Everyday Ministries That Nurture and Sustain Us (Thurs. May 26)

The word of the day is “work .”  We often concentrate on the spectacular events of the scriptures.  We focus on the miracles, the visions, the outpourings of the Spirit.  And we highlight the disputes, the persecutions, and the trials of the faithful.  But the day-to-day work of ministry is the primary way that the Gospel reaches and nurtures most of us. Today in our reading of Acts 14:20-28; 14:1-4, we hear of the everyday work of Paul and Barnabas in the region of Lycaonia, Galatia, and of Phrygia that took place over many months.  Immediately before today’s reading, Luke reports that Paul was stoned and dragged out of the city (Acts 14:19-20).  But rather than flee the region, Luke…

How to Respond to Opposition to the Gospel (Wed. May 25)

The word of the day is “brethren.”  We might have the impression that Paul did not want anything to do with the Jews.  After all, he was the champion of accepting Gentiles into the fellowship of faith.  But in today’s reading of Acts 13:13-24, we find an example of Paul’s practice of first going to the synagogue when he arrived at a new field of mission.  When they noticed newcomers in their midst, the leaders of the synagogue invited Paul and his companions to address the people (vs. 13).  Paul returned the courteousness of his hosts with a gracious sermon.  Our reading stops in the middle of the speech. The next Sabbath the “whole city came together to hear the…

How the Term “Liturgy” Enriches our Understanding of Worship (Tues. May 24)

The word of the day is “liturgy.”  In our age of individualism, most of us think of worship as a private matter.  It is our choice whether to attend worship or not.  And that decision is based on what we can “get out” of our participation.  But in today’s reading of Acts 12:25-13:12, we hear how the church in Antioch “set apart” Barnabas and Paul for their missionary work.  This endorsement and empowerment of their ministry was made in the context of worship, that is, “liturgy.” Luke reports, “As they [the church in Antioch] ministered to the Lord and fasted,” the Holy Spirit said, “Now separate to Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them”…

The Lord Who Stands at the Door (Mon. May 23)

The word of the day is “open.”  At times in our excitement as well as our distress, we fail to focus on the most important thing of all, our relationship with Jesus Christ.  We find Peter knocking on the door of Mary’s house in our reading of Acts 12:12-17.  He has escaped from prison and made his way to the house where the believers are keeping a prayer vigil for him.  Luke says, “He came to the house of Mary, the mother of John whose surname was Mark, where many were gathered together praying” (OSB 12). A girl answers the door and recognizes Peter’s voice.  She runs to tell the believers that Peter is standing at the gate.  But she…

God Is No Spectator (Sun. May 22)

The word of the day is “hand.”  A prevailing belief about God is that He is a kind and benevolent spectator who watches over people on earth.  He wants everyone to be good and happy.  But he does not get involved in people’s lives except in dire emergencies.  Today we hear to the contrary and how the hand of the Almighty worked in Old Testament history and the early church. In our reading of Acts 11:19-26, 29-30, we learn how Gentiles first became members of the fellowship of faith.  When persecution scattered the believers in Jerusalem, some sought refuge in distant places, preaching the Word of Christ as they went.  Some of these Hellenists, that is, Greek-speaking Jews, shared their…

Seeing God’s Hand in All Things—Even in Evil Times (Sat. May 21)

The word of the day is “delivered.”  When we observe the deplorable events of our times, it is easy to be discouraged.  We lament the state of immorality, injustice, insincerity, and impiety of our nation and our world.  And we wonder what the Almighty could do to advance the Gospel, bring the lost to Christ, and preserve the church in peace and security. Unrestrained evil is what we see if we view the world through earthly eyes.  Yet, if we look at our times with eyes of faith, we see God’s hand at work in everything. Today in our reading of Acts 12:1-11, we learn of the miraculous escape of St. Peter from prison.  Luke, the historian of Acts, reports…

Beware of Withstanding the Work of the Holy Spirit (Fri. May 20)

The world of the day is “withstand.”  In every breakthrough of the new, some cling to the old ways.  When what seems to be right and true arises, the wisdom of the Jewish sage Gamaliel applies; you must beware “lest you be found to fight against God” (OSB Acts 5:39).  Today in our reading of Acts 10:44-11:10, Peter must defend the baptism of the Gentile centurion and his household.  Luke reports, “But Peter explained it to them in order from the beginning…” (OSB vs. 4).  The apostle ended with the question, “Who am I to withstand the work of God?” (OSB 11:17).  Today, we study the example of the opposition to Peter’s action.  This instance of resistance warns us against…

Why We Should Not Take the Remission of Sins for Granted (Thurs. May 19)

The word of the day is “remission.”  One temptation of the faithful is hardly ever mentioned.  That shortcoming is to take the forgiveness of God for granted.  When we do so, our over-confidence assumers us that if surrender to sin, God will surely excuse us. But that presumption of God’s mercy forgets one important article of the Creed. In our reading of Acts 10:34-43, we find this essential element of our faith.  There in his sermon to the Gentile Cornelius and his household, Peter witnessed to the Risen Christ and that He is the one “ordained by God to be Judge of the living and the dead” (OSB vs. 42).  It is only after the apostle has referred to the…

Knowing God by Knowing His Goodness (Wed. May 18)

The word of the day is “witness.”  The farther away we are from God, the more we forget His goodness and lovingkindness.  Yet, the signs of His mercy are everywhere and can be seen by believers and nonbelievers alike.  Today in our reading of Acts 14:6-18, Paul preaches to pagans who think that he and Barnabas are gods come down to earth. In response to being mistaken for a god, Paul speaks against the pagan idolatry.  But didn’t Paul ask too much of the pagans?  How should they know the true God when they do not have the revelation of the Law, the prophets, and the wisdom of the Scriptures? Paul declares, in every place, the “Living God” has “not…

Overcoming the Limitations of Partiality: Then and Now (Tues. May 17)

The word of the day is “common.”  One thing is for sure, the Holy Spirit, “who is everywhere and fills all things” hates limitations.  If you doubt it, just test Him, for the Lord Jesus said, “…with God all things are possible (OSB 19:26).  But though led by the Holy Spirit, the early church had one great limitation that had to be overcome.  The fellowship of faith was held captive within the boundaries of its origins in Judaism. Today in Acts 10:21-23, we read Luke’s report of how the Holy Spirit directed the early church to leap over that limit.  In response to a vision, we hear Peter preach, “In truth, I perceive that God shows no partiality.  But in…