it took awhile for me to decide to leave the career I had planned and trained for.

Banana trees and beautiful beaches, and even more beautiful people. Those are my memories of St. Lucia and Barbados, I was blessed to travel there as a helper to an elderly missionary.

After that experience, I returned to my home city, and attended Bible College, working my way through to earn a Bachelor of Religious Education degree. I sometimes went through hard times at my work place. “I wonder if he is an angel”, i remember thinking about one customer, whose words of encouragement were extremely appropriate. God was with me at work and at the Bible College.

At church I helped with the younger children and was active in a prayer group, It was led by a wonderful woman, who is still a friend. I got to know many, including a young man named Murray.

God has been very gracious to me. Jesus is alive and working. Of that, I am a witness.

I will continue my testimony tomorrow.

(Dear readers: I understand if you are slightly annoyed with me for spending two days on Acts 2, instead of going on to Acts 3. If you are joining me in reading the book of Acts, please feel free to reread Acts 2 or go onto Acts 3. Meditate on how they speak to your life. I would love it if you would send me part of your testimony.

CC: K Carswell 2022

Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holman Christian Standard Bible, Copyright 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2009 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by Permission. Holman Christian Standard Bible, Holman CSB and HCSB are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers.

Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holman Christian Standard Bible, Copyright 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2009 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by Permission. Holman Christian Standard Bible, Holman CSB and HCSB are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers.

“An Acts-ive Faith” (Part 1)

Acts 1: Knowing Versus Being

Acts 1: 6, 7, 8 So when they had come together, they asked HIM, “Lord are you restoring the kingdom to Israel at this time?He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or periods that the Father has set by His own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come on you, and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and in the ends of the earth.

There are so many things I’d like to know. If I make decision “A”, what will the future be? If i make decision “B”, will be future be better or worse than if I had made decision “A”. I’d also like a clear understanding of the situation in the world, and what steps to take to have things turn out in a way I would like.

But is ‘knowing’ what I am to concentrate on?

This scripture tells us that Jesus did not really answer the disciples question about when the kingdom would be restored. He said “it is not for you to know”. Clearly, the disciples would not need this information to live in faith. That means I don’t need the answers to some of my questions and getting answers should not necessarily be my focus.

One of my favorite scriptures is Psalm 131:1-3

Lord, my heart is not proud; my eyes are not haughty. I do not get involved with things too great or too difficult for me. Instead, I have calmed and quieted myself like a little weaned child with its mother; I am like a little child. Israel, put your hope in the LORD, both now and forever.

I can choose to trust like a weaned child, instead of being concerned about things that are beyond my control. I can, like Israel is encouraged to do in the Psalm, put my hope in the Lord.

Jesus did give the disciples something to focus on: “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come and you and you will be My witnesses . . .” They were to focus on being his witnesses.

That tells me I should focus on being a witness for Him, looking for opportunities to tell of His love for me and for others, of the need for repentance, of how close His second coming might be.

I could condemn myself so easily for not being a good enough witness for Christ. Yet that would not please the Lord, Drawing closer to HIm, spending time with Him in a deeply trusting relationship like a child spends time with his or her mother would please him much more.

copyright: K Carswell, 2020

Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holman Christian Standard Bible, Copyright 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2009 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by Permission. Holman Christian Standard Bible, Holman CSB and HCSB are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers.