Should I Stay or Should I Go

RE Verse reading–Acts 13:1-52 (day three)
The song by the Clash has become an indispensible part of classic rock radio.  Unfortunately, the question that the title asks has become a familiar part of our life with God.  Our faith frequently presents us with mystery, with things we don’t understand, and so we ask.  And that’s okay.  Questions aren’t a problem.  But we want to know what lies ahead.  And often, that’s just not going to happen.  So we become indecisive, and our minds get paralyzed by questions.  But when Paul and Barnabas saw their mission to Pisidian Antioch had failed, they didn’t wring their hands.  They didn’t demand to know the future before packing it in and moving on.  They didn’t second-guess their entire missions initiative.  They had come to know enough about what God can do to launch into the unknown. That’s faith: going where you don’t know on the basis of what you do know.

Guest Blogger: Bryan Richardson – Associate Pastor, Singles, Small Groups, & Pastoral Ministries

Journey to Joy

RE Verse reading–Acts 13:1-52 (day two)
The journey from prayer to joy sometimes takes unexpected turns. It will always begin with intently seeking the face of God not just the hand of God, seeking Him not just what He can do for you (Acts 13:2a). Then He speaks. His words may be unexpected, unplanned, or even uncomfortable, but the journey to joy won’t continue unless you take a step of obedience (13:2-3). You never know what will happen next. Maybe fruitfulness. Maybe opposition. Maybe both (13:44-45). Each new step will be another opportunity to trust the Spirit’s guiding words (13:46). One day you find that you are not journeying alone. You haven’t arrived. The difficulty is not gone. But now a quiet, inexpressible delight journeys with you. You are journeying with joy (13:52). Then the realization washes over you. Joy is not a destination to arrive at but rather a companion to travel with.

Guest Blogger: Josh Vaughan – Minister to Young Marrieds & Yes, Lord! Community Ministries

The Lord of the Harvest

RE Verse reading–Acts 13:1-52 (day one)  “While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, ‘Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.’ ” (vs2)  It may be the most important recovery of all.  Confidence in the competence of Christ.  An active trust that the Lord knows His own business and will effectively involve us as we seek Him.  The Antioch church had such confidence.  Some scholars believe that the Spirit had previously spoken to Barnabas and Saul re. this missionary assignment.  The church, however, required a deeper certainty that came as the leaders sought the Lord together/heard His voice together in an attitude of praise and surrender.  Jesus taught us the same procedure.  “Pray to the LORD OF THE HARVEST, to send out workers”  (Matthew 9:38)  What new confidence we would have!  What new effectiveness!  The Savior knows how/when/where to employ us in His Kingdom work!  Let us seek Him.

The dividing wall broken

RE Verse reading–Acts11:1-26 (day seven)  “If God gave them the same gift that He gave us. . .who was I to hinder God?”  (vs 17)  “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!”  Perhaps you remember President Reagan’s famous words at the Berlin Wall.  They remind me of  Acts 11.  God was tearing down the legal wall that had, for centuries, divided Jew from Gentile.  For the first time since the Tower of Babel, the world had an opportunity for true unity and equality.  How inspiring!  How hopeful!  It is ironic that many in our day portray religion as essentially divisive.  Christ is actually our ONE opportunity to be united.   “He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall. . .making the two into one new man, thus establishing peace, and might reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross”  (Ephesians 2:14-16)  Most of us live behind walls.  God breaks them down.

Does God change?

RE Verse reading–Acts 11:1-26 (day six)  “What God has made clean, you must not call profane”  (vs 9)  Does God change?  At one level the answer is easy.  “He is the same yesterday, today and forever”  (Hebrews 13:8)  At another level, it is less so.  At the very least, God “changes plays”.  Like a quarterback with an audible,  God does, at times, declare a different direction, a new decision rising from His unchanging character.  Peter found himself in the middle of such a shift.  Something new to understand.  Something new to teach others.  The heavenly voice declared an end to the laws of separation (kosher) and a vast new horizon for world-wide missions.  God doesn’t change but His instructions to us sometimes do.  “Do not call to mind the former things, or ponder things of the past.  Behold, I will do something new, now it will spring forth; will you not be aware of it?”  (Isaiah 43:18-19)  May the Lord make us flexible.

Great is thy Faithfulness

RE Verse reading – Acts 11:1-26 (day five)
Acts11:1  The apostles and the brothers throughout Judea heard that the Gentiles also had received the word of God. 2 So when Peter went up to Jerusalem, the circumcised believers criticized him 3 and said, “You went into the house of uncircumcised men and ate with them.”

I was listening to one of the songs we will sing Sunday morning in Logos.  One of the lines states: “morning by morning new mercies I see”.  Often times these mercies will challenge us to see circumstances and even others differently.  Maybe forgiveness is in order, or perhaps compassion.  What about patience or persistence?  It is God’s daily mercy that will continue to shape our thoughts, attitudes, and perspectives to be like… His.  Glad He’s not finished with me.  Thank You that You send New Mercies each day “Oh God my Father”!!    GREAT IS THY FAITHFULNESS!!

Guest Blogger: Scott Lane – Associate Pastor, Education, Students & Venture

Used of God

RE Verse reading – Acts 11:1-26 (day four)
There is a transition taking place!  The gospel has been resident with the Jews, but the Gentiles are slowly becoming the recipients of the repentance that leads to salvation.  First, it was the Ethiopian eunuch.  Then, there was Cornelius and his relatives and close friends.  Peter’s testimony of the baptism of the Holy Spirit has glorified God.  Now witnesses have gone to Antioch, a Greek city, and a large number have turned to the Lord.  Now God calls a man to lead the discipling process with the gentiles…a very unlikely choice.  Saul was zealous beyond measure, a model Pharisee, a Jew among Jews.  Saul’s obedience to God’s call causes a shift of the center of the New Testament church from Jerusalem to Antioch.  What has God called you to do?  Do you believe you are the last one to be able to accomplish this task?  Obey God’s call and see what He does!

Guest Blogger: Larry SoapeAssociate Pastor, Education, Adults & Missions


RE Verse reading–Acts 11:1-26 (day three)  The beginning of the meeting: “The circumcised believers criticized [Peter] and said, ‘You went into the house of uncircumcised men and ate with them.’” (v. 3)  The end of the meeting: “They had no further objections and praised God, saying, ‘So then, even to Gentiles God has granted repentance that leads to life.’” (v. 18)  Between these two statements, the believers in the Jerusalem church listened to what Peter had to say.  Listening is a posture of humility, and so it is hard for us to practice.  In these accounts of the early days of the church, between persecution and questions of fellowship and the like, the believers often found that they did not know what to do.  They prayed, they met together, they reviewed their history, and they listened to one another.  Then, they acted on the best knowledge they had.  The results speak for themselves.  It seems this young church had developed a culture in which they were not afraid to say they did not know how to proceed.  Following the pattern of the church in Acts, a good corporate and individual prayer might be this: “Lord, we do not know what to do.”  If we will pray regularly like that, we will train our ears to become humble enough to listen.

Guest Blogger: Bryan Richardson – Associate Pastor, Singles, Small Groups, & Pastoral Ministries

Praying and Hearing

RE Verse reading–Acts 11:1-26 (day two)  “I was in the town of Joppa praying…” Peter begins his “orderly” explanation of his dramatic and controversial decision by noting his first activity. There is no hint of bragging or absolutizing his decision simply because “I prayed about it.” Others may use that phrase to avoid criticisms, but Peter simply states that while talking to God, God talked back! While we might be surprised or even a little skeptical if a friend reported that to us, Peter offers it without apology. Praying was his normal routine. Hearing from the Spirit was as well (Acts 11:12). What is your normal routine? Does it involve praying…and hearing? Unless you plan times to pray, you won’t have time to hear. Make praying and hearing your first activity this week.

Guest Blogger: Josh Vaughan – Minister to Young Marrieds & Yes, Lord! Community Ministries

Convincing our critics

RE Verse reading–Acts 11:1-26 (day one)  “When Peter went up to Jersualem, the circumcised believers criticized him, saying, ‘Why did you go to uncircumcised men and eat with them?’ ”  (vs2)  Predictable.  New things are hard.  People’s first reaction will be resistance (read criticism).  It happens.  Even to believers.  Peter is wise.  Without being defensive, he provides these brothers with information that will help them understand his behavior.  He does not argue.  He does not criticize them for criticizing him.  He simply reports His experience with God.  Vs.5–God gave me a vision.  Vs. 8–I resisted too (so I understand why you are hesitating)  Vs. 12–The Spirit told me to go.  Vs. 13–the men were waiting, reporting a vision of their own. Vs. 15–God gave them the gift of the Holy Spirit.  Vs. 16–It is consistent with the words of the Lord. Perhaps we would all do better with our critics if we learned from Peter.  “When they heard this, they were silenced”  (vs 18)

Editor’s note–Tuesday through Friday, this week and next, the everydayprayer blog will be authored by Josh Vaughan, Bryan Richardson, Larry Soape and Scott Lane.  I will be posting Monday and Saturday and Sunday.  Thanks gentlemen for your help!  Thank you blog-friends for your faithfulness!