Acts Progression: Philip and Paul

We’re making our way through Acts, talking about the situations and verses that rise to the top this time. Now we’ve come to my favorite story in the New Testament: Philip and the Ethiopian (Acts 8:26-40). Not surprisingly, I’ve already written a bit about this here on #NotAboutMe.

Philip 1
(c) Carole Sparks

In Things Not Said: Philip, part 1, we spend the whole post in Acts 8:26. Meeting Philip at the height of his career in Samaria, we watch his obedience take him down an unknown road–literally.

Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the Lord? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams.  -1 Samuel 15:22

Philip 2
(c) Carole Sparks

Watch God arrange innumerable circumstances so that Philip and the Ethiopian cross paths at the right time. In The Right Place at the Right Time: Philip, part 2, we cover Acts 8:27-29 and rest in the confidence that God is in control.

As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.  -Isaiah 55:9

Philip 3
(c) Carole Sparks

Finally! In Intersection: Philip, part 3 we see Philip speak to the Ethiopian guy, climb into his chariot, and share the Gospel. It’s Acts 8:30-40, and the principles for evangelism are clear.

And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.  -Hebrews 11:6

I’ve also spent some time with Saul-who-became-Paul. Click on one of these links if you’d rather read more about Saul/Paul.

Paul inauspicious beginning
(c) Carole Sparks

Acts skips over it, but Paul spent three years in the wilderness before his ministry was effective. Paul’s Inauspicious Beginning pulls from Acts 9 and Galatians 1 to explore the early days of what became the most fruitful Christian ministry ever. The principles for us are clear.

An early post, “Do Me a Favor?” looks at the way we responded to God’s personal leading in our lives, using Ananias (Acts 9:10-19) as an example. There’s also a bit about my friends asking me for money.

This post, A Martyr Mindset, came up in conversation just this week. Sometimes our greatest personal sacrifice isn’t the path to God’s greatest glory. Sometimes we sneak out of town in a basket (Acts 9:23-25, 2 Corinthians 11:21-29)…or the modern-day equivalent.

A pile of previous, but still pertinent, posts on Philip and Paul as we progress through a pair of chapters in Acts. Both my alliteration and my #BibleStudy are #NotAboutMe.  (click to tweet)

With over six years of blogging now, I’ve covered a lot of territory. Which of these posts looks most interesting to you? I would really appreciate it if you leave me a comment on that post or pop back over here to let me know. 

 

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On the Way to the Cross: Collection

Jesus had this uncanny ability to be distracted without losing focus. Remember Jairus’ daughter (Luke 8:40-56)? Jesus stopped to heal the unclean woman–giving her seemingly undivided attention, yet He never forgot or ignored Jairus and his daughter.

Someone said we should look at distractions as opportunities. Must have been before the days of smartphones. When I’m distracted by social media, that’s simply an “opportunity” to waste time. Throughout His public ministry, Jesus turned distractions and digressions into opportunities…opportunities for teaching, blessing, or healing, and sometimes for all three. Continue reading

My Preponderance of Passion Week Posts

Easter seems early this year, and it’s on April Fools Day, which hasn’t happened since 1956. I Googled it. It shouldn’t take me by surprise since we’ve been talking about it since Valentine’s Day (start of Lent), and yet almost every year, somehow it does.

04-08 kiddos all done
I may have taken a few too many pictures this particular year. They mutinied. (c) Carole Sparks

I want the holiday to mean something more than plastic eggs and baked ham, more than crowded church pews and freezing toes in sandals for which it’s not quite warm enough (but you just have to wear them anyway because they look so cute with your new outfit).

Sometimes it helps me to go back through old blog posts (just like I go through old photos, finding ones like this) and remind myself of things God has already shown me from His Word, like a journal review but much more public. As Passion Week approaches, I’ve assembled a long list of posts–thirteen, actually–about various occurrences during the week. I offer them to you here in more-or-less Biblical chronological order. Use them however you like. I’m also posting one link per day on Facebook and Twitter (at 7:30am each day), so you can have a daily suggestion if you would prefer.

Palm Sunday

The Day The King Cried Why did Jesus cry as He looked over Jerusalem on the day He entered like a prince?

Tuesday (no special name for this day)

All You Need is Love…and More Love In this recent post, we sit down with the religious leaders in the temple as they challenged Jesus with difficult questions…and one question that was different.

Maundy Thursday, in the Upper Room

footwashing 1
a modern-day foot-washing several years ago (c) Carole Sparks

Servant Leadership: Focusing on the Foot Have you given much thought to Jesus’ view as he sat before those 24 feet?

Who’s Humble Now? Jesus and Peter share an interesting dialogue when Jesus stoops down to wash Peter’s feet.

The Error in the ‘I’ Peter’s declaration of commitment may have been noble, but it was flawed in one very important way.

Maundy Thursday, in the Garden of Gethsemane

Help! I don’t even know how to pray Here’s an easy-to-remember four-step prayer method based on Jesus’ one-verse prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane. You don’t need alot of words.

04-14 Concord Park (48)
Dogwoods have long been a symbol of Jesus’ death and resurrection. (c) Carole Sparks

The Spiral Slide of Temptation Heavy eyelids, quiet garden, late at night: Peter, James, and John just couldn’t help but fall asleep. In this post, learn what that’s got to do with playground slides.

Two Questions about Your Calling Jesus’ words and actions in the Garden and on the cross reveal the two things that were most important to Him.

Flight, Fight, or Follow For Christ-followers, there’s another option beyond the instinctual fight or flight.

Good Friday

Rethinking Peter’s Denial (I’m assuming this was very, very early Friday morning.) Trace Peter’s descent into denying Jesus. We may have judged him too harshly. One of my earliest posts.

What’s So Good about ‘Good Friday’? My mild rant from last year at this time. I haven’t changed my mind.

Easter Sunday

Easter 2017 memeFaith Has No Formula When we take a look at that first Easter morning, we find that people reach faith in different ways and at different paces.

When in Doubt We call him ‘Doubting Thomas,’ but the moniker isn’t justified.

Take your pick of My Perponderance of #PassionWeek Posts–all scenes from the Gospels. Because #Easter is #NotAboutMe, via @Carole_Sparks. (click to tweet)

What Gospel scene from Passion Week has been significant to you in the past? What strikes you here? I’d love to hear your feedback in the comments below or on the individual posts!

Easter greeting

A Year in the Psalms

I’m still looking back at 2017, in which the Lord called me to spend my daily quiet time in Psalms. For the whole year. I read through the entire book twice, covering one psalm each day except for Psalm 119, where I covered one section a day. That left me about two weeks at the end of the year to dwell in the Christmas story. Continue reading

Summer Review: Peter

We’re moving this week, and I just can’t settle my mind enough to write. I keep thinking of what to pack next or what needs cleaned at our new place. Plus, last week’s post about Peter is still on my mind. So I’ve gone back in the archives and cleaned up a few other posts about Peter to share with you today. I hope you find something you haven’t read previously or something the Lord wants to use in your life right now. Choose one–or all!–to read. Continue reading