An Acts-ive Faith (Part 16)

Acts 16: Profit or People

Acts 16: 16 – 21 Once when we were on our way to prayer, a slave girl met us who had a spirit of prediction. she made a large profit for her owners by fortune-telling. As she followed Paul and us she cried out, “These men, who are proclaiming to you the way of salvation, are the slaves of the Most High God. And she did this for many days. But Paul was greatly aggravated and turning to the spirit, said “I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her!” And it came out right away. When her owners saw that their hope of profit was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace to the authorities. Bringing them before the chief magistrates, they said, “These men are seriously disturbing our city. They are Jews and are promoting customs that are not legal for us as Romans to adopt or practice.”

The slave girl’s owners cared more about the money they were making off of her gift, than about her. They were acting out of concern for their economic situation.

Paul and Silas had done nothing wrong. Paul had cast a demon out of someone, because he had become aggravated with the spirit that was following him around. The young slave girl was now free to live a better life. The owners did not give that a second thought — they just saw a potential lower bank balance.

The magistrates listened to the crowds, beat Paul and Silas and threw them in jail. The two men had done nothing wrong. They prayed and sang in prison — despite how they must have been physically feeling at the time. An earthquake caused prison doors to open, and the jailer was ready to kill himself, because he thought the prisoners had escaped. Instead, he and his family were lead to the Lord by Paul and Silas.

Paul’s and Silas’ had two hardships: the slave girl disturbing them and then being beaten and thrown in jail. If they were not in jail, they may not have met the jailer and he and his family would not have met the Lord Jesus Christ.

Questions to myself: What am I willing to go through to benefit others? Am I more concerned with my own profit, my own activities or am I willing to suffer some inconvenience to benefit others? (Yes, I know, Paul and Silas were a lot more than inconvenienced!)

Prayer: Lord Jesus, help me grow in hearing your voice and in my willingness to follow you. Help me to act in such a way that I see the people in front of me the way You see them. If I face setbacks, help me to see that there may actually be a ministry opportunity awaiting. 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 15)

Acts 15: Necessary Things

Acts 15:19-20: Therefore in my judgement, we should not cause difficulties for those among the Gentiles who turn to God, but instead we should write to them to abstain from things polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from eating anything that has been strangled, and from blood.

I am grateful for the Jerusalem council and James’ words at it. The decision of the council meant that the Gentiles did not have to follow Jewish laws to serve Jesus. The council tried to make the burden on the Gentiles as light as possible. Following Jesus is not a burden, but a joy.

Jesus invites us to walk with him. God’s yoke is easy and his burden is light. Jesus said these words, which are recorded in Matthew 11:28-30: “Come to Me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. All of you, take up My yoke and learn from Me, because I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for yourselves. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

We can walk yoked with Jesus, knowing that He is the One carrying the weight of the yoke. His burden on us is light.

Yet, there are things that the early apostles considered necessary. They listed four things, which are stated in the scripture above. Many versions of the Bible say that to abstain from things polluted by idols meant not to eat food that had been offered to idols. Most Christians would never consider offering their food to idols, but idols can come into our life in subtle ways. I play computer solitaire and other games are promoted. Some of those games seem innocent: trying to match three of the same objects in our row to advance in the game and get to the next level of the story. Yet, some of those games have talismans, (an object that is supposed to bring good luck) or rewards that include building idols. I have thought about these games, and consider them unnecessary in my life. They take time that can be spent in better ways.

Prayer: Father, help me to discern between necessary things and unnecessary things in my life. Help me to do more and more of what pleases you. Help me to manage my time more wisely. 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 14)

Acts 14: Gods — or Otherwise

Acts 14:8 -10 In Lystra a man without strength in his feet, lame from birth, and who had never walked, sat and heard Paul speaking. After observing him closely and seeing that he had faith to be healed, Paul said in a loud voice, “Stand upright on your feet!” And he jumped up and started to walk around.

Paul and Barnabas were on a missionary journey, and had arrived in Lystra, after fleeing from Iconium. There had been signs and wonders in Iconium, but non-believers had stirred up people so that they wanted to stone Paul and Barnabas. The two left, going to another town to tell people about Jesus.

This story reminds me of the story in Acts chapter 3, in which Peter tells a lame man who is over 40 years old “In the Name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, get up and walk!” (part of Acts 3:6). Some Jewish leaders ordered Peter and John to stop preaching about Jesus and healing in his name. Peter and John ignored them, and kept on preaching.

Peter and John were threatened by the Jewish leaders. Paul and Barnabas faced opposition of a different kind: the people of Lystra mistook them for the gods Zeus and Hermes and a priest of Zeus prepared to offer sacrifices to them! Paul and Barnabas had to try to convince the people that they were mortals, but they had a hard time stopping the crowd from sacrificing to them.

The crowd saw the miracle — and responded to it, but did not respond correctly to the message that went with it: the need to repent of sin and believe in Jesus. What happened next is sooooo interesting . . .

Acts 14:19 Then some Jews came from Antioch and Iconium, and when they had won over the crowds and stoned Paul, they dragged him out of the city thinking he was dead.

What ???? Several verses before this, the crowd had wanted to offer sacrifices to Paul and now they are helping to stone him or at least allowing the Jews to stone him? Remind me to never trust emotional crowds . . .

A good plan for my life would be to be very careful which ‘crowd’ I hang around with — and see if my crowd can change direction in a very short time.

The reaction of Paul is even more telling. He wasn’t dead — after the disciples surrounded him, he got up and walked back into the town (verse 20). I’m not sure I would have been brave enough to go back into town. Barnabas and Paul left for Derbe the next day.

I want to be brave enough to speak for Jesus more. If people do not listen, I do not have to be offended. I just need to move on to the next opportunity to tell of His love.

Prayer: Father, forgive me for all the times I have not spoken about your son Jesus when I should have spoken up. Help me to be willing to testify more. Jesus has done much for me. And, Father, help me not to worry about the consequences when I do testify about Jesus and his love for me. The consequences are in your mighty hands. 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 11)

Acts 11 Even the gentiles are granted repentance!

Acts 11:18 When they heard this they became silent. Then they glorified God saying, “So God has granted repentance resulting in life even to the Gentiles!”

This is one of my favorite verses in Acts. I am a Gentile. God has granted repentance even to me!

Prayer: Lord Jesus, I want to thank you for the gift of repentance. It was what allowed me to come in to your kingdom. As you show me things that you want to change in me, repentance helps me grow in your. Lord Jesus, thank you for the gift of repentance — and when you correct me, help me to quickly hear and quickly obey. Amen.

This is also an eye-opening verse to me. it shows me the “Jewishness” of the church when it began. I knew that Jesus was Jewish, that the disciples were Jewish and that the first followers were Jewish. Yet, my early church life was made up of people like me: people of a gentile heritage. I did not meet my first Jewish believer until I was in my mid-20s.

The church is made up of both Jew and Gentile, the one new man. God always wanted it that way. Abraham’s seed was to be a blessing to the nations, and the nations were to bless Israel. A ‘mixed multitude’ walked out of Egypt with Moses, so at least some non-Jews were included. The lineage of Jesus includes Ruth, who lived in Moab, before she moved to Israel with Naomi.

Prayer: Lord, thank you for loving all people. Help me to be a blessing to those you would have me be a blessing to, both Jewish and gentile. 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 9)

Acts 9: Do what you can

Acts 9:36, 37, 39 In Joppa there was a follower named Tabitha. Her Greek name was Dorcas, which means ‘deer.’ She was always doing works and acts of charity. In those days she became sick and died. After washing her, they placed her in a room upstairs. . . . . So Peter got up and went with them. When he arrived, they led him to the room upstairs. And all the widows approached him, weeping and showing him the robes and clothes that Dorcas had made while she was with them.

Dorcas is never mentioned again in scripture after Acts 9:41. She is an example of someone who lived well, doing what she could.

There are many who are interested in living long and living well. Having interesting and challenging hobbies is sometimes listed as a way to improve life. However, sewing for others is not listed among the strategies for adding years to your life.

There are listings of spiritual gifts in scripture. Sewing is not mentioned. It is never recorded that Dorcas ever preached a sermon. She is not listed among the early leadership of the church.

However, Dorcas knew two things: how to sew and people who needed new outfits. She put the two together and began to sew. The people’s needs were met,

I grew up on a farm — home grown beef and chicken, fish in the dugout, food from the garden — and clothes that my mother sewed. I got many compliments on a red hot pants outfit that I wore in grade seven or eight. I loved my Barbie dolls and my Penny Brite doll a lot — and part of that was the homemade doll clothes that my mother made. (I’ve made doll clothes as an adult — those tiny seams can seem more challenging than the bigger ones for ordinary clothes!) I remember Grade 8 home economics and the day the girls in the class decided to show up in the dresses they had finished. I loved the blue dress I had made. I have the time to sew and have begun to sew again.

My challenge to myself: what do I have to give? How can I help others in practical ways? Dorcas probably never preached a sermon, but she gives us something to think about.

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 8)

Acts 8:Assignments Fulfilled

Acts 8:4 So those who were scattered went on their way preaching the message of good news. Philip went down to a city in Samaria and proclaimed the Messiah to them.

Stephen had been stoned and Paul was actively persecuting the church. Yet, that did not stop the spread of the gospel – in fact the persecution scattered the believers throughout Judea and Samaria. Jesus had told the believers to make disciples of all nations, and the believers were starting to spread out.

Philip, who was appointed as one of the deacons in Acts 6:5, travelled to a city in Samaria. He proclaimed the Messiah and demonstrated the truth of the gospel by performing signs. The people believed Philip and were baptized. The apostles came from Jerusalem and prayed for the new believers to receive the Holy Spirit.

Then, Philip was given his next assignment. His job had been done in that city. he was sent to an Ethiopian eunuch, who needed someone to explain the gospel to him.

Philip had seen many healed and delivered. He had spoken to crowds. Yet, after the crowds, God sent him to one person, who needed to hear.

Let us let the Lord give us our assignments — and not worry about whether we are speaking to one person or a crowd.

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 6)

Ministering Daily

Acts 6:1 In those days, as the number of the disciples was multiplying, there arose a complaint by the Hellenistic Jews against the Hebrew Jews that their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution.

Problems caused by quick growth started to occur in the early church. Some people and their needs were getting overlooked. Specifically, some widows were not receiving their daily distribution. This meant that these widows were to be visited daily — given what they needed for that day. The contact with the needy was constant.

This challenges me with the thought: whose need have I met today? Am I living for myself, just doing whatever I please, or am I actively seeking ways to minister to others?

Another challenge to myself from this verse is: am I daily ministering to the Lord and allowing Him to minister to me? Am I seeing all the ways the Lord is ministering to me? I recognized yesterday that the Lord had used my husband to minister to me in several ways.

My husband and I are in a season where we are taking daily communion. Am I spending enough time in communion with the Lord?

Prayer: Lord, may we all minister to you daily and allow You to minster to us. Help us think of a person to minister to each and every day.

Now, I’m off to email a friend who may need to hear from 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.

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 5)

Dieing to Impress

Acts 5:5 When he heard these words, Ananias dropped dead, and a great fear came on all who heard.

Acts 5 details two deaths. Ananias and Sapphira sold property. They gave part of the money, but said they had given all. They could have avoided death by simply telling the truth.

Acts 434 states that there was not a needy person among the believers, because those who owned property were selling it and laying the proceeds at the apostles’ feet. It mentions one person in particular, Joseph who was a Levite and a Cypriot by birth. The apostles called him Barnabas.

Selling property and giving the proceeds to the church could have made others praise some of the rich early believers. Those in need, and maybe even the apostles themselves, would be impressed by the givers’ generosity. Ananias and Sapphira may have wanted that good name, but not wanted to pay the full cost of it. So they agreed to lie. They paid for that lie with their lives. Peter said they did not lie to men, but to God.

My prayer is “Lord, help my be honest — first with you and myself and then with others. Help me be who you made me to be. In your mercy, keep me from the need to impress others. Keep me from overstating who I am and the gifts you have given me. Help me give all glory to You. 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.

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.

Jesus has already prayed

Be encouraged that if you are going through a trial, Jesus has already prayed for you.

As Satan was accusing the High priest Joshua, the Lord said to him: “the Lord rebuke you, Satan! the Lord, who has chosen Jerusalem, rebuke you! Is not this man a burning stick snatched from the fire?

Jesus prayed for Peter to strengthen the brethren before Peter even denied him. (Luke 22: 31-34) Jesus sees you at the other side of the struggle you are going through, strengthening others.

And Jesus has prayed for us (John 17:20-26). This does not mean we don’t pray. It means we pray even more, praying in agreement with what Jesus wants in the world.

Jesus comforted me about a situation I was facing, saying he had it handled. I have seen the results, but was greatly comforted even before I had seen them. I, along with most people I know, am facing several challenges. We need to pray more, and obey anything we hear to do.

She’s Annoying Me Again (Part 4)

Okay, so it’s happening again — that person is dong the same old thing, making the same old comments, not letting well enough alone, trying her best to ruin my day . . .

Arrrrgh . . . . . .

But is there something bigger going on behind the scenes? (In my case, probably not . . . well — maybe the Lord is trying to make me more patient or teach me to stick up for myself or something . . .) However, in Hannah’s case, there was ‘a bigger picture.’ Hannah may or may not have known about the bigger picture, but she might have been aware of some problems in the temple.

The priests were misusing their authority. 2 Samuel 12 – 17 tells how Eli’s sons, Hophni and Phinehas, were treating both the Lord and the people.

2 Samuel 12 – 17

Eli’s sons were wicked men; they had no regard for the LORD or for the priests’ share of the sacrifices from the people. When any man offered a sacrifice, the priest’s servant would come with a three-prongred meat fork while the meat was boiling and plunge it into the container or kettle or cauldron or cooking pot. The priest would claim for himself whatever the meat fork brought up. This is the way they treated all the Israelites who came there to Shiloh. Even before the fat was burned, the priest’s servant would come and say to the man who was sacrificing, “Give the priest some meat to roast because he won’t accept boiled meat from you–only raw.” If that man said to him “The fat must be burned first; then you can take whatever you want for yourself,” the servant would reply, “No, I insist that you hand it over right now. If you don’t, I’ll take it by force!” So the servants’ sin was very severe in the presence of the LORD, because they treated the LORD’s offering with contempt.

Eli was aware of what his sons were doing.

2 Samuel 25: Now Eli was very old. He heard about everything his sons were doing to all Israel and how they were sleeping with the women who served at the entrance to the tent of meetings.

He tried to correct them. They did not listen.

Since the priests treated everyone’s offering with contempt, it is probable that the same thing happened to Elkanah. The offerings were made with the family present, so Hannah may have watched her husbands’ offering being misused.

And year after year, Hannah was provoked to tears by Penninah’s taunts. Finally, praying from a place of deep hurt, Hannah made a vow that if she was allowed to have a son, that son would serve the Lord all the days of his life. She would bring him to the temple — the temple run by Eli and his sons. She fulfilled her vow.

The Lord was angry with Eli and his sons. The priests would not take correction from their father and walk closer to the Lord. 1 Samuel 2:25b says: But they would not listen to their father, since the LORD intended to kill them.

The next verse talks about Samuel.

1 Samuel 2:26

By contrast, the boy Samuel grew in stature and in favor with the LORD and with men.

Hannah had a deep need. But ‘the bigger picture’ included the fact that the Lord saw that the priesthood was acting unfaithfully toward Him and interfering in the worship of the people. The ‘bigger picture’ was that the Lord wanted to make a change in leadership. He needed someone in the temple that He could raise up to lead the nation of Israel. His choice: Samuel, Hannah’s little boy. Hannah’s need for a son helped God fulfill his bigger picture of his plans for the nation of Israel.

Are the struggles we face part of God fulfilling his work in the earth? It is something to think about . . .

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.