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 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 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 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 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 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.