Friday, March 29, 2013

Mar 29 - Acts 11

Today's reading in our daily plan is Acts 11. Take a moment to pray, asking God to speak to you from this passage. Then read, using the following notes and questions to help you get everything out of the passage.

SAY WHAT? (What is the passage saying?)
  • After realizing that God is for all people, not just people who followed Jewish customs (such as circumcision), Peter travels to Jerusalem and receives harsh criticism from people who still believed strict adherence to rules and regulations was a requirement for following God.
  • Once Peter tells them the story of his encounter with God and preaching to non-Jewish people (which we looked at in yesterday's post), his listeners become convinced that God really is for all people.
  • In the end of the chapter we read about Saul spending time with another follower of Jesus named Barnabas. They spent a year in a city called Antioch teaching people about Jesus, and it's in Antioch that the name "Christian" was first used to identify people who followed Jesus.

SO WHAT? (What are the underlying principles?)
  • Just like the people in Jerusalem who initially disagreed with Peter, we need to be willing to change our beliefs if they aren't in line with what God wants for us. And if our friends or family question the change, that opens the door for us to lovingly explain what God has done in our lives.
  • "Christian" actually means "little Christ." Those of us who have given our lives to God should live lives that look like Jesus. This doesn't mean we're perfect, but it does mean we're constantly striving to grow our relationship with God and live that out.

NOW WHAT? (How will you personally apply this passage?)
  • Is there a belief or bad habit you've been holding onto that you know God wants to change? Maybe it's giving up something, or maybe it's something new you could start doing (like spending regular time with God, or being more generous towards people). Ask God to show you what beliefs you have that need to shift or change.
  • If you're a Christian, you're a "little Christ." Can somebody point to your life and say, "That person is definitely an example of Christ"? Does your behavior and the way you treat people reflect the way Jesus would treat them? Ask God to help make you more like Jesus, and look for ways today to do just that.