Examine the Scriptures

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Scripture: “Now the Bereans were of more noble character then the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness to see if what Paul said was true.” (Acts 17:11)

Observation: The apostle Paul is on his third missionary journey. He’s gone from Philippi, to Thessalonica and is now in Berea. Just prior to this, in Thessalonica, the Bible tells us that he reasoned with the Jews in the synagogue, using the Scriptures to explain that Jesus is the Christ; and that he had to suffer and rise from the dead (Acts 17:2-3). However the Jews in Thessalonica largely did not receive the message, though some did and so did many God-fearing Greeks. Paul and Silas were asked to leave the town – actually run out of it by a mob riot started by the Jews. In Berea, however, they were different. The Bible tells us that they were of more noble character. What made their character noble? … they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day. The Bible is telling us that we would do well to eagerly examine the Scriptures daily. In them, we will find Truth.

Application: I must admit, I don’t always receive the message with great eagerness. Often the message of the Bible reveals to me my sin. And sometimes I’m just plain lazy. I get caught up in the variety of other pursuits in my life and I don’t devote time daily to be in the word-much less to do so eagerly. This verse is reminding me that Bible reading is not a chore, but that it contains the message of life and salvation. I need to approach it eagerly every day.

Prayer: Lord, restore to me the joy of your salvation. Renew in me a hearty desire and eagerness to visit you in your Word and to receive the message with gladness. Amen.

Saved By Faith

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Scripture: “He made no distinction between us and them, for he purified their hearts by faith.” (Acts 15:9)

Observation: A lot is going on here and a lot is being said. The bottom line is that this is a watershed moment for the early Christian church! The majority of new believers in Christ were Jews (converted Jews)…. but not all! The Jews themselves sent Peter to preach to the Gentiles. … And what they prayed for happened! The Gentiles heard the message and came to Faith Praise the Lord! … now what?! They (some of them) reverted to what they once knew-the Law. And so, they called for the circumcision of the new Gentile converts in adherence to the law of Moses. But Peter set them straight. He made it clear that the same Gospel that converted them, set them free from the Law! They were saved, and their hearts purified, by faith alone!

Application: This phrase:”saved by faith” is a mantra in modern Evangelical Lutheran teaching and theology. But we can miss it so often. We fall back into our ways of trusting our works. However our works, no matter how sanctified (or even commanded by God), cannot save us. Our hearts are made pure through faith alone.

Prayer: Father, help me not to judge others by my standards of sanctification… you don’t. Remind me again that all the stains of my sin are washed pure by faith in the work of your Son Jesus! Amen.