The Holy Spirit Is Given to All but Received by Each (Sun. June 12)

The word of the day is “each.”  As we celebrate the Day of Pentecost, we might ask who received the gift of the  Holy Spirit at that festival?  Just the twelve disciples?  And we might ask who is given the Holy Spirit today?  Only those whom we call the saints?  Today in our reading of Acts 2:1-11, Luke records that when a mighty wind blew, “there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them” (OSB vs. 3).  Today we emphasize that all who are baptized are given the gift of the Holy Spirit.  The Spirit of God does not belong to selected believers as their possession while the rest of us must do…

Understanding the Ending of Acts: The Gospel Unhindered (Sat. June 11)

The word of the day is “unhindered.”  In the Divine Liturgy, we pray for our civic leaders “that we in their tranquility may lead a calm and peaceful life in all godliness and sanctity” (St-Tikhon’s 1984, 71).  In other words, we pray for equilibrium in our lives, free of contention, strife and discord.  In such a balanced situation, we can grow in what is godly and holy.[i]  Today, in our reading of Acts 28:1-31, Luke, the writer of Acts, closes his early church history with such a sense of stability.  He says that Paul lived in a rented house in Rome for two years, “preaching… and teaching…with all confidence, no one forbidding him” (OSB vs. 31). We might ask, “Is…

Christ Is Risen! To Proclaim but Not To Explain It (Thurs. June 9)

The word of the day is “alive.”  What does it mean to say that Jesus Christ is alive?  We take its meaning for granted.  But how would we explain it to someone who was not raised in the faith?  In our reading of Acts 25:13-19, a pagan Roman governor has questions about a “certain Jesus” who “had died whom Paul affirmed to be alive” (OSB vs. 19).  Today we look at the testimony that Jesus is alive with fresh eyes to discover the meaning of His resurrection anew. In today’s reading, we find Romans soldiers have rescued St. Paul from a mob and taken him to Caesarea.  He has been imprisoned there for two years.  Now a new governor has arrived.  The Jewish…

Beneath Our Striving God Is Working (Wed. June 8)

The word of the day is “beneath .”   When we are under duress, we call for the Lord’s mercy.  Yet, what do we do when we have been delivered from disaster?  As time goes on, the remembrance of how the Lord answered our prayers often fades into the background.  Instead of God’s mercy, how we endured and overcame the calamity remains in our memory. In today’s passage (Acts 23:1-11), we read Luke’s report that Paul stood before the high priest and council of the Jews.  The Jewish leadership was determined to put an end to Paul and his teaching.  The apostle did not seem to have a chance to defend himself.  But Paul found a way to divert the fury…

When Others Discourage Us from Fulfilling Our Sense of Calling (Mon. June 6)

The word of the day is “discourage.”  If others try to discourage us from doing something we believe that God has called us to do, do we listen to them?  How do we tell whether our resolve is not mere stubbornness?  In our reading of Acts 21:8-14, Paul is bound to go to Jerusalem, although a prophet tells him that in the Holy City, the Jews will “bind” him and hand him over to the Gentiles.  But Paul replies, “I am ready not only to be bound but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus” (OSB vs. 13).  Today this incident suggests how we can tell that our purposes are right even if the opinion…

The Comfort of Commending Ourselves and One Another to the Lord (Sun. June 5)

The word of the day is “commend.”  It isn’t easy to part with loved ones.  At these times we are sadly aware that we will no longer be present with them.  And they will not be able to care for us nor we to care for them.  But there is one thing that can give us comfort.  We can commend those we love to the Lord. In our reading of Acts 20:16-18;28-36, Paul meets with the elders of the church in Ephesus for what was likely to be the last time (Acts 20:25).  He gives his farewell instructions that they are to take care of the flock to which they have been entrusted.  Then he commends them “to God and…

Attention! God at Work in Preaching (Sat. June 4)

The word of the day is “preach.”  Remember the last sermon that you heard?  What was it about?  What was the main point?  Many of us would have a hard time answering unless, perhaps, the day of the church year reminds us of the subject of the preaching.  But do you remember something that happened in worship?  Do you recall the visit of a bishop or other church leader, an especially stirring anthem, or even an accident or humorous incident that happened?  It is more likely that you could call to mind the event rather than the sermon’s message. Today, in our reading of Acts 20:7-12, Paul preaches in an upper room until midnight.  A young man sitting on a…

Maturity Is Reaching the Fullness of Christ (Fri. June 3)

The word of the day is “fullness.”  Most of us would admit that our relationship with the Lord is still maturing.  Yet, in our reading of Acts 19:1-18, we find a faith that is not only immature but incomplete in its basic understandings.  In Ephesus, Paul encounters a group of disciples whose belief incomplete.  He asks, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed” (vs. 2).  They reply, “We have not so much as heard whether there is a Holy Spirit” (OSB vs. 2).  Today, from the example of these followers and Paul’s teaching, we learn that our spiritual goal should be the maturity of the “fullness” of the Body of Christ of which we are members. John the…

The Ascension of the Lord and a Better Hope (Thurs. June 2)

The word of the day is “better”  Sometimes, our Heavenly Father does not fulfill our petitions but bestows on us a better hope and a wiser answer to our prayers.  For instance, on this day of the glorious Ascension of Our Lord, we hear the last conversation that the Risen Christ had with his apostles.  We find in our reading of Acts 1:1-12 that their last words were, “Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” (OSB vs. 6).  But the Lord declines to answer.  Rather, He gives them a better hope, the baptism of the Holy Spirit that will provide them with the power to fulfill the mission that He has in store for them (OSB…

Humility Opens the Door to the Knowledge of God (Wed. June 1)

The word of the day is “instructed.”  We never outgrow our need for teaching.  Even the most learned among us can benefit from instruction that deepens our faith and guides us in the way of discipleship.  Today in our reading of Acts 18:22-28, Luke introduces us to an erudite and persuasive teacher.  Yet, for all his knowledge, he still needed to be instructed so that “he could teach the faith more correctly” (vs. 26).  Thus, Luke, the historian of Acts, writes, “When Aquila and Priscilla heard him, they took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately” (OSB vs. 26). Today, the example of a cultured man named Apollos teaches us that humility is required for…