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Thursday, September 23, 2021

Courage, Discernment, and Stamina

September 23

(Acts 19:8-10 NIV) "Paul entered the synagogue and spoke boldly there for three months, arguing persuasively about the kingdom of God. {9} But some of them became obstinate; they refused to believe and publicly maligned the Way. So Paul left them. He took the disciples with him and had discussions daily in the lecture hall of Tyrannus. {10} This went on for two years, so that all the Jews and Greeks who lived in the province of Asia heard the word of the Lord."

(Ephesians 5:15-18 NIV) "Be very careful, then, how you live--not as unwise but as wise, {16} making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. {17} Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord's will is. {18} Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit."

(Hebrews 12:1-4 NIV) "Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. {2} Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. {3} Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. {4} In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood."

Paul possessed three traits that are sorely needed in contemporary Christianity: courage, discernment, and stamina. He displayed courage by arguing for Christ under hostile conditions for extended periods of time. He spoke boldly and persuasively for months to obstinate critics who refused to believe, and who maligned Christ. When he discerned that the soil in the synagogue was too rocky, he moved to a local lecture hall and continued daily discussions about the Lord Jesus. We must know when to move on to more fertile soil. Paul preached there for two years -- that’s stamina. Many believers today lack persistence. Making disciples takes time. The result of Paul’s courage, discernment, and stamina was that “all the Jews and Greeks who lived in the province of Asia heard the word of the Lord.” Regardless of what “province” we live in today, that remains a worthy goal. -- Friar Tuck’s Word of the Day

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Different Gifts

September 22

(Acts 19:6 NIV) “When Paul placed his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied.”

(1 Corinthians 12:4-11 NIV) "There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. {5} There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. {6} There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men. {7} Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. {8} To one there is given through the Spirit the message of wisdom, to another the message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, {9} to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, {10} to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. {11} All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he gives them to each one, just as he determines."

(1 Corinthians 12:28-31 NIV) "And in the church God has appointed first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then workers of miracles, also those having gifts of healing, those able to help others, those with gifts of administration, and those speaking in different kinds of tongues. {29} Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? {30} Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret? {31} But eagerly desire the greater gifts. And now I will show you the most excellent way."

(1 Corinthians 14:12 NIV) "Since you are eager to have spiritual gifts, try to excel in gifts that build up the church."

God not only saves us, He also gifts us for ministry. These gifts of the Spirit are not a perk -- they are equipment. As the church grew in number, there must have been some confusion about spiritual gifts, for Paul addressed the topic in some of the letters he wrote to churches. Some of the early believers began to focus on certain gifts, making them the litmus test for faith. Paul set them straight. He taught that the gifts of the Spirit are varied, and that God determines which gift(s) each Christian receives. These gifts are given for the common good of the church, not for individual glory. No one receives all the gifts, and there is no one gift that every Christian must receive to substantiate their faith. It is not wrong to desire the “greater” gifts, but we should seek those gifts that benefit the Bride of Christ. The gifts of the Spirit are not for showing off, but for building up the church. -- Friar Tuck’s Word of the Day

Tuesday, September 21, 2021

More Than Repentance

September 21

(Acts 19:3-6 NIV) “So Paul asked, "Then what baptism did you receive?" "John's baptism," they replied. {4} Paul said, "John's baptism was a baptism of repentance. He told the people to believe in the one coming after him, that is, in Jesus." {5} On hearing this, they were baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus. {6} When Paul placed his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied.”

(Romans 8:5 NIV) "Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires."

(Galatians 5:16-17 NIV) "So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. {17} For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want."

The disciples in Ephesus had repented of their sin and been baptized. They were following God to the best of their knowledge. But Paul taught that there is more to being a Christian than just repentance. Christianity is about a new life and a new Spirit. It’s about receiving the gift of grace and forgiveness, but also about coming under the Lordship of the Gift Giver. It’s about the living Christ moving into our lives and making changes -- changes that we could never make on our own. It’s about receiving power for ministry through the Holy Spirit of God, and living by the Spirit rather than by our old nature. It’s about receiving spiritual gifts that equip us for ministry. Two spiritual gifts are mentioned in today’s verses, but there are many others. Each one is given so that we can serve as a part of Christ’s body here on Earth. Discover your gifts and use them to glorify the Lord. -- Friar Tuck’s Word of the Day

Monday, September 20, 2021

Incomplete Disciples

September 20

(Acts 19:1-2 NIV) "While Apollos was at Corinth, Paul took the road through the interior and arrived at Ephesus. There he found some disciples {2} and asked them, "Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?" They answered, "No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit."

(2 Peter 1:3-8 NIV) "His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. {4} Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires. {5} For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; {6} and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; {7} and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. {8} For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ."

When Paul arrived at Ephesus, he found some disciples. Someone had taken the good news of Jesus there, and a few had put their faith in the Lord. They had accepted God’s grace and had become followers of Christ, but there was something missing. Paul asked if they had received the Holy Spirit. They replied that they had never even heard of the Holy Spirit. They had been convicted of their sin and turned to God for forgiveness through Christ, but no one had taught them about God’s Holy Spirit. Their faith was not yet complete. There was a page missing from their book. We can be disciples of Jesus, and yet be incomplete. Peter encourages us in Chapter One of his second letter to “make every effort” to add to our faith some qualities that come with the Holy Spirit. Look at his list. Ask the Lord to help you complete your faith and to become more like Jesus every day. -- Friar Tuck’s Word of the Day