Acts, chapters 19 & 20

“I do not consider my own life of any importance to me, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to bear thorough witness to the good news of the undeserved kindness of God.”
~Acts 20:24

Paul did not feel entitled to the privilege of teaching others about Christ.
He humbly recognized that he was a sinner and attributed the success of his ministry to Jehovah God. (1 Cor. 3:6; 15:9,10; 1 Tim. 1:12,13)
When a need for financial aid struck the congregation in Jerusalem, Paul personally risked his life to carry relief over to them. (Rom. 15:25,26)
He fulfilled his sense of debt towards God, grateful for the ransom sacrifice that allowed him to be God’s friend. (2 Cor. 5:18)
If we have the privilege of sharing God’s good news with others, may we equally treasure it.

Acts, chapters 17 & 18

“[Apollos] was acquainted only with the baptism of John. He began to speak boldly in the synagogue, and when Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him into their company and explained the way of God more accurately to him.”
~Acts 18:25,26

Apollos was an eloquent Jew of the well-educated city of Alexandria. (Acts 18:24)
He evidently learned of Jesus at least nineteen years prior to this account, before Pentecost and the pouring of holy spirit.
Despite being well-versed and a skilled speaker, he humbly allowed the Christian couple to spiritually enlighten him.
In time, he came to be a respected missionary working under the congregation’s arrangements. (Titus 3:13)
In our ministry, we sometimes encounter spiritual people who are somewhat familiar with the Scriptures and who profess faith in Jesus.
If we patiently help them develop a more accurate knowledge, we may be surprised at their willingness to learn the truth and serve God alongside us. (1 Cor. 3:6,9; 1 Tim. 2:3,4)

Acts, chapters 12-14

“[…] They stirred up persecution against Paul and Barnabas and threw them outside their boundaries. […] And the disciples continued to be filled with joy and holy spirit.”
~Acts 13:50,52

Jesus had foretold the type of joy his disciples would reap on account of persecution:
“Happy are you whenever men hate you, […] and denounce your name as wicked for the sake of the Son of man. Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, for look! your reward is great in heaven […].” (Luke 6:22,23)
Paul and Barnabas were physically thrown out of Antioch of Pisidia by “God-fearing” women and prominent men after only about one week of preaching there.
But the many Greek-speaking new disciples were happy despite the opposition because they knew they had God’s spirit. (1 Pet. 4:14)
While some modern day Christians enjoy more freedom of worship than others, all of us undergo various trials to our faith.
Whatever we are experiencing, if we endure with a positive attitude, we will also be blessed with a feeling of joy. (Jas. 1:2,3)

Acts, chapters 9-11

“When [Barnabas] arrived and saw the undeserved kindness of God, he rejoiced and began to encourage them all to continue in the Lord with heartfelt resolve.”
~Acts 11:23

The early Christian congregation was changing in the sense that it was no longer exclusive to Jews or Jewish proselytes.
Barnabas was a Levite who had converted to Christianity. (Acts 4:36)
He was appointed an apostle because holy spirit moved him to do missionary work. (Acts 13:4; 14:14)
When he saw the enthusiasm with which the new converts in Antioch received the good news of the kingdom, he sought out Paul and together they helped strengthen the congregation. (Acts 11:25,26)
It was there that “by divine providence” Christ’s disciples were first called “Christians.”
In Greek, the phrase translated “heartfelt resolve” literally means “purpose of the heart.”
Other synonyms could be: firmness, conviction, determination.
Barnabas not only told his new spiritual family to stay in the truth; he took them under his wing and nurtured their faith.
Through personal sacrifice, tolerance toward others, and a joyous spirit, he exemplified ‘continuing in the Lord with heartfelt resolve.’

Luke, chapters 12 & 13

“I must go on today, tomorrow, and the following day, because it cannot be that a prophet should be put to death outside of Jerusalem.”
~Luke 13:33

Jesus says this while traveling east from Perea back towards Jerusalem, where he knows he will be killed.
Despite Herod’s threats, he still has work to be done. He knows he has nothing to fear while he carries out his commission to the end.(Luke 13:31,32)
Today, we never know what we will encounter when we go out into the community to fulfill our ministry.
Regardless of what obstacles we face, we know God is on our side and we do not let man intimidate us into inactivity. (Prov. 29:25)
To that effect, it helps to meditate on people such as the prophet Elijah and the apostle Peter, who learned to be brave in their ministry. (1 Ki. 19:2-18; Mark 14:66-71; Gal. 2:11,12; 2 Pet. 3:14,15)

Matthew, chapters 8 & 9

“[…] The sons of the Kingdom will be thrown into the darkness outside.”
~Matthew 8:12

Jesus knew his Jewish contemporaries would reject him as the Messiah.
As God’s people, they were the first to have the opportunity of joining Jesus in his heavenly kingdom. (Gal. 3:29; Heb. 6:17,18)
But most rejected the signs that its king, Jesus, was walking amongst them. (Matt. 12:38-40)
Perhaps they expected the Messiah to rebel against Roman rule and establish God’s kingdom there and then. (Dan. 7:14; Luke 23:2; John 18:33-35)
Still, Jesus continued to carry out his ministry until the end, confident that God would bless all who eventually followed him. (Matt. 8:11, 20:28)
We do not know who will listen to us when we share God’s kingdom message in our communities, and most reject it.
But we can imitate Christ by enduring with a positive attitude.

Hosea, chapters 8-14

“[He] will send down his roots like the trees of Lebanon.
[…] I will be like a thriving juniper tree.
From me your fruit will be found.”
Hosea 14:5,8

Sometimes God’s Word likens humans to trees. (Ps. 1:1-3)
Someone who starts studying the Bible can experience rapid spiritual growth.
Over time, the spiritual vitality of the person will depend on how deep his or her roots have dug into accurate Bible knowledge. (2 Pet. 3:18)
The rate at which someone learns may eventually slow down, but the depth of the knowledge becomes greater.
In the aforementioned verse, God also compares himself to a tree.
Juniper berries have been used all over the world for their many healing properties, including antiseptic and anti-inflammatory.
Juniper oil also has a positive effect on one’s mood, alleviating anxiety.
God’s Word draws another comparison between what we choose to say and fruit. (Heb. 13:15)
When he says, “From me your fruit will be found,” one way to interpret it is that he teaches us what to say at the right time.
If we dig deeper into God’s wisdom and imitate his use of words, we can also bring a sort of healing to others.