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…

When a Turning Point in Life Is on the Horizon (Mon. May 16)

  The word of the day is “vision.”  The turning points of our lives have various causes.  They may be life events such as births, graduations, weddings, divorces, or deaths.  They may be disruptions to our situation, such as changes of work or moves to new locations.  They may be new interests or new senses of direction.  In today’s reading of Acts 10:1-16,  we learn of another turning point in the growth of the church.  As often happens in scripture, visions set the change of course in motion.  Cornelius, the Gentile and Roman Centurion, “saw clearly in a vision an angel of God” (NKJV vs. 3).  Likewise the apostle Peter “fell into a trance and saw heaven opened and an object…

Arising to Newness of Life: Three Narratives and Our Story (Sun. May 15)

The word of the day is “arise.”  The Lord has the power to lift the fallen and to command those who are lying prone in sickness, sin, and death to arise.  Today on this Sunday of the Paralytic, we learn about three incidents when those who are bound to their beds heard the command to “Rise up.”  Two of those who heard the order to arise were paralytics, one in our Gospel and one in our Epistle reading.  The last and most spectacular example was the beloved believer Dorcas who had died.  In our reading of Acts 9:32-42,  Peter said, “Tabitha, arise,” and she opened her eyes, looked at Peter, and sat up (OSB vs. 40). Today as we hear…

The Life-Transforming Power of an Encounter with Christ (Fri. May 13)

The word of the day is “vessel.”  By the grace of God, some of the most hostile opponents of Christianity have become its most ardent followers.  For instance, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn was raised as an Orthodox Christian.  But in his youth, he turned against Orthodoxy and embraced the atheism of Marxist-Leninism.  Yet during his imprisonment in the Soviet Gulag, he returned to his faith and became a fervent believer. However, today in our reading of Acts 8:40-9:19, we read about the most prominent of all enemies of Christ who embraced the faith he once persecuted.  Luke, the writer of Acts, reports that God had selected a man named Saul to extend the outreach of the Gospel beyond its Jewish roots.  The…

How the Holy Spirit Directs Our Lives and Witness (Thurs. May 12)

The word of the day is “go.”  If we look below the surface of events, we discover that what seems to be happenstance is directed by an invisible hand.  In our reading of Acts 8:26-39, we hear the story of the conversion and baptism of an Ethiopian official who is returning from Jerusalem to his homeland in Gaza.  But Luke, the historian, unveils the divine guidance that moves the action forward to its conclusion in the eunuch’s baptism.  The historian writes,  “An angel of the Lord spoke to Philip and said, ‘Arise and go toward the south along the road which goes from Jerusalem to Gaza’” (OSB vs. 26).  And when Philip saw the chariot of the official, the Holy…

What Is True Repentance? (Wed. May 11)

The word of the day is “repent.”  We usually think of repentance as a change of heart and mind.  But repentance can be insincere, pretended, or done for the wrong reason.  In today’s reading of Acts 8:18-25, we read the case of a man named Simon who seemed to repent.  After Peter condemned his wickedness, Simon said, “Pray to the Lord for me, that none of the things which you have spoken may come upon me” (OSB vs. 24).  This plea seemed to indicate that he had turned around from his sinful ways.  However, if we read this passage carefully, we discover his contrition was not genuine. Thus, from this negative example, we learn about the nature of true repentance.…