Be Bold & Courageous: Acts 28

“He proclaimed the kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ—with all boldness and without hindrance!”

Acts 28:31

Well, here we are at the end of our study of Acts. Paul is safely in Rome under house arrest awaiting trial.

So what does a man do while waiting trial? Plant vegetables? Write his memoir? Learn to cook?

Not Paul.  At least not that we know.  Paul, instead, continued preaching the Gospel & teaching people how to be followers of Jesus Christ.  He may not be able to go out into the city to meet people but he was able to invite people to come visit him. 

Paul remained bold and courageous in sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ regardless of his present circumstances.  Whether on the road, a new city, under house arrest, shipwrecked Paul shared his faith story.  He knew the Holy Spirit would give him the words to share while Jesus walked beside him each day.

At times in our own lives we know we should share the Gospel.  We recognize some opportunities before us to tell someone our faith story but we do not always have the courage or boldness to step out in faith.

Excuses seem to appear out of no where at just the right moment. Fear pushes boldness out of the way to lead the way.

It can be scary to share one’s faith story.  We may not think we ‘know enough’ before sharing. Or we fear rejection by people.  Sharing does require a bit of vulnerability. 

But we are not alone when we share our faith stories.  The Holy Spirit gives us the words to share as with Paul.  Jesus walks beside us as He did with Paul.

At New Year’s Eve last year a friend of mine shared with me two words God gave them for me: Bold & Courageous. They knew about the new chapter in my ministry I was about to embark on in 2021. They wanted to encourage me.

See, while I was prepared to begin the new adventure there was still some fear in me.  I was excited but doubted how well I would do.  What if I failed? What if I wasn’t ‘good enough’? I was scared.

Then I look to those two words: BOLD & COURAGEOUS

God is not sending me out alone.  The Holy Spirit plants God’s Word deep into my soul so I have the words to share in person and online. Jesus stands beside me bringing peace to my heart so I remain bold and courageous in sharing the Gospel.

The same is true for you.  God does not send you out on the journey to weather the storms alone.  The Holy Spirit whispers the Word of God in your ear so you know what to share with others.  Jesus stands beside you on the deck telling you of the great things that lay ahead. 

This week spend time with God sharing what fears you have in sharing your own faith story. Let God plant the seeds of boldness and courage inside of you.  Go wherever God leads full of bold courage just like Paul.  No obstacle will get in your way.  You’ll simply step around it.

This Week’s Challenge

Make a 2 Column chart. On 1 side list any fears you have about faith.  On the opposite side write how God can change that fear to bold courage.

When It Rains Peace Pours Down: Acts 27

“and [angel] said, ‘Don’t be afraid, Paul, for you will surely stand trial before Caesar! What’s more, God in his goodness has granted safety to everyone sailing with you.’” Acts 27:24

Acts 27:24

When it rains it pours, right?  At least that’s what it feels like some days.  And for Paul in Acts 27 it literally feels that way.  A storm was bombarding their ship on their way to Rome.  Everyone on board from the crew to the passengers were concerned for their lives.

Paul brought peace to everyone in sharing what the angel of God told him.  The angel, a messenger of God, shared with Paul that they will arrive safely to Rome.  They did not need to fear for their lives. God was protecting them through it all.  The storm was not going to win.

Storms in life arise unexpectedly. Loss of job. Family/friendship difficulties. Illness diagnosis. Financial problems. Loss of a dream.

It feels as though peace has packed its bags to go on a long vacation far away from where we are.  The feeling of being overwhelmed has taken up residence in its place. What can one do in that case?

Peace from God is available to you today.

As God was with Paul during the storm God is with you in whatever storm you are facing.  You are not alone.  Jesus stands beside you bringing peace to your heart. While the storm rages on know that Jesus gives you calm through it all. There is no need to worry about what is coming next. Jesus is seeing you through the storm.

So whenever you are in a storm turn to Jesus and ask Him for His peace to fill you completely.  Seek comfort in His arms knowing that:

  1. You are not alone 
  2. He is protecting you

The storm may remain but God is walking with you through it. 

Paul’s life and ministry serves as an encouragement to us today.  We learn how God calls & equips everyone to share their faith story. We grow in strength through adversity by fixing our eyes on Jesus instead of the world. We stand in peace through any storm of life with Jesus by our side. 

This Week’s Challenge:
On a notecard/post-it write down a storm in your life.  On the other side write a prayer to Jesus asking for His peace through it. Place it in a location where you see it to remind you of God’s peace.

The Highs & Lows of Faith: Acts 26

“Now get to your feet! For I have appeared to you to appoint you as my servant and witness. Tell people that you have seen me, and tell them what I will show you in the future.” Acts 26:16

Acts 2616

Paul begins the 26th Chapter of Acts giving his faith story with Jesus Christ as he stands in the Roman court.  Part of that story is the recollection of when Jesus met Paul on the road to Damascus after Jesus’ Resurrection.  Jesus tells Paul that he will preach to the Gentiles (non-Jewish people). This is the story that we have been studying in our look at Acts.

Paul’s journeys were not easy.  There were trials to be endured.  Arrests to persevere. Opposition to be faced.  Through it all Paul was resolved.  He did not walk away when it got difficult he remained beside Jesus following the guidance of the Holy Spirit. 

Paul’s life is an example for us today because we see the sacrifices Paul made, the joy he had in sharing the Gospel, the churches formed & leaders developed by his mentorship.

Being a follower of Jesus Christ has its joys & has its lows.  We have the joy of seeing our own lives being transformed from the inside out.  Who we once were goes into the past as we walk with Jesus becoming more fully the person God created us to be.

We have the joy of seeing other lives being transformed by the Gospel as we serve where & when God shows us. Whether we are asked by God to help plant the seed of faith or to help nurture the seed of faith to grow joy abounds.

But there are also the tough days.  The days we hear rejection from some as the Gospel is shared in word or actions.  The days we sacrifice so that someone can hear the Gospel for themselves. 

Through the joyous days & the difficult ones we remain resolved in our faiths. We remember that we are not alone.  Jesus promised the Holy Spirit to be with each of His followers so they go to the ends of the world sharing the Gospel with everyone. As the Holy Spirit guided Paul on each of missionary journeys so does the Holy Spirit go with you.

As we conclude our study of Acts 26 hear Jesus’ words as recalled by Paul, 

“Tell people that you have seen me, and tell them what I will show you in the future.” (Acts 16b)

Jesus wants you to go out and tell people your story with Jesus.  Tell them how you are changed from the inside out because of Jesus.  Share why you love Him.  Give an account of the joys & opportunities to grow.  Tell people what you have experienced.  That is all. 

Be encouraged that by simply sharing your story will hear about Jesus for themselves.  God will take care of the details.  You simply are to tell what you see. 

You totally got this.  I believe in you. Go and share.

This Week’s Challenge

Post on your social media this week how you have been changed by Jesus.  Use the hashtag #resolvedfaith so we can celebrate with you.

A Thread Runs Through It: Acts 25

“Then Festus, when he had conferred with his council, answered, “To Caesar you have appealed; to Caesar you shall go.” Acts 25:12

Well, here it is.  Paul is going to Rome.  Through our study of Acts and following Paul’s journeys there has been a sense that it is has all been coming down to this point.  Paul was growing in influence in the Christian world.  He was helping entire cities around Jerusalem & surrounding lands transform.

Now he is going to the very city that will reach the ends of the Earth, Rome. 

Remember back in Acts 1 when Jesus told the Disciples that they will be His witnesses in Jerusalem (local city), Judea (local region), Samaria (local country), ends of the earth.  Paul followed this progression in his ministry and each of his journeys.  With his going to Rome he is connecting with the ends of the Earth.

You see at this time Rome was the leading city of the world.  The Roman Empire held strong control over other nations.  It had constructed a widespread road system to help transport goods from foreign lands.  This road system also assisted missionaries, such as Paul, to travel to different cities.

Paul is given the opportunity to be in Rome while waiting for trail and continue preaching & teaching.  The people he connects with would then return to their own home towns with the Gospel to begin churches themselves.

Throughout Paul’s life God had a plan.  One life experience led to another which led to another learning experience. It was as a thread running through the fabric of Paul’s life connecting it all together.

The same is true in our own lives.  Taken individually life situations may not seem to make sense. We may think God is not listening to what we have to share or simply ignoring us. Rather, when we take a step back we can begin to see the thread of God running through our own lives. We begin to see how things are connected.

Take a look at your life.  Study the various events, key moments in your life to see how they are connected, how they each prepared you for future experiences.

God has a hand on your life through it all. He has been preparing you each step of the way. It may not have seemed that way up close but take a step back.  See the small connections that act as the thread preparing you.

See, God did not stop sending out His followers with Paul.  God continues today to send people who follow Him to their towns, countries, the ends of the world. God is sending you out into your community to share your story with Jesus.  And God has been preparing you for this time.

After spending time studying Paul’s own faith journey be encouraged. Remember how the Holy Spirit gave Paul the words to share in each town.  Recall the courage Paul received the times he faced opposition. 

God prepared you for this moment. Go out and share with joy.

This Week’s Challenge

Create a timeline of key moments, learnings from your life.  Step back to see the thread God ran through it all preparing you to share the Gospel in your life.

What Exactly is a ReSolved Faith?: Acts 24

“I worship the God of our ancestors, and I firmly believe the Jewish law and everything written in the prophets.”

Acts 24:14b

When I was 14 I stood up in front of my faith community to publicly confess my personal faith in Jesus Christ. As part of our tradition the pastor blessed each individual saying a specially chosen verse just for that individual. We did not know what the verse was until that moment we knelt to hear it said over us.

My verse:

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.” Romans 1:16

This verse originally written by our friend Paul was first shared with the followers of Jesus in Rome.  After Paul stated his Roman citizenship in Acts 22 he knows that he will arrive there safely.  He shares his teachings in this capital of the world confident that God is carrying out the Gospel to the ends of the earth. (Acts 1:8). 

Despite the arrests, the trials, the beatings, the persecution Paul remained resolute in his faith.  He was not deterred one bit.  Some days were difficult.  Others were good.  No matter what the day brought Paul was resolved to share his faith story with everyone he could so each person would have his/her own faith story.

Paul teaches us how to live a ReSolved Faith. 

What is it exactly?

First, it is a commitment to continue to grow in trust with God.  Beginning one’s faith journey one discovers his/her need for a savior.  A person sees that despite all ‘good’ deeds or efforts nothing will earn one’s salvation.  Only the life, death & resurrection of Jesus Christ freely given can do that.

Next, ReSolved Faith is living one’s faith in the 168 hours of the week.  Faith is not to be compartmentalize as something we do on a particular day of the week.  It impacts each aspect of our lives.  It is the perspective that we see others & the world through.  It is the reason for the joy we experience in life.  It is the source of the calm we have during difficult times. 

Lastly, it is not being ashamed of our faith.  This is the blessing my pastor gave me on that day I publicly announced my faith. It is how Paul lived his faith throughout the book of Acts. Being resolved is being authentic.  

We will have questions. But we turn to God Who knows all things. 

We will have fear.  But we trust in Jesus completely to walk through the fear together.

We will stutter. But we know that Holy Spirit gives us the words to speak with our voices so others will hear.

Friends, your own ReSolved Faith can begin today.  It starts by surrendering.  You can message me anytime. I am willing to pray with you as you begin your own faith journey. 

Oh the journey that God has for you is a beautiful one.  It has incredible adventures.  Amazing sights.  It only takes one step towards God.  The rest is taken care of by God. Are you willing?

This Week’s Challenge

Surrender to God whatever it is holding you back from fully trusting God.  Reach out to a friend to pray with you & bless you with God’s Word.

Courageous Storytelling: Acts 23

“That night the Lord appeared to Paul and said, ‘Be encouraged, Paul. Just as you have been a witness to me here in Jerusalem, you must preach the Good News in Rome as well.’”

Acts 23:11

It must have been scary for Paul to stand before the Jerusalem Council to talk about his missionary work.  These leaders had the power to severely punish Paul.  There were plenty of reasons for Paul to be quiet regarding his faith.

If he stayed quiet he probably would have been released by the Council.  

If he shared about his faith severe consequences were certain.

One would understand if Paul chose to be quiet.

But as we have seen so far in our study of Acts Paul is not afraid to share his faith story. Not sharing was not an option for him.

Why was Paul so confident in the face of certain peril?

Paul knew without a doubt that God was him in all circumstances.  Paul did not have to fear being alone as he shared the Gospel.  God promised the Holy Spirit be with him always. Paul taught the people in Rome this lesson when he wrote: 

“No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:39)

These words are true for us today.  We do not need to be afraid when we share our faiths. The Holy Spirit is with us always as the Spirit was with Paul. 

It is scary to put one’s self out there.  Sharing one’s faith is inviting another to a part of our lives. It is opening up in a way that feels vulnerable. Rejection can happen. 

Have courage, follower of Jesus!

As you share the reason why you love Jesus be assured that the Holy Spirit gives you the courage to share and the words to speak.  It is not your responsibility to change another’s heart.  That is what God does.  You have the duty to tell your story.

As we have been studying Paul’s journeys we have witnessed his courage in many circumstances. He has taught us to bravely step forward in faith.  We witnessed how to share our stories in loving ways that help others begin his/her own faith journeys with Jesus Christ.

Courageous storytelling comes not from our inner strength but from God alone. As we grow in our faiths, learning to trust God more and more, we grow in courage.  The more experiences we have in telling our stories the more we learn that God protects us.

ReSolved disciples, grow in courage as you go out as storytellers.

Listen to the Holy Spirit guiding you to the when & how to share your story.  Practice with fellow disciples to gain more courage. Pray over one another before you go out to share in word and action. Continue praying for renewed courage when you apart. 

Use these words that God spoke over Joshua before he led the Israelites into the Promised Land:

“Be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9)

This Week’s Challenge

Make a list of any & all fears you have about sharing your faith. Then pray to God to take all of them away replacing it with courage.

Share Your Story: Acts 22

“For you are to be his witness, telling everyone what you have seen and heard.”

Acts 22:15

Paul made it safely back to Jerusalem.  Once home he speaks to the Jewish leaders sharing his own faith story.  From the time of his conversion on the road to Damascus to his missionary trips. The leadership did not like what they heard and had him whipped.  During this time Paul states he is a Roman citizen thus clearing the way for him to be taken to Rome for a trial.

Paul going to Rome which at that time was the ‘capital’ of the world was an opportunity to share the Gospel even further around the world. 

I think part of what made Paul’s testimony so powerful is he shared from his heart his own experience with Jesus Christ.  Here we read how Paul told the leadership how Jesus reached him on that road to Damascus.  Paul shared how his life was completely changed from that moment forward. 

His passion remained but now it’s focused on Jesus.  His powerful teaching remained but now shared the Gospel of Jesus. 

In our own lives God asks us the same thing. We are to tell everyone what we saw and heard.  We simply tell of our own experience with Jesus. We do not need to go to college to get a fancy degree in order to do it.  We do not need to change who we are in order to share.

If you are a good storyteller you can write your own faith story to tell to others.  

If you are creative visually imagine a way to share your own faith story visually.  It can be posted as a social media post. Or as a painting/sculpture/photograph. 

Perhaps you are a tradesperson.  How can you ply your trade in a way that opens the door to share your faith with another?

God is not seeking to change the essence of who you are when you begin your faith journey. God created you uniquely so that you can share you faith story uniquely as you.

You are a witness to Jesus. As a witness you simply share what you experienced as only you can. 

Now here’s that pretty cool part, God is going to surprise you along the way.  I don’t think Paul foresaw himself going to Rome in his lifetime. But here he is going.  As he is there he is able to saw the Gospel to people who will bring it back to nations and cities Paul would never go to himself.

In your life God will surprise you in opportunities to share your faith story.  You do not know right now where God is going to lead you and what ministry doors will open before you.  Continue to be open to how God is leading you.  Keep trusting God to give you the words to share as the opportunities arise.

You can be resolved in being a witness because God has resolved you by His grace alone. Simply share.

This Week’s Challenge

Share with a friend this week the time you knew you loved Jesus with your whole self.

You Are A Culture Changer: Acts 21

“Then Paul answered, “Why are you weeping and breaking my heart? I am ready not only to be bound, but also to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.”

Acts 21:13

Last week we saw a longer glimpse of Paul’s teaching.  How he taught long into the night.  How he taught day after day in every city he stayed.

This week we see some of the long term effects of his teaching. Lives being changed.  Jewish leaders were nervous with the Gentile (non-Jewish believers) becoming believers but were not following all of the Jewish laws. 

The more Paul taught the more the culture was changing.  And not everyone was okay with that.

When a follower of Jesus Christ lives his/her life they do so in a way that is different from culture.  A follower loves others without judgment.  A follower serves all people without looking for recognition. A follower is a light that brightens any dark room.

Changing the culture does not occur all in one fell swoop.  It requires individuals making small decisions day in and day out that is not the ‘norm’.  These small decisions add up over time to make a large difference that changes the culture. Paul made decisions each day to be different by sharing the Gospel with everyone in all he did and said.  The Holy Spirit changed entire families, towns and cultures through Paul.

In our lives today we can be culture changers as we make small decisions day in and day out. When we are resolved to live our faiths in the 168 hours of the week we will change the culture.  We will show love in times it is difficult to love another.  We will share why we love Jesus so another can begin their own journey with Jesus. 

Culture does not need to remain the same simply because it has always been ‘that way.’  Culture can change by letting the Holy Spirit work through each one of us to reach the world. 

So how can you change the culture? What is an area of society you can see changing by your making small decisions day in and day out?

What has God placed on your heart that you cannot stay silent about?

Remember that you are empowered by the Holy Spirit to share the Gospel with the world. You are not alone.  God gives you the words and the perseverance to continue in making change in culture.

Imagine the world when the followers of Jesus Christ make small decisions each day in their communities to effect change.  Entire families, towns, cultures will change as they did when Paul was on his missionary journeys.  This is the long-term impact of being a resolved follower living The 168 Life.

May you be filled with the Holy Spirit today as you go out making small decisions that will change the culture. You have been resolved by Jesus Christ so go and be resolved for Jesus Christ.

This Week’s Challenge:

Name an area of culture that you are passionate about to change. Write down 3 things you will do to begin to help change that aspect of culture.

Resolved to Share: Acts 20

“But my life is worth nothing to me unless I use it for finishing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus—the work of telling others the Good News about the wonderful grace of God.”

Acts 20:24

Paul keeps up his frantic traveling schedule throughout Asia.  Each stop he makes he teaches to as people as he can as often as he is able.

And Paul loves to preach!

Have you ever sat through a lecture or sermon wondering if it would ever end? Or fell asleep during said lecture/sermon? 

If so, be thankful you were most likely sitting in a chair/pew. 

Eutychus was listening to Paul teach one evening when Paul was on a roll.  He kept teaching well into the night for so long Eutychus fell asleep. Now this normally would not be an issue except for the fact that Eutychus was sitting in a window.  He fell out of that window while sleeping to the ground below.

Paul raced down to be with Eutychus and by the Holy Spirit brought him back to life. (I have a feeling not much of what Paul taught was remembered after that)

Paul could not help himself from telling everyone he could about Jesus Christ.  He went on and on for hours at a time making sure that people knew the full story about Jesus. He did not leave unless he knew the young faiths would continue to grow in maturity.  This is why he trained people like Timothy to stay in cities to continue the teachings.

Paul lived his life fully for Jesus Christ.  He teaches each one of us how one’s whole life can be for the Lord.  It does not matter whatever your career may be. What matters is how you work in that career, how you interact with others at work or in your personal life.

As followers of Jesus Christ we share the Gospel with our whole lives. We tell in sharing why we love Jesus.  We share it when we serve our neighbor out of love.  We display it whenever we share blessings with others freely as we received. 

Paul may have travelled all over telling as many people as he could about Jesus.  You may stay in your hometown for decades but you can still share your faith with many people.  Think about all the people you encounter throughout your day.  How many know you are a follower of Jesus?  Do they know the reason why you love Him?

You are a missionary for God.  You are sent into your world to serve & share the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  Re-solve how you interact with others so that they see Jesus through you.  Be resolved that you have God of Heaven with you by the Holy Spirit to speak the words and take the actions so all may know.

A piece of advice if you’re sharing your faith story just be sure no one is sitting in an open window sill. 

This Week’s Challenge

Make a list of people you typically encounter in your week. Pray for those who do not have faith in Jesus.  Seek to see how God is leading you to share your faith story with him/her.

Planting & Nurturing Seeds of Faith: Acts 19

“Then Paul went to the synagogue and preached boldly for the next three months, arguing persuasively about the Kingdom of God.”

Acts 19:8

As we read Acts 19 we see Paul teaching in Ephesus sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ and teaching them about the Holy Spirit. Now not everyone was receptive to what Paul had to say.  Some rejected what he taught speaking out against Christianity. 

Despite Paul’s passionate, thorough teaching not everyone believed, even after 3 months. It does not mean that Paul failed or could have done better.  Rather not everyone will become believers when they hear the Gospel.  It is not Paul’s job, nor ours to get everyone to believe.

The key lesson is to recognize that our true job in sharing the Gospel is to preach it authentically in word and action. We cannot control how or when people will receive Jesus as his/her Savior. God sends you and me out to simply tell our stories of faith to others.  It is the Holy Spirit that works in the hearts of others to prepare them to receive it.  This may occur instantaneously in our eyes or it may seem to take a long period of time.

What we do not always see all the aspects of God’s Plan of Salvation.  We do not see what God has been doing in a person’s life prior to our sharing nor do we see what God continues to do afterwards. It is our responsibility to simply share our story as God provides the opportunity. 

Paul teaches everyone this lesson in his first letter to the Corinthian believers:

“I planted the seed in your hearts, and Apollos watered it, but it was God who made it grow.”

1 Cor. 3:6

Paul was called by God to teach about Jesus & the Holy Spirit in Ephesus at this time. He was not held responsible by God to ensure that everyone became a believer. He shared and allowed the Holy Spirit to do the work in the hearts of the individual. 

In our lives we pray to God for the words to share and the courage to share it.  Then we pray for the seeds of faith to grow in the Lord. At times we see the blooming of a flower that was first planted by another.  Other times we are asked to plant the seed of faith so when another comes the flower will bloom. 

In your faith journey this week look to the people God is leading you to nurture the seeds of faith so that they can bloom.  Then pray for those God has for you plant the seeds of faith for future growth.  Know the difference between these two.  Ask God to open your eyes to recognize the moments as they present themselves to you.  

In all ways cling to the joy of the Lord that you have in your life. Always remember you are a child of God dearly loved.  God gives you the courage and words to share as God gave the same to Paul on each of his missionary journeys. 

This Week’s Challenge

In your prayer journey list those individuals God has you to nurture the seeds of faith.  In a second list write down those God wants you to plant the seeds of faith.  Each day pray for these individuals so all the seeds of faith grow strong in the Lord.