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Discouragement (Acts 18:1-16)

Corinth is Paul's furthers point from home on his second missionary journey. It's also a time, in his own words, of fear and trembling. Paul had been beaten, stoned, jailed, isolated, smuggled out of towns and drug before rulers. Arriving at Corinth, Paul was alone and worn down. He couldn't have imagined how his time in Corinth would have proved so encouraging.


Resurrection (Acts 17:16-34)

Paul arrives in Athens. The great church apostle is in the great city of Greek philosophy. The Greeks weren't too impressed with his preaching. They taunted him as a babbler and after listening to his message mocked his hope in the resurrection.


King (Acts 17:1-15)

It is hardly the first time accusations have been made against Paul or the church. From the beginning, Christians found themselves defending their faith before religious leaders and politicians. But unlike the great speeches of Peter and Stephen, these accusations against Paul go unanswered. They are left hanging—left for us to consider. Wherever the gospel is preaching, the world is turned upside down; Christ is king.


Disrupted (Acts 16)



Reconciliation (Acts 15:36-41)

No sooner had the church reconciled its disputes at the Jerusalem council than we discover another dispute, this time in the most unexpected place—Paul and Barnabas. Two of the church's most prominent leaders ended up in sharp disagreement, and this time there was no reconciliation. Frustrated, the two friends split and each when their own way. Luke is careful not to take sides, but he doesn't white-wash the embarrassing moment. He wants us to see how easily our personalities drive wedges...


Conflict (Acts 15:1-35)

No one likes talking about conflict, but we all experience it. For all of the early church's successes, they weren't exempt from conflict. Paul and Barnabas are surprised to find teachers from Jerusalem teaching their congregations in Antioch that without circumcision, you can't be saved. Paul adamantly disagrees. The dispute leads to the first church council in Jerusalem. It's not a blueprint for handling conflict, but paying attention to their conversation helps us learn about how to...


The Crowd (Acts 14:19-28)

The crowds are becoming a major theme in the book of Acts. From Pentecost to the preaching in the temple, from the mob of the Sanhedrin at Stephen's stoning to the frenzy of the crowd at Lystra, crowds play an increasingly important role in the narrative. But look never presents the church as a crowd. Christians never take to the streets to make their points. Instead, we are given the stories of individual lives: Ananias, Cornelius, an Ethiopian servant, Dorcus, Joseph, Rhoda.


Humility (Acts 14:1-18)

Paul and Barnabas were becoming used to persecution. They were frequently being run out of town. But not at Lystra. At Lystra they were declared Gods. The Bible routinely warns us of the temptation to play God. Paul and Barnabas recognize it. They go running into the crowd, tearing their clothes, and declaring, "we are men just like you." In what ways are we tempted to be God? What does it mean to be human?


Confrontation (Acts 13)

Where the gospel is preached there is confrontation. When the Lord called Saul, he called him to be an instrument to preach before Kings and Gentiles. He also promised that faithfulness to that calling would bring suffering. It doesn't take long for that suffering to begin. But the confrontation of the gospel begins first in Saul's calling itself. The gospel always confronts us before it confronts others through our message.


Politics (Acts 12)

Acts 12 begins the transition away from the Jerusalem church and to the missionary stories of Paul. That makes this final image fo the church so significant. The world around them moves under the control of political manipulation, but the church gathers in prayer. By their prayers, they are more in touch with reality than all the kings and crowds.


Led by the Spirit (Acts 11)

Acts makes it clear that it was the Spirit that pulled the church into the world. The challenge the church faces is how to recognize what God is doing and join in that work. Paul will describe this process as "walking in step with the Spirit." But that process isn't easy. To recognize the Spirit means facing our prejudices honestly. Peter and Barnabas become models to help us learn that process.


Clean (Acts 10)

Peter and Cornelius could not be drawn in stronger contrasts. One a devout Jew and leader of the Jerusalem church who had never broken the food laws; the other a military man, a cog in the occupation force of Rome. Yet both receive visions from God and drawn together under one room by the Holy Spirit. As they talk, it becomes clear that neither Peter nor Cornelius is leading the conversation. God is. It is our prejudices—our pre-judgments—that often keep us from recognizing how the Spirit is...


The Way (Acts 9:1-22)

The conversion of Saul on his way to Damascus is one of the most famous passages of Scripture. But tucked into the story is another man, Ananias. His story, like Saul's, shapes not only the way we think about the initial moment of our conversion but also how we continue in the way of Jesus.


Go (Acts 8:26-40)

Philip is given the command to go. He isn't told where. He isn't told why. Only go. He obeys. His obedience leads to the conversion of an Ethiopian on his way home. Through Philip alone, the gospel has gone to Samaria and to the ends of the earth. The call feels absurd, but often it is the miraculous opportunity of the Spirit's leading.


Amazed (Acts 8:1-25)

With new persecution in Jerusalem, the church began to spread and as they went they continued to preach. Philip was just one of those who covered the Judean and Samaritan towns with news of the Gospel. In Samaria, Philip met Simon, a magician who dealt in amazement. But Simon's faith is more complicated than it first appears. Simon's faith is not interested in change but in the acquisition of control and power.


Defense (Acts 6-7)

The death of Stephen is the culmination of an escalating tension in Jerusalem. The religious leaders had finally had enough. Stephen would become the first martyr of the Christian church, but not before he could deliver one of the most important speeches in Acts. Stephen's speech is the largest portion of Acts 7, but it was more than his words that are remembered. Stephen was given a vision of Jesus Christ. His vision is a powerful word to the church.


Truth (Acts 5)

Luke offers us two examples of life inside the church, Barnabas and Ananias with his wife Sapphira. We are most familiar with their story as an example of financial giving. But close attention reveals more going on. Acts 5 is a warning that the greatest threats to the church are not external but internal.


Boldness (Acts 4)

Storm clouds of persecution are blowing in on Jerusalem. The threat Jesus had posed to the political establishment was now being found in his followers. You would imagine prayers for favor and protection, but the first Christians prayed for boldness. What is unique about the boldness of the apostles and the first-century church.


Restored (Acts 3)

With God's spirit poured out at Pentecost, a new truth was settling in. God was on the move. The healing of the crippled man, outside the temple gate, was proof. God was not waiting, he was meeting and restoring brokenness. The kingdom was coming and with it the restoration of all things.


Devoted (Acts 2:42-47)

Luke doesn't end the Pentecost events with the miraculous salvation of 3,000. Instead, he ends with a picture of the church's common life together. It is a passage that has been abused by many, but it's image challenges all of our ideas and expectations concerning community.