Learn How to Recognize God’s Voice: Acts 17

And the people of Berea were more open-minded than those in Thessalonica, and they listened eagerly to Paul’s message. They searched the Scriptures day after day to see if Paul and Silas were teaching the truth. Acts 17:11

We have traveled along with Paul and the Apostles from the Day of Pentecost in Jerusalem through Paul’s Missionary journeys around Asia. Along the way we have witnessed the Holy Spirit changing lives with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Individuals have experienced the joy of the Gospel and could not help to share it with everyone they met.

This week we study Acts 17 where Paul & Silas travel to Thessalonica teaching in the synagogue three weeks in a row. He taught from the Scriptures (our Old Testament) how Jesus is the Promised Savior.  Many Jews believed, both men and women came to become followers of Jesus. 

As not everyone believed the Gospel message Paul & Silas moved to Berea to continue teaching about Jesus. There they were more warmly received by the open hearts and minds of the people in Berea.  So much so that the people read the Scriptures for themselves to ensure what Paul & Silas were teaching was true.

The Bereans believed Paul & Silas but studied the Scriptures for themselves to read God’s Word with their own eyes.  They heard the stories of faith and then went to God themselves to learn more and begin growing in their faiths.

We learn much from the Bereans.  We see the importance of reading Scriptures in our own lives so that we can hear directly from God.  We cannot solely rely on someone else studying the Bible and then teach us what they learned. We learn from teachers of the faith.  We also learn from our own time in the Bible hearing from God directly. 

The more time we spend in the Bible on our own we better recognize God’s Voice.  We more readily know the quiet nudges in our hearts when God is leading us in a new direction or giving us courage in the face of fear. For the times we wonder what God is doing we can hear God whisper in our ears “I got this.”

As you continue on your faith journey spend time each day reading the Bible for yourself.  It can be a chapter at a time highlighting verses that pop out to you. Or it can be 3-4 chapters seeing how the story of God flows through the pages. 

YouVersion Bible App is a great resource with 100s of reading plans.  They range from 3 days in length all the way to over a year.  You can search for a plan by topics such as faith, patience, hope. Or you can find a plan that takes you through the Bible in a year chronologically (not in the order they are in).  Find the plan that works for you.  If more than one plan interests you save it for later.

Spending time in Scripture is a vital part of one’s faith journey. It helps each follower to recognize God’s Voice.  May your time in God’s Word be encouraging so you grow closer to God each day.

This Week’s Challenge

Begin a Scripture reading plan this week.  If you currently have a reading plan save one for later in the YouVersion app. 

My Favorite Bible Verse

Ecclesiastes 12:13.  This is my favorite Bible verse.  I love it so much I had it tattooed on my right wrist.  

I know who has a favorite verse from Ecclesiastes that isn’t from Chapter 3?  Right? Me.  That’s who.  I may be in a minority of people who studied the entire book but I live my life by that verse.

It all started when I was first reading “40 Days of Purpose” by Rick Warren.  It is a great resource for any person looking to reevaluate their life and hit the reset button.  I highly recommend it if you have not read it yet.

The structure of the text is broken down by days instead of chapters per se.  At the end of the last day Rick Warren challenges the reader to write his/her life purpose statement.  Think of it as a mission statement for yourself.  

Interestingly enough and in God’s perfect timing I was studying Ecclesiastes at the same time.  Ecclesiastes is a book written by King Solomon, David’s son.  He is considered to be the wisest man in all of human history.  He had it all, wealth, leadership, wisdom, wives (and mistresses).  Ecclesiastes was his treatise for all the wisdom he gained in his life. 

Throughout the text he examines life and what is the point of it all.  He states how there is a time for everything (Chapter 3 and a Beatles song).  He goes through life and what he’s learn and what does it really mean in the end.  At the conclusion he summarizes it all with chapter 12, especially in verse 13:  

“Now all has been heard;

here is the conclusion of the matter:

Fear God and keep his commandments,

for this is the duty of all mankind”

See when I first read this verse was immediately after reading the last chapter of “Purpose Driven Life”.  Rick just gave the directive to write your own purpose statement and I had no clue what to put down. In some ways once I read verse 13 I thought copped out of the homework assignment thinking I was set with using God’s words for my life purpose statement. But as the verse sat with me I realized the verse was perfect for me. 

After all is said and done the only thing we truly need to do with our lives to love God with all our hearts and do what He tells us to do.  Nothing more complicated then that.  We are created to be in relationship with God and serve Him with our whole lives. 

Each day I strive to love God with my whole heart and be obedient to the calling on my heart.  Some days are easier then others. But still as a whole this is the purpose of my life.  As I contemplate new job or ministry opportunities or general life decisions I run them through Ecc. 12:13.  Am I loving God with my whole heart with this decision?  How I am remaining obedient to Him with this decision?

It serves an anchor point for my life.  If I start to wander I look at my right wrist and return to my anchor point.  If I question life I glance at the ink and find all the answers I am looking for at that moment.  Ecc. 12:13 is my favorite verse because it helps me remain resolved in my faith and my relationship with Jesus Christ.  That’s why it’s tattooed on my wrist so I will never forget it.

So what is your favorite Bible verse?  

What verse helps you remain resolved in your journey with Jesus Christ?

It’s okay if you don’t have one right now.  As you are reading the Bible note any verse that jumps out at you causing you to say, “That’s how I’m to live my life!”  Pray for the Holy Spirit to guide you to your favorite verse.  Be open to what God is teaching you.  See what gifts He has to share with you each day.

Hey if you need a place to start try your birthday.  Take the number for your birth month (January = 1, February = 2 etc.) and birth date (1st = verse 1, 2nd = verse 2).  So if your birthday is April 6th you look at the 4th chapter 6th verse and see what that verse has to say.  Don’t be overwhelmed.  Some books of the Bible only have 1 or 2 chapters in it.  So if you are born in November you will have far less books to check then if you were born in February.

My prayer for you is that you grow in your relationship with Jesus Christ you discover His purpose for you and you remain resolved in that purpose.  One day your favorite verse may just become your own life purpose statement.

This Week’s Challenge Begin searching for your favorite verse of the Bible.  Once you find one, either starting now or you already have one, journal why you love this verse and what the Holy Spirit is teaching you through it.  Pray to live your life as this verse teaches so that others may see you and give glory to your Father in Heaven.