Tuesday, April 2, 2013

April 2 - Acts 13

Today's reading in our daily plan is Acts 13. 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?)
  • This chapter marks a turning point in the book of Acts.  Peter's name was mentioned in almost every chapter before this, but now the spotlight turns to Saul (also called Paul).  Saul is called a prophet and a teacher.  A "prophet" is someone who speaks what God is saying to them, and a teacher is someone who teaches about God.  Saul did both in this chapter when he spoke to Bar-Jesus and the whole city of Pisidian Antioch.
  • We read that the believers in Antioch were fasting.  To fast is to intentionally abstain from something normally enjoyed (often food).  Fasting was a way to grow closer to God.  When we give up something our body needs (for a short time) and focus on prayer, worship, and Bible study, we become more in tune with God.  
  • In the rest of the book of Acts we'll follow Paul on three missionary journeys.  Here Paul travels to Pisidian Antioch.  Preaching in the synagogue, Paul gives a history of God's relationship with the Jews from Egypt through the time of Jesus.  

SO WHAT? (What are the underlying principles?)
  • The forgiveness of sins comes through Jesus.  When God gave the law through Moses, justification for sin was provided by the blood of animal sacrifices that were meant to cover a person's sin.  This foreshadowed Jesus' sacrifice on the cross, which can cleanse a person from their sin.  Through acceptance of Jesus' death on the cross, God can forgive us our sin.  With forgiveness comes freedom from guilt and shame. 
  • We are to share this news with everyone.  Paul mentions that God commanded them to be "a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth."  What God began with the Jews was meant for each and every person on the planet.  Jesus' sacrifice for sins was for everyone.  Anyone - regardless of their race - is invited to receive the forgiveness of sins and a relationship with God by placing their faith and trust in Jesus.  

NOW WHAT? (How will you personally apply this passage?)
  • "Through him [Jesus] everyone who believes is set free from every sin."  Sounds good, doesn't it?  Freedom from every sin.  Freedom from those things that hold us back in life.  The question is, do you believe?  Have you accepted God's invitation to follow Him?  If so, baptism may be the next step in your journey.  We're doing baptisms at Verve on April 14-15, and you can read more about baptism here.  
  • Who do you know that needs to hear this message about Jesus?  Invite them to join you at Verve this Sunday.