Devotions

Monthly Archives: August, 2015

Friday | August 28

Acts 19:11-12

Paul proclaimed Jesus and His message of repentance and grace, but without the confirmation of an entire New Testament that we have today. God worked miracles through Paul to confirm his proclamation as truth. These miracles are just more things pointing to the common theme of this week: it is not at all anything that we can do but its God working through us. God working miracles through Paul opened the door for him to share the Gospel in many instances.

When we actively live as followers of Christ, honoring Him in all that we do, glorifying Him in every step of life, it isn’t because we are the best Christians on the face of the earth. The only reason we can live that way is because its God living through us! If we are living in that way, then we are undoubtedly loving our neighbors as ourselves. Living like this open doors for us to proclaim the Gospel to others, not because people see that we are great, but they will see that Christ is great in us! It is God doing extraordinary things through us!

God’s glory combs in always Christ through us, not us alone. Paul writes in Galatians 2:20, “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” As Christians redeemed by the blood of Jesus, we no longer live, but Christ lives in us and works through us. In 1891, a woman by the name of Ada Anne Whiddington wrote it as a hymn like this, “Not I, but Christ be honored, loved, exalted, Not I, but Christ be seen, be known and heard; Not I, but Christ in every look and action, Not I, but Christ in every thought and word. Oh, to be saved from myself, dear Lord, Oh, to be lost in Thee, Oh, that it may be no more I, But Christ that lives in me.” Not I, but Christ.

As the busyness of fall approaches; as life becomes more cluttered with work and school; as we interact with family and friends; as we get overwhelmed by life; let it not be us but Christ that works in us. Let us be boldly proclaiming the Gospel, fully relying on the Holy Spirit, and standing on the truth that it is not at all us, but Christ who lives in us!

Matt Hatton | Director of Youth Community

Discussion Question – How do we see self-promotion even in the good things we do? How do we glorify Christ and not our own ego in doing good?

Thursday | August 27

Acts 19:8-20

In Romans chapter 10:14-15, Paul logically writes “How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news”! How is someone to believe if they haven’t heard, and how are they to hear unless someone preaches? We see in Acts 19:8-10 Paul doing this very thing, proclaiming the good news of Jesus so that others may believe. The power of the Gospel and the Holy Spirit is unleashed by the proclamation of it!

Paul couldn’t share Jesus timidly, but he boldly proclaimed Christ. We see in many of Paul’s letters the concept of boldly and unashamedly proclaiming the Gospel. Paul was not afraid of rejection or persecution. If we are boldly proclaiming the Kingdom of God, then we will undoubtedly be uncompromisingly confrontational. Not because we are being rude or belligerent, and not because we are saying disrespectful pointed things, but because the message of Jesus is confrontational. The real gospel confronts sin and the punishment for it, but also speaks of the grace of God. If you’re proclaiming Jesus, you must be bold and fearless because people will be offended. We need to try our best to love and care for others in proclaiming Christ, but there is no way around being confrontational because the Gospel speaks of sin.

People will not always be receptive to the Gospel. As it was for Paul, the more he proclaimed Christ, the more stubborn their hearts became until it was time for him to move on. It is not that Paul gave up on these people, but he did all that he could, and when he could do no more he went somewhere else and proclaimed Christ. Three days this week we have discussed the power of God and the Holy Spirit as the ones doing all of the work. God worked through Paul, and after doing all that he could, Paul left it up to God to change the hearts of evil disbelieving people. We can plant seeds, water them, proclaim Christ as we are commanded to do, but God works in the hearts of people!

Matt Hatton | Director of Youth Community

Discussion Question – We are either boldly proclaiming Christ or not proclaiming Him at all, which is it for you?

Wednesday | August 26

Acts 19:1-7

The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirt, Holy Spirit, Holy Spirit. For the third day in a row; we get to look at the importance of the Holy Spirit. Paul found some disciples similar to Apollos who knew Christ as Messiah, who knew of the message of repentance from sin, and who here baptized in John’s baptism, but had yet to know the power of the Holy Spirit.

These disciples were incomplete Christians in a sense. They knew of repentance and understood the need to turn away from their sin. They knew the destruction and death that sin could bring, but they had yet to know the grace of Jesus Christ and the life that only He can bring. The preaching of John wasn’t fully good news because it only spoke of our own shortcomings, inadequacies, and the punishment of hell at the hand of God. Therefore, when we try to do better, we fail because we try on our own strength. The Gospel of Jesus says something that is quite a bit different. The Holy Spirit strengthens and comes alongside our efforts to do better and repent, and save s us from hell, giving us something that we could never do on our own strength. These “almost disciples” knew of the impending doom and the moral duty they had, but they had not experienced the help of Jesus and the Holy Spirit.

Even when we see our sin and shortcomings, and commit to repent, and try as hard as we can to do better and change, we still fall short because we miss the power that only Christ and the Holy Spirit can give. Our works are good but unless the Holy Spirit allies with them, they are worthless. Is your repentance in Christ?

Matt Hatton | Director of Youth Community

Discussion Question – How can you  Are your works reliant on the Holy Spirit? Are your moral efforts powered by God?

Tuesday | August 25

Acts 18:26-28
1 Corinthians 3:5-9

God exists in three parts: God the father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. Water is H2O, ice is H2O, and water vapor is H2O. They are different, yet the same. The Holy Spirit is God; The Holy Spirit is Jesus; they are 3 yet one. The same power that raised Jesus from the dead, forgave humanity of all sin, and created the entire universe is the power living inside of all believers. The Power of the Holy Spirit stretches much further than our minds can comprehend.

Paul was a powerful disciple who spread the Gospel to many, and Apollos was a powerful and intellectual preacher of Christ, but that power was not their own. The power that possessed them was the power of God in the form of the Holy Spirit! In Acts 18:28, the Bible says that Apollos “powerfully” went about showing that Jesus was the Christ. In Acts 1:8 Jesus said “you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you”. The power that the Bible is speaking of here is no ordinary power! This power is power from the Holy Spirit; the power of God in us! We see this awesome truth put plainly in 1 Corinthians 3:5-6 “What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, as the Lord assigned to each. I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth.” Paul and Apollos understood this truth, and because of that, God did a great work through them.

It is important to realize that we are significant in the eyes of God. We are important, set apart as believers, a royal priesthood, a chosen race, created by God and loved by him. We also need to realize that it is God who makes us that way, working through us by the power of the Holy Spirit. We are important to God, but we must not see His work as our own. Without the power of the Holy Spirit, we aren’t bold enough, we don’t know enough, and we couldn’t even try to desire a God-honoring lifestyle. A hammer is useless unless there is someone to swing it. We are tools being put to work in the hands of God and it’s by the power of the Holy Spirit that we can do anything of significance for the cause of Christ!

Matt Hatton | Director of Youth Community

Discussion Question –  In what ways can you see God working through you on a daily basis?

Monday | August 24

Acts 18:24-26

Apollos must have been a man of great intellect. He was from Alexandria which was a city of scholars. These were not just any scholars, but Jewish scholars who were well versed in the Old Testament Scriptures. These Jewish scholars believed in the allegorical interpretation of the Old Testament. This meant they believed that everything in the Old Testament had a hidden meaning that was of symbolic significance. Given Apollos Jewish background, eloquence, and competency in the Scriptures he would have been exceedingly persuasive at speaking to and convincing Jews of Jesus Christ because he would have been able to point them toward the symbolic imagery of Jesus in the Old Testament! For those in Alexandria to finally see that it was all about Jesus must have changed their world. Everything they have heard or believed in the Scriptures pointed to Christ!

Apollos of Alexandria was not only an eloquent, intellectual man who was competent in the Scriptures. He was also instructed in the way of the Lord. Christianity is described throughout the book of Acts as “the way of the Lord,” showing that Christianity means not only believing things, but acting upon them, and putting them into practice. Christianity is a way of life full of faith accompanied by deeds. However, for all that there was in Apollos, there was still some things lacking in his training. “He spoke and taught accurately the things concerning Jesus, though he knew only the baptism of John.” Apollos had seen the need for repentance, he understood John’s message, he must have recognized Jesus as messiah, but he did not yet fully know the good news of Jesus as savior or the coming of the Holy Spirit.

Priscilla and Aquila heard Apollos and realized that he had not yet known the good news of Christ as savior or the power of the Holy Spirit. Because of his lack in training, they “explained to him the way of God more accurately.” Apollos, a man who had known Jesus as someone in history, as the Messiah, is now able to see Christ and experience His power in his everyday life. This competent man of intellect, eloquence and great knowledge recognized the power of the Holy Spirit! That intellect now has power that is humanly unattainable.

Knowledge of the scripture is good: equipping ourselves with God’s holy word is vital; but what good is it without the power of God? It is the work of God in us that provides us with the power to do all things!

Matt Hatton | Director of Youth Community

Discussion Question – Do you recognize and rely FULLY on the power of God that is at work in you, or do you rely more on your own intellectual abilities?



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